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Elementary my dear,it is a citified kitchen garden

We reuse everything in our "citified" Kitchen garden or what I like to call it " Urban Potager" ...this was our old water fountain that no longer worked and fell apart, but I worked it in to a growing area since we recycle!

We reuse everything in our “citified” Kitchen garden.This was our old water fountain that no longer worked and fell apart, but I worked it in to a growing area since we recycle!

Since I first learned to read I have been a big mystery fan. I love the challenge of trying to figure out “who done it.” I do not watch too much tv, but what TV I do watch is many mysteries. I am a big fan since childhood of Sherlock Holmes, so when they have a new actor portraying him, I have to check it out and see what they bring to the role. Lately, I have been watching a new one located in New York City  called “Elementary,” and it is brilliant. I love it since Watson is a woman! Go Girl Power!!!


I planted this Mache / Corn salad/ lambs Lettuce ( valerianella locusta)  last spring in this bed. It is great for spring salads and rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

What does this have to do with my urban potager? Well, everything! Just kidding. It dawned on me the other day that Palm Rae Potager is a “citified” kitchen garden. It is elementary we are in the city, but my “citified” kitchen garden is my interpretation of what I feel it should look like + I bring to the ROLE a new twist.The first kitchen gardens were nothing more than a smaller version of the farm put to the back of the lot.


I started this Heirloom Golden Swiss Chard inside, but it has been known to return to my zone 5 garden. I also found out this particular swiss chard is one of the more cold tolerant.

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, “Citified” was first used in 1828. As people moved from the country to cities many years ago they still enjoyed having home-grown food. They would plant fruit trees and bushes on their city lots. Many of us remember our grandparents, or parents that lived on farms. Well, most people many years ago grew up on farms, so when they did move to the city they brought their country ways + condensed the kitchen garden to fit in an urban area.


made into a city.
having city habits, fashions, etc.
1820–30,  Americanism; city + -fy + -ed2
Siberian Squill

Siberian Squill is recommended for early spring bees

It no longer has to be hidden in the back corner of our city lots! We have to think of our lots in a different way.We have to look at the challenge of how to grow more food in tighter places. Elementary my dear, integrate food, flowers, herbs together in your garden beds because it works! Make your landscape a “citified” kitchen garden. It is a mystery to be solved and we just have to figure out what, where, when + how it happens!

Our citified kitchen garden uses a variety of spring flowers planted in successions to provide for our native pollinators….these delicate little squills start blooming as the reticulaed iris and crocus disappear.

By making the entire lot a potager garden it gives you more space to integrate food throughout the landscape. Palm Rae Potager, our “citified” kitchen garden fits in every nook and cranny of this lot. This is how we solved our mystery to grow more food. We have integrated it amongst the other plants of our landscape.


Mister Garden Gnome finds it a mystery how the herb lovage comes back every year to his garden!

It is a mystery because each person has to look at their own growing area ( climate + seasons) to determine what will work best on their lot.I do not like to copy other people, so the fun thing about this approach is each homeowner( apartment + condo dweller) will create their own “citified” kitchen garden.


This red-veined Sorrel returned this year, but I have read the baby leaves are the best to add to recipes or salads since once the leaves get too large they get a bit tough

There is no book to buy that gives you drawn out plans it is something you create yourself!You + your family have your own preferences as to what you like to eat, so yours will be different from mine.

Succession planting is a must in small spaces. Merlot lettuce seedlings are taking off as the smaller ones will take their place. I love the color of this lettuce in the spring and fall..anthocyanins!!!

Succession planting is a must in small spaces. Merlot lettuce seedlings are taking off as the smaller ones will take their place. I love the color of this lettuce in the spring and fall..anthocyanins!!!

No, two will be alike + I enjoy seeing “how” each actor interprets the role of the 21st century “citified” kitchen garden!!!






47 replies »

  1. It’s always interesting to see what you are growing in your potager. Lovely lovage! Have you tried lovage soup? It’s delicious.

    • Hi Chloris:-)I have been so busy the past week that I hardly got this post out. I always enjoy visiting your beautiful garden to see what you are growing, but this week I have been knee high in the dirt-lol…Oh please send me a recipe!!! I use lovage with homemade potatoe recipes,but I would love some recipes. PLEASE!!! PRETTY PLEASE + any others you might have or suggest:-)

      • Lovage Soup.
        1 chopped onion.
        2 oz butter
        3 tablespoons chopped lovage
        2 tablespoons flour
        1 pint chicken stock
        10 fluid ounces milk
        Saute onion in the melted butter until soft. Add chopped lovage, saute gently for a minute before stirring in flour. Cook for a few minutes stirring all the time. Add the stock and continue to stir until it comes to the boil and thickens. Cover the pan and simmer until the lovage is tender. Liquidise the soup, add the mik and bring it back to the boil and season. Steve with a lovage leaf and a swirl of cream in each bowl.
        I grow lovage just so that I can make this delicious soup.

