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Published on September 17th, 2013 | by Jami Scholl

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Planning a Perfect Kitchen Garden

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Today we have another post from Jami Scholl: Jami is a permaculture/wellness expert, and has experience in the areas where food, health and politics meet. She is an all-around creative, hiker, and a mom gifted with the superpower to to create beautiful solutions. Follow her on Twitter @jamischoll, on Facebook, www.MyEdibleEden.comwww.elanterra.com and on GoodVeg’s A Subversive Plot.

{Check out Jami’s previous post about 15 food plants to grow in the shade here.}

Rather than planting in pots that may become too small later in the season, or in nooks and crannies of the yard where soil conditions may be questionable, you may consider creating a small kitchen garden. The formality of the French kitchen garden, or potager, is often more easily integrated into urban areas.  When including an outdoor social area, this type of edible garden design provides nourishment of both the nutrient sort as well as that of family and community.

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imagine the joy of fresh vegetables right outside the kitchen!

Here is a checklist to use in the design process:

1) Site analysis. As you look at your site note the sunny, and shady, areas, where and how the wind moves, as well as where water may pool and run. If you can, also determine the type of soil. The key is to know which plants grow best in this condition. It’s much like cooking. Do you start with a recipe then purchase ingredients or do you start with what is on hand then create your masterpiece from this?

2) Plant near the kitchen. When a garden is right outside the door, harvest, weeding and general care is easy. See a weed when picking a few peas? Pull it out. Cabbage moth munching away on your beautiful head of cabbage? Pluck it off, squash it or feed it to your urban chickens.

3) Design aesthetics. The basis of any good design, whether in print, a website or your garden is repetition for continuity. Materials and color, especially if chosen from those of your home, will create the look and feel of the garden as being an extension of the home. Walkway materials, garden bed edging, focal points such as a bean trellis can all be extensions of the colors and materials with which your home is constructed.

4) Layout. Graph paper is very helpful in the design process. After you have the measurements of your garden determined, use this as the outside edge, using each square as one square foot. Divide the garden into modules, with beds no larger than four feet across. Main walkways should be three feet wide for garden carts or for people to walk side-by-side.  If your space is large enough adding a gathering spot for people and produce may produce happy memories that you didn’t anticipate.

5) Enclose the garden. Making defined edges on your garden creates an outdoor room. It feels cozy and comforting, besides keeping many animals out – which is why outdoor fencing or walls were historically created around gardens. Options for garden barriers are diverse. Woven-wire, metal, wood, stone or vegetation such as the traditional boxwood are options. Do take into consideration the style of your neighborhood, your home, and your budget before investing in a garden wall.

6) Entrances. Just like the front door into your home, a garden gate creates a sense of mood where the question of “What is on the other side?” is asked.

7) The “floor.” Straw? Brick? Stone? Mulch? Pavers? Pea gravel? The option’s for how to create the walkway and activity areas of your garden is another way to create flow and integrated design into your garden.

8) Seasons. Depending on where you live and your local growing zone, gardening may take place year round or in just a few seasons. Whether you determine you need cold-frames, hardscapes, or more permanent garden features, these should be considered for both ease of use and aesthetics during all seasons. And don’t forget to check out the view from above if you’ve a home with more than one story!

kitchen garden image from Shutterstock; featured image (parsley) from Shutterstock/ haraldmuc;

 



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