Kitchen Garden: The delight of growing things

May 11, 2015

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Spring has happened. Actually it appears we've just skipped ahead to Summer....

We've had a tricky year so far with lots of ups and downs, as usual these things never happen when you feel entirely equipped to deal with them, so you handle it all the best way you know how. Turns out, my coping mechanism is gardening. 

Whilst the snow was still on the ground, we set about building my kitchen garden.

We're lucky to have a fair bit of land for a city lot, so we wanted to make the most of the space, making it look pretty as well as being functional.

We built 4 beds, each measuring 4ft x 4ft x 1ft, this give us 64 square feet of growing space but makes it easy to move between the plants on dividing paths rather than wading through soil.

After researching and gleaning advice about materials from my keen gardener friends, I plumped for Pine boards for my beds. Cedar was a close contender, but with it not being easily obtainable in the deep 12 inch boards I wanted, and also being pricier than the pine (due to it's very long outdoor life span, which I was sure I'd make the most of, as I might be back in Blighty in 15 years...) Pine was the winner.

I chose untreated wood as I didn't want chemicals to leech into the soil and, in turn, anything growing in it. Though not explicit in it's name, pressure treated wood is actually chemically treated, untreated pine boards that aren't in a very wet environment (I'm looking at you England) will last without many signs of degrading for a good five years. Eco friendly wood treatments are available, such as shellac or lindseed oil, which are natural and will extend the life of your beds without compromising on good veggie intentions.

We filled the paths of our 'parterre' garden with white marble chips, on top of a weed membrane. We chose the white chips as they would reflect the sun and get as much light to the plants in the day as possible. It also looks beautifully clean, which appeals to my slight OCD.

The beds were filled with a mixture of toil soil and fetilizer (well rotten manure), up to about the 10 inch mark. As my beds were being placed on top of earth, they really are as deep as I care to dig, meaning I can plant depth loving potatoes and carrots quite happily in them. As such I could have gotten away with a shallower bed but, honestly, I prefer the look of the deep ones.

As well as the beds, I've got some herb tubs on our deck. I was thinking of having the herbs in the beds but wanted to save the real estate for vegetables. I'm not a massive fan of plant pots, the simple terracotta ones are alright, but they need to be big. Anything that's been fancied up to look like a fancy plant pot really turns me off.

I used these gorgeous Behrens metal tubs (pictured at the top) from Home Depot. They are huge and metallic which helps to reflect light and help the little herbies grow.

To turn any pot or tub into a suitable plant pot you need to made a few quick adjustments:

1) Pierce some holes in the bottom for drainage. Tubs that have no where for excess water to run will very quickly become a swampy rotten mess. Use a large nail or a screwdriver, and a hammer to bask 4 or 5 holes in the bottom of the tub.

2) Fill the bottom inch with gravel, broken crockery or rocks. This, again, helps the water to drain, it also adds a little ballast should your pot be light and vulnerable to tipping.

3) If you are using a large pot like mine, don't fill the earth right to the top. MAke sure they is enough for a good root system to develop in then stop filling. The huge advantage to pot plating is that you can move the pots to protect the plants in inclement or extreme weather. By leaving a bit of a wall arounf your new plants you are giving them some extra protection against wind, which will also allow for water to absorb in tot he soil better than evaporating away quickly.

4) Consider using metal or reflective pots. The increased light will help your plats photosynthesis and grow. If you live in a place of extreme heat and light, this might not be appropriate, unless you plant is particularly heat and light loving OR you are planting in a shady area.

Finally the day came to add some little vegetables!

Being that I'm convinced that cauliflower is the new kale, I immediately got a row of these little lovelies in.

It's my first time growing anything other than tomatoes, strawberries and herbs so I'm taking a bit of a 'throw everything at it and see what sticks' approach. I have done a bit of research about who are good bed buddies and who do not get along though:

With this lovely sunshine and plenty of watering, I'm excited to see what's going to come to fruition (or vegition?), and cook some home grown, home cooked meals straight from my garden.

On a personal and somewhat soppy note, I never had such an urge to make things grow. I've dabbled with herbs and strawberries, but this year I've felt such a need to plant things, nuture them and see them flourish. I'm hoping that channeling my efforts into growing something that will in turn enrich mine and Charlie's life, even in the short term, is a healthy way to throw all that energy and is going to do its thing for out karmic health as well!

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