From April through September 2011 I participated as a blogger in a Home Farming Project sponsored by Nabisco / Triscuit Company at the Gather.com site. Some of my gardening articles survived the cut when Gather was sold, some did not. I am trying to save all the ones that did survive so will be sharing through this blog.
If this is your first time to attempt to plant a kitchen garden you will find that planting in what the French call a 'potager' garden style will be both easier to work in as well as pleasing to the eye.
Potagers were nothing more than kitchen gardens with a formal look. The kind of edible gardens that could grace not only the modest home garden but palatial gardens as well.
They can be round or they can be square, but they should be uniformly spaced. We prefer the 4 x 4 square because the wooden slats we use as our borders are 4 feet long, but a 4 foot round would work also. Four feet gives you lots of room for lots of plants in a fairly small space that is also easy to access from all side.
If you have been reading my previous articles, you know we favor the lasagna method of gardening. There is no digging involved and this simple organic method helps keep the weeds down.
After you have laid out your beds and layered them with your organic matter, start planting. It helps if you plan the whole garden on grid paper first and place your plants where you think you want them on the drawing. When you are actually planting, you might find you need to make a few adjustments, but it helps to start with a plan.
Put the plants that will grow taller to the center and graduate them by the size they will become when grown as you work your way outwards to the borders. The center can be a tall herb growing plant such as rosemary, or it can be a small tepee trellis to hold vining plants such as beans, peas, cucumbers or tomatoes, surrounded by lower plants such as some herbs, peppers or eggplants and then ending with low mounding plants like oregano or marjoram.
Companion planting works very well in these beds; a tomato cage in center with three tomato plants around it, surrounded by assorted basils and peppers, then bordered by marigolds, which act as a deterrent for bugs on the tomatoes and have the advantage of also having edible petals.
Other beds can contain taller corn or okra in the center, plant some runner peas or beans around them that will use the stalks of the corn or okra as a trellis and surround them with lower growing squash or pumpkins.
By placing your plants fairly close but still giving them the room they need to grow, each plant will shield their neighboring plants; protect them from drying out by providing shade which will keep the ground moist longer and also will crowd out the weeds.
If your yard is fairly small, a potager garden with just a few square beds should work well for you.
To read the previous posts on this same topic, please click on the following links: