What Is A Kitchen Garden or a Potager? – Free Plans for a French Kitchen Garden

For the past 100 years or so, many homes have incorporated flower gardens into their landscapes, but that has not always been true. By the time of the Renaissance, gardens became part of most of the European lifestyle.

Image result for formal renaissance garden

Many of the earliest gardens–especially those that were associated with large estates–were formal, highly stylized, heavily manicured, stiff, and unnatural plantings.

By the late Middle Ages, however–probably as a reaction against the Plague–commoners also began to plant gardens.  The purpose of the commoners’ gardens was to provide a place to grow herbs and healthy foods, During the Middle Ages, peasant gardeners were more interested in meats, honey, herbs, and other medicinal plants than they were in growing flowering plants. In other words, the early peasant gardens were focused on functionality rather than on luxury.

Yet, many of the medicinal plants and herbs, like calendulas, do produce flowers. Calendulas are a perennial type of marigolds, but they are not the same as the common marigolds sold as annuals.

“Calendula is a plant. The flower is used to make medicine.

Calendula flower is used to prevent muscle spasms, start menstrual periods, and reduce fever. It is also used for treating sore throat and mouth, menstrual cramps, cancer, and stomach and duodenal ulcers. Calendula has also been used for measles, smallpox, and jaundice.

Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling (inflammation) and to treat poorly healing wounds and leg ulcers. It is also applied to the skin (used topically) for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), ear infection, gum disease, peeling lips (exfoliative cheilitis), diaper rash, vaginal yeast infection, and inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis). Essential oil of calendula has been used as an insect repellant.

Don’t confuse calendula with ornamental marigolds of the Tagets genus, which are commonly grown in vegetable gardens.” Web MD

Primroses were some of the earliest of flowering plants added to the gardens of commoners, and they were also used as a source of food.

“Of all the flowers in the garden the primrose, in all its many forms, must be one of the best loved, and it has been grown in cottage gardens since Tudor times.”  The Cottage Gardener’s Companion, p. 5.

“Primroses provide you with early spring blooms in almost every color of the rainbow. They prefer cool temperatures, a rich humus soil (lots of compost and leaf mold) and partial shade. They appreciate full sun in the spring, but must have semi-shade as the temperatures warm. They are quite tolerant of being transplanted, even when they are in bloom. They should be planted in a cool, partly shady area in the garden with rich, well-draining, slightly acid soil (pH 6.5). Primroses need to be planted so that their crown is right at soil level and at least six inches apart. Read the Full Article Here

Hollyhocks were some of the earliest of cultivars planted in cottage gardens, merely because of their flowering, and hollyhocks are still considered to be staples of the cottage gardens.

Gradually, more and more flowering plants,–even roses–were added to the cottage gardens.

Peasant’s Garden -Robert Vonnoch

What Is A Cottage Garden? Which Flowers Should I Plant in My Cottage Garden?

I have read that as people began planting their food, as opposed to hunting and gathering, the first actual kitchen gardens began.  You might think that any place that we grow food is a kitchen garden or what the French would call a potager.  Yet, in my mind, a kitchen garden is a spot where edibles, herbs, and flowers are intermingled.  On the other hand, a strict vegetable garden is a more utilitarian plot, where nothing more than rows and rows of things to eat are planted.

Better Homes & Gardens has designed a free plan for a large 30′ x 30′ kitchen garde:  https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plans/vegetable/kitchen-garden-plan/

Most of us don’t have enough space to planta full 30′ x 30′ vegetable garden, but it can be separated into 4 separate 12′ x 13′ sections. By closely examining this plan, we might learn how to design a smaller version of this scheme, or we might rotate our garden spaces by planting a different section of the design each year.

