plan a kitchen garden

we can plan our kitchen gardens even when there’s snow on the ground.

we plan for successive cropping, overwintering spring-cropping purple-sprouting broccoli which give way to summer’s tomatoes, which then make way for another winter’s garlic. last autumn’s garlic will yield to this autumn’s brussels’ sprouts and the next spring’s parsnips and carrots. the kales might just perennialise, the leaf-beet and the fennel bulbs self-sow where they like and the peas will climb the obelisque in the cool seasons and give over to beans and nasturtiums when it’s hot.

we do some rotation across the four season harvest, across the years, but we like charles dowdings’ experiments that suggest we needn’t worry quite so much. the garlic and leeks keep moving and this year the potatoes are leaving the kitchen garden rotations entirely, to take up residence under some old hay bales!

we try to remember that most previous generations learned all this in the immersion of family and neighbourhoods, everyday growing in backyards and smallholdings. 

we anticipate that failures will teach us. there certainly is no more vivid way to learn.

this year’s plan is to celebrate and note the conditions of success and we aim to get more support for this tremendous, courageous, radical act of hope. like learning any language, we do best in groups (garden club! incredible edibles! the permaculture group!) and with mentors.

like meeting a new friend, we expect to need to learn a plants’ peculiar needs, from how and when to sow, to plant out, to harvest. the preferences of potatoes, the tendencies of carrots, what bothers a cabbage and pleases the garlic. varieties that like the protection of a coldframe, those that are content to stand out in the snow. we choose a couple of varieties, not so many as to become overwhelmed.

this is the small work* of planning to make more of what we need, where we live. it looks at once deceptively humble and intimidatingly complex. yet the impact of many, many more people heading outdoors to grow their veg in the face of what getting food to our plates currently looks like, well. it is an act of sanity and resilience.

what are your favourite sources for vegetable gardening wisdom? my current ones are:

alys fowler (especially ‘eat what you grow’ and ‘a modern herbal’), charles dowding’s books, channel and instagram, also look there for hannah moloney, huw richards, and mark diacono who has several good books too. locally i look to linda gilkeson, who has a course on resilient gardening for climate change coming up. last but not least, i adore perrine and charles hervé-gruyer’s ‘miraculous abundance’ and if you are fluent in french (i am trying!) they have a practical guide out.

this short film exists thanks to the support, of our patrons.

it also exists in spite of taking rather a spectacular fall at swing dancing the other night, but i think the pure joy of it all protected me from breaking anything. i shall hope to be myself again in a few days and i’m looking forward to getting some seed-orders together, and turning my attention to new films and the new season of the journal of small work* podcast.