My Kitchen Garden with sound effects!
It wasn’t very long after learning I had a passion for cooking that I planted my first kitchen garden. It might have even happened at the same time. Cooking and gardening go together; gathering a basketful of herbs and vegetables at their peak of flavor, fresh-picked and unsprayed, bringing them to the kitchen, just a few steps from our own small garden has been a giant plus for the happiness in our “cottage of content.” ♥
I had always dreamed of having a garden with a gate, surrounded by a picket fence. So one day Joe dug a spot out of our lawn while I went shopping for plants! I didn’t want or need a garden any bigger than I could take care of myself. I wanted to smell things growing, in the sunshine and fresh air of my own little plot of earth; a place I could go to listen to the bees while digging in the dirt.
I was so excited while Joe was building this, I had it all planted before the gate was on! Lined in marigolds to help keep pests away (not to mention looking good), I planted mostly things for salad, like lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, basil, garlic, chives, mint, lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, camomile, nasturtiums, peppers, lemon cucumbers and lavender. Oh, and strawberries! So I can gather a few for our breakfast! These things are always in our garden. But sometimes I plant purple potatoes too, or watermelon or pumpkins, something fun.
The next year, Joe put in raised beds with a path that goes all the way around. I added lots of flowers! Many flowers, all the roses and berries, and some of the herbs, like the chives and thyme, are perennials and come back every year. This is how our garden looks in June. The large purple bush in the middle of the inside is “nepeta,” cat mint, a perfectly wonderful thing to grow.
These are flowers from our garden I dried last year, between the pages of a huge dictionary. I put them in my diaries, old books, and letters.
I’m showing you this so in case you’d like to have a picket-fence kitchen garden of your own, you’ll have plenty of time to plan. A few years back, we were spending half our time out in California, so we bought this big, weed-infested, gopher conservation area (or so it seemed since there were easily one billion gophers on this property). When it came time to put in a lawn, we realized we had to have another kitchen garden. So Joe took his shovel out to contemplate the spot we’d chosen for it.
Oh yes, he can dig it.
Only this time he did it with a tractor. Men building gardens is a well-known aphrodisiac, don’t you think? Need I even say that my favorite Village Person was the guy wearing the tool belt? Probably not.
He practically had to dig a swimming pool to get the hole deep enough — so that he could line it in hardware cloth to keep the gophers out, and then refill it with dirt. He is my hero.
And who is the happiest girl? Me.
And in a very short time, with a little sunshine, fresh air, and water, my new garden looked like this. A garden is about as close to heaven as you can get on earth. It’s like church. Breezes blowing, birds singing, sun shining, bee’s buzzing, butterflies fluttering, hummingbirds humming, tomatoes ripening, roses emitting, all done in perfect quiet.
The fence hides the mess inside, because sometimes it’s a wreck in there; there have also been years when we’ve been traveling that I haven’t planted at all. But the perennials keep it looking nice no matter what.
March is when I like to start planning. I get out my old garden books and my diary, to see what I did last year. I look at old photos. I call my garden “My Toy” because it’s like a toy. I play with it, redecorate with different flowers every year, try out new things.
This is last year’s basket of bulbs and seeds to plant. I love gladiolus against a picket fence; I put them in every year. When I was younger, I lived in second floor apartment that had no garden. I hung a window box outside the window in the kitchen eating area, and filled it with garden soil. With a tiny child’s trowel; I planted a little salad garden that included nasturtiums, lemon thyme, three heads of leaf lettuce (I picked one leaf at a time as I needed it and left the rest growing); and pansies for the little vase on the table. That’s all there was room for but it was just enough; I could have a fresh little salad and all I had to do was open my window! There was my garden, practically in the kitchen!
Picket fences, by the way, also look very nice in the snow.
We don’t cut everything back on purpose, because even stick-dead things look pretty with snow on them!
So, if you have a garden like this in mind, here’s the plan:
You can find this drawing on page ten of my Summer Book, if you need it. And one last little tidbit of information: Paint your fence with white stain rather than an oil based paint. Your paint job will last much longer; when it gets old, it will fade rather than chip and you’ll be able to repaint a lot easier.
This is the view I have of the garden from my art table on Martha’s Vineyard in the spring when the Rhododendrons are in bloom. The breeze flutters the curtains, the fragrance comes drifting in, I can hear the birds, lawnmowers, kids voices, and I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is to stay seated at my desk! ♥
oh what a lovely kitchen garden!
would you like to tell me the size of your kitchen garden?
just now i am busy with building such a garden.
greetings from germany, schleswig-holstein
My garden is 12 feet x 24 feet. Perfect, not too little and more importantly, not too much! 🙂 Hello to Germany!!! Love to see you here.
I was reading your response and when I saw where you were from I knew I had to try to contact you. My great grandparents were from the Schleswig Holstein area. They moved to Iowa in the late 1800’s. Their last name is Koch.
Can you tell me a bit about the area? Just for my own imagination of where my great grandparents came from.
Cindy (Koch) Wiener
Were you able to complete your garden?
Good morning Susan, I know you are very busy packing for your trip to England but I had a question for you and I’m hoping you’ll see this before you leave. I think I remember a while back a picture you shared of a beautiful new bird bath. I can’t seem to find it anywhere on the blog so I’m questioning if this was real or not lol. Anyway, we are looking for a bird bath and I wanted to ask if you had any suggestions and I wanted to take a look at the one you shared. Thanks xoxo
Ours was a gift from a friend for Joe’s 40th birthday … it’s made out of granite and I’ve never seen one like it before. Joe’s friend built things from granite. There are lots of cute ones in the garden centers — you can find a cute one. I think the more natural it looks in a garden, the better.
Thank you Susan, I thought it was a gift for you from Joe and that you shared a pic of it but I’m probably confusing the gift part….anyway I will be checking out the garden centers to see what they have…I’m hoping to find a sweet one, perhaps with kissing birds or embracing swans. Thanks again
I found a cement bird, a cute fat one, and set him on the side of my granite bird bath . . . in case you find a plain one, you could do that!
Great idea! I’ve put a few bird feeders in the front of my home and in the backyard and I’ve been graced with the presence of the most beautiful birds. I’d like to make them comfortable so that they will stay around a while as they bring to me so much pleasure! My husband would like the birdbath to be a gift from him to me and so I’m trying to point him in the right direction lol but I’d like it to be something he chooses. Thanks again for all your help and the inspiration to get this going…..you planted the seed and so it blooms xoxo
I just completed my kitchen garden modeled after yours from your book. I’ve been dreaming of it for years, probably since I first saw your book. I have two gates at either end with arbors over them and a brick path. I, too, hope to decorate the outside so the mess inside doesn’t show. Thanks for all your wonderful inspiration!
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Oh Susan….looking at these pictures again makes me wonder how you could ever leave it for so long, your home and garden look like heaven to me. Oh dont get me wrong i am following along to England with all its beauty…but like Dorothy say’s “There’s no place like home” Thats what I would be thinking but you your different.. you look up and say “Oh Brave New World”And that is one of the reason’s we all love you so much. You have been given many gifts from the Lord, one being your spirit of adventure, always seeing what is possible, not taking no but making all your dreams come true. God’s Blessings to you and Joe and I can’t wait for you to come home and post pictures of Girl Kitty and Jack and aged kitchen towels hanging in your yard blowing in the wind. Receipes old and new and letting us know what we should be doing for the beginning of summer! Oh aren’t I just like a kid!! But really I wish you a blessed vacation blanketed in peace, beauty and restoration.
I keep thinking about the island, the old houses there, the little neighborhoods, my home (my heartbeat), my kitchen, the girlfriends, my kitties, and the peaceful life we have there. Appreciation is so easy when you are far away!
Hi Susan, I was thinking how nice it would be if you featured some old fashioned remedies to get rid of the bugs that are eating their way through my kitchen garden…so inspired was I by your garden, that I have planted my first raised bed of veggies..and eventually a picket fence will surround a 12 x 12 ft (tiny!) enclosed garden…anyway, my lettuces and peppers , etc. are being eaten to death… herbs are faring well thankfully…so in your sales section, I thought perhaps you could feature some wonderful solutions for this problem…- I don’t want to use anything that is not natural… anyway, I hope to iron all the bugs out, pun intended, and look forward to hanging a straw hat on my picket fence gate ( eventually!) similar to yours… Enchanting! What great ideas you have!!!
I have had the vision of your garden in my head for many years, and now it will become a reality. Picket fence, gate, trellis for grapes, perennial beds for asparagus, strawberries, blue berries, and flowers. It also must be lined for gophers,bunnies and Abbie, our Bernese Mt. Dog. Work to start soon, thanks for your beautiful cottage inspiration.
Yeah! finally found a copy of one of your cookbooks to buy but having no luck with Autumn.
I have one, maybe time for giveaway?
….while patiently awaiting a new post it’s always fun to re-read all the other areas of your web-site ( for inspiration and comfort ) … yes !! …sharing Autumn would be a fun giveaway !!! ….it’s a wonderful book, yet hard to find anymore…hope you will carry it again in your web- store again sometime !! ..just ordered “Christmas” and “Christmas Joy” from your vintage selections and ‘am so excited to get them…thanks for all you do,Susan..and happy Autumn !!!!!…with love..
P.S. …..did i really say “patiently” ?!?…( lol !)
can I pin this on my garden board to save for later when I have an area I want to transform into a garden?
So happy to find your blog….every year my girlfriends get me ur calender but this year couldn’t find one. Hope to find more soon. I have been thrilled to read and see the blog..u are a kindred spirit…my dearest friend, Sherry, will adore your site. She is Anne of Green Gables and i am her friend Diana. We lived beside each other for over 7 years It was Heavenly to find the blog and really forward to the next new and adventures in Susan Branch………Thank ou
Oh boy, more kindred spirits. You have an Anne of Green Gables name! Evangeline, I think she would wish for that!
The reason we opened our online store is because so many people couldn’t find my things . . . if you can’t find a calendar, we do have them here (for as long as they last) — just go to the top of the page and click on shopping.
Nice to meet you! Hello to Sherry too!
Susan I love your garden! My relatives who live around me have gardens, but no white picket fence! Mine will surely have one! You say the marigolds help keep pests away, and I was wondering which pests you have there on the island? Here our main pests to gardens are deer and rabbits. That’s why my relatives and neighbors have electric fences and primitive scarecrows to keep them out! I want a lovely garden, but I don’t want the electric fence!! It’s a hobby I’d love to try if I can keep the deer from jumping over my picket fence!!
Marigolds don’t work on deer … they are more for aphids and the like. Rabbits are easy, we have about a 2 and a half foot wire fence on the inside of the pickets, all the way around … that keeps the rabbits out. We don’t have deer in our neighborhood on the island, but I have the same picket fence garden in California and one time the deer came and ate almost all of my rosebuds on all my rose bushes! So I put cayenne in a jar with dish soap and a little cooking oil and put it on all the remaining buds and leaves …. I don’t know if this was the reason, but I never had trouble with deer again, knock on wood, and we really live out in the country there. So, it seems like it worked.
I too Love love love a garden.. two years ago we branched out to 5 fruit trees too.. One died and the rest are still happy.. I even this past summer had 3 peaches on one of these new trees. My herbs are aside from the garden so that I can let them take over. I too love cat mint, along with sweet mint and more. I have several raised beds one for asparagus and strawberries and a informal raised bed for the raspberries and blackberries… Always things to play with in the garden..I have not yet a fence but I do have an entry… rather amusing but it is there to go in through or around… what ever suits your fancy for the moment. nothing better than fresh from the garden goods and when one has enough to can….. all the better. I am so glad I am here to see the goings on of other great people. Blessings of out Christmas time be with you and yours. (including the fur-kids).
I love reading about your garden this time of year! Now that’s something California really has going for it! Herbs and veggies and ROSES year round! Where are you?
