An Introduction to Kitchen Gardens
Written by Laara Copley-Smith
Created Tuesday, 24 January 2012
And Your Kitchen Garden Adventure
Through time our relationship with our food has evolved in many diverse ways. From survival instincts and foraging in search of sustenance to growing crops in an agricultural world. During this changing relationship Kitchen Gardens were born, spanning the entire world where within themselves they had varying reasons and foundations of creation.
Ranging from medieval kitchen gardens, monastic gardens, the walled kitchen gardens of the stately homes in England and Ireland to the European kitchen gardens such as jardin potager as known in France.
Kale leaf Cherry Tomatoes
The traditional Kitchen Garden were gardens which encompassed a wide variety of functions. To provide seasonal produce in the form of vegetables and fruits year round, suitable crops to be stored during the winter months, herbs and flowers for the house. Glass houses which we would identify as green houses, cold frames and various forms of crop protection would also be employed. They often had a flavor of the ornamental with the softness of flowers.
A productive, yet well designed harvesting garden which was pleasing to the eye.
Of course not all kitchen gardens were of stately value, as people of various social standing were productive and inventive with the use of their gardens which is where the term cottage garden arrives from.
As modern food production and marketing advanced, the decline of the kitchen garden followed. Along with mass production, cheaper produce and the beginning of our fascination with packaged foods. At this point our relationship with food dramatically transformed from a more natural connection to where our food comes from to prepackaged, long life products.
And with these so called modern movements forward there has been an up-surge of modern illness.
Many of us have traveled full circle as we often do, to a place where we question what we eat and how we use our resources. With a desire to reconnect with the natural laws, a more sustainable way of living. With healthy, vibrant fruits and vegetables which have been grown without chemicals which not only nourish the body yet also feed the soul.
And what better way than to create a kitchen garden and grow your own. This is not to say one needs to become self-sufficient as any movement towards growing home produce in any quantity is a positive step forward. For you, your family and for the planet.
To take time to be outside with the changing seasons, the elements and become more in tune with the earth we live upon. This is truly where we reconnect with nature and give something back to the land.
Young Red Cabbage
You and your Kitchen Garden
As vegans we know the value in respecting where your food comes from.
And if you decide to step onto an adventurous path to grow your own produce you will, I am sure receive many gifts along the way. Not only will you be gifting yourself with organic, fresh and vital produce you will relax and unwind while you commune with nature in your vegetable patch. However big or small this is. It will become your oasis of tranquility.
It is a life enhancing experience to get outside on a frosty morning in the winter sun and lift fresh carrots. This was my gardening task today! However cold I may have been I felt fully alive and connected to the beauty and gifts from nature.
Remember the Kitchen Gardens of old came in all shapes and sizes, spanning every continent. Even a small space if used creatively can bring produce and great joy. Vegetable, fruit and herb crops can be grown straight in the ground, in raised beds, in containers and planters. Even in old buckets, baths and oddments of containers.
In the kitchen garden there is total freedom to be inventive and creative.
The next step:
You may already be a passionate vegetable and fruit grower or this may be a completely new adventure. Either way it is a great time to take stock of your kitchen garden system and look at where you could possibly grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.
The first steps are to evaluate what gardening space you have. Yes, it is a planning stage which may seem boring to many, yet it is essential and a creative stage of the process. It is at this point where you can look at the best way to use the space available.
Some Key Points to consider:
- Decide where you could possibly grow food
- How much space do you have, will this be in the ground or containers?
- Will you need to buy planters? Or if you are a DIY enthusiast could you build them
- Take dimensions of the potential kitchen garden
- Log where the sun is
- Is it very sunny or is there some shade?
- Have you a water supply nearby?
- Do you know your soil type if it is a garden?
- Think about Style
- Are you a very ordered person, do you like everything to have a place, be accurately designed or do you prefer less order, a more natural look.
Courgette Leaf & fruiting flowers emerging
Draw it on paper. A sketch, you don`t have to be an artist, just enjoy. Take notes so you can look at it at leisure in the comfort of your home.
This is not a stage to be planned without thought, there are many things to consider which we will discover in good time. The important thing is to decide you want to grow your own and then start to evaluate your current garden space. And its potential.
Until the next Kitchen Garden episode you have plenty to keep you busy and you can always start to dream about what you would like to grow.
Have fun as this really is a new adventure.
All Photographs © Laara Copley-Smith at Laara Copley-Smith Garden & Landscape Design. All rights reserved.
Laara Copley-Smith is a professional Garden Designer based in the UK with a passion for Kitchen Gardens and growing organically. Laara has been a vegan for over ten years, is a raw foodist and is a keen photographer. Laara offers an extensive range of bespoke design services and creative consultancy and can be contacted here.
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