Would you like to grow your own fresh vegetables at home in a vegetable garden layout which is attractive as well as productive? A potager kitchen garden is a vegetable garden in which there is a delightful mix of vegetables, herbs, flowers and perhaps even a fruit tree or two. Get some ideas here for planning your own potager design.
The French kitchen garden, called the potager (pronounced pot-ah-zhay) traditionally provided the ingredients for potage (soup or vegetable broth). In medieval times the monks and nuns used these kitchen gardens to provide flowers for the church and vegetables for the inhabitants of the abbey. Whereas the English cottage garden is a random, haphazard collection of flowers, vegetables and herbs growing together, these potagers were geometric and ordered.
The potager garden may be large or small and is usually made up of square, rectangular, circular or diamond-shaped garden beds arranged in a repeating geometric pattern. The plants within the beds are also planted in groups or patterns. In a larger garden, the whole garden may be surrounded by a clipped hedge with an arbor for a climbing vine (e.g. passion fruit) to mark the entrance.
The idea is to have plenty of color and interesting textures – colorful frilly lettuces to border the paths, swiss chard with brightly colored stems, curly blue-green kale, purple sprouting broccoli, red chicory, red-stemmed beetroot, feathery carrots (their leaves that is!), runner beans on a tepee with lovely red flowers and long green pods, French climbing beans with green, purple or yellow pods, feathery asparagus and colorful fruiting vegetables such as chili peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.
Besides the flowers on the vegetables, you may plant edible flowers, grow flowers for their companion planting properties or for cut flowers. Common companion flowers include marigold, nasturtium, chamomile and yarrow.
The external barrier could be a hedge of gooseberries, red currants, blueberries or goji berries or a combination of all four. Alternatively you could put up a trellis and plant it with grapes or kiwifruit. Make sure to choose varieties which will do well in your area. Your local garden center should be able to help you. Also take care that the hedge is not so tall so as to cast too much shade on your vegetable garden.