My Kitchen Garden
I’ve been posting some images here and there of my raised bed kitchen garden, and may have mentioned here how this project nearly killed me off (well my shoulder at least). So here is the whole run down on my kitchen garden project:
First off a kitchen garden (also called a potager) is pretty much a separate area of your outdoor space that has a planned design & layout where you grow veggies, herbs and flowers. Rather than just one big growing plot like a traditional vegetable garden.
Here’s an amazing example feature in Country Living. Seriously how cute is this! Images like this are what inspired me to do my own version.
Of course mine doesn’t even come close to this…but you may notice a similarity in the use of a layout with small plots and walkways between. It’s not quite finished, but this is what it looks like today.
I’ve wanted to do this garden project for several years now, so I’m not sure what actually made me decide to do it this year. I guess it was probably that tax refund burnin’ in my pocket.
There were several phases to the project…so I’ll do my best to describe each step.
1) Make a Plan.
I did a lot of thinking and planning and totally obsessed over it…yep that’s what I do. I mean seriously there is a lot to figure out:
- How much do you want to grow?
- How many raised beds?
- What size?
- Layout and design?
- How wide of a path?
- What materials?
- Are you willing to shovel, shovel and shovel some more? (I’m adding this one after the fact)
After wracking my brain with a ton of concepts, I opted for something simple: Eight 4′x8′ raised beds made of cedar (no freaky toxins) arranged in rows of two with a 3′ path down the center and 2′+ path between beds.
2) Select & Prep Your Site.
Pick a site! I chose to put the kitchen garden right on top of my previous in-ground plot, and expanded the total area several feet to the north & west.
An ideal site is one that is:
- Close to the kitchen which makes it easy for a quick run outside to pick a veggie when you are cooking – I do this a lot!
- In a lot of sun – I’d say at least 6 hours for good growth. My garden’s site gets sun pretty much the whole day with just a little shade from a shrub in the early AM and late in the day by a small tree.
- Nice and flat. If it’s not level you can a) level it by bringing in/removing dirt or b) build the beds into the slope. My site was slightly sloped so I chose to make it level…not much fun, but worth the effort.
Get that site ready!
We opted to remove all sod and weeds and lay a weed barrier over the entire area of the kitchen garden. This has been a huge help with the fight on weeds. No crabgrass take overs here. I cut the barrier out within the beds to allow plants to root down into the actual earth if they want (pretty sure I forgot to on one of the beds). Right now it is still just weed barrier paths but I hope to lay pavers down later in the year if I can find a sweet deal.
3) Build The Beds
My absolute favorite part of my kitchen garden are the raised beds. Love ‘em! We are nearly halfway through my first gardening season with them and I’m definitely sold.
No more bunnies eating my greens.
No more weed ambushes. I weed all eight beds once a week and have yet to run into anything growing wild. Also no grass seeping in from the edges.
Easier to reach the weeds (and everything else). No tromping around plants. Oh yes and a good foot less to bend over. :)
Bigger yields due to a soil mix and the ability to plant a lot closer which increases yields without increasing space.
Looks sooo much nicer. Very neat and tidy (well for me).
Extended growing season. I hope to turn one of the beds into a cold frame to keep some things growing. In the spring the beds will warm and dry faster allowing me to start planting earlier. Will be a great fix for my garden itch come springtime.
Awesome benefits right? Well grab some help and start building. Heck just try one…you won’t regret it.
4) Fill ‘Em Up
Well this is where it started to go downhill in terms of my enthusiasm. There were a couple issues that came up with dirt and compost that sparked a tad of frustration. And then when I did get adequate dirt and compost, it was a consistent routine of load, wheel, unload…load, wheel, unload….you get the idea. Probably somewhere around the vicinity of 8-9 cubic yards of growing medium was scooped and hauled.
I used approximately a 75 (topsoil)/25 (compost) mix for each bed. I loaded topsoil in first and then topped with compost, giving it a quick mix with the shovel and then raked smooth.
I also had to add $20 worth of ibuprofen to my budget. I know, I know – I’m a total weeny… but geez that took its toll on me!
5) Plant & Enjoy
The fun part! Here’s a simplified layout of what I planted this year.
If you are a gardener….what kind of garden do you have?
I’m sharing this with A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.