Section A

A – 4 Moonflowers -These are planted to climb across the arch that separates  Sections A & B
K – 3 Cherry Tomatoes – Climbing up the fence
I – Beefsteak Tomato
J – 2 Zucchini Squash – Climbing of trellises
E – 30 Cabbages – [I plan to plant far fewer cabbages and plant radishes, lettuce, onions & carrots, too]
H – 30 Marigolds [I plan to substitute calendulas]

Section B

 

A – 4 Moonflowers -These are planted to climb across the arch that separates  Sections A & B
K – 3 Cherry Tomatoes – Climbing up the fence
I – Beefsteak Tomato
E – 30 Cabbages – [I plan to plant far fewer cabbages and plant radishes, lettuce, onions & carrots, too]
H – 30 Marigolds [I plan to substitute calendulas]

Section C

A – 4 Moonflowers -These are planted to climb across the arch that separates  Sections C & D
B – Carrots [I’ll Plant Something Else]
C – 6 Bell Peppers
D- 9 Swiss Chards
E – 30 Cabbages – [I plan to plant far fewer cabbages and plant radishes, lettuce, onions & carrots, too]
H – 30 Marigolds [I plan to substitute calendulas]

Section D

A – 4 Moonflowers -These are planted to climb across the arch that separates  Sections C & D
E – 30 Cabbages – [I plan to plant far fewer cabbages and plant radishes, lettuce, onions & carrots, too]
H – 30 Marigolds [I plan to substitute calendulas]
L – Peas
M – 6 Green Beans

Better Homes and Gardens has also posted a plan for a French-inspired cottage garden or a potager.


The Cloisters in New York City

|
The Cloisters in New York City

Here is what BHG Online has to say about the concept of employing trellises in the garden: “Include trellises, obelisks, or tuteurs in your raised-bed gardening plans. Buy or build one or two to grow vining crops such as peas, beans, cucumbers, and even tomatoes. The extra height brings visual drama to your plantings, especially if most of what you grow is relatively short.” See more images and the rest of the opinion at: https://cottagegardenliving.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/benefits-of-raised-bed-vegetable-gardening/


The Cloisters in New York City

Raised Beds, Attingham Walled Garden

In the above photo, the wattle was created by weaving hazel branches.

The Better Homes and Gardens French-inspired garden plan also makes use of wattling and hand-woven trellises and fences. Learn about wattle here:

Why Everyone Needs A Secret Garden – A Garden Plan for Softening a Privacy Fence and Melding It Into the Garden

“Old-world monastery gardens inspire today’s useful and ornamental kitchen gardens. Channel your inner French chef with a garden filled with fresh produce and herbs right out your back door. Plant your kitchen garden close to your house, where you’re likely to walk past it every day. Enclose it with a gate or fence so you not only keep out animals, but also create your own garden oasis separate from the rest of your yard. Finally, incorporate structure — for example, the bamboo trellises here — to provide architectural detail while supporting climbing beans, peas, and other vines ”
https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plans/vegetable/french-kitchen-garden-plan/

French Inspired Kitchen Garden plan

Sections A & B French

1. Marigolds – I’ll substitute calendulas
2. Thai basil [A tender perennial – only survives in zone 10 or warmer
3. Pepper
4. Leeks
5. Pole beans
6. Tomato
7. Sweet basil
8. Garlic
9. Zucchini squash
10. Nasturtiums
11. Okra
12. Lettuce
13. Celery
14. Pepper
15. Zinnia
16. Tomato
17. Kale
18. Tomato
19. Cucumber
20. Sweet alyssum

Sections C & D French Potager


1. Marigolds – I’ll substitute calendulas
4. Leeks
5. Pole beans
9. Zucchini squash [I’ll substitute yellow squash]
10. Nasturtiums
15. Zinnia
20. Sweet alyssum
21. Scarlet Runner Bean
22. Heirloom Green Basil
23. Kale rainbow
24. Purple Bush Beans
25. Tall zinnia
26. Lettuce
27. Zinnia – Granny’s bouquet
28. Flat-Leafed Parsley
29. Lavender [Spanish and French Lavender are not hardy in colder climates. For zone 6, English Lavender is best.
30. Tomato Chocolate Cherry
31. Romaine
32. Red Oakleaf
33. Eggplant Fairy Tale
34. Basil
35. Mint

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *