a woman of the soil … the kitchen garden in May

 

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the kitchen garden July 2013

“ I want streams and hills, rivers and seas, mountains and pastures.  I want a whole, happy, earth.  And when I’m not being overly ambitious about my environmental desires, I also want a garden with a little bit of everything in it.  These two desires are not unconnected, my happy earth will, in part, be by my ability to grow a large percentage of food in my garden, in a way that does not devour resources.”  Alys Fowler – The Edible Garden.

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the kitchen garden July 2013

I have to agree with Alys on this one.  I want a flower garden but I also want to grow my own food.  My garden is medium sized and about two-thirds of it is for growing flowers and fruit trees.  The other third I use for growing vegetables.  And it isn’t enough.  There is no way I can squeeze everything I want to grow into this small space.  Even with additional containers.   I don’t want to dig up the lawn or get rid of  a couple of flower borders and put them down to veg – there has to be a better answer. 

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the kitchen garden July 2013

So I have decided that my sunniest border will be a mix of flowers and vegetables.  This isn’t terribly radical – the old cottage gardeners had been gardening this way for generations.  They needed to grow their own food to supplement their diet so this was their priority but they also introduced flowers into the rows and round the edges – one thing complemented the other. 

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the kitchen garden July 2013

So this is the plan – all the spare veg plants that I have no room for will go in the sunny flower border mixed in with the annual flowers that I had planned for this space.  Once I have pulled out the forget-me-nots and wallflowers I will get a better idea of what space I have to play with - I will refresh the soil and re-plant, with Cosmos and Cabbages, Marigolds and Tomatoes, Courgette and Runner beans with Cornflowers.  Well, maybe not all of those things – but you get the idea.  This isn’t revolutionary Alys Fowler did this with her t.v. programme The Edible Garden – and it is one way of using the space I have to maximum effect.

I am quite keen now I have made the decision – I think it will look pretty darn good and I can’t wait to get planting. 

Here are some pictures of what is happening in the kitchen garden at the moment.  With all the recent sun and rain everything is going great guns and looking very healthy so far.  I am hardening everything off outside now ready to be planted out.  Let the growing season commence.

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shallots

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broad beans

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runner beans (nibbled)

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broccoli

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first ripe strawberries in the greenhouse

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greenhouse tomatoes in their final position

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chives

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chocolate mint

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early potatoes in containers

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parsnip seedlings interplanted with oriental leaves

Over the winter I sat scribbling in  notebooks and planned what I was going to try and achieve this year – and I am on the way now, the plan is slowly coming together – perfick!

‘Til next time

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people can still plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.”
- Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.

Comments

  1. Have you considered vertical gardening, it might give you some more space to grow vegetables and other things without giving up your lawn.
    Anne

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    1. Yes Anne I do a bit of vertical planting - strawberries in hanging baskets ditto tumbling tomatoes but I know there is a lot more to learn about vertical gardening - I'll be looking into it.

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  2. Beautiful quotes! How very true they are! Now...your kitchen garden looks just amazing friend! So much is growing and happening! And I just love your idea! LOVE! I have a very small suburban lot and because it is small, I am growing peas up front as well as possibly tomatoes off to the side of the drive...one day there will be no grass in the parkway but for now I am pacing myself. I can not wait to see how you incorporate everything! How very inspiring this is! A wonderful week to you!!!! Nicole xoxoxo

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    1. I am looking forward to it myself Nicole - I just hope it all goes to plan - only time will tell and of course I will be sharing the ups and downs on the blog.

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  4. Both Red Cabbages and Ruby Chard look perfectly at home amongst flowers. Luckily I have plenty of space, but if I didn't I would do exactly the same.

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    1. I have some yellow stemmed chard in the front flower border and people who walk down the path often comment on it.

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  5. I totally empathise with this. One of my great gardening heroes is Joy Larkcom, who was/is very much ito the ornamental potager thing. I have most of her (beautifully illistrated) books. Many veg have great ornamental value - e.g. Cavolo Nero, Runner Bean, Rainbow Chard.

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    1. I do have Joy Larkcom's Creative Vegetable Gardening and it was when leafing through it the other day that I had an epiphany - she certainly has lots of useful ideas.

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  6. Cannot wait to see your new border Elaine. I am a fan of mixed planting. I think the effect can be very beautiful, also practical.
    My fathers garden was of this style and I remember as a child being in awe of the produce and pretty flowers all growing together in a large borders.
    Sweet memories for me, thank you.

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    1. I quite agree with your thoughts and of a new take on companion planting your plants do look very healthy at the moment

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    2. Your fathers garden sounds right up my street Cheryl I only hope my efforts will be as successful as his obviously were.

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  7. Hello Elaine,

    This sounds to be a perfect solution to resolve your lack of space and keen desire to grow more vegetables. We are sure that the combination will not only be highly productive but will also be attractive. Something like the Runner Beans growing up cane wigwams can add a glorious structural element to the border and your plants look all ready to go!

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    1. Sometimes the solution is staring you right in the eye but it takes a while to recognise it - runner bean wigwams will definitely go in to support the beans as well as morning glory and tall nasturtiums

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  8. Hello Elaine - Scribbled notes is what I do all the time, there is something rather satisfying about crossing things off the list - job done!!!
    Putting vegetables with the flowers is a lovely thing to do so many of them are very attractive and actually compliment the borders. Artichokes and runner beans are two that I particularly like.

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    1. It will be interesting to see what works and what doesn't - if the border is successful I can try different combinations each year.

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  9. A la (au) Geoff Hamilton? Beetroot leaves are really ornamental as are the bean family. Alpine strawberries make good edging and parsley too.
    Look forward ti seeing how things go.

