Sunday, January 31, 2010
My Potager Is An Orto
Potagers are very trendy right now...everyone wants one and if they have one they want to make it bigger. Why not? You can't get much more local than your own back yard, you can control what does or doesn't get sprayed on your delicate greens, and the varieties, allowing for zonal constrictions, can suit your tastes exactly. Don't like kale? Plant more swiss chard. Don't like habaneros? Plant Italian sweet peppers. Potagers are, by definition, planted to add beauty to your landscape. They are ornamental kitchen gardens and usually incorporate flowers and perennials to enhance their visual appeal. This is about where my garden reality deviates from my fantasy. First off, I don't have a nice big space to divide into formal, balanced beds. I have two spaces in which I generally squeeze too many things and then have to climb through tomatoes to get peppers or vice versa. (And this year I will be planting one of those beds solely with French marigolds to counteract the root knot nematodes that have become a problem.) Living in California I often have winter season crops finishing up as the summer season needs to get going. So things get tucked in with something that is in the way and beauty and balance just don't come easy with that approach. So at this point I see no potager in my future...I will be planting an orto. Orto is the Italian word for vegetable garden and that is what mine will be. I'll have my local vegies and herbs, they will suit my tastes, they will be chemical free and they will hopefully grow with abandon. And that, to me, is beautiful.