Kitchen Gardens: Beyond the Vegetable Patch

A kitchen garden is no mere vegetable patch—with a perfect blend of aesthetics and utility, it's a stylish garden offering both edible and visual delights. The fruits, flowers, herbs, and vegetables you grow and harvest there will feed you and your family—and your spirits.


  • The Kitchen Garden: Beyond the Vegetable Patch, by Carole Turner
  • Kitchen Garden Designs
    • A Traditional American Kitchen Garden, by Peter J. Hatch
    • The Four-Square, by John D. Simpson
    • The Potager, by Louisa Jones
    • A Kitchen Garden in Bloom, by Suzy Bales
  • Kitchen Garden Basics
    • Preparing the Soil for a Kitchen Garden, by Dayna S. Lane
    • Building Raised Beds, by Robert Kourik
    • Shortage and Surplus in the Kitchen Garden, by Doc and Kary Abraham
    • An Indoor Salad Garden, by Lucy Apthorp Leske
    • Planting the Kitchen Garden
    • Essential Plants for the Gourmet Kitchen Garden, by Renee Shepherd
    • Heirloom Plants for the Kitchen Garden, by Doris Bickford-Swarthout
    • Compact Vegetables for Small Kitchen Gardens, by Serle Ian Mosoff
    • Fruits and Edible Flowers for the Kitchen Garden
  • Regional Kitchen Gardens
    • The Northeast, by Cathy Wilkinson Barash
    • The Southeast, by Cynthia Hizer
    • The North and Midwest, by Jennifer Bennett
    • The Southwest, by Janie Malloy
    • The Pacific Northwest, by James Baggett
  • Mail-Order Resources
  • Contributors

The Kitchen Garden: Beyond the Vegetable Patch

by Carole Turner

Simply put, a kitchen garden is a place to grow things that you bring into the kitchen—vegetables, fruits and berries, herbs, edible flowers and cut flowers. It is a place of beauty and bounty, a place that stimulates and delights all the senses. The perfect blend of aesthetics and utility, the kitchen garden is a paradise where you can not just look, touch, and smell, but also taste.

No matter how simple or small, a kitchen garden makes its owner feel like the lord or lady of the manor. My own garden is only 20 feet square, but when I open the gate and go in, I always swell with pride as I stroll up and down the aisles surveying the fruits of my labor (and popping a few in my mouth).

No mere vegetable garden, a kitchen garden has style. Even if you don't grow gourmet or "designer" vegetables, or antique fruits or flowers, or chic varieties of herbs, the kitchen garden can reflect your personal taste and the flavor of your particular region of the country. There are no rules: The kitchen garden can look like a perennial border, or an English cottage garden, or even an Oriental garden. It can have a Southwestern desert look, complete with edible cacti, or it can be romantic, strewn with roses and smelling of lavender and thyme.

If you're of an orderly bent, you can plant your kitchen garden in traditional rows, with sturdy bamboo tepees and trellises for climbing vegetables. Or you can take a more casual approach, making a garden that is a tumble of flowers interspersed with greens, colorful peppers, eggplants, squash blossoms, and cooking herbs. There are so many attractive ways to use vegetables and herbs that the modern kitchen garden invites creativity. Edge a flower bed with curly parsley, or pair your tomato plants with pot marigolds, or grow fluffy green clumps of lettuce around the bases of red cabbages.

Whatever you choose to do, don't leave any bare spots. Every space should be used, every inch devoted to food and flowers. And when one thing is harvested, put another in. The kitchen garden is a place of activity, season after season. There should always be something growing, something being harvested, something blooming, something sprouting. The rewards will be many, and not all tangible. The kitchen garden, after all, is a place to feed both body and soul.


November 17, 2010
Anne van den Bergh

Would it be possible to obtain plans for your wooden compost system (3 bins)?? I would like to make one for my garden. Your vegetable garden is an inspiration!
With my best wishes.

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