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    1. I know Geoff Hamilton was one of the first to go this route with his |Ornamental Garden - if it was good enough for Geoff then it's good enough for me!

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  10. Elaine I think the mix of flowers and vegetables is a really good idea. It's a win-win :)

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  11. To our vegetable garden, we add marigolds to scare away bugs. I don't know it they actually work, but they add a great burst of color. I always add cosmos and gladiolus, dill runs wild, and the wild sunflowers flourish. You will have good results. Love the strawberries in the pot! We are still waiting for Jack Frost to be done with is before we plant garden. Our farmer friend does not plant tomatoes until June 1st, so we have time. Your garden looks healthy and nurtured.

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    1. I am praying that we won't get any more frosts now or I will be in real trouble - fingers crossed.

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  12. It's all looking good, and I'm sure will look even better when planted out as you plan. Flighty xx

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  13. It all looks divine really, those strawberries are lovely.

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    1. Thanks Kelli - I'm itching to eat the big one I was hoping some of the others would be ripening by now - so I guess I'll just to enjoy it on its own - that will be no hardship - I always relish the first strawberry of the season.

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  14. Ah....perfick indeed! I must say I love to see flowers and veg growing together, somehow it seems so much more natural and I think it's a good way of deterring pests, the different scents confuse them.
    Everything is looking great so far, I'm astonished at your strawberries....already???
    That is a lovely quote, one I too very much agree with.xxx

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    1. I know - I've never had ripe strawberries this early - the leaves on the plants are huge too.

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  15. Strawberries ripening already .... Mine are just getting flowers! Must remember to grow some in the greenhouse next year! Look forward to seeing your borders.

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    1. It is a good idea - I have half a dozen pots in the greenhouse - it's nice to get a crop a little earlier - when they have finished fruiting they go back outside.

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  16. You had such a beauty garden last year...lush.

    I'm a big fan of planting it all together, a little weeding, a little watering, and a little snack.

    Jen

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    1. I agree - useful and beautiful at the same time - just what the doctor ordered.

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  17. Lovely photos. Such a beautiful garden. You do very hard work and it pays off.

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    1. Thanks Diane - it's worth putting a bit of work in at the beginning of the season then all you have to do for the rest of the summer is enjoy the fruits of your labours.

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  18. Looking forward to seeing how your plans pan out Elaine. It's the way I might go in the future. I wish I could reach out into the screen and pop one of those strawberries in my mouth.

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    1. I'm hoping it is successful as it will give me a lot more growing space.

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  19. I shall just enjoy vicarious gardening here. All is lost in my garden this year as far as vegetables are concerned. I have a fine crop of teasels that's all.

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    1. Sorry to hear that Lucille, but at least the bees will appreciate the teasels.

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  20. Ohhh you have made me want to rush out and fill the veg beds to overflowing xxx!!!!!
    Nicola x

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    1. At least if they are overflowing it doesn't leave too much room for weeds to take hold, well, not many anyway.

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  21. I'm thinking along the same lines Elaine. I know I want masses of Cosmos and Cornflower again - for cutting and enjoying in situ - and I want mainly salad things for eating, oh and lots of herbs. I really need to get cracking on with it really! Your combinations sound great and I have to say those photos from last year look absolutely wonderful!

    Delicious looking strawberries ...

    Jeanne
    x

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    1. I'm like you Jeanne I can't get enough of cosmos in the garden, and I grow my salad stuff above ground so the slugs can't reach it.

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  22. I love your quotes and the idea of mixing flowers and veggies!! Your combos sound wonderful...and you already have so much planted! My veggie garden has been a slow start this yr! Yesterday I planted some tomatoes! It felt good to get hem out of the house as they were beginning toclutter every windowsill! :)

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    1. Thanks Erin - I've just got my tomatoes out too - before they got too spindly, just hope we don't get a late frost now.

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  23. I wish you lived closer.. You could enter the veg classes in our flower show

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    1. I'll just have to move then John. We used to have flower shows in our village - not sure why they don't happen any more.

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  24. I was a bit startled with the fully grown garden photos until I noticed the year ;-) I'm looking forward to seeing how your flower-veg mix will turn out this year. I love it that you post photos of garden beds past for some visual comparison.

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    1. I always find it fascinating to see how things change from year to year, season to season.

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  25. I so enjoyed reading your post! I'm a big fan of Alys as well. I remember first watching her tv program, it really opened my eyes then. I'm sure this is the most natural way of gardening - for the plants and for the garden owners :)
    I do love your strawberries in pots, such beautiful clusters of green and red fruits.

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  26. I agree about it seeming a natural way to plant I don't see why flowers and vegetables should be segregated - I am hoping to mix things up a bit more often.

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  27. Dear Elaine - I am hooked - your blog pulled me in and I have spent considerable time reading your posts and drooling over your gorgeous flowers and sumptuous green veggies - everything looks glorious and yes my friend you are a fantastic gardener. I love how you write and mix your daily life with those lovely photos. Will certainly return to see more. Hope you have a lovely week-end.

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    1. Hello Debbie - thank you for your very kind words. Hope you have a lovely weekend too.

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  28. It is good to take a moment to be thankful for life's little things. I try to do that each night before I drift off to sleep.
    Strawberries! I can hardly wait. We have had such a long winter. Fresh berries will seem like such a treat when they finally arrive.

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    1. These are my greenhouse strawberries - the ones in the garden are only in flower - I always pot some up so I can get an early start on them - your turn will come.

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  29. Sounds perfect Elaine, I am edging that way myself, so I look forward to seeing what you do. And your ediblesnlook lush and healthy, wonderful.

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    1. Thanks Janet. Well I have managed to squeeze everything in - now I'll just have to wait and see if it is successful.

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