I always love it when you share pics of your white picket fence gardens! Gives hope of things to come on a dreary (almost) Spring day! Your garden looks so neat and well-tended. You must tend to it every day and listen to the birds chirping in the sunshine! Love it! xoxo
It doesn’t look quite like that right now, I’m about to go out there with a giant rake! Get those old leaves before everything starts filling in.
But it WILL look like that before too long! Our yard looks more like the winter pics! UGH! Oh well….all in good time….all in good time!
love it 🙂 Your garden is one of the inspirations for my veggie garden. but I don’t have raised beds in mine. Going to try to change that this year.
weeds are down with raised beds, right? and you dont’ have to rotter till when they are raised?
Yes, it’s especially good for the soil, you do all your gardening from the path which means the soil doesn’t get as compacted — you can plant closer together too, which keeps the weeds down, you can add goodies to the soil like compost more easily. It’s prettier too. They also warm up faster in spring, so you can get started more easily. No rototilling.
sounds perfect to me 🙂 i’m going to tell hubby and we’ll try it
thanks Susan 🙂
As you know, we moved away from our BIG garden on acreage at the log house; however, now I just have a small patch but I do big things with it; yes, I do!
Can’t stop a gardener!!
Well, snow is a deterrent…
Yes snow is a big deterrent! I love small gardens, so easy to figure them out and keep everything pretty.
After spending a long time today looking at you tube political and economic and prepping vds and becoming more concerned and worried and gloomy, i JUST KNEW I HAD TO COME HERE AND BE REBORN!
Hope its working Lynn!
Love Love the beautiful pictures of your garden Susan…I have a small herb garden just off my back porch along with roses and some lavender. I love the upcoming months when I can plant and harvest! No more winter!!
What a beeeeautiful blog! I had a dream this afternoon, in the gloomy overcast weather, of a garden with a white picket fence, a veg and herb plot in the sun with a shingled area in the shade planted with ferns, astilbes and other shade loving plants purely for me to sit about amongst the dappled light and watch nature perform it’s song… at the moment it’s mostly grass which I plan to change very soon! Your photography, story and drawings are an inspiration!
I love your dream!
Good one I like this blog….
It made me inspire to make my own kitchen garden…….
You’ll love it Rafeeah, it’s like a little toy!
Susan and Joe,
What did you use for the sides of the raised plots?? It looks like 2X6s. Were they green treated?
Just planning ahead for next year. I am going to clear an area along a fence.
Joe says 1 x 6 decking … not treated mainly because anything that stinky could not be good in a garden. Joe says he’s also used 2 x 6 but likes 1 x 6 for that size garden. Hope this helps!
Thanks for the tip! I have to say, I just love the little water color of the bushel of tomatoes!!!
I have read so many of your blogs…. Again & again… I never grow tired of reading about you and all you share with us. Thank you for adding one more blessing to my life! I have a picket fence by my garden shed which is my own little piece of heaven on this earth. They really do bring you joy!
🙂 They sure do Marianne!
I just stumbled upon this gem on your website. Inspired by you, I asked my husband to put a white picket fence up in our back yard. Wish I could send you a picture. We have it for our dogs to run free and do their business. Looks nice and the dogs love it!
How smart — do you plant flowers around the outside? I love how the fence hides the “mess” of the garden (brilliant for the dogs), I enjoy mine in all seasons, it even looks good in the snow!
Oh I am so in love with your kitchen garden. Would love to have one like this.
Thank you for your inspiration.
Your garden is beautiful! What is the height of your fence?
The pickets are 3′ and the corner posts are near 4′.
Oh, Susan, I feel so blessed to see these lovely pictures of your garden. You have inspired me to try to do the same. Flowers and gardens are a passion of mine. I love the white picket fence and have wanted one forever. Now I know exactly where to put it and what to put in it. Thank you, forever….your work, your words, your wisdom open up a window in my gardening/home loving soul….have all your seasons in little books….thank you, maggie
You’re so welcome Maggie, good luck with it. I call mine “My Toy” because that’s what it’s like, a toy for grownup girls.
