The Ultimate Kitchen Garden Plan

They say that the best-tasting tomato is the one you grow yourself. With so many heirloom tomato varieties out there, the possibilities can be downright paralyzing. That ‘s before you start to think about other crops. Chefs renowned for their skill with fresh vegetables were the ones we turned to. The woman who invented the farm-to-table movement weighed in. As did Peter Hoffman. And Rick Bayless. Our organic kitchen-garden project was set in motion by these slow-food pioneers and 10 of their peers.

13 chefs were made from our garden produce.

Jon Carloftis is a country boy and is a contributing editor for the magazine. Carloftis persuaded his mentor, horticulturist Sharon Bale, to lend a hand at his alma mater, the University of Kentucky. The duo divided the 32 ‘ x 56 ‘ plot into a grid of 12 raised beds and covered them in pine straw, an affordable alternative to hardscaping that also gives veggies the acidity they crave. Acid from the straw is released into the soil when it rains.

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The entire plant list and the Ultimate Kitchen Garden plan can be downloaded.

Other moves that sync with Carloftis ‘s pretty-is-as-pretty-does strategy included birch tepees and a handsome poplar arbor to support climbers, such as beans, peas, and cucumbers. The necessary depth for root crops was supplied by recycled barrels and barn-wood boxes. A fence of tobacco sticks is draped with sturdy netting. “ Structure adds style, ” Carloftis says, “ and that ‘s what separates us from Neanderthals. ”

But, woe, the best-laid plans. Remarkably persistent rabbits, contaminated compost, and Kentucky ‘s second-wettest spring on record all wreaked havoc. Bale says it was the perfect storm for failure. “ And yet, come July, when we bit into that first ‘Early Girl ‘ tomato, infinitely juicy and still warm from the sun, all was forgotten. ”

You ‘ll soon experience the sweetest satisfaction of knowing I grew this if you check out these 13 tips for creating a kitchen garden.

The Ultimate Kitchen Garden has more.

Check out our favorite seed sources.

See the garden from beginning to end.

How to downsize our plan to fit your backyard

The garden plan is illustrated by Michael A.

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