Kitchen Gardens: Edible, Elegant and Economical
Do you know where your food comes from? In the last few months there has been a flurry of books and articles on the subject of sustainable food. First Lady, Michelle Obama helped break ground on a new White House organic “kitchen garden”. The White House kitchen garden will be the first working garden since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a so-called “victory garden” at the height of World War II. The Obamas’ garden with its proposed 55 varieties of vegetables sends a message about where they want their food to come from.
Home kitchen gardens can be one of the most sustainable food options for people who want to know where their food comes from. Kitchen gardens can provide a living tapestry of healthy vegetables and fruits, just steps away from your kitchen. My home kitchen garden is an integral part of my home. It sits a stones throw from my kitchen out the back door. My kids have known since theyve been babies, where to go when someone says, “I need chives for the soup” or, “Who wants to help with the salad?”
The French have been designing jardin potagers, or kitchen gardens for centuries. Kitchen gardens serve as functional, practical and beautiful additions to many homes. These gardens are typically located outside of a kitchen and include herbs, vegetables and fruits. Some kitchen gardens contain medicinal plants and flowers. Having immediate access from the kitchen is optimal for harvesting while cooking. Kitchen gardens can be easier to tend because they have clearly defined beds and paths.
Creating a bountiful kitchen garden can be an economical and healthy addition your home. Planned kitchen gardens still have an element of trial and error, like all gardens, but worth the experimentation.
What you need:
wooden dividers or an arrangement of pots
trellises or stakes
plants-vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers
Here are some things to consider when planning a kitchen garden:
Divide each bed into rectangles (or whatever shape will fit in your space).
Plot out on graph paper the types and numbers of plants you think you’ll be able to fit into the space. Raised beds will allow for a more efficient use of space.
It’s said that vegetables are like people, they thrive on companionship. Vegetables may yield up to twice as much when they are surrounded with companion plants. Here is an article about companion planting that outlines which vegetables are best friends.
Think about combining plants that will create patterns of color and texture: a square of red leaf lettuce with deep green basil in the middle; the ferny fronds of fennel surrounding the bold leaves of cabbage.
Plan for the spread and height of each vegetable, so the beds don’t get too overgrown, and so you’re able to find and reach the vegetables as they ripen.
Plant intensively and close together so that there is little room for weeds and the plants shade each other.
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.