Planning the Kitchen Garden
The garden is (finally!) waking up, and we can’t wait to get out there and start growing this year’s vegetables. The four productive beds were dug over and manured in November and we hope that the frost this winter has helped break down the clumps. At the beginning of March, we rotovate the soil, rake it to a fine tilth and string out the basic grid for what is going to be our vegetable ‘parterre’.
The parterre is created from horizontal and vertical rows of vegetables mixed with flowers. Some of the flowers, such as Calendula officinalis nana ‘Citrus Cocktail’, are chosen as companion plants. These defend our precious produce against pesky whiteflies and aphids. Others, such as Cosmos sulphureus ‘Brightness Mixed’ and Helianthus annuus ‘Dwarf Yellow Spray’, complement the many shades of green in the vegetables with their vivid colours. Vegetables are chosen for both their culinary qualities and for aesthetic reasons: We grow colourful lettuce, Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’, and differently coloured varieties of beans, onions, courgettes, beetroot and kohlrabi.
Planting up to 40 varieties of vegetables and flowers requires a carefully laid out plan. We use an internet-based software (‘Vegetable Garden Planner’ by Mother Earth News) to create each year’s design. Plans from previous years stay on the server and allow year on year comparisons.