  2. I would love to visit with you in your garden – your love of it shines through in every word and every photo. Each picture is tantalising and I often find myself wondering where in the garden is this placed or that grown….. Maybe one day you may be able to make a video and be interviewed by another ardent potager creator! 🙂 I am so happy you are playing out there in the mud and planting and discovering and enjoying the mysteries of your garden. xoxo

    • aww.. pauline, thank you, but I just am creating with plants + playing in the dirt so much I don’t have much time for anything else, so I guess when winter comes I will get to that then or when it is so hot, I don’t want to be out there- that sentence was a mouth full!!!lol!!! I will take more pictures this year , so people can get an idea where things are, but it is early spring. The trees have not even leafed out yet. I am just always out there and as you may of noticed:-) I did not post for over a week!

  3. Oh my, I have a lot to figure out! It is so fun. I can’t wait to have a small pond. I have some sorrel that I thought never made it but it is filling in quite well this year! I am not even sure what kind it is now but it doesn’t have those beautiful red veins. So pretty!

    • A pond sounds perfect! That is on my wish list after my ooutdoor bread/pizza oven! I will watch you make yours + then I can pick your brain for how to do it since you will be the expert:-)
      Well, I have both in my garden + I tasted the red dock outside that came back and it was not “lemony”, but neither was my French Sorrel I have had for a few years. It was a batch from a few years ago,but maybe it needs to get a bit larger. I heard the red veined can become invasive, but not here so far:-)

  4. Robbie, you make me miss living in the city! Your photos are beautiful! I used to tuck in artichoke plants and different veggies that blended into the landscape. Since moving to the “burbs’ there are HOA’s that rule with an iron fist–ugh! (I’m ready to go back since I no longer have the energy for land. (BTW: I read your post right before bed last night. I dreamed about it. I kept asking you if I had to COOK the stuff I grew since I like to grow things but not cook things. You said, yes, that’s part of the RECYCLING! Lol!

    • LOL…I just cracked up laughing + You always do it to me:-) HOA’s are not fun + I am so glad we don’t have to deal with that stuff!!! My parents live in one and they are told they have to turn their lights around their house off every night by the HOA…geez, they are older and what are they thinking! They want to see the stars at night-lol..really, old people need lights outside to see where they are going! I like to grow stuff + tend to be a simple cook, so I grow things that can be steamed, stir fried, or eaten in a salad! If it requires any gourment cooking attributes, well I don’t do that recipe too often!

    • aww Wendy:-) You know if you lived near me I would have you over all the time for a get together. It is not perfect, but a work in progress. You know how our blogs don’t always show the “work in progress” area-lol. I am adding more fruit bushes, trees + strawberries this spring since they are the most expensive, and part of the dirty dozen. I have had to rearrange a lot this spring, so it is a big MESS right now,but I am working on it. It is greening up + I am in heaven!!! It is my art since I really don’t get away to “create” anything else lately-lol!

      • No, we never show the messy bits lol. Ours are many, BUT seems to be the way of both the garden and the gardener. Shifting, cutting, building, digging….it’s never-ending 🙂 Yours is so attractive though. I hope to get flowers back one day to fit whatever spaces we end up with.

      • I just came inside from putting all my scarlet kale into containers since the red finches were eating them as well as ALL my snow peas! It always is a challenge in the spring to keep the critters away from the young spring greens. They do leave my lettuce alone, but LOVE my chard + Kale! My best flowers in our garden are the annuals I throw seed for / companion plantings to keep pests away. I use a lot of annuals in the growing beds such as petunias, cosmos, china aster, cleome, dianthus, herbs, allyssum, marigolds( french, signets + Africans), bachelor buttons,nastutium,zinnias, borage,and scabiosa, or random reseeding annuals. I also have half hardy annuals that return every year like snapdragons, gaillardia, asters,black-eyed susan, herbs, hyssop, monarda, mints,etc. I use them to edge + mix the annuals, so that is why it looks that way. I found these plants attract and keep away pests, so there is a reason behind all these flowers. Then I have my “exotics” which really are for me + me only-lol!

  5. I love to think of you out there puttering away, happy as a clam! It’s great that you fit so much into such a small space. You are a great example for those who think they need loads of space to have a garden. It is great fun to see what coming up next. How do you manage blogging with the added outdoor time? I’m finding it challenging, torn between outdoor demands and indoor. All those extra ‘free’ hours of winter are now taken up with spring chores and I’m wondering how other garden bloggers are handling it!

    • Oh Eliza you are so right! I am wondering the same thing. I just don’t want to be inside. The only time I am inside is when I am sleeping or it is raining:-) There is too much to do even on our small lot. I can’t imagine how you get all your acreage done! I do set aside a day to start thinking about what I want to write about the week before, and work on a post off and on throughout the week since I can’t stand to be at my computer too long. It was too long this winter.
      I was thinking of your post today about the “frog sounds” in the woods. We have a ravine that starts at my house + is between the yards but ends down a few houses from mine where it is a bit more dense before apartments. The sounds I am hearing are like “tree frogs”..what do you think? I did listen to your aduios of the frogs and it made me think it must be frogs. Would they be out in the early spring. There is a creek down in that ravine.

