Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The garden strip

Our potager (vegetable garden) is what I call a four-square design. That is, it's four plots, each one being a square of four meters by four meters separated by a grass strip one meter wide. That's sixty-four square meters for planting. I based the design on a kitchen garden that I saw at the Château de Fougères-sur-Bièvre, not far from here.

In addition to that, we also have a small plot in the back corner of the property that was once a compost pile. That spot is about one meter by two. Ken has a collard greens patch back there this year.

But a few years ago, we decided that we needed a bit more space, so Ken tilled up a strip along side the four-square plots. The strip is the width of the rototiller and nine meters long. Originally, we grew the overflow tomatoes in it. This season, as you can see on the left, I've got lettuces, chard, and leeks planted there.

Our soil is mostly clay with lots of rocks and the strip seems to have more than its fair share of rocks close to the surface. We've started to dig out the top layer of rocks and are replacing it with some good bagged soil. I'll be interested to see how that tills in next spring.

We've recently decided that we should invest in a chipper/mulcher for the garden. We have more yard waste each year than our three compost piles can handle. Most of it is the result of the annual trimming of the bay hedge. We try to burn it each year, but that means piling it up somewhere to dry then covering it until we're ready to burn. It's a pain.

We figure that a chipper will help to reduce the trimmed branches to a more reasonable mulch that we can spread on the garden plots to keep the weeds down over winter. Then, in spring, we can just till it into the garden soil. Excess mulch will easily go into the compost piles (along with the tons of apples that fall in the yard every year).


  1. A lot of work, but a lot of rewards, too......

  2. Chipper/mulcher? Ever see "Fargo?" LOL

  3. I think you'll be very happy with the mulch approach. It really does help with both clay soil and weeds.

  4. "Another clear night (the stars were amazing) and this morning is a chilly 11º (about 51ºF)." Ah yes, summer in France.

  5. My first thought was 'Fargo' too!


  6. Ah, my mulch pile. I've been building it for three years and have yet to turn it over. I just know Black Gold is awaiting me at the bottom of that four foot high fenced area. I too have the same problem with cutting branches (mostly from my roses and other shrubs) that don't easily mulch. Alas, I don't have room for a chipper/mulcher and besides, I have bad memories of "Fargo."

  7. kristi, yes!

    ginny, yup. When do you get here? Hahaha... just kidding. We won't be getting one powerful enough for that.

    chris, I'm looking forward to it.

    starman, I hope it doesn't stay this way.

    bettyann, hehehehe!

    ron, I've got 3 compost piles going. One is empty now because its contents went into the garden this spring, but I'll start filling it again this fall.


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