The Potager Garden: History and How-To of the Kitchen Garden

The Potager Garden

The potager garden has its roots in 16th century France. The potager could be found all over the country. Wealthy chateau owners as well as common farmers grew potager gardens. The wealthier of the two would have had sprawling elaborate gardens with gardeners to tend them. The farmer would have had a small potager, much less elaborate, with only his family and himself to tend it. For the farmer, it was most certainly a necessity, a matter of having food.

There should be but one rule in creating the potager garden and that is; allow the imagination to rule.

The Potager Garden: History and How-To of the Kitchen Garden
The Potager Garden: History and How-To of the Kitchen Garden

What is Needed

  • Stones, bricks or timbers to build raised beds and/or line planting b
  • Good composted material for planting
  • Stepping stones for paths
  • Trellises, obelisks and arbors (or the materials to make your own)
  • Fountain or birdbath
  • Seeds and plants

Steps to Creating the Potager

  • Choose area to be planted (this should be close to the kitchen)
  • Make certain to have an easily accessible source of water
  • Till area remove roots and loose stones as with any other garden spot
  • *Measure and layout/build beds
  • Add composted soil to beds
  • Plant, water, weed, trim and wait for the harvest
*Keep in mind the size plants will be when mature.

The choice of plants is limited only to the space carved out for the potager. Being a kitchen garden, vegetables are at the top of the list. One may also include herbs, edible flowers, roses, vines for shading other plants, dwarf fruit trees and berries. A trimmed hedge (not necessarily formal, simply kept from infringing on the potager) surrounding the potager creates a private garden accessible only through gated arbors or from the kitchen door.

Vegetables planted should be those used in everyday cooking in the home. Planting several varieties of a family favorite will allow for a longer harvest of that vegetable.

Companion planting will help plants ward off pests and allow for pollination of heirloom plant seed saving. This is especially important when growing plants in a small space.

Edges of the potager beds can be squared or rounded. Rounded corners give a less formal appearance which is more relaxing to visitors. The center should have a large obelisk planted with climbing cucumbers, beans or ornamental vines. Something edible is preferable. A fountain or birdbath under-planted with herbs will also fill the space in the center nicely.

A potager garden is should be ornamental as well as utilitarian. Using the imagination and a little work, anyone can create a potager garden outside their kitchen door.

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