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Kitchen Garden Gift Guide: great gifts for the gardener in your life!
So, what’s a kitchen garden?
A kitchen garden is a plot of land cultivated and dedicated to producing vegetables and herbs for a household. The kitchen garden is usually designed for the fresh harvest of ingredients for meals in real time. When there is surplus, a kitchen garden can generate enough food for preservation, but this is not the primary purpose of a kitchen garden. Kitchen gardens are always a reflection of the primary cook in the household, and that is what I love best about them. Tour a kitchen garden, and get a glimpse into the soul of the gardener.
Common components of a kitchen garden are beds dedicated to herbs, perennial fruits and vegetables, annual fruits and vegetables, and perhaps a small orchard (even if it is one fruit tree). The herb garden will most likely host perennial herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, chives, and sage. The annual herbs like basil and cilantro may be in the herb bed but are often found as companion plants to annual vegetables.
Annual vegetables include all those vegetables you love in the summer and crave in the winter: tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, squashes, onions. Perennial fruits and vegetables are plants that come back year after year like strawberries, rhubarb, walking onions, raspberries, horseradish.
Perfect Gifts for the Kitchen Gardener
Over the years I have collected lots of stuff recommended by consultants and other gardeners, but this list is of those items I return to, time and again. (But, first, here’s the list of things I never should have purchased: a seeder, a flame weeder, Johnny’s herb disks, cheap hand tools. Trust me, don’t buy these things, no matter how large or small your kitchen garden, or ambitious your January-made garden plans.)
In the winter months, I turn to my bookshelf for inspiration. These are the books I refer to time and again. You could easily find them in my office by their cracked spines, worn edges, slightly grimy pages.
Vegetable Literacy by the garden goddess, Deborah Madison. This visually appealing book catalogs vegetables into families, breaks down their primary uses, and offers recipes to get the most flavor and nutrition from your kitchen garden harvests. I promise you will be a smitten with this resource over most of your other garden and cookbooks.
The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman, the father of four season gardening. Simply the best book on organic growing that includes a basic recipe for mixing your own potting soil and maintaining your own compost heap. Buy this and you really won’t need another basic gardening resource.
Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Homescale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. I’ve not studied permaculture like many of my neighbors, but I do love this simple overview with practical advice about how to build gardens in sympathy with the land. It is also a visually appealing book that includes photographs and hand drawings to demonstrate permaculture techniques.
Gardening with Heirloom Seeds by Lynn Coulter. I purchased this book during one of my visits to Colonial Williamsburg. I enjoy this book for the stories of the heirloom varieties, and the histories of some of my most loved vegetables. A beautiful book packed full of delightfully delivered information to help you love your kitchen garden more than you already do.
Infrastructure and Tools
Raised bed kits made of cedar are best for gardens that serve as a visual component to your landscape as well as easily managed raised beds for your herbs and produce. These assemble easily and do not rot quickly as they are made of cedar. Mine are now in their third year and still look new. I know they will seem expensive, but I think they are worth every cent. Try one and place it in a highly visible location in your yard. I am sure you will be as enchanted by them as I am.
Felco hand pruners. My Felco’s are 25 years old. They broke last year, the spring unsprung. So, I need to find a way to get them repaired. But, 25 years, people! They have a nice weight in the hand and are reliable. Highly recommended.
A short-handled shovel and a long-handled shovel. Every job has a tool. Use the right tool and your work is half complete before you begin. Same goes for your pitchforks. For a kitchen garden, I recommend this variety. We probably broke about 5 pitchforks before learning which one works for which job. Don’t be like us…
Irrigation hoses. I prefer irrigation hoses to drip tape because I hate making all that plastic trash when the drip tape breaks, gets tangled, or left outside over winter. Shop around for the hose quality that works best for your garden. We have some irrigation hoses that are 5 years old and still going strong.
Agribon, otherwise known as floating row cover. This versatile, lightweight, spun fabric is used as protection from pests and weather in the kitchen garden. It’s good to have a roll around if you battle pests like flea beetles or want to harvest spinach all winter long. If well cared for, it can last for years.
Salad spinner. Get those slugs and bugs out of your greens easily with a reliable salad spinner. Ours is a 5-gallon size, one-gallon size will serve any household well for many years.
A decorative colander. Functional kitchenware that can highlight your fresh harvests of fruits and vegetables make the kitchen gardener happy in her kitchen! A very nice chef’s knife will help in this regard as well (this one was the most affordable with a 5-star rating). Make sure to keep your knife sharp to make cooking a breeze!
Easy Fermenter and wide mouth mason jars. I wrote about these in this fermented cranberry sauce post. This may be the best investment a busy kitchen gardener can make to ensure she has fresh vegetables all year long.
Here’s my Seasonal Living Shopping Guide. Everything I recommend has minimalism and quality in mind. We’re not into mindless consumerism at Stony Ridge Farm! The article also has a link to our 2018 Seasonal Living Planner.
Bob’s farm-themed posters are on sale! Here’s the link that describes the posters and has the discount code.
Want to be a part of a Seasonal Living community? Join our Facebook Group!
Happy Winter Holidays!
First off, why not enjoy your gift-giving endeavors by listening to my Spotify Seasonal Listening Playlist for December.
Whether you celebrate the Winter Solstice or one of the religious holidays in December, Bob and I wish you nothing but peace, joy, and prosperity now and throughout 2018. We’ll be here with resources to help you slow down, get in synch with seasonal time, and make better food choices. If so inclined, we’ll have garden task lists to help you organize your kitchen garden, and some wellness tips to keep you thrive throughout 2018.
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