The Kitchens Garden

Sometimes we forget that the Kitchen Gardens are just as vibrant and busy as the Kitchen’s Garden Farm with all its animals.  Here I have big vegetable gardens and just as big is the flower garden.  lilac

Big flower gardens are not usual out here on the prairies though most people have a vegetable garden. The borders are just starting to flower.  I have planted a number of lilacs and that combined with the apple and plum blossoms makes for a heady fragrance in the gardens this spring.


And yesterday was a wonderful gardening day.  garden-004

Being a Sunday Our John carted about piles of compost in the bucket of his tractor, planted numerous tomatoes, and Federico  continued to reclaim one of the old gardens.  There was a rash of weed trees that had got out of hand and even though it was the weekend and a day off for him he continued to wrestle with them digging them out.  He is a very determined young man.  After the first few days I like to allow my farm guests the room to work to their strengths, and Federico is our gardener. He has a real feel for plants and wide borders. We are also working on a design to move water about the farm that does not need me to drag hoses for an hour or so.  And this week we are going to design and build the turkey house.

vegetable garden

The gardens get bigger every year, but with a short growing season it takes so long before we can harvest food, I always feel sorry for my early  spring working guests who weed and dig and plant and water but don’t get to eat much of the food they are growing.  Though we still eat well.

Though we are eating broccoli, kale, asparagus, lettuce, spinach, radishes and rhubarb.  Many of the beds are still empty as we wait for the early summer plants to grow in the glass house.

vegetable garden

All these gardens are on the South side of the house.

tomato plants

This is just one of John’s tomato beds, with the horse radish in the background. We are eating that too.  And of course a big selection of herbs. These tomatoes were desperate to be planted out.

glass house

This year I am hoping to get a decent pick of blue-berries.  They came through the winter better than some of the big trees. The grapes are showing no signs of growth at all.  Many shrubs and roses are gone.  The weeping cherries are really struggling. Two mean winters in a row I suppose.


But the  blue berries are still rattling shakily along. I hope they really take off this year.

Oh and I forgot to get a picture for you but the pawpaw trees are flowering. Isn’t that great? Pawpaws are actually a North American native which surprised me as they sound so Tropical. These trees are five years old now.  On fact I only began gardening here seven years ago. There were no gardens at all when I came, so I am happy.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Your friend on the farm



52 Comments on “The Kitchens Garden

  1. There’s a lot of joy to be had creating a garden from scratch. No-one else’s mistakes or oddities to work round, freedom to place things wherever you like and the climate permits, and huge satisfaction when your vision for the place starts to come to life. The downside, or course, is that it takes half of forever for big trees and lush growth to happen. Your gardens are looking gorgeous, Miss C.

  2. Sad about the grapes and cherries, I suppose Mother Nature is gently pointing out what works. Farmy gardens looking great. On the other hand your early spring workers get to catch all the babies 🙂 Laura

  3. Thank you, I have always wondered about the garden. Plants have faces and voices too?

  4. Yes, the magnolia! It is called a tulip magnolia here, and is the first tree to flower, first the flowers, and then later the leaves. It is just gorgeous!!! No doubt Our John’s tomatoes are happy to be in the ground! It is finally time! 🙂

