How to create a potager or kitchen garden in your backyard

A kitchen garden beautifully combines vegetables and ornamental plants for a space that is both charming and useful. Often referred to as a potager by the French’Jardin soup‘,’ or ‘soup garden’, this style has been part of historic estates, country houses and informal cottage gardens throughout history in France and many other cultures. “What is so charming about a potager is that there is an element of strong architectural form, such as For example, tightly trimmed boxwoods combined with loose, swaying flowers in full bloom create an appealing contrast,” says Linda Vater, author of The Elegant & Edible Garden: Design a dream vegetable garden that suits your personality, your desires and your lifestyle, and host of a popular YouTube gardening channel. “A potager appeals to all your senses. It should be visually appealing, but also incorporate textural and fragrance elements to create fairytale appeal and a sense of peace.”

How to design a potager garden

Start small.

Any size plot is suitable for a vegetable garden. If you’re new to gardening, it’s best to start small and understand the time involved before digging up your entire side garden so you don’t get frustrated and feel overwhelmed. After all, this is supposed to be fun! You can also plant a potager in a collection of window boxes, containers, or pots on your patio or balcony if that’s the only space available, Dad says. Pots can also be strategically placed in garden beds to add height; This allows you to move them around as needed to accommodate changing sunlight patterns throughout the season.

The Elegant & Edible Garden

Choose the right location.

While a potager is traditionally placed near the door closest to the kitchen, you need to consider the setting in your own backyard. Vegetables need full sun, that’s 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day. Decide where your potager will get the right exposure and then plan accordingly, even if it means the garden is farther from the house. Make sure water is accessible too, though, lest you struggle with thirsty plants during a July heatwave.

Plant a variety of herbs.

Herbs make an excellent base for your potager, Dad says. Many perennial herbs like lavender, thyme, sage, and oregano are easy to grow and come back year after year. Allow your herbs to bloom, which attracts pollinators necessary for edibles like squash to develop fruit.

Herbs are also incredibly versatile. Plants like dill and sage make beautiful bouquets for the kitchen counter, lavender can be floated in drinks or used to scent your bath water, and chamomile can be brewed fresh or dried for a soothing tea. Herbal topiaries are another way to add texture, charm and interest to your potager.

Add pretty, low-maintenance edibles.

Many edibles are lovely in their own right, such as rainbow-hued Swiss chard, the deep blue-green leaves of Tuscan kale, and colorful salads. Easy-to-grow vegetables include cayenne pepper, which can be used fresh or dried; cherry tomatoes, which come in a variety of colors; and tiny eggplants suitable for containers. In fact, many new vegetable varieties have been developed that are more compact for growing in containers. Another option is to create a themed garden, such as a spaghetti garden with tomatoes and basil, or a cocktail garden with accompaniments like mint and rosemary.

Potager full view

The Elegant & Edible Garden

Mix up ornamental plants in your potager garden.

Both annual and perennial flowers have a place in a potager. Pansies and nasturtiums are beautiful annuals, and they’re edible too. Perennials and shrubs like roses, lavender, sage, coneflower, and black-eyed susan attract pollinators and add color, texture, and fragrance. You can also add cut garden favorites like larkspur, cosmos, zinnia, dahlias, sunflowers, mums and asters for color all season long.

Define the space.

Your potager should have a sense of enclosure, which can be achieved with a border of raised beds, fences, or a border of trimmed boxwood hedges. The idea is to provide a sense of intimacy, protection and privacy and to divide the garden into manageable areas for maintenance, reinforcing the idea of ​​”garden spaces” and defining the tone of the space, says Vater. Canopies also transform your potager into an inviting place to relax or entertain guests.

create paths.

Paths not only allow you to wander through the garden to admire the changing views, but they are also necessary for you to kneel down to pull weeds or harvest your vegetables and herbs. A path doesn’t have to be wide, but it has to leave enough room for you to reach in and work with your plants without stepping into the bed and compacting the soil or twisting your back, Father says.

Potager entry

The Elegant & Edible Garden

Incorporate garden structures.

Garden structures such as tuteurs, trellises or arbors provide a focal point in the garden, but also provide climbing areas for plants. “If you have little space, you have to grow upwards, not out,” says father. These structures provide support for vegetables like adorable little patisson squashes, climbing beans like heirloom scarlet worms, nasturtiums of all colors, and climbing roses. There need be no separation of edible and ornamental plants; In fact, a potager is at its most adorable when these plants are intertwined.

seize opportunities.

Whether you’re a new gardener or have been digging in the dirt for years, don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s also helpful to jot down a few notes in a gardening journal or take a few photos of your garden to remind yourself when certain plants have budded or bloomed, or what was particularly good (or not so good!) this year. Has come.

Finally, be patient: plants will die despite your best efforts because nature is fickle. But it’s all so worth it! “A garden is a dynamic space that stimulates creativity and nourishes the soul,” says father. “It takes time to develop and is always changing and evolving, which is part of the journey.”

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