My Kitchen Garden with sound effects!
It wasn’t very long after learning I had a passion for cooking that I planted my first kitchen garden. It might have even happened at the same time. Cooking and gardening go together; gathering a basketful of herbs and vegetables at their peak of flavor, fresh-picked and unsprayed, bringing them to the kitchen, just a few steps from our own small garden has been a giant plus for the happiness in our “cottage of content.” ♥
I had always dreamed of having a garden with a gate, surrounded by a picket fence. So one day Joe dug a spot out of our lawn while I went shopping for plants! I didn’t want or need a garden any bigger than I could take care of myself. I wanted to smell things growing, in the sunshine and fresh air of my own little plot of earth; a place I could go to listen to the bees while digging in the dirt.
I was so excited while Joe was building this, I had it all planted before the gate was on! Lined in marigolds to help keep pests away (not to mention looking good), I planted mostly things for salad, like lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, basil, garlic, chives, mint, lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, camomile, nasturtiums, peppers, lemon cucumbers and lavender. Oh, and strawberries! So I can gather a few for our breakfast! These things are always in our garden. But sometimes I plant purple potatoes too, or watermelon or pumpkins, something fun.
The next year, Joe put in raised beds with a path that goes all the way around. I added lots of flowers! Many flowers, all the roses and berries, and some of the herbs, like the chives and thyme, are perennials and come back every year. This is how our garden looks in June. The large purple bush in the middle of the inside is “nepeta,” cat mint, a perfectly wonderful thing to grow.
These are flowers from our garden I dried last year, between the pages of a huge dictionary. I put them in my diaries, old books, and letters.
I’m showing you this so in case you’d like to have a picket-fence kitchen garden of your own, you’ll have plenty of time to plan. A few years back, we were spending half our time out in California, so we bought this big, weed-infested, gopher conservation area (or so it seemed since there were easily one billion gophers on this property). When it came time to put in a lawn, we realized we had to have another kitchen garden. So Joe took his shovel out to contemplate the spot we’d chosen for it.
Oh yes, he can dig it.
Only this time he did it with a tractor. Men building gardens is a well-known aphrodisiac, don’t you think? Need I even say that my favorite Village Person was the guy wearing the tool belt? Probably not.
He practically had to dig a swimming pool to get the hole deep enough — so that he could line it in hardware cloth to keep the gophers out, and then refill it with dirt. He is my hero.
And who is the happiest girl? Me.
And in a very short time, with a little sunshine, fresh air, and water, my new garden looked like this. A garden is about as close to heaven as you can get on earth. It’s like church. Breezes blowing, birds singing, sun shining, bee’s buzzing, butterflies fluttering, hummingbirds humming, tomatoes ripening, roses emitting, all done in perfect quiet.
The fence hides the mess inside, because sometimes it’s a wreck in there; there have also been years when we’ve been traveling that I haven’t planted at all. But the perennials keep it looking nice no matter what.
March is when I like to start planning. I get out my old garden books and my diary, to see what I did last year. I look at old photos. I call my garden “My Toy” because it’s like a toy. I play with it, redecorate with different flowers every year, try out new things.
This is last year’s basket of bulbs and seeds to plant. I love gladiolus against a picket fence; I put them in every year. When I was younger, I lived in second floor apartment that had no garden. I hung a window box outside the window in the kitchen eating area, and filled it with garden soil. With a tiny child’s trowel; I planted a little salad garden that included nasturtiums, lemon thyme, three heads of leaf lettuce (I picked one leaf at a time as I needed it and left the rest growing); and pansies for the little vase on the table. That’s all there was room for but it was just enough; I could have a fresh little salad and all I had to do was open my window! There was my garden, practically in the kitchen!
Picket fences, by the way, also look very nice in the snow.
We don’t cut everything back on purpose, because even stick-dead things look pretty with snow on them!
So, if you have a garden like this in mind, here’s the plan:
You can find this drawing on page ten of my Summer Book, if you need it. And one last little tidbit of information: Paint your fence with white stain rather than an oil based paint. Your paint job will last much longer; when it gets old, it will fade rather than chip and you’ll be able to repaint a lot easier.
This is the view I have of the garden from my art table on Martha’s Vineyard in the spring when the Rhododendrons are in bloom. The breeze flutters the curtains, the fragrance comes drifting in, I can hear the birds, lawnmowers, kids voices, and I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is to stay seated at my desk! ♥