Potager Garden

Potagers are generally designed in geometric patterns rather than in simple rows. Many potagers contain plants trained to grow upward on trellises or next to the house. Occasionally they’re edged with Boxwoods or other shrubs. In addition to vegetables, potagers usually include flowers, especially varieties for cutting. They may also include small fruit trees, herbs, aromatic and medicinal plants.

(Paris potager)

 The French potager differs from an American suburban vegetable garden in several ways. The French mix herbs, edible flowers, non-edible flowers, fruits and vegetables and grow them together in an artistic design. A potager is continually replanted throughout the growing season. Whatever is fresh is gathered in season. Historically, potager gardens were located just outside the chateau where they could be easily viewed and accessed.

(Austrian potager)

The French approach to vegetable gardening involves a philosophy that entails bringing beauty to a food garden rather than seeing that garden as having only a utilitarian purpose. The beauty of the garden and having the garden closer to the house gives those growing a potager much more of a connection to the garden than the usual vegetable garden. The French view a garden much like an artist’s canvas. It’s a way to paint a landscape with the colors and textures of plants whether they are to be eaten or not.

In suburban America, homeowners often tend to go to the remotest part of their property to plant vegetables while trying to hide them from view. Food gardens are primarily planted in rows out of site. Unfortunately, these gardens can easily become neglected, weedy, and overgrown.

(Belarus potager)

When thinking about creating a potager garden, consider what kind of foods your family enjoys and how much of each variety is practical for your family’s size. Then think about adding plants with different growing seasons. The garden should seldom, if ever, be bare. Think about structure and strive to use every nook and cranny. For instance, you can plant shorter plants underneath taller ones. It’s necessary to harvest from all over a potager garden in order to make sure it continues to grow and produce. If you harvest all of a plant, don’t leave that spot empty. Plant something else there.

Next consider the sun exposure of your site. Vegetables need plenty of sun. Soil preparation is also extremely important so be sure to prepare your soil with large amounts of organic amendments such as compost, leaves and straw. Continue to replenish the soil regularly with good organic matter. This allows you to plant closer together and the plants will remain more resistant to pests.

Once you have decided on which plants you want to grow, make a sketch of the garden. A traditional potager has a geometric layout and contains plants that will provide interest during all four seasons. There are no set rules with the modern potager. The plots need to be at least slightly raised and are best surrounded by a hard walking surface such as bricks, gravel, or other types of pavers.

The only rule for a potager garden is to create something you will truly enjoy. If you enjoy your garden, you’ll naturally want to spend time there. And that is perhaps the most important function of any garden.