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How to Plan a Kitchen Garden (Potager Garden)

Updated on September 5, 2014
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Jeanne Grunert is a full-time freelance writer, novelist, and garden communicator. She lives and works on a 17-acre farm in Virginia.

What Is a Potager Garden?

A potager garden is also called a kitchen garden. It's a garden that mixes flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables into the garden beds to create an edible, beautiful landscape The word "potager" is a French word for kitchen garden or ornamental vegetable garden. Potager gardens are both functional and beautiful. You can grow any combination of flowers, herbs, vegetables and small fruits that make you happy. Turn your front lawn into a potager garden. Use a side garden, or an area along a walkway. Or turn your backyard into an edible fantasy land. Here's how to make a potager garden of any size

Birdbath with lavender and roses.
Birdbath with lavender and roses.

Designing a Potager Garden

Potager gardens consist of small, manageable sized plots for gardening with spacious walkways among the plots. Walkways can be left to grow as grass or finished with pebbles or bricks. The garden plots are planted with a mixture of herbs, vegetables, flowers, and even small fruits such as strawberries. Many potager gardens have a central axis around which the paths and garden beds radiate, like the spokes on a wheel. The central axis can consist of a decorative element, such as a fountain or birdbath, or a functional element, such as a dwarf apple, peach or pear tree, or a strawberry pyramid garden bed. Most potager gardens are small and functional. They are often planted right outside the kitchen door so it is easy for the cook or chef to step outside with a basket and a pair of scissors and snip off the herbs and vegetables he needs to finish making a tasty meal. Many potager gardens also contain edible flowers, such as nasturtiums, to garnish salads.

Free Potager Garden or Kitchen Garden Plans

Resources for free kitchen garden or potager garden plans.

Add Vegetables to Your Potager Garden

Vegetable plants for a potager garden may include lettuces of various types and colors. Cherry tomatoes are also excellent choices for a potager garden as are bush cucumbers. You can easily pick salad vegetables right outside your door and create delicious salads from a potager garden. Any vegetables can be grown, but many potager gardens are small, so low-growing, compact vegetables are probably better choices than tall vegetables like corn or sprawling vegetables such as pumpkins.

Vegetables for a Potager Garden

Bush beans or green beans
Bush beans or green beans

Bush beans are easy to grow from seed and make a good potager garden plant.

Salad Greens

Chard
Chard

Chard may be eaten raw or cooked. Various lettuces, spinach and chard offer colorful leafy greens to add to your potager garden.

Fall Garden Vegetables

Red cabbage
Red cabbage

Fall garden vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, are traditional potager garden vegetables. In olden days, they kept well in a root cellar, and provided nourishment to a family for the winter. Today, they make an attractive plant, whether grown as an ornamental or edible addition to a potager garden.

Flowering Herbs

Cinnamon
Cinnamon

Herb gardens are a popular addition to a potager garden. The herb garden may be grown in its own bed, or herbs can be mixed in among the other plants. This cinnamon basil offers a unique flowering herb with purple-green spikes. The leaves offer a cinnamon-spiced basil that is often used in Thai cuisine.

Carrots

Carrots in the kitchen garden.
Carrots in the kitchen garden.

Carrots and other root crops are also staples of the potager garden. Beets, carrots, parsnips, onions and garlic can be grown in small spaces. Carrots offer pretty green foliage, too. This is carrot foliage.

Learn How to Grow a Kitchen Garden

Books to help you plan and grow a potager garden or kitchen garden.

Herbs for Skin Care

Calendula
Calendula

This flowering herb is calendula. It is often used in herbal medicine for skin care. Calendula can be grown in the potager garden or kitchen garden. It offers beautiful orange flowers to brighten the garden beds.

Herbs

Chives
Chives

Flowering chives are a popular addition to the herb garden, potager garden or kitchen garden. They are very easy to grow. A snip of the green chive herb lends an onion or garlic flavor to dishes. They also produce beautiful purple flowers such as this one, adding to the beauty of the potager garden.

Small Fruits in the Potager Garden

Strawberry Plant
Strawberry Plant

You can also grow small fruit plants in the potager garden such as strawberries or blueberries. Avoid raspberries and other brambles, as they grow tall and large and require staking and pruning. Their thorns also make it difficult to work around them in the tight quarters of a typical potager garden. Strawberries take up little room and can even be grown vertically in raised beds called a strawberry pyramid, or from planters, pots, or hanging baskets.

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      Jeanne Grunert 4 years ago from Prospect, Virginia

      @anonymous: LOL! Great minds - and gardeners - think alike! I love kitchen or potager gardens and even plant herbs as decorative perennials in my flower garden. Thank you for leaving a comment.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Quelle surprise! A lens about another potager. Years ago, I used to be a mini potager gardener. Just wrote a lens about it.