I have been planting potagers before I even knew what the term meant. From little on, I got no end of thrills from planting seeds from my breakfast melon into the yard and waiting for them to grow. As I got older I expanded into growing herbs, and then, once I had a place of my own, created a potager. A potager is a small French kitchen garden that generally consists of edible plants, both beautiful and functional, that are used with frequency in the kitchen. It is planted close to the house (kitchen) for convenience and, ideally, it is a garden from which you can harvest three out of four seasons.
My former house sat on an acre of land, an acre of shady land with only a sliver of it touched by the sun. It was during my tenure there that I learned the French way of kitchen gardening: to plant the things I used the most, to not run wild planting just one item (like 20 tomato plants just because I could not resist the end-of-the-season clearance sale), and plant herbs that would benefit me daily. Every garden, I find, is a learning experience.
My new house has a small yard that I have yet to draw into quadrants to create four, individual, but dazzling gardens, complete with stone pathways connecting them all, and a small koi pond and secret garden in the back. While I wait for the time and money, not to mention energy to create my dream space, I continue to plant my potager, but this year it is in containers and on the back deck.
I generally get quite out of control at garden centers, overbuying and then getting completely stressed trying to figure out what to do with everything. So now, I shop at local markets that only take cash, bless them, and, as when I'm in the grocery store, I shop from a list.
I mixed things up a bit this year intermixing vegetables with flowers. I love to see the look on people's faces when they peer into the flower boxes to admire the flowers, only to find cauliflower growing in the corner.
An advocate of re-growing kitchen scraps, I have my usual containers of scallion roots and leek bases growing, along with sprouted garlic, but this year I decided to experiment, and shoved a ginger root into the grow. It's growing! I'll have a blast watching this all summer long (which, I suppose, just goes to show how starved I am for real entertainment).
Another new addition to the garden is this artichoke plant. In years past I have tried, unsuccessfully, to grow them from seed. This year I found a plant at the local stand and nearly knocked an elderly woman over lunging for it. It is growing like a weed (most probably because, as a member of the thistle family, it really is sort of a weed). But hopes are high that by summer's end, I'll be eating my own home grown artichokes.
Mr. O-P thrilled me beyond words by gifting me with a Calamondin orange tree and a Meyer lemon tree. I've had limited success growing these in the past, but these look hale and hardy, and I've been given detailed instructions from a friend who grows these as easily as some grow dandelions, so I am hoping to not only enjoy the literal fruits of my labors, but be able to overwinter them and enjoy citrus for many years to come. I’ll keep you posted.
What do you have growing?
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