A kitchen garden. Sounds almost like an oxymoron; a garden in your kitchen or kitchen garden? A kitchen garden is not a garden in your kitchen, but a garden that supplies your kitchen with the most amazing fruits, vegetables, and meals. Edibles grow faster than anything in the garden and having home grown food just steps from your back door is not only convenient but healthy. So how do you begin to build a kitchen garden?
You have to draw up some plans before you get going on a kitchen garden. Symmetrical beds, trellis planting, and planning out what vegetables work best with others is the start to a great kitchen garden. Start by designing it right. Lay out how you want it to look when you’re done and the type of vegetables you want to grow.
Make sure that you properly size the planting beds and walkways to ensure that the garden functions with farm level efficiency. L-shaped beds 8 feet long and 4 feet wide are good size for most gardeners to reach the majority of plants. Encouraging good drainage and make sure that the garden is protected from rabbits and other animals that would want to eat whatever you are growing.
Build the soil.
Once you have a plan and you have a layout and design, it’s time to either Rototiller up the dirt inside or add to it with good topsoil or garden soil. A good layering technique is laying down cardboard over the entire area of exposed soil to smother the weeds, water the cardboard, and then top it with 8 inches of topsoil and finished compost.
The Portland area can provide a great summer for growing but our winters can be a little bit chilly to keep things going unless you are switching things to a greenhouse. From the list of food that you like to grow, find out when things need to be planted and how long they take to harvest. Then plant them accordingly depending on when they germinate and when you’d like to harvest them. Garlic, asparagus, and even some winter root vegetables like parsnips and carrots can winter over in the ground, so long as they are buried deep enough.
Just like flowers, these need to pollinate food as well. Flowers growing among all of the edible plants are more than simply a beautification move. Marigolds can ward off certain insects and root destroying nematodes while geraniums deter Japanese beetles and the flowers attract good bugs like pollinators needed to produce large harvests.
Related: 7 Principles of Landscape Design
Herbs can definitely be one of the best things to put in pots because you can move them around and inside during the winter. Some herbs are great and hearty all year such as rosemary and thyme. But others like basil, cilantro, and parsley will need to either be replanted or moved inside.
Rotating crops isn’t just for big-league farmers. Vegetables in the same plant family can deplete nutrients in the soil so they should be grown in the same location for at least three years. Here’s a great list from Thisoldhouse.com on what to plant next to each other.
Nightshades + alliums: Interplant pest-prone tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant with pungent garlic and onions.
Legumes + carrot family: Plant peas and beans, which add nitrogen to the soil, with taproot vegetables and herbs—carrots, celery, and parsley—that rely on this nutrient.
Brassicas + brassicas: Plant these heavy feeders—cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and arugula—on their own.
Asteraceae + gourds: Plant early-to-sprout lettuces with slow-growing cucumbers, melons, and squash, to crowd out weeds.
Need help starting a kitchen garden project? Give us a call. We can help with some remodeling and design ideas or with any remodeling and renovation of your home in Portland or the Portland metro area.
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