I bet you didn’t know you wanted a Potager Garden! After years of dissatisfaction with planning and executing a successful vegetable garden, I landed on a design and a process that is fun and checks all the boxes. Bam! I wanted a Potager Garden too. Here I share the idea and give you the option to buy the plans with lists of how-to.

If you love gardening for the same reasons I love gardening, this modern potager garden is for you. I love how gardening connects me to the earth, that I am growing delicious food and beautiful flowers, and the activity level of the endeavor. I don’t relish the time it can take just to plan the garden, following all the many rules for a successful harvest, and all the aspects that seem to suck the joy out of the process for me. OH, and animals, I don’t like it when they come in midstream and wipe out my garden. Hate that.

Over time, after successes and failures, I’ve changed the way I do things to preserve the joy of gardening, reduce stress, and increase the fun and usefulness of a garden that reaches a successful harvest. Hence, my design for a “modern” potager garden. This garden design follows the principles of a traditional “kitchen garden”, in its most functional way, but leaves room for ease of care and fun in planning, heck even spontaneity, because in reality, I think that’s what the majority of gardeners either can handle or are up for. Let’s go!

What is a potager garden?

A potager garden is the French-derived name for what is also known as a kitchen garden, which describes a garden with vegetables, herbs, and flowers planted together in an area near a home’s kitchen. It is meant to be a practical garden, and in “olden times” if you will, in England and other locations, it was meant to be separate from other more formal flower gardens that might exist on a large property. Point of interest, a surge in the use of these kitchen gardens occurred after WWII when food supplies were scarce, and it became very common for most residences to have a kitchen garden.

What makes these designs a modern potager garden?

I’m calling my garden design a Modern Potager Garden because of its size and because whereas traditional kitchen gardens were heavily used by large families cooking for many, in modern times it is more likely for people to be working outside the home (or at least working at a job) and have less time and attention to give a kitchen garden. Also my research tells me many of you are interested in planting a Potager garden by name. Finally, I call it modern because the way I approach cooking, gardening and all the related activities is decidedly different and unique, to reflect our current lives. Little did I know, as I designed this method for a garden that I was designing what is known as a kitchen or potager garden.

All three designs planted:

Above: Here you can see the three designs planted, using some seedlings and some rows of seeds. cut straws and string denote the rows where the seeds were planted. These are pulled out once the seeds sprout.

The basics of this modern potager garden

  • Herein are offered three designs (I use raised beds) as follows:
    • 8’x4’ garden layout 
    • 8’x4’ garden layout
    • 4’x 4’ garden layout
  • Each design includes a mix of vegetables, flowers, and herbs. You can choose to plant just one of the designs and still grow veggies, herbs, and flowers. I chose these three categories to grow because I use them the most and they are versatile. I also wanted to experience the joy of cutting flowers all summer for bouquets. Also, greens and herbs take up much less room than sprawling veggies. For example, I used to use a whole bed for six tomato plants that produced nothing until late August and the harvest was never a sure thing.
  • The designs specify a mix of seeds and seedlings (a.k.a. Starts)
  • Most of the vegetables are greens that allow for continuous planting throughout the season for more yield.
  • Most of the herbs can be dried at the end of the season for use the rest of the year.
  • Some of the flowers have edible blooms.
  • Each of these gardens are small.
  • The designs bring beauty and aesthetics to a food garden without actually knowing that’s what you are creating, it’s so easy.
  • The small scale makes it easy to walk amongst and enjoy continuous harvesting throughout the season, rather than waiting so long for veggies to mature.

Above: More views of the same three designs just after planting, with the sun shining.

The cost of planting this garden

This can vary. Depending on whether you buy fancy organic ones, or from your local big box store or grocery. I use a mix of seeds (average $2.50 per pack) and seedlings/starts (average $4.99 per plant). The average cost is listed with the plan (under $100 per each design, under $200 if you plant all three designs). It is more expensive to use the seedlings/starts but this is an important aspect to easier gardening, to cut yourself a break.

