Creating a Kitchen Garden

We hadn't lived in the house two weeks before making a kitchen garden, and it's creation has delighted us all fall.

I love edible gardening and have since I was five years old.  For me growing edibles is part of life.  It's just something you do.    

Of all the gardens to create here at our new property, we made it first because we wanted to have food we grow available throughout the fall and winter before growth slowed too much. 

Choosing a location was a no brainer.  We placed it right out the door from the kitchen.  You can see the garden standing at the kitchen sink.  It makes zipping out to get fresh thyme for jambalaya, crisp lettuce for Doritos salad, or a few tomatoes for caprese easy.  Since we see it frequently, we can respond with a quick shot of water from the hose or trellis the leaning tomatoes or rambunctious peas.  The area is currently approximately 20 × 20 ft, but we plan to expand it further down our drive to double our growing area.

Just days after we moved into the house, I ripped out the small, struggling rose collection hugging the driveway and porch, killed the surrounding grass, tilled it with my small Mantis tiller, and aerated the soil using my broadfork.  

 Adios, Rosa.

Adios, Rosa.

For the design we created a large central path for access and then divided the beds up on either side with the remaining space. 

Then it was planting time!  *Jazz Hands* We planted cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage in a diamond pattern in the beds, alternating two-one-two-one.  We planted the north side of each bed with everbunching onions.  And, in the large beds near the garage, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and peas were planted.  I used 8 ft long 2 × 2's for tomato stakes.  Before the peas went in the ground, I walked around the property collecting straight sticks from some shaggy trees that haven't seen a pruner in some time and fashioned them into a trellis. 

 The planted kitchen garden.  I didn't mention the  Eragrostis spectabilis  in the front left corner, but I found it growing nearby and moved it to the kitchen garden to have a seed source for future projects.

The planted kitchen garden.  I didn't mention the Eragrostis spectabilis in the front left corner, but I found it growing nearby and moved it to the kitchen garden to have a seed source for future projects.

Next to the driveway we also planted some zinnias for late season color as well as herbs like lemon verbena, thyme, horehound, chives, and rosemary.  Some like my chives and rosemary have grown in container culture since 2008, and they have responded quite well to getting their roots in some soil.  Underneath this planting, I sowed 'Magma' mustard seed to provide a post-frost ground cover.  'Magma' is a beautiful two-toned frilly type from Wild Garden Seed.  On the south side of the garden, I scattered some 'Champion' collards seed whose leaves made their way into some bacon grease and brown sugar.

 The garden beginning to fill in

The garden beginning to fill in

 Zinnias coming into color.  The purple cultviar made a great color companion with the purple cabbage.  I made a note to use them more together in the future.  

Zinnias coming into color.  The purple cultviar made a great color companion with the purple cabbage.  I made a note to use them more together in the future.  

 The garden looking quite lush.  I still haven't planted that pot!  

The garden looking quite lush.  I still haven't planted that pot!  

 
 I realize that cacophony is about sound, but I also think it a great word to use to describe the mish-mash of color here.  You can see in spots the 'Magma' mustard growing underneath.  

I realize that cacophony is about sound, but I also think it a great word to use to describe the mish-mash of color here.  You can see in spots the 'Magma' mustard growing underneath.  

 

We haven't faced too many challenges with this garden.  A Yard Enforcer motion sprinkler system has kept the deer away if they ever even got close.  It sent a lightning bolt of adrenaline through me more than once when I forgot whether it was on or off.  Gophers, a new pest I've never faced, have created mounds in the garden, and it's been frustrating to go out and have to clear the soil off young plants.  We had an explosion of cabbage worms once over night, but Dipel has since helped to keep them at bay.  And, an unusually early frost toasted the tomatoes and zapped the tops of the zinnias, but the cool season crops took the cold weather like a champ.

 
 First frost, about 3 weeks early

First frost, about 3 weeks early

 
 See the frozen guttated pearls on the center leaves?  I live for little moments like these in the garden.

See the frozen guttated pearls on the center leaves?  I live for little moments like these in the garden.

Even with the challenges, it's been a blast growing our own produce, and we are thankful for the new memories and the fresh produce we are harvesting.  I look forward to seeing how this garden evolves from this simple start into a source for year-round food in years to come.