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  • Writer's pictureMallory Warner

The Potager: Planting a French Garden

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Spring is just around the corner in the Pacific Northwest, and it's time to put that green thumb to work and begin planning my summer garden. The beauty of Seattle weather is the long growing season, especially for greens. The Potager is the French version of a kitchen garden. A kitchen garden can include herbs, vegetables, and fruits; anything edible. I love walking into my yard and picking herbs and vegetables to incorporate into my cooking all season long. So here are my recommendations for planting your very own French potager.

Potagers are a mix of plants, fruits, and vegetables. While some kitchen gardens can be quite large (think of the Chateau Versailles!), I plan on keeping mine smaller and using containers to grow since I do not have a designated garden space in my yard. Using containers also helps me move to find the best light for each plant. When planning your garden, consider how you use the space to plant a diverse crop. Also, consider what plants grow best together, when to plant each seed or starter, and what grows best in the sunlight and climate of your region.

What can we find growing in French kitchen gardens? Herbs are a great way to start and can be cultivated quickly, even on your window sill. Common herbs in French cooking are French tarragon (different from Mexican tarragon), rosemary, chervil, dill, chives, basil, oregano, and savory. You can use these herbs fresh or dry them to make your own herbs de Provence using rosemary, basil, oregano, and savory. I also grow thyme, mint, and sage in my garden.

Next, I select a variety of salad greens to make vibrant salads all summer. A key to a french salade is texture. Select lettuces that have a combination of crunch, spiciness, and mouth-feel. This season, I selected a Provencal mix seed blend that includes chervil, arugula, lettuce, and endive to give a variety of flavors and textures.

The Pacific Northwest is fantastic for growing so many fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, tomatoes can be a bit tricky, although it is getting easier with climate change and increasingly warmer summers. To get the best luck, I pick small varieties of tomatoes, such as sunbursts or cherry tomatoes.

Every French garden is complete with a touch of lavender. Lavender grows well in Seattle, and the PNW and plants are easy to find at your local greenhouse or big-box hardware store. Plant your lavender in a place where you can enjoy its beautiful scent year after year.

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