Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Kitchen Garden Remodel

Earlier this spring we remodeled our kitchen garden. The upper tier of the garden sat unproductive for almost two years (!) as we contemplated what we were going to do with the space. We finally decided to add more raised beds, drawing up several designs with various layouts. At the same time, we were in the midst of designing a new edible garden for another part of the property, which came to a screaming halt when the county government wouldn't issue permitting (more on this in a later post). Having already ordered fruit trees and 100 strawberry plugs in early winter for that new garden, we needed to come up with a Plan B.

Sometimes the best laid plans often go awry. 

So it was back to the design board for our kitchen garden. Here is what we did. 

East view of kitchen garden, looking from lower tier to upper tier

The lower tier is still home to the original raised beds, built 6 years ago, and a blueberry hedgerow that hides a retention overflow area. Half of the strawberry plugs were planted out in two of these raised beds (Bed #4 & #5). The other half planted in containers until we find a home for them.  Bed #3 was planted with four varieties tomatoes, dill and marigolds and Bed #2 with seven varieties of hot peppers including Jalapeno, Ghost Golden Cayenne, Sweet Banana, Hot Banana, Habanero, Fresno Chili and Serrano. Bed #1 is waiting for some love. I need to pull out the bronze fennel that has taken over that bed and rehome them so I can plant more fun edibles there.  

Raised beds in lower tier

We abandoned our original plan of adding more raised beds to the upper tier garden and created a mini orchard to house the six apple trees (Gala, Granny Smith and Fuji) we ordered. As this area is deceptively sloped, we first had a contractor in to level the space. The original fence was moved back 6 feet, giving us 1,200 sq. ft., and some of the posts that were showing signs of rot were replaced. What a difference this made! It is now a much happier space. The garden feels roomier, the water management greatly improved and it's visually more appealing. 

Mini orchard with 6 apple trees

At the same time, we added a stack stone wall and pathway on the east side of the orchard that runs along the back side of the fence. This continues the path from the other side of the driveway, providing continuity. It also better defines the flower bed at the top of the hill, anchored by a seven year old brown turkey fig and wildflowers that bring in many native pollinators.

new stackstone retaining wall and path

closer view of short wall and driveway through fence

As we added this new wall, it seemed the right time to update the retaining wall that divides the lower (raised beds) and upper (orchard) gardens. This wall, previously constructed of bricks, now complements the new wall along the pathway so when looking up the garden from the East it is harmonious. 


new retaining wall dividing orchard and lower garden
My idea had always been to grow edibles along the top of the old wall, but I never executed that plan. Once the new wall was installed, I was determined to make it happen. We simply placed rock pavers to outline the growing bed and added some composted soil to amend the existing clay creating a better growing medium. This space is now the new herb garden. 

New herb bed

I transplanted some of the herbs that remained in raised Bed #1 to the new garden; planting out the rest of the space with several varieties of thyme, oregano, sage, basil and lavender.  


Along the north facing fence we transplanted our lone surviving pomegranate tree. It looks like the other two pomegranate trees that we ordered this winter as bare root plants didn't survive. 

Bella taking a break near the kitchen garden
We moved this small table and chairs from another part of the garden, so that we have a shaded area to sit and enjoy the remodeled kitchen garden or take a break while harvesting our edibles. Even our dog Bella approves, taking a uncharacteristic break from her patrolling duties. She is excellent at keeping the squirrels hiding in the trees and the chipmunks in their burrows. 


I'll be adding more containers with edibles as well as incorporating more flowers and companion plants, but for now the framework is complete.

17 comments:

  1. What an amazing transformation! Congratulations.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is incredible, Karin! That must have frustrating having ordered all the fruit trees and plants and then having a question about the permit. It looks like you have it all solved. What do you use for mulch? It all looks so perfectly weed-free and organized!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We created a place for the fruits we ordered. We still have the permit issue problem but that's a story for another post. Yes, it is nice and clean right now since they removed all the weed while grading. It'll be a lot of work on our part to keep this area weed free over the summer! So, we contact local tree companies and our electric co-op who have free mulch. They're always looking for places to dump mulch. It works great for our paths and high traffic areas.

      Delete
  3. Wow. Impressive transformation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gail! It was long overdue but will enjoy growing edibles in a happy place!

      Delete
  4. I really love this. What a great re-do. Time for us to come visit....mini fling! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES! Y'all must come visit, anytime! Let's get something on the calendar this fall when the weather isn't so HOT.

      Delete
    2. Did I just hear "mini-fling???"

      Delete
  5. It looks great! What are you using as mulch in between the beds and how well does it work?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We use wood mulch from local tree companies. We lay it directly on the soil. It works really well. There is still some weeding that needs to be done but one could lay cardboard down and then cover with mulch to control weeds better. We choose not to do this since it is a heavy traffic area with people and dogs.

      Delete
  6. What a glorious remodel, Karin - very, VERY envious! Even jealous of your raised beds as mine are the standard 2x6's as there was some sticker shock when I looked at 4x4's, especially for cedar. You know how we go to all these gardens at the Fling and think..."dang, I want my garden to look like that"....well, I'm saying that now, you lucky, lucky girl :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so very happy with the space. Honestly, the photos don't do it justice. It is amazing what good structure of a space does for not only visual appeal but also function and the feeling of joy working in the garden. It was totally worth the investment.

      Delete
  7. A huge effort and great results. I really like how you use the low stone walls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jason! It has proven to be very functional and versatile for the different plants we've incorporated there.

      Delete
  8. Oh Karin what a wonderful plan you came up with...glad you are working it out and I love the low stone wall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm super happy with how it turned out. We liked the stone wall on the other side of the driveway that we wanted to add more to this side. It has been so fun to landscape around.

      Delete

"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment...I love hearing from you!