A Q&A with the Daily Potager

    Establishing a productive kitchen garden
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    Twelve years ago, Shannon Schultheis’ love for gardening stemmed from appreciation.

    “I fell in love with the aesthetics of the potager (pronounced: pow-tuh-jay) and dreamt of hidden spaces and loads of green,” Shultheis said. “It was only after my first formal garden was built, that I started to love growing food. Harvesting beautiful crops became my goal. I started to refine my skills and try new methods. Through organic gardening, each year brought more success than the last.

    “My final challenge was to start my entire garden from seed, grow three out of four seasons, and find a way to use all of my garden harvest.”

    After becoming a certified garden coach, Schultheis decided to help others create their dream spaces.

    Q:What does having a home garden mean to you?

    SS: To me, a home garden is an extension of your kitchen. You know exactly where your ingredients come from and how they’ve been grown. You choose your recipes with what you have on hand. It’s also a place to spend time and find peace. I love having a garden to retreat to after a long, crazy day. I enjoy just sitting in the garden, watching all the life buzz around me.

    Tokyo Bekana cabbage and kale in a wooden planter.
    Tokyo Bekana cabbage and kale in a wooden planter.

    Q: As a garden coach, what services do you offer?

    SS: I offer services that will help with any stage of your garden journey. I offer coaching, designing, planning, and hands-on maintenance. I also offer workshops for a fun activity with friends or coworkers.

    My workshops are by request only, but I’ve taught previous workshops on salad planters, herb gardens, and seed starting. I offer workshops for all ages.

    Q: One of your services is full kitchen garden installation. For those unfamiliar, what does a formal potager look like?

    SS: Traditionally, a formal potager was often symmetrical, very large and just steps away from the kitchen. It combined beauty and function to create an outdoor room. There is often a mix of flowers, herbs, and crops that all work together. You may even see a water feature, a table for family meals, or an orchard nearby.

    An edamame plant in Schultheis’ potager.
    An edamame plant in Schultheis’ potager.

    Q: Are there any garden features or part of the planning process you particularly enjoy when it comes to designing clients’ gardens?

    SS: My absolute favorite part is designing. I consider myself a creative person and enjoy designing unique spaces that fit the needs of each person, whether it be a large backyard space or a small container garden. Every single garden can be both beautiful and functional and I enjoy finding the best balance.

    carrots

    Q: Every year, there are different blights, pests, invasive species, and unusual Midwest weather (like severe temperature drops within 24 hours). What tools or advice would you recommend to gardeners this growing season?

    SS: Be prepared with frost protection and don’t set out your heat-loving crops too early. To handle pests, try creating an inviting home for beneficial insects by providing both nectar and pollen sources, shelter, and water. My favorite flowers for attracting beneficial insects are alyssum, sunflowers, and plants in the carrot family like fennel or dill.

    Finally, deter pests with companion planting. Confuse the scent of crops by planting them around your garden, rather than in a row. Use herbs like alliums to help mask the scent of crops as well.

    Shannon Schultheis. Courtesy photo.

    Q: What are you excited for this year, garden or business-wise? Any new seeds/plants, or ambitious landscaping projects?

    SS: This year is the first year I’ve offered transplants for clients or subscribers. They have shown a lot of interest and it’s going really well! It’s a little different in that people can request specific varieties and can order for an entire growing season. Fall gets overlooked for vegetable gardening and I think it’s a major miss for gardeners. Fall is the perfect time to grow so many cool season crops, but they’re really hard to find locally if you don’t start seeds yourself.

    For more information visit dailypotager.com.

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