House & garden

Planting a vegetable garden – important tips and tricks for a rich harvest

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What you for that Create a vegetable garden should know … While Mick Kopetsky digs the shovel into the pile of earth, a pleasant scent of fresh earth and warm compost spreads in the morning air. “A secret recipe,” he says with a smile and lets a handful of soil crumble through his fingers. He spreads a shovelful of earth between the endives and lettuce. “The garden just consumes it.” And really. If the abundant harvest of organic vegetables, which he can look forward to all year round thanks to his 2,700 square meter vegetable garden, is taken as a criterion, his recipe deserves a Michelin star.

Creating a vegetable garden – Kopetsky and Burwell

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“What would you expect from a garden designer working with a student at Le Cordon Bleu?” Jokes Kopetsky while glancing at the house, which is on a terraced hill and belongs to his culinary partner, Bieke Burwell. Kopetsky also owns MIX Garden, a landscape design company, and even supplies his organic vegetables to several restaurants in Northern California’s Sonoma County. The collaboration for that Create a vegetable garden Burwell began over a decade ago when Bieke and her husband Brian bought the 11-acre property in the Dry Creek Valley wine region, west of Healdsburg, and was still in the middle of construction. Kopetsky was working with the original landscape architect for this project at the time, James David of Austin, Texas, and stopped by to check out the build.

The house itself was designed by Richard Beard of BAR architects in San Francisco. To stay in harmony with the modern style, Kopetsky developed a plan for the garden that was a mix of drought-resistant shrubs and grasses. These in turn should have a roof made of native oak and Douglas fir. Paths made of thick, hand-chiseled limestone slabs wind through the hilltop garden around the house and offer a great view of the valley full of vineyards that Dry Creek is known for. A grove with Italian olive trees offers enough fruit to obtain around 40 liters of gold-green olive oil per year. The grapes from a small vineyard are processed into one of the best red wines in the region.

From spontaneous agreements to creating a vegetable garden

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Because of the steep landscape and the stony ground, that was initially Create a vegetable garden not planned at all. But one fine afternoon, while Kopetsky and Burwell were looking at the property from the terrace, the conversation broke out about their shared passion for food. Burwell’s gaze fell on a bare area at the bottom of the hill. “I would like to plant asparagus,” recalled the Belgian-born chef. “… and endive.” Kopetsky, for his part, always wanted to try food plants. And so they hatched a plan that is mutually beneficial: Burwell pays for the drip irrigation system and infrastructure and can harvest whatever she wants for it. Kopetsky, on the other hand, is allowed to test his green thumb freely when he is laying out a vegetable garden, take care of the plants and the harvest and sell all the other vegetables. At that point it never occurred to any of them that a few years later they would own such a healthy and productive garden as the asparagus and the endives and, not to forget, the stem cabbage, the broad beans and the tomatoes of the finest restaurants in the area will be in demand.

The creation of a vegetable garden in the Chateau Potager style

And although the decision to create a vegetable garden at the foot of the hill was a coincidence, it became the perfect place for a European-style garden as they envisioned it. Surrounded by a rustic wooden fence to accentuate the dark purple of the manzanita trees on the property, the formal geometry is reminiscent of the design of the Chateau Potager (French gardens) typical of the 17th century. The rows of vegetables, which are surrounded by a gravel path, mix with the spices and flowers. Italian cypress trees decorate the garden on every corner.

Vegetable garden planting with heirloom seeds and their benefits

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Kopetsky cultivates every plant from seeds, most of which are heirloom varieties. This includes 50 types of tomatoes, 15 different salads and 8 types of Italian eggplant. The choice for that Create a vegetable garden fell on them with these same varieties because of their taste and appearance. “Heirloom strains help maintain biodiversity in the garden and, in my opinion, they look better and are more delicious,” says Kopetsky. The tomatoes “Mammoth German Gold” are red-striped, the “Tendersweet” watermelon reveal dark orange pulp and the “Quadrato d’Asti Giallo” peppers have such a thick and juicy shell that every bite is almost thirst-quenching.

The creation of a vegetable garden and natural fertilization

Kopetsky describes his chemical-free gardening as “clean”, which is also often used in agroecology when speaking of the advantages of local, seasonal and environmentally friendly vegetables. When creating a vegetable garden, he ensures green manure by planting broad beans, which release nitrogen into the soil and he supplements with organic substances for every planting and weeding, although the drip irrigation system reduces the weed infestation to a minimum.

Creating a vegetable garden attracted the interest of vegetable lovers

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Their collaboration is so successful that several families in the area asked Kopetsky to join them Create a vegetable garden to help and maintain it, including the owners of the Farmhouse, an honored restaurant and spa hotel near Forestville. “I love how Bieke’s garden was born out of two people’s passion for food, only to include the local community in such a healthy and sustainable way,” says Kopetsky of creating a vegetable garden.

He sells surplus produce from Burwell’s garden to over a dozen local restaurants, including Dry Creek Kitchen, Scopa, Barndiva, and Cyrus. They are all known for serving fresh food. “All vegetables are picked on the same day they are eaten, regardless of whether they are intended for Bieke’s kitchen or for one of the restaurants. Nothing is transported further than 15 to 25 kilometers. Even if the vegetables are cultivated organically, the best part of the vegetables will be destroyed if they are transported 1000 km or more. “

Creating a vegetable garden in combination with a maze

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Even before the first seeds for that Create a vegetable garden were planted, Burwill told Kopetsky, she envisioned a maze next to the vegetable garden. The connection in the minds of both, of course. “The vegetable garden makes me intensely aware of the cycle of life and how the seasons follow a consistent path from birth to death and resurrection,” says Burwell. She often invites her guests to walk the 300 meter long path to the center of the labyrinth and back with her. Then there is dinner with one of her favorite dips made from “Marrowfat” beans from the vegetable garden. “I find a wonderful symmetry in the cultivation of healthy food and walking through the maze,” she says. “It’s like a starter for the soul, nourishing the mind and body.”

To create the right vegetable garden, note the following:

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  • Soil at Create a vegetable garden: A healthy vegetable garden literally “eats” good soil at a rate of around 6 parts soil to produce a fruit. That makes refilling the soil an important part of gardening. The garden designer Mick Kopetsky recommends adding organic matter to the soil for each new plant. His fertilizer consists of a mixture of rice hulls, cow dung and compost made from grape marc and garden waste.
  • The Seeds for Planting a Vegetable Garden: Help conserve the garden’s biodiversity by choosing heirloom seeds from plants that are naturally pollinated and GMO-free. Some heirloom strains have been around for centuries, and not without reason. They just taste better. Also, try collecting seeds from your own vegetables for the next season or swapping them with other gardeners.
  • Remain loyal to your region: Try to buy vegetables that have been grown in your area instead of those that have come to your store through lengthy transport. Look for communities where you can trade your harvested tomatoes for your neighbour’s freshly harvested corn, for example. Support the gardeners in your area by shopping at the market more often. If you have the space but no time to plant a vegetable garden, ask a gardener to plant and harvest the vegetables for you. A good example of this is the relationship between Mick Kopetsky and Bieke Burwell.

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