Kitchen Garden Creation
(Page 2 of 6)
“Ideally it’s better to have a small kitchen garden close by where you can walk outside and use it than to have a huge one far away,” she says. Since she uses chives, Italian parsley, basil and oregano almost every day, she grows these herbs in containers.
Northern Minnesota gardeners Laurie Benge and Brad Jones recently added a new door so Laurie could more easily access their kitchen garden. She plants the crops she puts into use every day closest to that door – lettuces, spinach, onions, parsley, celery, dill, basil, kale and pea pods.
Jennifer Bartley says the typical American garden was planted in rows, and gardeners had clung to the concept that you plant once in the spring, you harvest and then you’re done.
“A kitchen garden – a potager – is a seasonal garden,” she says. “The idea is to plant continuously. The kitchen garden is part of the landscape, near the kitchen door, handy for the cook to run out and pick some parsley or tomatoes. We make it beautiful, and we make it part of the landscape.”
For generations, Nelson’s Resort on Crane Lake near Minnesota’s border with Canada has had a kitchen garden that supplies fresh produce to their chef, and it is pretty as a picture. Dew drips from ruffled leaves of ‘Savoy King’ cabbage, and yellow marigolds and crinkled green parsley edge paths of green lawn. Rows of neatly staked tomato plants alternate with bright green and burgundy lettuces, cucumbers dangle from cedar racks and twigs of hazel brush prop up peas. Resort gardener Shelley Ward concentrates on crops that come on fast, those she can harvest quickly and replant: lettuce, spinach, snap peas, baby carrots and bush beans. She squeezes as much as she can into her 4,000-square-foot space. Raised beds serve as cold frames in early spring and as bedding boxes for new lettuce and spinach seedlings later on. Continuous harvesting and replanting mean there’s seldom any dead plant material to detract from the garden’s appearance.
Renee sells mesclun, a mixture of lettuces she selects for varied flavors, textures and colors. She plants the seeds, and when the greens are about 4 or 5 inches tall, she uses scissors to snip off as much as she needs for dinner, leaving about 1-inch crowns in the ground. She fertilizes and waters those, and they’ll grow up for a second cutting.
“There are a lot of good organic fertilizers on the market now,” Renee says, “but for those who can’t find a good one, an old standby is 1 tablespoon of fish emulsion and 1 tablespoon of liquid kelp per gallon of water. We use that on the lettuce bed after cutting and every two weeks.”
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