Returning to Our Roots // Plotting our Kitchen Garden
Way back in June, we first started talking about our dreams of planting our first sustainable kitchen garden. To be quite honest, we haven't made much physical effort just yet to make that dream a reality, but with much discussion and planning, it is something that is definitely going to be happening next spring. Since June, we've planted apple trees, berry bushes (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries), and have officially plotted the land where the majority of our garden will go. By next spring, there will be a greenhouse, bountiful plants, and chickens! We live on a little over an acre of land, where we hope to have a picturesque, miniature, in a way, farm. And we hope that other people become inspired to try this too! Have you heard of the locavore movement? It's a bit of old news, but I only just recently heard the term. People want to know where their food is coming from, how it gets to them, and what it takes to make their food grow. We are some of those people! I guess I don't look at our movement towards a sustainable backyard as a way of going against big industry or necessarily putting more recognition on local farmers (though I don't think it's a bad thing to recognize those topics) but this is more so that we can learn about how food comes to us, so I can appreciate and teach my son to appreciate that good food takes a lot of hard work. This life is so beautiful, and I believe that the most beautiful parts start with creating your own bounty. There's something so raw and real and simple about growing your own vegetables, raising some chickens, and enjoying the day because that's all there is to it That appears absolutely tasteful and perfect to me. I am so excited to begin this journey!! Maybe we'll even keep bees!
Let's get down to business. What exactly is a kitchen garden? After pinning garden after garden for months, we came across a new term: potager. The more backyard gardens that we found and enjoyed the most kept coming up with this name, which obviously meant I needed to do some research. I am so predictable! A potager is another name for a traditional kitchen garden, also known as a jardin potager in French or a kailyaird in Scotland! I KNOW! It was meant to be. The potager is a separate part of your yard's landscape; it just cut off from the other ornamental plants and lawn. The history and design of a kitchen garden are much different than a small farm plot like most people have. Along with being a source of herbs, vegetables, and fruits, it is also a structured space with a design based on repetitive patterns - in other words, it is aesthetically pleasing and functional. We like that very much! It is meant to look good year round; this was popularized during the Renaissance, and often times specific vegetables and flowers are added t enhance the color and beauty of the garden itself. We hope to incorporate styles of both a cottage garden, an informal small garden that supplies one home and can have bees and small livestock, and a knot garden, which is more structured and very formal. Isn't this so fun?! I am nerding out over here.
Above is a sketch that Jill did of what we want our garden to look like. Towards the bottom is where the back of our house is located. Near the upper right corner of the drawing is where the studio is located and our second studio (yes!) is near the bottom right corner. The chickens, berry bushes, and apple trees are scattered about the back of the garden. It's been a lot to plan, but we have found that this design works perfectly for our yard!
Around the greenhouse is where the herbs will be planted. This will definitely be my favorite part of our plants. After reading more about potagers, I discovered that there are specifically planted herb gardens with the title of witches' garden. It made me feel fuzzy all over with the thought of living my real life version of Practical Magic. Remember when we tried doing a book club here? Ha! Maybe in the future. If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it! So many wonderful little insights on herbal superstitions and fun uses for them. I love that kind of thing!
If you were curious (which I believe you should always be), a witches' garden is an herb garden designed for the cultivation of herbs to be used for culinary, medicinal, and spiritual purposes. Some of these spiritual purposes include herbal baths, making incense, or bundles for rituals. Personally, I just like all of those things because they make me feel nice, not for the sake of a ritual! Herbal baths are so good for your mental and physical health! You can see some of my herbal bath tea recipes here. It is also said that witches' garden are very personal and accommodate each individual woman and can help connect her to the earth and mother nature. I am so down!
This weekend we are hoping to rent a rototiller to begin cutting out the large patch where our kitchen garden will be. We are looking into what kind of prep we can do now before the first frost hits and winter sets in. First, we need to find a compost bin that will work for our family. That is something I desperately want to begin as soon as possible. If you have any recommendations, please let me know! I've also read that it's a good idea to cover the area where your garden will be with a thick mulch to help insulate the soil, keep the temperature even, and protect it. The mulch will help to keep the earth frozen after it has reached that point. The bases of our young apple trees have been protected with a tree-guard to keep predators away. A thick, organic mulch will also need to be spread around the bases of our trees and our berry bushes. We have decided to not build raised beds for the upcoming season to save a little money, but we will be putting either brick or wood around each individual bed to divide them.
As for our greenhouse and chicken coop, those will be built in late winter and early spring, around February and March. We hope to construct the greenhouse out of recycled windows! So excited for that, and I have my eye on a few chicken coop designs. Will have do a post on that down the road!
I am excited to continue writing about our gardening adventures. I have some high hopes for the journey ahead! If you are following along, hoping to create your own sustainable backyard, which I hope you are whoever you are, then keep an eye out for some posts over the winter on our plans for chickens, which vegetables we hope to plant, and much more! (: