Locating a Kitchen Garden is a very important process, it represents the starting point for this all-important Zone 1 project. Decisive factors that impact your results as a gardener are:
- proximity to the house (Zone 0),
- ease of access,
- availability of resources
- the possibility of surveillance
Permaculture Design takes a methodical approach to assessing the situation, and putting priorities in order, so that your choice is informed and allows you to focus on your daily tasks.
Therefore, it’s important to be aware of pros and cons before making your design:
- Proximity to your backdoor, or to the kitchen
For very simple and obvious reasons, this is the first criteria on the list, because you will be visiting your Kitchen Garden a minimum of 1-3 times per day. That can amount to 1000 two-way trips per year; locating it as close as possible to the (back) door, or to the kitchen, is what you want to consider first.
In the case you’re gardening in different setup, and there is no home to consider, then the criteria we’ll discuss below will be more important in informing your decision.
Here’s an inspiring video by Charles Dowding: https://youtu.be/1EPI96bK5I8
- Availability of Sunlight
This is relevant for clear reasons, but it’s important to note that annuals plants actually need an average of 6 hours per day to grow. It’s also interesting to note that aerial growth is coupled with root growth. Without enough water, the roots can’t grow; by extension, photosynthesis actually stops, beyond a certain point, if it’s not “sustained” by the development of the roots.
Therefore, gardening is possible in sunnier areas of the project, but this decision needs to be coupled with the next:
- Water availability
There are actually three folds to the issue, regarding the usage of water.
1.Traditional watering, with either hoses or drip irrigation. The subject is straightforward, a Kitchen Garden needs inputs.
2. Passive infiltration potential of the soil, with rainwater as a primary source – it needs to be directed towards the growing area, if the setup allows for it.
3. Mulching. Covering the ground with organic material greatly reduces evaporation, and increases the water holding capacity of your garden soil.
For example, adding 3 inches of mulch at a minimum, retains moisture which directly encourages plant growth.. The way that influences zoning, is that you’d have to be able to bring organic materials to the garden in decent quantities, relative to your lot size.
The choices you make for the sizing, zoning and workflow need to take these three factors into account.
- Time availability
This is relatively straightforward: The Kitchen Garden is an intensive system. It requires knowledge, resources and attention.Depending of the levels of the first two, then more time is needed.
However, one aspect that is overlooked sometimes in surveillance: being able to oversee it, for example through the kitchen window, can save time. So the space needs to be appropriately placed to be in view, to avoid pest interference, drying of plants, or produce not being harvested.
- Resource availability
A Permaculture Kitchen Garden is shaping up as a complex project, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can be successful at gardening, if you’re able to assess and use inputs and outputs. That first category means nutrients, water, organic materials and tools, and all of these can be organised so that your job is made easier.
Kitchen gardens are located in Zone 1, and inputs are relatively high; they are managed by the interventions of the people at the core of the project, so don’t forget to consider yourself an integral part of the project, and put yourself at the top of your resource list.
The project will go as you go, so make all the decisions that fit your needs and expectations.
Continue reading: How to layout a Permaculture Garden: https://vinepermaculture.com/how-do-i-layout-a-permaculture-garden/