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Design elements of a kitchen garden

Considerations for setting up a kitchen garden


garden planting design

How did you plan your vegetable garden? Or how you are you planning it if you are yet to set it up?

Is there a particular style you would like to use? Are you using existing materials and space? Are there certain colors or plant you want to incorporate?

A vegetable garden established from scratch has the the luxury of being free to incorporate almost any  design element. The elements may evolve over time based on your own requirements. Others may be incorporated based on necessity, such as shade, or support structures.    The theme of this months Garden Share Collective is Design.

The Garden Share Collective is a group of keen vegetable gardeners from around the world who write a themed post each month. Join in by linking here at the bottom of this post. It is run on the last Monday of each month. Next month’s theme is “Growth”.

Style elements:

You may or may not consider the elements of your vegetable garden design prior to creating it.

Our family vegetable garden was built from scratch by my partner. We didn’t talk about the design of the garden beds when we began. Mr Fresh simply built what he thought was suitable and I planted in them. The second area of vegetable garden that we set up a year ago I did spend time planning. I wanted to create a kitchen garden that was neatly arranged and structured with a pottager-style influence. You can read about the planning and set up of that garden area here.

In general we like to reuse materials and love to collect old pieces of interest in preference to using new items.  Over time our garden beds had the grass removed from between to create more planting space.  We added decorative items such as pots and also old gate frames and posts to create structures for the large spreading plants such as pumpkins. The frames also provide a structure to add shade as required during extreme weather.

The garden does not always look fantastic the entire year. Depending on the season and the stage of development of the plants it evolves. Right now it is in the process of being replanted for Summer as I wait for the seedlings to be large enough to add to the garden beds. When this occurs the frames will become home to the pumpkins that will climb and hang, covering the frames and creating a wall of green.

Garden structures

The new section of the vegetable garden was an attempt at a pottager style design with neat rows and blocks of similar plantings, evenly spaced. Nature generally has other ideas and the outcome in my garden has been a little more chaotic, although I think still beautiful and probably more along the lines of a cottage garden than a neat pottager.

Garden Styles

  • Recycled/rustic – our garden is most aligned with this style. It is made up of numerous main elements that have been recycled and reused from other places we have lived, from materials we have re-purposed such as old fence palings, gate frames, pavers and machinery that is now planting space.
  • Country – whitewashed, terracotta and old bricks are some of the features you may find in a gorgeous country style garden. Use of natural materials is likely to be evident.
  • Modern – items are included for their clean, sleek appeal. Colors and materials used are uniform
  • Pottager – a neatly structured and spaced garden layout with items planted in patterned groups
  • Natural – planted based on what the family wants to eat and grow rather than any design elements

Practical elements:

flowers for the bees

These elements may be included in your garden planning for a specific purpose:

  • Grow flowers for the bees. Plant flowers among your vegetables they will:
    • encourage pollination of your plants
    • discourage pests
  • Incorporate spaces and structures that help the plants grow
    • add frames for the plants to climb, provide support or to add shade
  • Plan your garden by mapping it out each season
    • Allow for plant rotation and the correct number of plants and spacing
    • The garden bed shown below had a frame built for it last year to allow it to be used to grow tomatoes on strings. I have grown tomatoes for the past two years in that area so this year there are none growing there, instead it will house the corn, carrots and beets and for now also fennel and beans.

Vegetable garden bed rotation


  • Don’t seek perfection
  • Nature will always find it’s own way
    • Despite your best plans and your carefully consideration of what you should put where, nature will intervene and make things her way.
    • This patch of self-seeded leeks took over a  corner of a garden bed in Winter that I had planned to add potatoes to

self seeded leek

I had planted a couple of garden beds of tomatoes over the past couple of weeks. I carefully labelled them so I knew which varieties where planted in the different areas.  Despite this there are at least a dozen additional tomato plants that have popped up on their own accord. Self seeded tomatoes are generally fabulous producers and the plants are resilient so despite the fact that many of these are not in locations I would have planted them I will leave them to do their own thing and reap the rewards in the coming months.

  • Plant a wide variety of plants
    • Add herbs, fruit trees and flowers to the garden to complement the vegetable garden beds.
    • Last year we had our first tiny harvests of few pieces of fruit from each tree. This year they look like they will provide much more. As these trees grow they will provide additional shade to our north-facing backyard that receives sun all day

peach tree

A garden that evolves over time to suit the needs of it’s owners is the very best kind.

Planting this month:

  • basil
  • beans
  • coriander
  • lettuce
  • pumpkin
  • tomatoes
  • zinnia
  • zucchini


  • beetroot
  • herbs – coriander, sage, tarragon, parsley,
  • kale
  • leek
  • lettuce
  • onion

To Do:

  • Continue to add seedlings to the garden beds as they are ready
  • Plant more lettuce seeds
  • Maintain water to small plants
  • Monitor for snails
  • Mulch – completed this weekend

What design elements have you incorporated into your vegetable garden?
Is it a particular style or simply planted by season based on what you like to eat?



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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Gillian October 26, 2015, 11:26 am

    Oh your garden is lovely and so productive. Every now and then my garden is photoworthy, but mostly it is pretty overgrown and messy. I did discover that when I plant thickly though that there is less room for weeds to pop up.

  • Kate October 26, 2015, 5:02 pm

    Thank you for this very interesting and informative post. I’m with you about self-seeded tomatoes — it’s best to just let those babies grow.

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