A potager is simply a kitchen garden laid out in a decorative manner with design consideration to structure, colour, foliage, aspect and companion planting.
To me, the ultimate potager would provide plentiful high quality produce all-year round and create a harmonious environment for rest and reflection!
Homegrown vegetables are flavoursome, packed with nutrients and don’t cost you a small fortune, unlike those sold in the supermarkets. Also, you only have to walk out the kitchen door to access these yummies, with the confidence that they have not been sprayed with any nasty pesticides. Lets get started!
It’s important to plant your vegetables at the right time of the year, in this way plants are less likely to bolt or succumb to adverse climatic conditions. I have spent a bit of time researching when best to plant vegetables in the Cromwell basin, Central Otago, New Zealand. This area is fortunate to have a continental climate, an average low annual rainfall of 446mm, drying north westerly winds and average temperatures ranging from minus 7.6 to positive 32.3 ° C. Our first frost occurs in Autumn around the last week of April and continues into Spring about the last week of October.
The hot summer temperatures are great for growing mediterranean vegetables- tomatoes, basil and chilli’s can grow outside, these veges are fab to use straight from the garden on your wood-fired pizzas. Other vegetables that need more moisture such as carrots are not quite so easy to grow, you will need to determine a frequency for irrigation. So, although these climatic conditions make growing vegetables no easy feat, if you get it right you will reap the rewards.
The table below provides a vegetable planting guide for Central Otago, these are recommendations only- some keen gardeners in the district may increase their planting period by the use of glasshouses, cloches and automated irrigation systems.
The key for the table is: F, full sun; PS, partial shade; IS, indoor seed planting; OS, outdoor seed planting; OC, outdoor clove planting; P, seedling planting. The numbering refers to the following 1/4, first week of the month; 2/4, second week of the month; 3/4, third week of the month; 4/4, fourth week of the month.