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My Kitchen Garden

June 17, 2011

I’ve been posting some images here and there of my raised bed kitchen garden, and may have mentioned here how this project nearly killed me off (well my shoulder at least).  So here is the whole run down on my kitchen garden project:

First off a kitchen garden (also called a potager) is pretty much a separate area of your outdoor space that has a planned design & layout where you grow veggies, herbs and flowers.   Rather than just one big growing plot like a traditional vegetable garden.

Here’s an amazing example feature in Country Living.  Seriously how cute is this!  Images like this are what inspired me to do my own version.

Kitchen Garden

Of course mine doesn’t even come close to this…but you may notice a similarity in the use of a layout with small plots and walkways between.  It’s not quite finished, but this is what it looks like today.

I’ve wanted to do this garden project for several years now, so I’m not sure what actually made me decide to do it this year.  I guess it was probably that tax refund burnin’ in my pocket. 

There were several phases to the project…so I’ll do my best to describe each step.

1) Make a Plan. 

I did a lot of thinking and planning and totally obsessed over it…yep that’s what I do.  I mean seriously there is a lot to figure out: 

  • How much do you want to grow? 
  • How many raised beds?
  • What size?
  • Layout and design? 
  • How wide of a path? 
  • What materials?
  • Are you willing to shovel, shovel and shovel some more?  (I’m adding this one after the fact)

After wracking my brain with a ton of concepts, I opted for something simple:  Eight 4’x8′ raised beds made of cedar (no freaky toxins) arranged in rows of two with a 3′ path down the center and 2’+ path between beds.

2) Select & Prep Your Site.

Pick a site!  I chose to put the kitchen garden right on top of my previous in-ground plot, and expanded the total area several feet to the north & west. 

An ideal site is one that is:

  • Close to the kitchen which makes it easy for a quick run outside to pick a veggie when you are cooking – I do this a lot! 
  • In a lot of sun – I’d say at least 6 hours for good growth.  My garden’s site gets sun pretty much the whole day with just a little shade from a shrub in the early AM and late in the day by a small tree.
  • Nice and flat.   If it’s not level you can a) level it by bringing in/removing dirt or b) build the beds into the slope.  My site was slightly sloped so I chose to make it level…not much fun, but worth the effort. 

Tilling and leveling garden spot

Get that site ready!

We opted to remove all sod and weeds and lay a weed barrier over the entire area of the kitchen garden.  This has been a huge help with the fight on weeds. No crabgrass take overs here.  I cut the barrier out within the beds to allow plants to root down into the actual earth if they want (pretty sure I forgot to on one of the beds).  Right now it is still just weed barrier paths but I hope to lay pavers down later in the year if I can find a sweet deal.

3) Build The Beds

My absolute favorite part of my kitchen garden are the raised beds.  Love ’em!  We are nearly halfway through my first gardening season with them and I’m definitely sold. 

vegetables growing in raised bed

No more bunnies eating my greens.

No more weed ambushes.  I weed all eight beds once a week and have yet to run into anything growing wild.  Also no grass seeping in from the edges.

Easier to reach the weeds (and everything else).  No tromping around plants.  Oh yes and a good foot less to bend over.  🙂

Bigger yields due to a soil mix and the ability to plant a lot closer which increases yields without increasing space. 

Looks sooo much nicer.  Very neat and tidy (well for me). 

Extended growing season.  I hope to turn one of the beds into a cold frame to keep some things growing.  In the spring the beds will warm and dry faster allowing me to start planting earlier.  Will be a great fix for my garden itch come springtime.

Awesome benefits right?  Well grab some help and start building.  Heck just try one…you won’t regret it.

Raised bed under construction

I followed this plan pretty closely: The perfect raised bed from Sunset.

Pioneer Woman has a great tutorial too: Build Your Own Raised Flower/Vegetable Bed 

4) Fill ‘Em Up

Well this is where it started to go downhill in terms of my enthusiasm.  There were a couple issues that came up with dirt and compost that sparked a tad of frustration.  And then when I did get adequate dirt and compost, it was a consistent routine of load, wheel, unload…load, wheel, unload….you get the idea.  Probably somewhere around the vicinity of 8-9 cubic yards of growing medium was scooped and hauled. 

I used approximately a 75 (topsoil)/25 (compost) mix for each bed.  I loaded topsoil in first and then topped with compost, giving it a quick mix with the shovel and then raked smooth.

I also had to add $20 worth of ibuprofen to my budget.  I know, I know –  I’m a total weeny… but geez that took its toll on me!

5) Plant & Enjoy

The fun part!  Here’s a simplified layout of what I planted this year.

If you are a gardener….what kind of garden do you have?

