Every time I write about my potager I get a lot of comments on my blog. Growing your own veggies, herbs and fruit appeals to a lot of gardeners it seems, but many think that they don't have the space for it.
Quite a few fellow garden bloggers have asked how big my potager is, as I have a lot of produce from my kitchen garden. The answer is: not all that big actually. It's roughly 8 by 11 meters = 88 square meters, including my Victorian greenhouse.
The thing is, you don't need all that much space to grow your own food and you don't need a potager either. Many veggies, fruit and herbs can be grown in containers and even in borders. There is no law against growing food among your flowers, far from it!
Take a look at this part of my potager in Spring in the pic above. See the bed with the orange tulips? Take a good look at what's in the middle of that bed. No, it's not a rose standard, it is a gooseberry grafted on a standard. Wonderful isn't it? When you grow gooseberries that way, they don't take up all that much space and they are easy to pick too, no bending down at all. And you haven't heard the best bit yet, you can grow almost any kind of berry or currant that way. Thus leaving you with lots of space to grow lettuces, cabbages, herbs or what have you underneath.
And how about putting a few berries on standards in your border? Wouldn't they look great, adding structure and instant height to the border? Be a bit creative and think outside the potager err box. ;-)
You love fruit, but think you don't have enough space to grow your own? How's this for an idea? In my potager I have a few arches and I train raspberries, blackberries and tayberries up them. That way they don't take up all that much space and look good at the same time.
And of course, you can also grow veggies up arches such as peas, sugar snaps, climbing beans etc.
This is what I planted in early spring this year. Any idea what they are? They are apple trees, ballerina apple trees. A ballerina tree is a tree that has a trunk with many very short branches so it doesn't take up much space at all.
I've planted my 2 apple trees alongside one of the arches in my potager, because I want to train the apple trees in an arch shape. Ballerina's get to be 2.5 to 3 meters high. Of course you don't have to grow them in arches and you don't have to put them in the earth either. Growing them in big pots is fine, that way you can even grow your own apples on a balcony. Isn't that just wonderful?
Although I've planted both apple trees in Spring this year, both are bearing fruit already! And they are not the only ones, my new plum tree had lovely fruit too. I bought a fan shaped plum tree last autumn and, like the ballerina's, it doesn't take up much space either. You can put fan shaped trees up against a wall or fence or even turn them into a hedge on stilts if you use more than one tree.
Last April a close friend of mine gave me some purple potatoes. My potato bed for this year was already planted up, so I decided to put these potatoes in some big containers I had lying around.
As soon as they sprouted leaves, I topped the soil up thus making sure that the tatties were well covered with soil. If they're not covered completely the potatoes will turn green and poisonous.
The potato plants have finished flowering now, so it is almost time to harvest the tatties. I don't know if they will retain their purple colour after being boiled, so we'll have to wait and see about that.
Strawberries can be grown in pots too. You won't get a very big crop but it is worth your while to grow your own. Nothing tastes better than your own homegrown and sun kissed strawberries. In my strawberry pot I've also put a few other plants to add a bit of colour and interest.
You can grow a succession of crops on a very small bed. Here I've grown 2 kinds of lettuce and once they have been harvested, the courgette will take over. For fun I've sown some nasturtiums too. They add a bit of colour to my potager and the leaves and flowers will jazz up any kind of salad.
If you have a pergola, why not grow a grape up it, instead of roses and clematis? Just think of all the fun you will have harvesting and eating your own bunches of grapes in autumn. The leaves of the grape are pretty too, so it's visually pleasing as well.
So there you have it, you really don't need all that much space to grow a few veggies, herbs and fruit. Often a container or two will do the trick. Or just bung them in your border, train them up a wall, arch or pergola. The possibilities are almost endless. So what are you waiting for, get cracking!
My garden is the place to be
Peace to dream
Plant or read
Glen Philips, My Garden