After moving in, in 2004, making the first kitchen garden and then erasing it again one year later, I started making plans for my second kitchen garden. All winter I measured the ground, made drawings and calculated how much tree I needed for the raised beds. I even calculated how many cubic meters of gravel I needed for the paths. My husband supported me all the way and found the project very exciting. I do believe, however, he had a major shock when he saw the gravel truck coming. At that point he learned that small drawings can mean a lot of work and even today he still double checks my ideas and drawings, before I am allowed to order any materials.
The kitchen garden in May. The rectangular shape of the raised beds are still very visible.
The second kitchen garden, and current, is placed right in front of our front door. I wanted the kitchen garden to be a beautiful garden, not just a place to grow vegetables. I chose raised beds for many reasons. The raised beds offer a strict symmetry that goes really well with our house, and I love the axis that goes from our front door to the greenhouse. It makes the kitchen garden look very organised. As told in Childhood memories my mom had raised beds in her kitchen garden, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The gravel between the beds requires some weeding and isn’t maintenance free but the raised beds have so many other advantages, is does not bother me. For me, the biggest advantages are that you don’t have to dig the whole garden, just the beds, and the beds can be raised to any high you want or need. For people with back problems is it so much easier preparing just the beds instead of the whole area.
I have three different sizes of beds. The highest beds are used for mostly herbs and rhubarb. They are closest to the door, so it is easy to pick some herbs while cooking. The biggest beds are used for vegetables. They are 125 cm wide and 250 cm in length and a perfect size. You don’t want a raised bed wider than 125 cm. Larger than that you will find it difficult to reach the middle of the bed without standing in it.
The smallest beds are 50 cm wide and 250 cm in length. They are mostly used for flowers or herbs.
I started out with the big beds, planning the axis. I did not want the soil to be full of stones, so my husband made a large sieve for me. It took a while but I sieved the soil for all 18 beds, removing stones and weeds.
Setting the first few raised beds along the axis from the front door.
When the axis and first eight beds were set, the rest were fairly easy. At that time we had sown grass all over to prevent any weeds. So each time we had build a bed, we would peel of the grass with a shovel, remove it and set the bed. When all beds were in place, we spread out the gravel and voilà, a kitchen garden was made.
The final result was a kitchen garden with 18 raised beds made of larch. Later on fruit trees, a greenhouse, perennials and a fence joined the garden.
The work task was big and the projects took many years but every spent hour has been worth it.
This is the kitchen garden of my dreams!