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Quote of the Day: Saint Ignatius

March 27th, 2011

There is nothing simpler, nor more beautiful, than a kitchen garden. It is not enough to cultivate vegetables with care. You have the duty to arrange them according to their colors, and to frame them with flowers, so they appear like a well laid table.”

St. Ignatius (found in Creative Vegetable Gardening)

I have always found traditional rowed vegetable gardens to be quite lovely. There’s just something about those neat straight rows, as if all the vegetables are soldiers in uniform lining up. Spending some of my childhood in rural Ohio, this is the kind of vegetable garden I was exposed to (and the kind we cultivated in our back yard). In these kinds of gardens, the main focus is food production. Little thought is given to the beauty of the plants. That’s what makes these gardens so lovely, they’re utilitarian, yet there’s something so wonderfully beautiful about the orderliness of them.

As I started adding more and more vegetables to my garden I started reading a lot of books about traditional cottage vegetable gardens and European potagers. In these types of gardens often form and beauty were the main goal and vegetables were used to achieve this goal. Now that I have a nice space to put in a large edible garden, I’m trying to decide what kind of garden I’m going to grow. While I love the traditional rural rowed garden, I’m leaning toward a more formal potager with espaliered fruit trees, beech and hawthorne hedges and hopefully a greenhouse. I’m going to dedicate a portion of it as a Winter Potager to bring beauty and vegetables during the cold winter months. This also helps with garden planning, I won’t have to worry as much about when summer crops are harvested, I’ll have dedicated space for winter. That also means that the other other areas can be planted in cover crops for overwintering to help improve the soil.
Potager Inspiration
Here’s the photo that I’m going to draw inspiration from for my new garden design. Of course there’s still lots of work to do since the lot is covered in saplings and a few large trees, but hopefully in 5 years my garden will be this lovely. If you want to see a larger size of the image above: click on the image to go to my Flickr.

What kind of vegetable garden do you have? What kind do you dream of having?

Books I’m referencing for design ideas and for incorporating permaculture elements in my garden:
Gaia’s Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture
Cottage Garden (DK Living)
Creative Vegetable Gardening
Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook
Smith & Hawken Garden Structures
The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition
Fences and Hedges: And Other Garden Dividers (Step-By-Step Project Workbook)

16 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Saint Ignatius”
  1. kristin @ going country on March 27, 2011 at 6:57 am

    What I have? The epitome of utilitarian. What I dream of having? Something much like your inspiration photo. I read those books about cottage gardens too.

    Of course, I would also have to hire a gardener to achieve such a thing, so I suppose that would have to be part of the dream . . .

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on March 27, 2011 at 8:53 am

      Soon enough when Cubby grows up you can make him tend your perfect potager, he can spend his days weeding, planting, and clipping formal box edging while you sit in the shade of a lovely hawthorne trained as a standard drinking elderflower cordial :)

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on March 27, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Susy, my garden is five 4’X8′ raised beds strong with expansion by two each year. This year will complete about half of the expansion. My goal is to reach a total off 13 beds which will supply much of the produce needed for winter months and enough to share with the neighbors. It’s been a work of love over the last four years. I’ve always loved gardening but the last couple decades just didn’t have time to cultivate a garden due to being a care giving for an ailing wife and raising three kids. It’s been such a joy and some therapy to get back to gardening.

    Have a great traditional cottage vegetable garden day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  3. KimH on March 27, 2011 at 10:13 am

    What a delicious space that looks like.. Here in my tiny piece of NE Ohio, the only sun that reaches my yard is in the front yard.. I have a tiny 6×10 section where we were planning to put a decorative cherry tree and a pond.. but the project lay fallow too long I claimed it for a few veggies.. I also plant in pots and topsy turvey bags on the back deck and have many herbs along one side of the house, and asparagus along one side of the deck.. Its all tightly packed in..

    Also, this year I plan to add another bit or strip in the front yard somewhere.. I’d love to add a 3 or 4 ft deep bed all along the side of the front yard, (about 60 ft) but my neighbor works on boats all summer long in that area and Im sure the soil is poisoned there..

    I have the opportunity to participate in a community garden a few miles away from my house & Im thinking about signing up again.. I gardened there for quite a few years but gave it up due to physical problems I had.. thought maybe I could grow squashes & pumpkins & the like there.. large rambling giants… but I also joined an organic CSA this year so I really may not need to..

    Decisions, decisions.. :D

    Reply to KimH's comment

  4. Brittany P. on March 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    What a beautiful garden to draw inspiration from! It is lovely. Right now we are going with purely straight rows in our garden but I wanted to keep it simple..simple plants and simple design..and then build on as the years go by. I would love to one day use an area of our yard and put in something like that. WOW.

