As mentioned in my “Fence Farce” post, last year the neighbor behind us had said he was going to put up a fence, so we had paid his friend to clear out our old, overgrown hedge. This allowed more room for the vegetable garden and sparked the idea that now was time to plan my formal “kitchen garden.” The fence still isn’t there, but my new kitchen garden is!
I spent a lot of time researching in books and online, drawing on scraps of paper, measuring, and finally drawing some designs on graph paper. Normally I’m not much of a planner when it comes to my garden, but knowing I wanted a formal look I thought I should have the “big picture” of what I wanted to do. You wouldn’t know it looking at my flower garden, but I love formal garden bed design. Let things spill over the edge, but start with a formal plan. I’ve always particularly admired French potagers and formal English kitchen gardens. The most fantastic kitchen garden in America is Thomas Jefferson’s kitchen garden at Monticello in Virginia. It’s massive and gorgeous — beyond what I can do. It’s a true inspiration.
So once I had a design plan I liked, I started to clear out more room in the very back of the yard, digging up sod and all of that. I decided on a basic cedar raised bed design that I got from Sunset’s website: http://www.sunset.com/garden/perfect-raised-bed-00400000039550/ (I followed it pretty closely, except for financial reasons we used 1' x 6' instead of 2' x 6' cedar boards and metal brackets for the inside corner reinforcements.) When I realized I had to do math, I pulled Brian in on my scheme. He helped me figure how much wood, soil and gravel I would need.
|The space where the kitchen garden would go, looking from left back corner to right back corner.|
|Back left corner of the yard that my older sister helped me clear out. |
Still gotta get that tree stump out of there.
|Some supplies: Cedar planks and PVC pipes. |
(I know you’re enjoying that view of our neighbor’s lovely car as much as I am.)
|All of the raised beds except the other u-shaped one. |
This was taken before I leveled off the ground. Fun job.
I never had any luck growing from seed in my garden, probably due to the many birds we have living in our birdhouses. So with the new beds, I used a lightweight row cover to start seeds outside. It worked like a charm. I actually was able to grow leafy greens for the first time since we moved into this house. In fact, I think I went a little overboard with the lettuce and romaine. We’ve been eating lots of salads.
|In mid-April I planted seeds and put up the row covers. I also started the gravel paths.|
|Seeds didn’t do so well in the u-shaped beds because they weren't covered.|
I used plants here instead.
|In early May I still had the row covers on and had done more of the gravel paths.|
|Later in May I removed the row covers and viola!|
So this is where things are at now: It’s all done except for the “entrance” path and the back left corner where I still have a tree stump. We’re thinking a small garden shed might go in that area eventually anyway. It’s been awesome walking to the back of the yard picking fresh greens, herbs and vegetables. I have more herbs right outside the back door and it probably would’ve been better to have the veggie bed there, too. But the best sun is along the back of the yard.
|Standing in back left corner looking to the right.|
|Standing in back right corner looking towards left.|
|Rainbow swiss chard.|
|Broccoli and pickle cucumbers (petunias on left, nasturtiums on right).|
|Zucchini, squash, and eggplant.|
|Carrots (and some weeds).|
|Romaine and Buttercrunch lettuce.|
|Toy Bok Choi.|