Updated: Nov 1
Whether you grow a single tomato plant or a whole host of different vegetables, gardening is a fun way to stay active, save money and eat a fresh diet that is more diverse and healthy, packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
Whether you grow a single tomato plant or a whole host of different vegetables, gardening is a fun way to stay active, save money and eat a fresh diet that is more diverse and healthy, packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Many of our customers say to us that they would love to grow their own food at home, but that a vegetable plot would look out of place in their garden. At Inspired Gardens we create enchanting potagers, which follow the principles of garden design to create an area that is not only ornamental, but productive too. If you love to cook with fresh, sessional ingredients, than a potager (which translates to ‘for the soup pot’) garden might be the perfect choice for you. Potagers are a historic garden style that have been around since the 15th century. If you are a history buff, who likes to cook and garden, then the potager is a dream come true. Creating a potager will take your gardening, design and horticulturist skills to the next level and make a happy place to spend time outside for you and your family.
So, if you feel inspired to create a potager, here are a few tips from us to help you on your way. Like any vegetable garden, potagers require full sun, good drainage and excellent soil. Do you want your potager near the kitchen or home so you can pop out and get herbs and vegetables for the soup pot?
Once you have decided on the location, make a full life plan using buckets and string, and live with it for a few days before you start working on the build. When designing a potager you are planning for beauty and not just function. Consider shape, colour, texture, focal points and paths in order to bring the whole design together to create a beautiful, delicious potager that is far too attractive to hide behind the shed. Remember to think about sun and shade patterns, make sure you have not planned any tall plants or structures that will cast shade over plants that cannot tolerate shade.
Raised beds are an essential part of a potager garden, making it easier to plant and harvest. You may want to use a less traditional layout where you mix square, rectangular beds and even circular beds for even more interest. Think about paths (you need to get your wheelbarrow comfortably down them) and create a sense of direction to you beds.
You can add design details like trellises, picket fences and decorative fruit trees to create a sense of enclosure and privacy and make your potager feel more like a getaway. Incorporating a water feature or lovely seating area is also a good way to make your potager a haven from the outside world. Create a pollinator resting spot with food and water. Add an old ladder for pumpkins, squash and cucumbers. Remember to think about sun and shade patterns, make sure you have not planned any tall structures or that will cast shade over plants that cannot tolerate shade.
Potagers usually have some form of boundary to protect your plants from animals and damage. These can be natural, like using sunflowers, dwarf fruit trees, boxwood or berry busines, alternatively you could consider using existing walls or fences. Design with plant colour in mind, grouping purplish plants like Red Russian Kale, Purple Cabbage and Purple Cauliflower in one area and burgundy coloured beets, chard and leafy lettuces in another to add visual interest.
Choose unusual traditional ‘heirloom’ seeds and become passionate about their history and preserving old varieties. And don’t plant the same species all together. Not only does thisadd variety and eye appeal, but it can save your harvest from harmful insects.
No self-respecting potager would be complete without flowers – borage, sunflowers, nasturtiums and marigold are a must. A potager should have a few things you absolutely cannot get at your local grocery store or that costs a fortune to buy. Whether it’s some Gochu peppers that add flair to all your Asian cooking dishes, cardoon leaves that give snap to your pickles and pizzazz to your plate, or saffron flower stamens to spice up your stalk – adding exotics is a must!
Rotate the beds annually, this is easy to do within the principles of the potager garden, which is to harvest fresh, and either replant or rotate crops depending on the season and growing conditions. It also gives you the opportunity to redesign your garden plantings every year. And of course, remember to harvest and enjoy what you grow, as well as enjoying growing it.
If you would like help designing or building your potager then please get in touch with Inspired Gardens.