It was in July last year that I stumbled on a charming little vegetable garden on Pinterest. It was just a small portion of a backyard where tomatoes, herbs, sunflowers, and lettuce are growing quite splendidly. I was in awe. I said to myself that I am going to make that kind of garden in my backyard too. Even though I was just looking for ways to care for my struggling tomatoes at that time!
So there I was, pulling grass and preparing the soil for the garden I envision in my head. From one tomato plant, I added two eggplants, a chili plant, a native lime tree and a guava tree which I know would take years to mature.
…And being a home cook, I often use herbs in my marinades and dishes for family dinners. I planted basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme –the four herbs I always use. Then I planted lavender for I read somewhere that aside for its lovely aroma, it repels mosquitoes too. Talk about dual purpose for this beauty!
I was already happy with all that was in my garden but I felt something was missing. Everything is green. I felt there should be a pop of color here and there. So we added marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, and roses. In gardening, there is what is called companion planting.
What is Companion Planting?
It is a technique used by gardeners of planting a certain crop side-by-side with a partner plant to help each other meet their nutrient requirements, growth habits, or pest repelling qualities.
An example is tomato, basil, and marigold. Basil planted near tomatoes make tomatoes taste better. Tomatoes due to its height in turn give shade to the basil. Marigolds for its part repel pest that could attack the tomatoes and improve the soil where it is planted. For more info on companion planting, click on this link.
I am satisfied with this small portion of land where vegetables and flowers sit side-by-side. But what I am really proud of is though it is rather small, this garden always serve its purpose. I can just walk to it and get handfuls of herbs for my marinades. Or I can cut a few basils for my pasta dishes. I only planted the veggies we use a lot for I don’t want to grow more than what we need. Convenience is the key factor here.
So what do you call this particular garden? I also asked the same thing 8 months ago.
It is called a potager.
What is a Potager?
Pronounced ( puh-ta-zhay ); it means a kitchen garden. Where you admire its beautiful flowers yet it is placed near a kitchen so you can have the herbs or vegetables you need for your cooking.
“A traditional French kitchen garden ~ potager ~ mingles vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs to make the function of providing food for the table aesthetically pleasing. An urban potager uses every inch of available space, growing edibles and ornamentals on balconies, patios, porches and rooftops.” ~Cynthia Brown, the Smithsonian Gardens’ Education Specialist
My family and I took turns caring for our small potager. We were ecstatic upon seeing the first orbs of tomatoes growing bigger each day. My kids also felt the worry I was having when I first pruned the basils thinking that I might kill it. We became sad as we saw our rosemary dying due to an unknown pest back in December. Only to be cheered when we harvested our tomatoes and basils for the first time!
Gardening is really a happy trial and error thing. Some may grow, others may die but it is seeing something grow and the chance to taste the fruits of one’s labor that makes it fulfilling. The task requires hardwork and lots of patience. Yet for me, gardening is a creative journey.
So, go ahead be inspired. Keep on dreaming and start your own potager.