  5. Celia, I see that you have been planting your small shrubs like blueberries in upended pipes. This exposes the plants to more cold than if in the ground. But even if in the ground, I saw a wonderful technique at the Atlanta Botanical Garden a few years ago which they use to protect their more tender plants. They make a cage of chicken wire which puts around 6 to 8″ of space between all sides of the plant and the wire. Into this they piled tree leaves, going higher than the plant. This gets installed just before the cold weather and is kept on until it warms up in the spring. Then it’s all taken down and the leaves are either caught up, chipped and put into compost, or spread as mulch. I have used a similar kind of treatment for my unplanted nursery trees and plants. I assemble leaves in large construction grade black plastic bags which I get at Home Depot in boxes of 32. I fill them up by placing them in a metal garbage can to hold the bag upright, then when it’s full of leaves, I turn the can on its side and slide it out, replacing the bag. Then fill up the next one. I gather a LOT of these filled bags. Then I brought all my unplanted trees, bushes, etc.close together, gave them a good watering, covered them with wood chips and threw a cordon of the bags around the whole lot of them. It acts as great insulation and the dark plastic actually collects some of the heat transferring it into the chips in the bag for added heat. I didn’t loose one tree this year and only lost a couple of smaller plants which had been in pots too long this past winter. I also used a row of these bags up against a row of planted containers – both sides, no wood chips – and had a continuous crop of cool winter vegetables all winter. I did put clear plastic sheeting over this area – mostly to keep out the deer and capture more heat when it was sunny. All together this has shown to be a really workable strategy. Diann Dirks, The Garden Lady of Ga, Certified Permaculture Designer (blogsite –

    • Actually the blueberries have those tiles as shelter temporarily to get their mulch settled in place or the wind and the chooks will strip it before it settles, the winds out here on the plains are brutal – as soon as I plant the zucchini the pots will be put around the zuchinni to keep them upright..they are big beautiful 100 year old field tiles, aren’t they lovely? You must have a lovely garden Dianne, where is it that you garden again?. c

  6. Celie, that Federico is a gem: treasure him.
    Your amazing garden is looking very promising – though those tomatoes are certainly on the leggy side! I adore lilac, and there are a lot round here that I pass on my walks. We had some beauties in the old garden, which I can see from the back lane to Cerisy.


  7. The daughter, who is in her second year of backyard gardening, has shared a few leftover plant starts so we will see how snap peas, peppers and some new interesting version of a strawberry (which they say has pineapple undertones in taste) will do in my simple pot garden on the deck. I have lost a complete hedge that bordered my front drive area I believe. It had the nicest small pink flowers but it is ‘ blooming’ this spring with nothing more than brown twigs. Sigh.

  8. I planted 4 blueberry bushes and 6 red raspberry bushes a couple weeks ago. I made the mistake of not rabbit proofing them and the rabbits ate most of the leaves from all the plants. They now have cages around them and I hope they will grow nice and big like yours.

    The other thing I will be growing this year is Borage. I grew it a couple years ago and it attracted bees like nothing I’ve planted before. Bees are a gardeners friend and I need a lot of gardening friends this year 🙂

    My tomatoes and peppers need to be planted in the garden this week. Fingers crossed I can get it done with hubby out-of-town all week and a busy, busy kid schedule ahead.

    I knew Paw Paws were native to this part of the country, but I’ve never had one. What will you do with the fruit?

    • I find the tiles really effective against rabbits.. such a shame they ate your bushes.. they are terrible in the spring aren’t they.. I must put in some raspberries too. We will eat the paw paws, they are very tasty, but they have a very limited shelf life so they will be picked and eaten.. delicious. c

  9. It’s so lovely to see something of the garden Celi. 😀 I inspected my grape vines yesterday, and there’s only very minimal budding on them. We’re a lot warmer here in the West and so maybe your’s might still be thinking about it. Let’s hope so. Maybe another few days?

  10. Isn’t green the most wonderful color of all?! It means everything is alive after a long, harsh winter.

  11. I cannot believe how big everything is already in your gardens, how you being just that much farther south than Minnesota makes such a difference. The fear of frost still looms here. I love that you are eating horseradish. Every year we grind horseradish at my brother’s rural acreage, following the tradition started by our father.

  12. Ant suggestions for growing a few herbs in pots? I have no sunny plots. I only grow Gerbera daisies in pots.

    • Parsley and rosemary (don’t over water it) will do fine – don’t bother with basil unless you get good sun. Indoors maybe? Chives perhaps? I don’t eat them so I don’t know for sure. I’m in Ireland and I have rare sun, lots of rain and very rare real heat. But I have a huge oregano patch, and sage next to it. I never put my one thyme plant in the ground because I’m afraid it will take over like the others did! I have trouble cutting plants back, they look so happy I hate to kill them.