Susan, I haven’t been on the computer forever, so I checked your site and as usual was not disappointed. Once again I am inspired and thankful for you and your lovely blog.
Blessings from Canada
Thank you for your website esp. your kitchen garden blog. It is very grounding. Haha, no pun intended. I am so grateful to find a place online that almost feels like home complete with kindred spirits. (such a little thing can mean so much) And your ideas and suggestions do spark the good old creativity
that gets one thinking and moving in a positive direction. No matter what mood I find myself, I always come away from this site with positive ideas. So now I have gotten accustomed to reading your site as a bedtime ritual to inspire happy dreams!
It does mean so much! xoxo
OMG, Susan! I love your gardens! Every word you write about sitting at your desk with windows open and hearing children’s playful voices, birds singing, getting a nose full of cut grass, etc. makes my heart happy too! We are so fortunate to live in America where we can experience so many beautiful sights, sounds and emotions. Thank you so much for sharing all your joys of spring and summer, and your lovely gardens with us. You always share your heart with us and we are blessed. Thank you so much….Mary Ann
I love this post. I want a Kitchen Garden like yours one day! I love the English Garden theme you have around, outside it. It’s all beautiful. I love your blog, it transports me to somewhere I’d rather be 🙂
I love your picket fence garden, can’t resist a picket fence and Thank You for the bird sound which I especially Love. Your Happy thoughts spread happiness around, and we need all that we can get hold of Thank You 🙂
Hello Miss Susan,
I love everything you do. I especially love the pictures of the flowers you have in your yard. Seeing the lovely place you live on Martha’s Vineyard reminds me of my childhood, so many wonderful memories. You are a wonderful artist, thank you for sharing your gift with all of us.
Lillies of the valley are my very favorites. My mother had a wealth of them every year in front of our big porch. Every spring she made a corsage for my teacher and my brother’s. She nestled the beautiful white flowers inside a bed of the leaves, then put them in a tiny pin-on “vase.” Teacher could breathe in the wonderful aroma all day. I did the same for my two children when they were in elementary school. As a teacher I wore a lily of the valley corsage many times throughout spring.
Your stories give me warm memories of growing up on the farm in Wisconsin. Pat
Oh so beautiful Susan. A friend just gave me some of her “forget me not ” plants she divided from hers that were overgrown and also “Lillie of the Valley” . They remind me of being on my grandparents farm as a young girl when I was climbing trees and making little clover bouquets from the yard. Coming by your blog is always a special retreat that takes me back to my love of nature and playing outside and laying in the grass looking up at the sky and seeing all the images I could find in the clouds. Thank you for sharing all about your beautiful picket fence garden. It and you are so inspiring!
Two wonderful flowers bringing up fond memories! Lovely, Lee Ann, thank you, so nice to hear from you. xoxo
Hello Susan, checking in to see if any updates on your blog, :(. Soon I hope! but just to let you know, it is always so comforting to just re-read your words whenever I can get a chance. Love your Kitchen Garden, always have. It is inspirational to read this post again, just confirming my passion for the my garden and the veggies I have planted. I just love going out daily, just to see what has popped up and what can be picked.
Again, thank you for always being there. Just like Carole King’s song “You’ve Got A Friend”, “you just call out my name, I’ll come running, winter, spring, summer and fall, You’ve Got A Friend”. All I have to do is just come here to your blog, and I will have a friend to “chat” with.
Thank you Mary Ann! So sorry I’m late with updating the blog …. REALLY late! Usually it takes me about 6 to 8 hours to do a blog post, and lately I just haven’t had that time! I thought I could do better, but I was wrong. We jump up, drive, find our way, unload the van, do laundry, go get something to eat, ice up the coolers, iron, go sign books and meet the Girlfriends (best part), repack and then the next day we do it again! It’s been wonderful, but I haven’t even had time to answer comments lately. Going to do a few before bed tonight! I’ll be back, never fear!
For years I’ve dreamed of a little kitchen garden with raised beds and a picket fence…When I saw yours I said “yes! that’s it!!” My dream just came true! The picket fence is up and I’m ready to start planting as soon as it warms up. Because of the pictures I could show my husband just what I wanted! Thank you, Susan!
