Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful for Kitchen Garden

On Thanksgiving day I picked a huge salad of various greens fresh from my garden. It is so wonderful to skip out the front door to the kitchen garden and be able to have fresh veggies at the end of November.

This kitchen garden is new this year. We started building it in the early spring using various materials. I like to experiment to see what works well so I can share that information with others. I have beds of concrete blocks which might not be the most fashionable but are easy to find and construct into a raised bed, inexpensive, won't rot and I like the fact that I can plant companion perennial herbs and flowers in the blocks themselves without having to take up room in the main planting area.

Pine 2" x 12" boards were used to make 9 beds in the garden. Again easy to find and make into a raised bed using metal L brackets on the inside corners plus an added crosspiece in the center. Inexpensive too, materials for all 9 beds ran right around one hundred bucks. Of course they will decay in three or four years possibly but easy to replace at that time I figured.

This fall we have added more beds, my husbands insists I'm crazy and I must be forgetting we are only two people but that has never stopped me before...besides, I love to share with neighbors and friends. These beds are built out of rough sawn red cedar from a local mill and should last many years without rotting. The lumber costs more than pine but not will not have to be replaced as quickly.

Soil depths are experimental as well. How deep does a raised bed have to be any how? Well, that depends on who you ask I've found out. Everyone has a different opinion from 5 inches to 18 is what I hear is optimal so again I'm going to try differing depths and check it out for myself.
After taking a month off to see other gardens, relatives and friends in Europe at the end of summer I thought perhaps I had missed the widow of opportunity for planting a cool season fall garden. Even though I got a late start it hasn't effected my amount of green veggies I harvest daily.

By constructing two hoop houses, one portable greenhouse, and three cold frames I am amazed how well everything is doing. I hope to have produce all winter here in Middle Tennessee. Since I have no heat options in these temporary structures it will be interesting to see what will survive, what will croak and what will flourish in the coldest stretch of winter.
Currently I am growing brussel sprouts (in and out of protection), broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, broccoli raab, spicy greens, arugula, kohlrabi, swiss chard, corn salad and shallots (no cover), six or so varieties of lettuce, cilantro, spinach, kale and some others that I will remember later.

It is great to know I can stir fry or steam fresh greens make salads for every meal (or whenever I get a hankerin). Best of all it is knowing it is a time when you see organic vegetables shipped in from China, it is good to know I don't have to wonder where my food is coming from or what has been put on it.
Local is the way to go and growing your own is the best way to ensure that but the next best thing is buying from the local farmers wherever you live.

Because I got a late start this year I bought transplants and then started seeds to keep a continual harvest going. I found my best transplants at Riverbend Nursery of Franklin, TN and great majority of the seeds I planted are from Renee's Garden at Renee has wonderful seeds and such a variety of new and fun veggies to grow. Some of the seeds I planted are in packets printed in Swiss German and since I can't read the packages I can't you where they are from...thank goodness for latin plant names!

I am so thankful for my family, friends, and the bountiful harvest from my kitchen garden.

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