How to use these plans

  • Choose the plan you want, or two of them, or all three.
  • Use my lists to shop for seeds/plants. 
  • Purchase a few bags of compost/natural fertilizer if you want to enrich the soil. Raised beds need this more than inground gardens. I recommend the no-till method which requires no turning over of the soil.
  • Use straws/sticks and string to denote the seed rows.
  • Go to town planting. Follow the design which mixes rows and start plants and creates an aesthetically pleasing arrangement to look at through the summer.
  • I only water every couple of days until germination and the seedlings are a few inches tall, then I water as little as possible (to conserve water). And of course, this all depends on the weather.

Above and Below: in eight weeks (by mid July) the flowers are fully grown and in bloom for a summer of cut bouquets!

Timeline: how will the garden progress through the summer?

  • Designed for growing in zones 4-7 (cooler, more Northern USA zones).
  • Garden planted in stages starting 1st week in May. This means that you can break it down into manageable tasks. One day plant some seedlings/starts and a couple rows of seeds. A few days later plant some more, and so on. After 7-10 days you will have planted all three gardens (or however many of the plans you decided to plant). I typically visit a couple local nurseries, my local food coop and occasionally a big box store’s nursery to find the variety of seed packs and veggie starts I need. This breaks up the task nicely and makes the outings more fun.
  • Seeds will be fully sprouted and a couple of inches tall 2-3 weeks after you plant them (by end of May)
  • Harvesting starts by end of June (4-6 weeks after planting) and continues all summer, except for greens that bolt (see info box below) and fennel and carrots which are root vegetables and take until August.
  • The Garden is Fully grown and in full bloom by mid-July
  • Continue to harvest until October. Herbs, kale and flowers will keep producing for over three months!.
Closeup Photo of Sprout.

Growing greens that “bolt”

In this garden the cilantro, spinach and arugula will “bolt” after a month or so. This means that the greens get taller (though the spinach does not get very tall) and then shoots are sent up from the plants that have flower blossoms on them. Once this happens, the plant is done producing it’s tasty leaves (they get bitter). You can pull the plants out and plant new seeds for another round of those greens.

Above: Some unusual uses for the greens you grow can be to make sandwich wraps (I made turkey burgers here), using collard green leaves (I like to blanch them but you don’t have to), or to quick pickle the greens (here I pickled radish greens before growing season).

Above: June and July bouquets from the garden

June and July flower bouquets cut from garden

  1. Purple Bouquet – Baptista (from a perennial in the yard), Chive blossoms, Salvia.
  2. Mixed Bouquet – Salvia, Pink Daisies, Yellow Daisies, Peach Snapdragons (annuals I snuck into an open spot in the garden).
  3. Pink bouquet – Cosmos and Salvia.

Above: September and early October bouquets from the garden

September and early October flower bouquets cut from garden

  1. Yellow Bouquet – Three different types of Calendula.
  2. Pink Bouquet – Cosmos and Salvia.
  3. Mixed Bouquet – Salvia and Calendula varieties.
herbs hanging in the kitchen window drying.

Above: Once late September comes, all the herbs can be cut, bound, and hung inside to dry for use all winter (you can also freeze some that don’t dry well in baggies)


Why plant these particular vegetables and flowers?

Because they give you continuous harvesting. Some greens will bolt after a month such as arugula, cilantro and spinach (you can pull and plant more seeds!), but kale, collards, and cabbage can be harvested throughout the summer. For a small garden, this is preferable to taking up a lot of space for tomatoes or cucumbers that sprawl, are unwieldy and take much of the summer to mature (if you are even lucky).

Do I need to fertilize?

You do not. If you are replanting in established raised beds, like I am, this is the best case for adding in some fertilizer. Just lay on top using the no-till method.

How do I keep pests out of the garden?

The design of these gardens helps keep pests out by including flowers, since flowers deter pests and attract good insects!

Above: This design does not specify growing beans or radishes, but quick pickling (and fermenting) is a great way to harvest veggies you can’t eat within a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for recipes about that!

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