Wednesday, February 20, 2013

potager garden

Potager is a French term for a type of kitchen garden where vegetables, herbs and flowers are grown together in traditional rows or blocks.  The goal is to make the function of growing food aesthetically pleasing (oh how I love the French). Plants are chosen as much for their functionality as for their color and form.  A well-designed potager can provide food, as well as cut flowers and herbs for the home with very little maintenance.


With increased interest in organic and sustainable living, many people are turning to vegetable gardening as a supplemental to their family's food source. Food grown in the back yard consumes little, if any fuel and the grower can be sure of what exactly was used to grow it.


How the plan comes together

Location -  You will want to choose a flat, sunny spot. If you intend to grow vegetables, you'll need six to eight hours of direct sun a day. Shade problems? See if you can do a bit of tree pruning to allow more light to reach the beds.


A typical potager can be found at the rear of the house close to the back door. However, sun might dictate a different spot for your garden.  Check the side and front yards for continuous sun.

Design - Potagers can disguise their function of providing for a home in a wide array of forms - from the carefree style of a cottage garden to the formality of a knot garden.


The key to creating a true French feeling for your garden is to use formal lines and clearly delineated beds which will give the plants space and dignity.

Raised Beds - The raised beds are the work horse of this type of garden. Raised beds are essentially boxes without bottoms filled with topsoil and compost. The beds can be made from cedar or non pressure-treated fir planks (12' fir boards $15/each at homedepot.com) attached at the four corners.  For efficient drainage, the beds should be at least 8 inches deep.

Dimensions - The number of beds and their length are up to you but the longer the beds, the bigger the garden. The width of each bed however, shouldn't exceed four feet-you want to be able to reach in from either side without stepping into them. Leave paths at least two feet wide between beds for wheelbarrow access.

Line the paths with pea gravel ($5 for 50 lbs at lowes.com), brick, walking stones, grass or wood-chips. 


Perhaps what is best about a potager is that it needs minimal maintenance. And because the beds offer superb conditions, you can let your imagination run wild when it comes to choosing what to grow. Simply know your sun and shade conditions, and then plant what you love.



I ran across this lovely cookbook - Potager, Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style. Currently available through Amazon, this is a wonderful cookbook for any gardener/cook seeking to create the freshest meals!

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

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