Expert Advice

Camille’s Backyard Kitchen Garden – Part 1

Green thumb, here I come.

By Camille Styles
beautiful kitchen garden with vegetables and herbs

In a family of incredible gardeners, I’m known as the one who didn’t inherit the green thumb.

My mom’s front flower beds are bursting with brilliant color most months of the year (see below), and my dad took things to a new level this summer with his hand-built tomato shed. My in-laws’ yard induces envy from every neighbor on their street, and then of course there’s Adam: he was certainly a landscape designer in another life.

Me? Well, as much as I love plants, my past efforts have typically been limited to my indoor fiddle leafs and pots of mint and basil on the back porch. I can usually keep them alive (except when I forget to water them, haha), and I have a pretty good track record with succulents, since they’re basically impossible to kill. It’s no coincidence that my father-in-law Gary’s favorite nickname for me is “Dr. Kevorkian” since apparently, I have a knack for putting plants out of their misery.

camille's parents' garden

But you guys, things are different now! The past few months have awakened a new passion for gardening within my soul. A couple reasons why:

First, getting hands-on with our backyard project. The sheer act of getting really involved with a major landscape and gardening project sparked a new love for digging my hands in the soil (with gloves, of course.) I realized how deeply satisfying it is to spend an afternoon working in the garden, then step back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I also learned a lot about plants through the process, and gardening is one of those activities where the more you know, the more fun you can have with it.

Also, more TIME. I’ve realized that the biggest enemy of caring for plants is a hyper busy lifestyle, which before quarantine, mine most certainly was. When your schedule is packed to the brim, watering, weeding, and tending to plants usually gets pushed pretty far down the list, and they suffer for it. This quarantine has afforded me more time and space at home than I’ve ever had before, and taking care of our outdoor space has provided calm in the midst of a time when so many things are out of our control. Watering the rubber plant in my bedroom, helping Adam add potted plants to the backyard, tending to my herbs… it signifies a slower way of living, and I’m loving it.

SO… on to my next project: building raised beds for our backyard vegetable gardens!

I’m pumped; y’all know that there’s nothing I love more than cooking with fresh produce. Having the ability to mosey into the backyard and harvest my own vegetables has always been one of those fantasies of mine (paired with a Nancy Meyers house and a sourdough starter, obvi.) We’ve got a spot in the backyard that we’ve been leaving open for two large raised beds, and my goal is to have them ready to go in time to plant a fall garden (think brussels sprouts, beets, herbs like dill and parsley, and allll kinds of lettuces.) Here’s where they’ll go:

camille styles raised kitchen garden beds

My next step will be determining the exact measurements for the beds, drawing them out to scale, choosing materials, and convincing Adam to build them for me, lol. Stay tuned for our progress, and scroll on for the visual inspiration I’m gathering…

Also! I’d love to hear in the comments if you have experience with raised vegetable or herb gardens – I most certainly need all the tips.

The ultimate kitchen garden from The Cook’s Atelier.

Chicest way ever to deer proof a garden.

shot by Edible Gardens LA via Gardenista.

So clean, simple, and functional.

via Forsythe Gardens.

That farmhouse though.

from Heather Bullard

The fence, the beds, the setting — it’s all a dream.

(source unknown)

Speaking of dreams, how about this gardening outfit?

source: Lack of Color

Two of my personal must-haves: citrus trees and lavender

via Molly Wood Garden Design

How fun would it be to throw a party in the vegetable garden?

source: The New York Times

Complete with chicken coops.

source: Southern Living

A real deal kitchen garden needs a perfect gardening shed like this one, am I right?

by Twig Hutchison, via Southern Living.

Love these beds surrounded by pea gravel.

source: Veranda

This “bean trellis” is unreal.

DIY instructions on Gardenista.