  13. Will fava beans grow in your area? They selling them here at the farmers market. I made a fava leaf pesto yesterday and it was delicious. My tiny little garden is growing like crazy waiting for every drop of recycled water I give it. We planted two sour cherry trees, I think one died. Have your ever tried growing Kohlrabi, it’s one of my favorite veggies.

  14. My very sweet neighbor brought over two big stalks of brussel sprouts yesterday! We will have them for dinner tonight, roasted, with onion and perhaps a bit of bacon. The gardens look great. Our plan is to grow our own vegetables upon retirement, but honestly, I love the animals more…I hope Bill will be a good helper with the garden. Have a wonderful day!

  15. Celi, if you and Federico Google the Chapin Bucket Irrigation System – something similar may work for you…

  16. Federico sounds like he is worth his weight in Gold! I can see him returning for another stretch.I can almost taste those vegetables!

  17. How fun to get an update on your garden! 🙂 I imagine your short growing season means a mountain of work at preserving/canning time. I saw a variety of bush bean (when I was looking through seeds for our family) recently that promises the whole crop to be ready at one time, which for our purposes was a terrible idea — I don’t want to preserve green beans for our family, just have some to eat fresh over a period of time — but I bet that would be great for you! Can’t wait to see how your tomatoes take off now that they can stretch their roots a bit.

  18. You probably can guess from my blog, but I’d be grubbing in the dirt, too! Your blueberries should be fine for years – great tracts of them grown wild in NJ, and no one can say it doesn’t get cold there. I’d suppose they aren’t fans of high wind, so shelter them a titch and they should last a long time!

  19. what a glorious garden! and lucky you to be able to have fruit trees! We have all sorts of critters that would wreak havoc if we planted fruit trees- bears, raccoons and of course deer. It’s far easier to buy fruit from our local growers-

  20. Some very revealing photos! I had never seen that view of the house before, lovely. The gardens and greenery all looking wonderful, too. Spring is very exciting. Bravo Federico! xx

  21. Thank you… I love wandering ’round gardens, and I’ve had a pleasant early morning with my coffee in yours. At the moment I’m limited to pots of this and that on the balcony with varied success and an absentee garden so I garden vicariously gathering ideas. My MIL and stepson have the flower garden covered, as they are saving cuttings and planting up for us. It will be nice to have bits of their gardens in ours.

  22. Paw paws!!! Oh they are so yummy! There were some down in the woods when I was a kid and we would eat them. My dad found them one day and brought some of the fruit up. They are also lovely and tropical looking trees.

    • They are so old fashioned and have survived all kinds of horrible winters.. and their big long leaves are so attractive..I think i planted mine in the wrong spot though not enough sun.. c

  23. Your herb pots and my herb pots look so similar they would have a grand time together! I love the very many basils but they won’t overwinter even here! Had no idea a pawpaw would grow on the Prairies: just have to try one locally now 🙂 ! [Sick in bed: back I go !!!]

  24. Please take a picture of a pawpaw flower. I’ve seen pawpaws but never tasted one. Glad your garden is coming along. I wish I could give you the dwarf Alberta spruces, arbor vitae, a psudeocyprus and a Japanese maple, also some oriental lilies, peonies and day lilies. Also have some antique cabbage roses, tough as nails except in shade. I suspect the poor things are going to all get torn out and trashed.

      • Losing my home of 45 1/2 years. They will just destroy the yard. I don’t have anywhere to live either once we’re out. Not for lack of trying.

  25. What joy it is to have a thriving garden, and flowering one as well.

  26. I love that you have the flowering trees and lilacs, what joy they bring as they add their beauty to the landscape.

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