I’m sharing this with A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa. 🙂

31 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 10:43 am

    WOW! That is very impressive. I wish I had the space and energy to do something like this!

    I have a ton of herbs and tomatoes in pots on my front porch and on the side of my house. We can’t plant anything in our backyard due to my pesky lab.

    • June 21, 2011 12:26 pm

      Thanks for the comment! Dogs can sure make life interesting, huh!? Front yard gardening is becoming pretty popular…maybe you could put in a raised bed there!

  2. June 22, 2011 9:35 pm

    Man! this looks like a lot of work! Nice job! Question…how are the brussel sprouts growing?? Do those grow good in Iowa? I love them and as soon as I grow up and buy a house I can’t wait to have a garden!

    • June 23, 2011 8:37 am

      Yes brussel sprouts grow well in Iowa. They actually like the cooler weather and do best when they are timed right to harvest in the fall. Thanks so much for reading Ashley!

  3. Leah permalink
    July 9, 2011 9:14 pm

    I finally took the plunge, much to my neighbor’s chagrin I am sure, and put raised beds in my front yard. The side and back simply do not get enough sunlight (as evidenced by my previous garden failures) and, as a Mom trying to be intentional about raising my children in touch with where their food comes from, a garden is important to me. I could not be happier! I LOVE raised beds and the area is actually far more convenient for watering. Social conformity is now tossed to the wind!

  4. July 21, 2011 7:12 pm

    I love this! I can’t do this right now, but I have bookmarked this page so that I can come back to it someday, so please don’t take down your blog!!! : )

    I actually have the perfect yard for this right now, but we also have a dog and some other issues to deal with.

    • July 21, 2011 8:31 pm

      Definitely go for it, I am so happy with the raised beds.

      Check in weekly I do an update on whats going on out there throughout the growing season.

  5. August 3, 2011 1:28 am

    Beautiful! I have used raised beds like yours for about 12 years and have loved, loved, loved them. I need to replace some of the boxes now, but they have served me well. There are so many pluses to this kind of gardening. Good for you. I know that it was hard work getting them up and going, but your garden looks wonderful. And yes, cherry tomato plants have no personal space!

    • August 3, 2011 7:59 am

      Thank you! Best gardening decision I ever made was to do the raised beds. And good to know that you’ve continued to love them over the years!

  6. August 4, 2011 12:28 pm

    Your kitchen garden is absolutely amazing. You’re making me miss my old garden so much it hurts right now!

  7. August 4, 2011 1:47 pm

    Wonderful….we have given our whole garden over to veggies. I love raised beds too!

  8. August 8, 2011 10:25 pm

    I must say you were BRILLIANT to lay the landscape fabric in between your beds. Yes, brilliant. My own raised bed garden is going on four years, and let me tell ya, the mulch I piled on in year two, now makes a wonderful sprouting medium for grass seed. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Check out mind if you’d like (it’s very new… only 4 posts old… hardly even sitting up on its own yet):

    • August 9, 2011 8:31 am

      Yes it has been a godsend. I can’t wait until I get some paver down between – looks to be a fall project.

      Thank you for your comments – I will definitely check out your site.

  9. October 21, 2011 2:05 pm

    What you have is quite amazing! I don’t keep mine up as well as you did. Yours is so well organized. I’m inspired!

  10. October 25, 2011 6:10 pm

    There is so much about your blog that resonates w/ me. I too LOVE to watch things grow. I tried several new things w/ the gardens this year…a 3 sisters garden plot, mulched potatoes, some heirloom tomatoes started from seed (first year for me and they all grew). etc. etc. I’m also sold on the raised bed and sq ft gardening method….I need to build some new beds, and think the weed barrier idea under everything is brilliant. I did put some down under a one bed, but the quack grass, has been very aggressive trying to get in there anyway.

  11. December 4, 2011 1:49 pm

    You have a great looking garden. Nice work!

  12. Jae permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:39 pm

    Great post! Inspiring.

  13. June 23, 2012 5:31 am

    Growing vegetables in the raised bed seems very good for small space.

  14. October 8, 2012 7:36 pm

    Hello,My name is Yuko. I am seen your blogs from pinterest, and all your gardens are so nice !!! Here I am in Okinawa Japan. We have tyhoon during the summer and autumn, so we have hard time keeping up great vegetable garden like you keep. But you have many pics of my dream garden! I would like to introduce your blog and pics to my FB?
    Thank you so much!!!

  15. June 1, 2013 5:10 pm

    I just couldn’t leave your site prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed
    the standard info an individual provide in your visitors?
    Is gonna be again incessantly to investigate cross-check new posts


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