Yesterday, we talked about why you might want to create a secondary (or primary, if need be) culinary garden known as a potager. Today, let’s take a closer look at how to choose the right plants for this special garden.
One of the main benefits of creating a potager is the added convenience of having fresh ingredients right outside your door while you cook. So choosing the right location – one in close proximity to your kitchen – is important. (You can read more about Picking the Perfect Spot for your Potager here).
Due to their close proximity to the house, kitchen gardens are generally more compact than traditional vegetable gardens. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but having a culinary garden close enough to offer easy access while you are cooking may limit the amount of space you have available.
If you find you only have limited space available to plant a kitchen garden, here is a good rule of thumb to consider while selecting plants for it:
A regular vegetable garden is about planning for the future, while a kitchen garden is about enjoying today.
Therefore, the fruits and vegetables you plan to freeze, can or otherwise preserve for future use – or more space-intensive crops (e.g. corn) – are good choices for a traditional vegetable garden where space is at less of a premium.
On the other hand, kitchen gardens are normally filled with the items you prepare and eat while fresh. Therefore, containers of fresh herbs, compact cherry tomato plants, or an assortment of leaf lettuce varieties all make great additions to a potager.
If space is extremely tight, a potager can function as your main garden, as well. With careful planning, a small kitchen garden can keep you in fresh, delicious produce all season long.
Picking the Right Plants for Your Potager
Of course, the easiest way to decide what to grow in your potager is to take a close look at how you cook and what recipes you reach for again and again. For example, if you use a lot of fresh herbs to season your dishes, you’ll want to keep a big pot of your favorite varieties on hand. Your kids can’t get enough of your homemade salsa? Plan to have a steady supply of fresh cilantro and juicy tomatoes nearby.
Clearly, it makes sense that you’d want to stock your kitchen garden with the fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers you use in your day-to-day cooking. These are the items you will want to have convenient access to throughout the growing season.
If you do have limited planting space to work with, a little creativity will serve you well. Look for compact varieties of your favorite plants ~ and ways to take advantage of untapped vertical space.
We’ll dig into specific ways to GROW UP in more detail tomorrow. 🙂