Oh how wonderful! I remember when mine was just up and ready and I felt just like you with all the exclamation points too! Congratulations, have fun Shirley!
I was over visiting Fiona’s post at “How to be Chic” and someone mentioned your garden in a comment. Of course I had to google you and I am so glad I did. This is my “soon” garden (next spring) and I love having pictures to so hubby. I love your garden – flowers, veggies, bird baths – all that beauty encompassed in picket fences – a dream.
Mine’s now over 20 years old and I have loved it every single day of that time. Because it’s small, it’s easy to take care of and always looks wonderful even in the snow. Be sure, when you make yours, not to paint it ~ instead, stain it. Stain lasts for a VERY long time, paint chips! Have fun!
This is the prettiest kitchen design ever .
My wife loves gardening and currently she is away for a work trio so am the one looking after her flowers ,tomatoes, lettuce cucumbers and cabbages .
I must admit its such a tough job for people like me who have never done any gardening .
Your site just gave me an idea ,before she comes back I’ll arrange to get her a fencing just like the one on the photos .
Am sure she will just die out of seeing how cute it is .Thanks ,now I have a surprise for my wife .I am very thankful 😊.Your site is stunning as well .
You will be a very popular man, I can guarantee that. What a WONDERFUL surprise!!! You win for man of the year!
Oh this just makes my heart sing! Thank you for brightening my day Susan!
You inspire so, Susan! 😊🌺🌻
Thanks for passing on Joy in simple pleasures and the garden.
Thank you Alicia! xoxo
Susan!!!!! Thank you!!! I am just moving to southern Illinois where I will have a garden! Being born and raised on a farm, and have longed for a garden! Your photos are such vitamins and dreams for my soul! In fact, I will be planting my garden in less than three weeks!!
I quite believe that bare hands in soil, hanging sheets on the line, kneading bread, ironing hand embroidered pillow cases and aprons, riding a cruiser bike with a loaf of fresh bread for a friend, and playing the piano…are soul requirements!
Oh, I’m SO happy for you! Nothing like a garden! Yes, the homey little things in life are what makes happy days turn into years of a happy life.😘
Love your whole garden and the idea of it. I’m curious as to how you germinated the sweet peas indoors. Looks like you have a layer of paper towel or something just lying atop the seeds on a plate. I’ve cast some sweet pea seeds outdoors but was dubious of doing that. I’d rather see them sprouted and then move them outdoors so please tell me your secret.
You just lay a paper towel on a plate, put the seeds down, cover it by folding over the other half of the towel, run it under the water, and put it in a light place and keep wet (but not drowning) for probably 3 days until you see they’ve sprouted, then you can plant them!
I did read your last blog post, but on my phone, so I couldn’t comment. I have to tell you I LOVE your side door! The curved railings and the Wisteria. I miss the Wisteria that I saw in Virginia. I seem to get either Wisteria or Lilacs, but not both! I also L💙VE blue hydrangeas. They seem to like the East Coast.
Now I am kitchen gardening. 🌱🍅. Did you write about basil growing good near tomatoes?
I think I have had the Covid almost two weeks ago. Tourist season is picking up here now. No big events though.
My youngest got his first car…🚙. It had to be blue.
Yes, basil likes tomatoes, and vice versa, in more ways than one. Hope you are feeling well Margot! 😷
You don’t know how much I want this. I’ve been looking for sections of white picket online so that I don’t have to build it and there is NOTHING out there that looks great. This is SO perfect.
And if you stain it, and don’t paint it … it will last about 20 years with no effort! Probably longer if you live in mild weather. I’ve loved it every day of its life. Have fun!
How I love your kitchen garden! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post. I’ve lived on Cape Cod for 20 years, and last summer I became a new homeowner here. Your kitchen garden has inspired me to create my own. I’ve wanted one for years, and now I have a little space and a bit more time to enjoy the process of creating it. Thanks for the inspiration!
Perfect! I’m so glad! The world needs more picket fence gardens! xoxoxo