Potager gardening is practiced throughout France, even in the smallest city backyard. Potager gardens are a type of intensive gardening method. The difference is that everything is grown together in a harmonious way-you plant edible flowers, vegetables, herbs and spices together. These gardens are nutrient-balanced-for example, you pair a plant that gives nitrogen to the soil with a fruit or vegetable that uses nitrogen to produce its crop. French gardens are as lovely as they are useful. An added bonus is that they are easy to maintain with very little weeding necessary.
Choose a sunny area of the yard for your potager garden. Your vegetables need plenty of sunshine to produce their maximum yield. If the sunny section has poor drainage after heavy rain, then add some soil to even out the landscape.
Potager gardens have a birdbath or a fountain to attract the butterflies and bees that pollinate the plants. Pollination must occur or the plant will not produce food. You may also want to decorate your garden with statues or modern sculpture. Place these heavier items in the garden before planting anything so you will not compact the soil around tender young plants.
If your garden will be larger than you can reach by hand from the outside, then place bricks or paving stones down the center of the garden so you will not step on the soil while everything is growing.
Design your garden by first considering the nutritional requirements of the plants you have selected. Then, pair the plants by their mature size. Place larger plants, such as tomatoes, where they will not block sunlight from shorter plants, such as lettuce.
The next step in your design is to develop a successive planting chart. The French grow food in their garden throughout most of the year. They may start with an early crop in the spring, put those plants in the compost bin in June, plant a summer crop in the same space in the garden, and then follow that crop with an autumn crop. Then, in November, they dig up plants that can be grown indoors, pot them for the winter, and either place them in a sunny room inside the house or use grow lights. Other plants are over-wintered outside.
Test the soil for nutrients and add an organic fertilizer, if necessary. Buy a small compost bin that you can add to during the year to replace the purchase of fertilizer. Modern compost bins are designed to blend in with the landscape and do not have any odor. Place your grass cuttings, hedge clippings and end of season plant refuse into the bin to have compost that returns nutrition to the soil.
Buy or build trellises and tomato cages. Potager gardens use trellises extensively. This is how they grow so much food in such a small space â the garden grows vertically. A small garden of 8 feet by 8 feet can grow enough food for a family of four if well planned and maintained. Examine any trellises that you buy to be certain that they will support the weight of a group of plants loaded down with fruits and vegetables.
Plant the seeds or seedlings very close together, significantly closer than what the seed packet recommends since the plants will be growing vertically. Pull any weeds as soon as you see them and toss them in the trash can, not the compost bin, to avoid having a bunch of weed seeds in your garden the following year.