“A Potager Dream”

Photo credit to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension


A series of articles presented by Candy Horton, OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, Clermont County

One day as I was skimming through the most recent issue of “Country Gardens “magazine, I came upon an article written by Paige Porter Fischer titled “Designed to Delight”.  It’s an article about a woman, Helen Norman, and her desire to have a simple kitchen garden and how that turned into a very beautiful Potager Garden.  I had never heard of a Potager Garden, nor ever seen one.  I was immediately hooked!  I love the structure, the tranquility, and the sense of peace in the architectural details.   Written documentation of the Potager garden goes all the way back to around the 1500s and possibly earlier.  A Potager Garden comes from the French term Potager.  It’s also known as an English Kitchen Garden and they are gardens that were close to the kitchen.  They grew crops all year round and they grew anything that was edible, vegetables, fruits, flowers, berry bushes, trees, and more.  The idea was to provide the home with fresh food all year long.  They were also structured and held architectural elements of interest and a water feature of some sort.   In reading about this garden, I began to dream about building one of my own.  Questions started flying at me and I quickly realized that I would need to sit down and start writing out all of the questions and finding answers to each one as I go and that by taking this project one step at a time, I will eventually have a beautiful Potager Garden.

The first question that I asked myself was “Is it possible to grow crops all year round in Ohio”?  To find that answer I researched through several sources, one through my local Ohio State University Extension articles, another was the North Carolina Extension articles, and the third through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden articles.  These three sources, along with a couple of others, show that I should be able to grow a variety of vegetables through the winter with just a couple of adjustments to my garden plan.  This is very exciting news to know that I can have a very close version of the Potager Garden right here in southern Ohio!   It’s also very exciting to think that I can also have fresh food all year long rather than just during the summer months!

What I found in my research is that a lot of the cooler weather crops have a better flavor when grown in early spring, fall and winter, especially after the first frost.  Insects and pests are less of an issue than during the warmer months.  You are able to get several harvests of crops using secession planting, growing them in the spring and then again in the fall.  There are several lettuce varieties, kale, and collard greens that grow really well in the winter months.  I will need to make sure to use the right ones for each of the seasons.  Using a cold frame or hoops and plastic coverings will protect these plants from the snow and ice which in turn allows them to keep growing.  They will grow at a slower rate during the winter but will continue to grow with proper care.

Now that you know what a Potager Garden is, we can look at the next question, “Where will I put my Potager garden”? Watch for the next article in the series, A Potager Dream.

2 thoughts on ““A Potager Dream”

  1. I enjoyed the article written by Candy Horton. I have been gardening for many years, and am intrigued by the concept of the Potager Garden. I have never tried growing crops year round. As a member of a local garden club, I am sure members would also like to hear more on this subject. Would Candy be interested in speaking to a group of like minded gardeners? How could I get in touch with her?

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