Edible Gardens / Potagers

EDIBLE GARDENS are experiencing a renaissance and are increasingly popular. They can consist of a few vegetable raised beds or be an extensive, designed garden with aesthetic features, such as in the French Kitchen Garden or Potager. They can be an outstanding, decorative asset to your landscape, as well as producing delicious, organic produce and fruit. Every landscape can include edible plants, with many heirloom and new varieties readily available. They are best combined with texture interest and contrasting color in mind, in addition to their culinary properties. Vegetables come in ranges of blue-green, red and bright green leaf colors. Various herbs and aromatic perennials and shrubs, such as Lavender, can be included. You may also wish to plant annuals and perennial cut flowers. And hen houses and chickens can be integrated too. Edible gardens perform well in the Mid-Columbia, with its abundant sunshine during the summer months. Sheltering the garden from strong winds and choosing the correct varieties according to the site’s elevation are considerations.

FRENCH KITCHEN GARDEN/ POTAGER: A potager is a structured ornamental vegetable garden, its beds often designed formally in repetitive, geometric patterns. A potager has year-round visual appeal. A series of paths connect the beds, wide enough for comfortable garden work and comfortable to walk on. 

RAISED BEDS lend themselves to this garden style. They produce earlier and abundant crops, especially if filled with the right soil mix. We prefer rough-cut cedar or Juniper lumber as a building material for these beds. Wood plastic composite materials such as Trex or TimberTech are also an option, as are COR 10 metal or stone. 2×8 or 2×10 top boards double as sitting ledges, also allowing for comfortable gardening. Trellises attached to the back or center of raised beds offer support for tomatoes or climbing plants, and add ornamental quality.

ENCLOSURE: Edible gardens may be partially or fully surrounded by a low hedge or fence, lending privacy and creating a delightful garden space. Boundary plants may be shrub roses, ornamental shrubs or edible plants. Berry plants such as Blueberries, Red Currants or trellised Raspberries can be used as background or enclosure shrubs, being ornamental as well as edible. Blueberry leaves display vibrant red fall color as an added bonus. With the selection of several different Blueberry cultivars, harvest can last over two months.

If deer are present, edible gardens need to be surrounded by an at least 8 feet high fence, e.g. wire mesh or Polypropylene Deer Control Fence.

FRUIT TREES may be espaliered. In Hood River County, with its major fruit industry, fruit trees in home gardens need to be sprayed, to prevent them from acting as hosts for insects such as Codling Moth, which could infest commercial orchards.

ORNAMENTAL ELEMENTS: Your edible garden can contain decorative and supporting vertical elements such as fences, trellises, obelisks and arches. Sculpture, birdbaths, and containers form focal points and add interest. You may even wish to build a small greenhouse or cold frame, extending the growing season and raising your own vegetable starts.

CHICKEN COOP / HEN HOUSE: Raising female chickens for egg production has become popular over the past few years. Liberal literature is available on the subject. In general, 12 chickens seem to be a good number for a medium-sized household. Ideally, each chicken needs 4 square feet of outdoor run, plus a nest box and perch in an indoor space. 2 to 3 square feet of indoor space per hen is recommended. Generally, the chicken coop is not insulated. The hen house can be designed as a decorative building, mirroring features of a nearby home or barn, therefore linking the two. A movable Chicken Tractor is also an option.

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Striking and functional hen house, The Dalles, Oregon

Striking and functional hen house, The Dalles, Oregon

Residential Potager

A beautiful example of an ornamental vegetable garden, this Potager is part of a residential garden in The Dalles, Oregon. Raised beds are arranged in long rows, with an octagon-shaped bed framing the right side of the garden. Wintergreen boxwood hedges add structure and a finished edge to the garden. The potager overlooks rolling hills of cherry orchards.

 BEFORE PHOTOS
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Measuring the future potager site in January

Measuring the future potager site in January

Colored Potager Design

Colored Potager Design

 AFTER PHOTOS
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Thirteen years later, the potager is still going strong, late June

Thirteen years later, the potager is still going strong, late June

A birdhouse, garden art and annuals embellish the magnificent potager, late June

A birdhouse, garden art and annuals embellish the magnificent potager, late June

 

Mount Hood Gardens Raised Beds

These custom-built Cedar Raised Beds at Mount Hood Gardens line the driveway to the company’s office. They allow for convenient and easy harvesting of vegetables and herbs, create a boundary between stock beds and the office driveway, and add visual interest.

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The raised beds in their summer glory in mid July

The raised beds in their summer glory in mid July 

The center raised bed at Mount Hood Gardens in late June. The tiered trellis supports tomato plants, peas, and other climbing vegetables.

The center raised bed at Mount Hood Gardens in late June. The tiered trellis supports tomato plants, peas, and other climbing vegetables.

 

Private residence

Even small backyards can accommodate vegetable raised beds, as demonstrated in this residential garden in Hood River, Oregon.

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The last of the summer vegetables are being harvested in October

The last of the summer vegetables are being harvested in October

 

Raised Beds at Sakura Ridge Farm & Lodge

These generous raised beds at a delightful bed & breakfast, located in the foothills of Mount Hood, double as comfortable seating to enjoy the fabulous views. The sitting ledges also facilitate easy plant tending and harvesting. The organically grown vegetables and herbs provide culinary delight for guests and owners.

For more information and images of Sakura Ridge Farm and Lodge, please visit Sakura Ridge.

 BEFORE PHOTO
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 Start of raised bed construction on    the south side of the Lodge, late May 2007

Start of raised bed construction on the south side of the Lodge, late May 2007

 AFTER PHOTOS
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The Kitchen Garden (potager) at Sakura Ridge Farm and Lodge, early June. The raised beds are constructed out of rough-cut cedar, and surrounded by cut bluestone squares to create a clean, easy mowing edge, June 2009.

The Kitchen Garden (potager) at Sakura Ridge Farm and Lodge, early June. The raised beds are constructed out of rough-cut cedar, and surrounded by cut bluestone squares to create a clean, easy mowing edge, June 2009.

Descending the west stairs, visitors catch a peek of the thriving raised beds, late September 2012

Descending the west stairs, visitors catch a peek of the thriving raised beds, late September 2012

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