25 April, 2010

The Kitchen Garden

We have been working on our kitchen garden for 3 years now. When we bought the house the remains of the kitchen garden included two mature apple trees, one pear, 3 mulberry and a peach tree. Sadly the two pecan trees had fallen in the back yard during hurricane Hugo 20 years ago. We have started a new pecan tree from a seedling that we got from our neighbor but I think it will be quite a few years before we get

pecans. Our goal has been to put in atleast 2 raised beds a years. So we have lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, tomatos, herbs, blueberries. strawberries and asparagus growing in raised beds. We still have one larger tilled garden where I grow sunflowers, collards, squash, beans and cucumbers. I try to grow watermelon, cantalope and pumpkins but some years they do well and others not so much. We don't use any kind of pesticide or fungicide so sometimes things just don't do too well. I have found that spraying milk cut in half with water really helps to keep the white mildew off of the vine vegetables and the black and yellow spot off of the roses. Of course it is harmless to us and our poultry but is causes a harmless fungus to grow on the leaves that pushes out the bad ones. You have to do it before the growth starts or soon after in order for the treatment to be really effective though. Our chickens and guineas take care of the bugs and then make us eggs out of those bugs...pretty cool!
My husband built me my beautiful chicken coop.
We have 19 hens, one rooster , 2 guinea hens and one guinea cock. The guineas really only eat bugs and weed seeds but the chickens are omnivores and will eat the garden up so we have the raised beds netted off. In the fall we take down the nets and let the hens clean up the beds and fertilize them!

When we clean out the hens house in the winter we dump it in the beds and in the summer we dump it in the spot where we are going to start the new beds next year. The chicken dropping are too hot to put right on the plants so they have to sit for at least a few months but boy do they make great fertilizer! We got tomatos until the first frost last year. Chickens are pretty easy to care for. I spend about 15 minutes a day feeding and watering and about an hour every 2 to 3 months cleaning the coop. In return they give us at least a dozen fresh eggs a day with the most beautiful dark orange yolks. In the summer they get to eat all the apples and pears and mulberries that hit the ground and they love it.Happy chickens lay better tasting eggs, its a scientific fact!

My newest project is the bee hive. I have started one hive and they seem to be doing quite well. By next year I hope to have two hives and produce between 50 and 80 pounds of honey for our pantry. Back in the day when our bungalows were new everyone had a kitchen garden and a few hens in the yard. People were not completely dependent on huge companies to produce and deliver our food. I believe that we can have this independence again and take back control of what we eat and what we eat eats! Last year during the summer we produced 40 to 60 percent of our food and I hope to top that this year.

Even if you can't have a complete garden stick a few tomato plants in some pots, grow a patio container of lettuce, use squash and other flowering vegetables as accent plants. The joy of eating what you have brought forth from the earth is lost to many of us but it is really as close as your bungalow's back yard!


  1. I really like the idea of using squash and other vegetables as accent plants. I've been thinking that my back yard is too small for a vegetable garden & doesn't get enough sun, but I think I could tuck some vegetables in here and there in my flower beds in the side yards.

  2. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos of your garden. When I bought my house, I had immediate plans of creating a kitchen garden; but it took a year and a half before it came to happen. Last year was my first harvest and I was so excited that this year I expanded. Three cheers to living off of the land, even if it's just a little bit.

  3. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

    Kitchen Garden