Is your potager....

happyintexas(z7 TX)February 12, 2006

more of a veggie garden with ornamentals or an ornamental garden with veggies?

Mine is a veggie garden growing in prettiness. We've added simple wire fencing to keep the dogs out (though it doesn't stop the bunnies.) Picket fencing is in the plans for the future. We tried a simple metal arch at the rear of the area last year, but will try it at the gate this year. Rainbow chard, sunflowers and an expanded permanent herb area will add more interest.

One of my goals is to add a vertical piece of garden art. A birdhouse on a pole would be terrific. Or a small windmill....

Near the house, just out the back door, I have an ornamental bed that I plop tomatoes and herbs from time to time because I like the convenience.


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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

Your plans sound really cute. I'm a sucker for bird houses
but a windmill also would be adorable. Why not both?


    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 12:07AM
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michelelee(z8 WA)

Can I ask, what do you do with Chard? Do you grow it for looks or do you eat it. Exactly what do you do with it. I have been thinking of growing it in my potager but if its just for looks, may as well put flowers there. Anything you can tell me would be appreciated. Thaks! Michele

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 2:18AM
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My question exactly michele. I bought the seeds of 'Bright Lights' chard last year, but never got it planted. My sister raises it and told me it is beautiful to look at and to eat. I believe she told me to cook it just like spinach. I will ask her again exactly how she prepares it and share.

I definitely intend to plant mine this year.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 4:53AM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

I can't make up my mind what mine is going to be. I want it to be 'pretty' but I also want the majority to be edible or at least something that I can use in some other way.

I think it will just have to evolve over time.

The 'emergency' garden I put in (with no planning at all) to dump a truck load of bulbs turned out to be a show stopper. So I think I am inclined to just let this happen and see how it turns out.

The cool thing about gardening is that if we don't like it we can just move it around somewhere else.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 7:19AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I LOVE chard. One of my favorite recipies is to roast some portabello 'shrooms in the over with olive oil and garlic.
Now cook some chard until lightly done. Drain chard.
Slice the 'shrooms, and top chard with shrooms. Sprinkle with soy sauce or tamari. YUMOLICIOUS! I also bake tofu with the portablellos and serve it all as main course.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 12:09PM
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Funny, that's not something I ever thought about, but I guess it works out to be a little of both.

Right now the garden has arugula, , bok choy, and dill galore (it pops up wherever it feels like it). Have a couple herb beds with parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives, burnet, and (they got bit with last night's freeze).

We love chard as a side dish or with pasta for an entree.

Ginger & Garlic Braised Swiss Chard

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (or combo)
1/3 - 1/2 cup chicken broth
Swiss chard, washed, stems removed & coarsely chopped
A little sesame oil

Sauté ginger and garlic in butter for about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add chard and cook at a simmer until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drizzle with a little sesame oil.


Swiss Chard with Balsamic Vinegar

1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, stems removed, & coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Cook chard in boiling water to cover for about 3 minutes. Drain. Season with butter, balsamic vinegar, and salt & pepper. Serve immediately.


Pasta with Swiss Chard

6 oz. penne or rigatoni, cooked & drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Â 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
large bunch Swiss chard, washed, stems removed and coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion until clear. Add the mushrooms. Cook for a couple minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes, stock, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chopped Swiss chard and pine nuts. Continue cooking only until chard wilts. Add cooked pasta. Toss to coat. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 12:28PM
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Ok, gotta jump in here with this one: My adult daughter and teenage son have been doing the grocery shopping for me due to a hand injury. Returning home from a recent trip, my son proudly announced they got my scorched. ???? Rummaging around in the bags he was finally able to produce the product ... the chard I had asked for. Clearly, not a staple in this household, but it is likely to become one. Milder than spinach, it is reportedly easy to grow, has a long season, and is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, particularly A, C and K. And on top of all that, it's pretty and quick & easy to prepare.

We prefer it just barely cooked. The first recipe I tried called for briefly sauteeing the ribbons of chard in olive oil, in which a sliced garlic clove and crushed red pepper had first been sauteed, then seasonsed to taste with salt and butter before serving. We also liked a modification adding chopped bacon. Next we'll try the vinaigrette dressing or sundried tomatoes ... orrrr, maybe GGG's recipe with the portabellas - that looks good!

The prepared chard can stand alone as a side dish (I've read it's also used in omelettes and desserts), but it also makes an attractive, tasty and healthful bed for serving meat or fish. Like corn, it's best when absolutely fresh from the garden.


Oh - on track: Last year was my first year with a veggie garden, and it does seem to fit the description of a 'potager'. Tiny though it is, it has bluestone stepping stones, herbs and iron trellises and is protected by a picket fence which serves as backdrop and support for flowering plants outside the garden as well as some of the vining ones within. This year I will be working edibles into the perennial beds.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 1:13PM
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Diane, your garden sounds lovely. I'm trying to get ideas for revamping mine. Do you have any pictures to share?


    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 1:29PM
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little_dani(9, S. Tex Coast)

I plant Swiss chard 'Bright Lights' in 4" pots, then pop them in spots all over my gardens to infuse beautiful color. In the veggie garden with the cabbages, in the rose beds, in the herb beds. The beautiful colors, stems of red, pink, yellow, orange, purple.....would be worth giving it the space, even if it wasn't so good to eat!


    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 8:05AM
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newgrdenrmn(z4 MN)

Mine is a definite veggie garden....but with this new forum its all about to change! I also would appreciate any pictures to share....I have a lot of revamping to do.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 9:56AM
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mrtoad(7b NC)

before i started to build the potager i established for myself some rules - the garden must contain; veggies, fruit, herbs, flowers, and must have nifty design, plus walls - as a retired western civ. teacher i wanted an old world look - it is a work in progress

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 10:09AM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

Mine is a mixture. I underplant my roses with strawberries, and edge some of the beds with chives. I have apples espaliered to the garage wall, and 4 columnar apples against the back fence. There's a grape vine planted along the garage, and blueberry bushes in pots. I have a single peach tree in one corner of the garden. The sweet cherry died. I have no idea why. I replaced it with a crepe myrtle last fall, because the bark is so pretty.

I have two small 3x4 raised beds that I plant in the summer, and all of my tomatoes are grown in pots as ornamentals.

Its a mess, really, but I love it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 2:10PM
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dayleann(z4 VT)

Saved your chard recipes, Harper. Chard is something I've loved since I was a kid. It is one of those incredible plants that grows through heat and cold. Last fall, I was still picking chard in November, even here. I love Bright Lights-- not only is it pretty, it is one of the best tasting chards I've eaten. I just bought some seeds this morning to start in pots!

My potager in back is an ornamental veggie garden, with a few flowers to set the veggies off, but with most of the beauty deriving from the edibles. My cottage garden in front is just the opposite.

For you folks just starting with chard, it is soooo easy to grow! It is related to beets, and like beets, likes the soil a little on the sweet side, but will grow in somewhat acidic soil as well. Feed and water well.

One difference from spinach in cooking: add a little water or other liquid, as chard has more bulk than spinach. By the way-- the stems are yummy on their own, steamed like asparagus.

Diane, I love the way your garden sounds. I would like to see some photos, too!

Dayle Ann

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 2:10PM
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