Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kitchen Garden

Wine and salad are the perfect summer pair.
Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine

I wanted the garden to start at my kitchen door but the soil and the slope and the wind are all wrong. It grows a few minutes away instead, stretched across a flat part of our property where the topsoil wasn't long ago scraped or washed away. I enjoy strolling out there in the early morning sun and even in the early morning fog and rain but in the dark of night? Not so much. And you know that this is a problem when you cook from the garden, don't you? Because sometimes, right at the very last minute, what the soup really needs to make it sing is a scattering of scallion or a sprinkle of cilantro.  And sometimes, when the day has had it's way with you, and you can barely drag yourself into the kitchen, all you really want for dinner is a freshly picked green salad and maybe a glass of chardonnay.

So with the shorter days leaving me with less and less light at the end of mine, i decided to take some action. Luckily not much would be required. Just to the right of the kitchen door and sheltered by the stairs is a sliver of a raised bed, eight square feet in all. He built it for me five or maybe seven years ago. I've lately been using it as a halfway house for new slips and starts, anything that needs a daily looking at really.

The old sides were bowed along two edges, spilling the backfilled clay out of the bed, but he repaired that for me in just a few minutes. The soil in that bed was never properly amended for growing vegetables so i sprinkled lime and dolomite and bonemeal as instructed by the soil test i paid UH for a few years ago. Since i know exactly where the soil in that bed came from there is no need to have it tested again. I spread a little azomite, too, because i had some and the plants seem to like it.



Our clay soil can be rock hard but the bed is tiny and it took me only a few sweaty minutes to turn. I added a wheelbarrow full of screened manure and turned it again, smashing the larger clods apart with satisfying thwacks from the back of my shovel. I wanted to plant some greens right away but instead i watered it well and let it rest.






It's been about two weeks now and there are a few young weeds greening the surface. Allowing these weeds to sprout reduces the seed bank and will save me some time in the next few weeks. I'll pull them later today and plant. 

You might be thinking that eight square feet is not very big and yes, you would be right, it's small. But i have been practicing the time honored art of encroachment, layering woodchips, coffee grounds, lemongrass tops, and compost around the edges for a good while now.  I have tucked in a young papaya tree, a chile pepper, and a few strawberry plants. There is room, still, for some basil and maybe a patch of mint or oregano. And soon my garden will start, as it should, at the kitchen door.

10 comments:

A Kitchen Garden in Kihei Maui said...

In a few months, you'll probably wonder how you ever survived without a garden by your kitchen door! Even though it's a small garden bed, you might be surprised by how much you'll be able to grow. Especially if you're planting mostly herbs and salad greens.

Mr. H. said...

How neat that you have made a small garden plot next to the kitchen door...that will be so nice. Just tonight we had to go out and stumble about in the dark trying to find some oregano and thyme for a soup we are preparing. It would have been nice if it was growing closer to the kitchen door. I hope your little bed flourishes.:)

Linda said...

Can't wait to see what you grow in your space. :)

Julie said...

It will be fun to see how much i can shoehorn in Jane! I've been stretching my spacing in the big garden to minimize the need for hand watering but it should be easy enough to keep this little bed well watered. I've already dragged my old square foot charts out ; )

Do you know, Mr. H, that when i want something very badly i actually drive my truck out back and rustle up what i need by the glare of the headlights? Crazy ; )

Not sure what will actually grow Linda ; ) but so far i have planted Crimson Forest bunching onions, Bull's blood beets, Golden Yellow Pak Choy, Summer Delight Oriental Spinach, purple mizuna and two shallots. And i still have three square feet left!

Rowena... said...

Due to the way the kitchen is laid out, I will never have a garden right outside the door, but even if I did, my problem would be to find a way to keep our doxie from helping himself to gourmet treats. He "tastes" everything I put out on the terrace. It's as if he just wants to be sure of quality control!

michelle said...

You clever girl! My kitchen garden is also away from the house beyond the limits of the outdoor lighting. My solution is much lazier, I keep a flashlight on the kitchen counter. The biggest problem is when it rains and it's dark outside, I only have 2 hands...

Julie said...

Sounds like your little doxy has good taste Rowena! Pretty sure my dogs won't be a problem but we all know what a freshly turned raised bed looks like to a cat! Luckily we have had a wet week so no incidents~yet
; )

LOL, not clever Michelle, just afraid of the dark ; )

TS said...

Gardens always grow, not only up but out and around and soon your garden will stretch and stretch, tapping and knocking on your kitchen door. :0) And when it does, just say, "I'd knew you'd get here. I've been waiting."

Julie said...

That's the thing about gardens, isn't it TS? Like friends, they find a way to fill the spaces we didn't even know we had. Welcome ; )

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I can't wait to see how your vegetable bed will be in few weeks time. I don't think your veggie bed small at all. I believe there is so many things you can grow in there. Happy gardening.