The Kitchen Garden

Orderly rows and serried ranks of vegetables can look very impressive, but leaves valuable spaces vacant. To overcome this dilemma, fill the spaces with a wide range of edible herbs.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Planting Among Vegetables

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) make a very pretty and effective edging plant, but it is unlikely that a large quantity will be needed as this is a cut-and-come-again herb, which regrows quite quickly. Good-sized clumps can be sown among your other vegetables, perhaps in a grid pattern to help remind you of the crop rotation compartments that are so useful in keeping the plot productive. Planted near peas and beans, chives may also help reduce insect pests.

Crop Planning

Short rows of lettuce provide the opportunity to grow many different salads and succession sowing can keep crops producing for most of the year. Try interplanting with small rows of leafy herbs, such as lamb’s and miner's lettuce, chicory (Cichorium), dames rocket (Hesperis matronalis), red orache (Atriplex hortensis var. rubra), and French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), or perhaps garlic chives (Allium tuberosum). If there is the space, grow a large row of comfrey as this makes a superb compost activator and liquid fertilizer.

The Community Plot

The large, dedicated kitchen garden may be a thing of the past, but community plots are very popular again. Many herbs need continual cropping to keep healthy and lush while others just look unattractive when they have been cut or cropped. These are ideal for growing in the vegetable patch, but it is not necessary to grow in rows — clumps and patches can look very attractive. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) sown in late spring will rapidly germinate and spread into a sizeable clump. Many cultivars are available and they all have edible flowers and the bright colors attract pollinating bees. Try planting them next to your planned salad bed so you can harvest both at the same time.

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