    Ants have been trying to invade our potatoes. If you have any tips for sending them packing without pesticides I would appreciate the advice. Ants are such an issue here in the south. Do you have issues with ants?

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

    • Susy on March 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      We do have ants but I usually just let them go. My mom and I harvested a few ant nests along with our potatoes last year as well. You can pour warm soapy water down their holes or I’ve heard you can put out a 3:1 mix of borax & honey as ant traps. (3 parts borax 1 part honey) Fill plastic caps with this mix and place them around your home and garden. I haven’t tried it but I’ve heard it works. We put some in our mailbox when we had ants trying to move in there and it seems to have run them out.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Sincerely, Emily on March 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    What a nice inspirational photo you have to work from. I have some raised beds and now some open area tilled in the yard. In the raised beds I work on using companion planting methods so each plant gets a little natural help from other plants. Tomatoes, parsley & basil get planted together. Cucumbers w/radish on the fence with eggplant and bush bean in the main bed. Radishes get planted around and amongst the zucchini & other squash – letting them grow (not pick & eat them) to work their magic (I hope). So there aren’t many evenly spaced pretty rows in my garden beds. I am still learning a lot, but it is fun to plant things together and watch them mature together. Emily

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  6. MAYBELLINE on March 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I dream of having a vegetable garden that I only work in as my hobby. My “staff” would do the most work. Since THAT will never happen…
    I dream of having a healthy garden in healthy, rich soil. THAT is do-able.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  7. Corner Garden Sue on March 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Those are lovely gardens. I like the one with the pea plants. My vegetable garden is not very big, but there are flowers here and there as well as small sections with different kinds of veggies planted in them. I also have a nice sized area across the street on property that is not ours, but there are trees all around, and the rabbits eat everything.

    The weather did not permit us to finish putting chicken wire around our veggie garden this week. When that’s done, we need to put something around as big an area we can afford to across the street.

    Reply to Corner Garden Sue's comment

  8. Sandy on March 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I love the inspiration photo, especially the integration of the espalier tree.

    Reply to Sandy's comment

    • Susy on March 27, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      Oh yes, I too LOVE espaliers – I hope to have a few in the new garden!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. deedee on March 27, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    i too love the formal potagers with the espaliered fruit trees…. so pretty and yet practical! it’s on my bucket list… a little at a time lol:)

    Reply to deedee's comment

  10. Marcia on March 28, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Although my first garden was very utilitarian, I just couldn’t stop staring at it in wonder and finding it so beautiful. My dream garden would for a start be in my own yard! Mine now is an hour away and I just can’t step into it after supper for a light stroll, just to make sure everything is alright or if anything is ripe for the picking. My boyfriend’s family (where my garden is) finds me a little nuts when I head out in the last hour of daylight to “hang out” in my garden. Hopefully the new house will have a yard and I will be able to have a salad garden in it and keep the farm garden for bulk crops such as potatoes and carrots.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  11. Mich on March 28, 2011 at 5:03 am

    I love vegetable gardens :)
    My first plot is made of 4 4ft wide x 18ft long beds with hard pathes inbetween, my second plot has my fruit bushes and raspberry canes in.
    The third plot is much bigger and I run this as a allotment plot no hard pathing here; at one end I have a cut flower area which is home to tulips, penstemons, and an array of annual flowers.

    My orchard is planted up either side of the 3rd plot and I’m lucky to have 3 greenhouses…..nothing like a good barter!

    I have to admit I have alot to catch up on this spring, we had a hard winter here in the UK and it put me behind! eek.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  12. Donna B. on March 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Goodness, I already think that your garden looks fantastic… but to go to those extents? It will be grand!
    I personally love the look of an informal garden… currently my flowering areas [which I will underplant with some herbs! yum!] are behind waddle-fencing done by me, and the garden is on a raised bed… one thing that I definitally want to do is plant some creeping sedums along the edge… One part of my bed last year had some Nasturtium spilling down the edge… looked fantastic.
    But I can only imagine the maitenance of the formal borders such as those [I want to say] boxwoods! Bi-weekly trimming commences! Still, the work will be far worth it… I adore the hedge trimmed down to look like dwarf conifer’s at each corner! So cute!
    PLEASE keep us updated to the work you do! ♥

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  13. Chrystel on March 31, 2011 at 1:33 am

    I turned our entire backyard into a potager with 8 raised vegetable beds, a strawberry bed, 3 blueberry bushes, 3 fig trees, a greenhouse and cutting garden. It is small, informal and very manageable.

    Reply to Chrystel's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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