      • aww..shoot, that was bit higher pitched and lovely. You got me thinking maybe I should try and listen since you sent that frog clip.I believe it is a simple toad twill, but still good. I find toads often in my yard, but his year it was so loud that I noticed it more since I heard the ones on your blog post. I learned something new today!!!

  6. Robbie, love all the photos…gorgeous! Isn’t it such an exciting time of year……and I agree, a busy time too! So much to do. I have to force myself to come in for lunch. 🙂 Any tips on growing lovage? I tried it one year and it didn’t do well. It was in a section that got a lot of sun and was pretty hot most of the time. Maybe some afternoon shade down here?

    • Thank you Annie, oh boy that herb can be a bit touchy! I tried it in several spots until I placed it here in my old whiskey barrel. It is happy here, but over the years I found it was too hot there, too shaded there etc. I did start it from seed one year + that was the longest herb to germinate, but it did finally, and grew very slowly. I have it here in morning shade + afternoon sun, so partial shade is what I would start with since it is too fussy! I do enjoy it a lot ,but I also have par-cel which is known as smallage( or cutting celery + leaf celery) in my garden, too. I find smallage has a much better celery taste to it than lovage, but they both are good to have:-) but smallage is an annual which I don’t mind starting with my annual flowers.

      • Thanks Robbie for all the tips! ……now that you mention it, I do remember it taking a long time for the seed to germinate. I’ve got a new bed that I’m just digging up that gets partial shade….I’m going to give lovage a try again. So glad you posted a picture of it! And I’ll have to check out smallage, too. Thanks!

  7. We’re growing a lot of the same things–how fun! So can I ask you a question? This is my first time growing mache. I optimistically planted mine in late fall in the cold frame and between all the weird & rough weather, was relieved to see it coming up a few weeks back after all. In one week, it sprouted big time. The ones you buy at the store seem to be rather small and appear to be the whole plant, roots and all? Can you cut and come with them or do you get one only? At what height do you harvest? Will they be bitter if you wait too long? OK, that’s more than a few questions, sorry! Thanks for any input you have, Robbie! Happy Easter/Earth Day/Spring!!!

  8. Your garden is inspiring me to “de-citify” my next house’s garden a good bit more than originally planned. It looks like your greens are happy campers in the spring air!

    • They are happy campers + so am I out in the spring air! It will be fun when you have your new baby to help you create a new space together:-)

  9. I can’t get past Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock. TOO cute! 🙂 When those leaves get too big and tough you can dehydrate them and turn them into a nutrient dense powder that can be used for stocks and all kinds of wonderful :).

    • lol…I love them all , but I go WAY back to the black and white versions that played on WGN out of Chicago when I was a kid growing up-Mystey. It was a habit I have never been able to break. I also loved Charlie Chan movies-lol. Do you mean the lovage? That would be a great idea!

      • Nope those red ones whatever they were that you said got tough if you didn’t use them when they were young. My daughters tend to watch old movies most of the time. They loved Basil Rathbone as Sherlock. I loved mysteries as well as was into The Famous 5 series of books where they had to solve things. I progressed to Agatha Christie and then all over the place including Mr Stephen Kind which really does your head in when you are trying to find something in his excellent writing but monsters keep biting at your heels. Now I tend to watch the odd crime channel mystery and that’s that but you have piqued interest in me now…

      • oh you mean the red-veined sorell:-) I had no idea that you could do that! Love all Mysteries on Masterpiece Theater such as Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot etc. Also crime shows, too like Wallander, etc…love the odd characters. I also read a lot of mystery writers that are random and new which I download to my kindle sometimes when they are free-lol:-) Never did read any Stephen King novels, but you may of piqued my interest,too:-)

      • I have friends that have told me the same thing..hmmm..maybe I better not. I tend to be that person that whips their head away from the tv show if it is scary!

      • I have found that there is NOTHING more terrifying that what you can cook up inside your head when you read. Movies, shmoovies…a good scary book can keep me awake at night for months! I spent most of my childhood in terror at night. I had nightmare after nightmare and was terrified of the dark but slowly I taught myself that there is nothing out there. Got to admit, when locking the back door at night I still walk that bit more quickly and usually with one eye on the large dog door at the bottom of it as I am not entirely convinced that the thick darkness isn’t a great place for “things” to dwell!

      • lol:-) I love a good mystery just not me in it:-) I had a friend that grew up out in the country and when she purchased a home in the city she was terrified at night. I never understood it since there are people around in the city, so I thought out in the country, I am terrified for I am alone ,and it is pitch black behind that back door!!!!

  10. I’m so impressed with your skills in integrating your gardens the way you have. I have a lot to learn from you about this. It certainly gives you more room to grow food and it looks marvelous. You’re quite an inspiration to me you know! 🙂
    Happy growing to you,

    • aww steve, you are an inspiration to me,too!!! I was outside today most of the day and it was wonderful:-) Spring is finally here:-)Happy growing to you too:-)

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