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The Kitchen Garden
Island Resident and Author Susan Branch Shares Her Dream of a Classic Kitchen Garden

By Jani Gardner

“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.”