Plant an Eco-Friendly Kitchen Garden
Sophisticated and Savvy
Today's kitchen garden is a far cry from the rows of beans and corn that your grandparents knew so well. Designed as integral parts of the landscape, these attainable luxuries are sophisticated and space savvy. Raised beds and containers make the process easier, ensuring a higher rate of success for beginners.
photo: The feel of Virginia is right at home in the heart of Oklahoma. Vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruit mingle beautifully to form this top-notch kitchen garden.
The Romance of the Harvest
For some, it's simply the romance of the harvest that compels them to create a kitchen garden. For others, it's about being closer to the food they eat, seeing it grow, and limiting or omitting chemicals altogether. Brimming with vegetables, fruit, flowers, and herbs, gardens such as this one are becoming more and more popular because they're places of discovery and havens for ideas.
photo: Dwarf 'Golden Sentinel' apples
Plenty of Sun
Inspiring Design Jill and Todd Utz's pretty and productive Oklahoma City garden makes good use of what was once a bare back corner behind the garage. "All that was there before was the neighbor's brick wall and plenty of sun," says John Fluitt, co-owner of Garden Design Associates. "When the homeowners asked us to design the garden, this space was the obvious choice."
photo: Bell jars, or cloches, set atop sunken pots become ornamental during warm weather but are used for protecting young starts when the air is chilly.
Impressed by friends who cooked frequently with produce from their kitchen garden, Jill and Todd were prompted to have one of their own. "We even set aside a space for each of our daughters to enjoy," says Jill. "Can I really eat this--right now?" questions their youngest, popping a leaf of 'Yugoslavian Red' lettuce into her mouth. "Sure," pipes her mom. Going organic was a given from the start, and drip irrigation provides water only where it is needed.
photo: Several caterpillars are found munching on bronze fennel and Italian flat-leaf parsley. They will soon turn into swallowtail butterflies.
A Touch of Virginia
This garden may be located in the middle of Oklahoma, but the look is unmistakably Virginia. Designer Bryan Ramsey anchored the space with a pair of outbuildings--one for storage and the other a playhouse for the girls. Though the brick raised beds are not symmetrical, they lend an air of formality and enabled John and his crew to bring in quality soil that was easier to garden in than the existing clay. Paths within the beds are made of crushed oyster shells. Lower walkways are mulched with bark.
photo: Used solely for its texture and scale, this container is left unplanted.
A Fresh Luxury
With ideas galore, this kitchen garden definitely raises the bar. We hope you will borrow a few of them and grow some goodness for yourself. Whether in containers just outside the door or in an elegantly designed garden such as this, just-picked produce is a luxury that should be enjoyed by all.
Note: This information was provided by the landscape designer. We did not verify the plant information.
photo: Mint and other spreading herbs will not take over your beds when planted in pots sunken in the ground.
"Backyard Treasure" is from the April 2008 issue of Southern Living.