Dreaming of a Kitchen Garden
I have been dreaming of a kitchen garden for almost a year. One that’s big enough to feed my family of four, and prolific enough to offload the excess produce to family and friends.
The raised beds are painted black, positioned at thigh height to pick as I pass by the letterbox, and for the kids to pluck a strawberry or three. White stone chips sashay around the beds creating a clever path, keeping things fresh and clean, a lovely contrast to the black.
Citrus trees frame the outside providing shelter and shade, and a place for my city kids to learn where fruit really comes from. Hungry? Go and grab a snack from the garden I’ll say!
I am by no means a super gardener. Everything I’ve learned has come from trial and (lots of) error, over just a few short years.
My parents are very enthusiastic gardeners, and some of their green fingers have thankfully rubbed off on me, despite many teenage years spent protesting to the contrary.
I thought it was boring. Now, I relish the chance to get out in the garden, rain or shine, to switch off, get my hands in the soil and reap the rewards.
Some of my best family meals come from having nothing in the pantry or fridge, and foraging around the garden for produce and inspiration.
But we haven’t had a garden for a good 8 months or so, and boy have we missed it. We recently moved into what I hope will be our “forever” home, at least for the next decade or two. So we’re starting from scratch here, and I want to get it right.
It feels like the two other gardens we’ve built at previous homes have been a dress rehearsal for this one, and although I won’t be custom building the beds out of macrocarpa like the ones in my dreams, I’m pretty pleased with my overall plan.
We’ve used Palmers garden bed kits, doubled them up to give us the height I’m after, a much cheaper and less labour intensive solution!
We have four of them, as I do hope to master rotational planting, so I can move things from bed to bed each season and replenish the soil. This will be a major learning curve. I’m also going to try and be as organic and natural as possible, so companion planting is a must, again a lot of learning to be had.
We’ve recced a few kitchen gardens in the area, and family friends have let us in on a secret about their number eight-wire like irrigation system. We lay scoria, followed by a length of novaflo pipe in the base of the beds, cover it with weed mat and have plumbing pipe attached run vertically up to the surface.
A cover made out of weed mat fastened over top of the pipe will let the rain in, or we can fill it up with a nearby hose.
Our friends maintain they’ve never run out of water, even after a 3-week family holiday, and their garden growth is phenomenal. Same with weed and bug control, they don’t have many problems. It’s been a huge success and they assure us the best money they’ve spent.
With those results I’m hoping for the same success but will keep you posted! I do now have to take note of which plants don’t like wet feet however, and have kept one bed free from this system for that reason.
Good quality soil and compost fill the beds up to give the seedlings their best possible start, and I’ve positioned my worm farm in a corner shady spot to make it accessible for both feeding the worms (i.e. emptying the kitchen scraps) and removing the worm tea and castings. That can be added to the kid’s list of morning jobs!
We construct our garden over labour weekend (of course!) with some serious help from my parents and brother in law. It’s a mission in the wet, but no one complains and it would seem all my planning and dreaming has paid off. We’re all delighted with the result!
As we finish shovelling the final load of stones, and toast our success, my Dad looks at it, and shakes his head. Your (late) Grandad Jack would have hated it he says! Why? Because it’s too pretty! My garden is be a bit kinder on the eye than his old fashioned rows on the ground, and my aging back will definitely thank me for it!
Now, just to figure out what and where to plant!
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