Ornamental kitchen garden and companion planting
Potagers, Orchards and Pretty Vegetable gardens - Companion planting is edible beauty
With good planning, even a small plot is enough to provide a family with vegetables, herbs and flowers for most of the year Vegetables are annuals that are planted or sown at different times of they year, so it is important to plan vegetables to occupy beds in rotation, to prevent a buildup of pests and diseases. Another solution is to grow them together, keeping in mind that not all vegetable like growing together, or have similar needs, while others are good neighbours that will profit from the association. Companion planting consists in associating vegetables with flowering annuals or herbs that keep off noxious insects or promote benefical ones. Tagetes (Marigold) is one of the most commonly used flower in companion planting. I also use Tropeolum (Nasturtiums) and aromatic herbs, such as basil. I can testify to its effectiveness in my kitchen garden. Certainly plants grow more well together and there is more variety for the table, and ornamental flowers also sustain pollinating insects. And if the crop is meagre who cares, the mixed beds still look great.
Vegetable gardens need not be hidden from view, if they are well planned for year-round interest and ease of maintenance. The 'potager' is a vegetable garden laid out in a decorative way, which also incorporates flowering plants or decorative hedging. Raised beds, fencing, ornamental trellis, and other permanent features are part of its appeal.
Larger gardens and bigger budgets allow for grander 'potagers', inspired by the famous medieval-style one in Villandry. Here vegetables are tightly planted in rows and blocks, for a seasonal succession of vegetable color.
In my own design for a potager in England, symmetrical borders hedged in box, holding a variety of herbs, are the focus of the view from the conservatory. Beyond them are vegetable beds, divided by paths and easy to tend thanks to the nearby shed.
The potager centres on a simple water feature, which can be seen from the house. The potager is made enjoyable by comfortable seats, and is flanked by a rose-covered tunnel that leads to the rest of the grounds, while setting it apart as a separate walled garden.
A tool shed, seed beds, paths, a water faucet, are integral part of the garden's design. A garden that is easy to mantain makes chores lighter and brings better results. Even a small kitchen garden, if well planned, can produce enough vegetables for your family and be the highlight of your garden.