This is my version of the ultimate space efficient ideal kitchen garden design for maximum food production. It can be used in a variety of spaces where it is necessary to get maximum production from minimal area. This plan is specifically for an enclosed garden.
Over the 40 years of having a productive garden, birds are what has limited my harvest the most. They scratch up seeds, eat seedlings, plants and fruits or just enjoy destroying the plant for no reason (Sulfur-crested cockatoos are the worst at this).
I assume in many climates kangaroos, deer, wombats, possums and flying foxes would also be an issue.
I struggled with netting for many years, trialing all sorts of support systems (see my blog article here) until eventually, I went with a permanent welded metal enclosure. You can read about that process here.
I am still marveling at how easy is to work in an enclosure and how much protection it gives my plants, resulting in bumper harvests.
If I had had the insight to know an enclosure was going to be necessary to get a decent harvest when I first started my current productive garden, then this how I would have planned it.
The idea is to keep the size of the garden as compact as possible to reduce the construction cost of an enclosure, whilst still giving sufficient space to grow what you want.
This is also a great layout for anyone with limited space wanting to grow their own food.
This example (see diagram below) is a 20 x 15 m enclosure.
The following is what I would grow given my family’s food preferences and the fact that I am growing in a cool climate. You can adjust this plan to suit your climate, the amount of food you wish to grow and your food preferences.
With this system, you will be producing fresh fruit and vegetables all year. You may have to supplement in the cooler months, but during summer and autumn, most of the fruit and vegetable needs for a household of 4-5 people could be met.
I have incorporated this into the system as the construction of a chicken run can be similar to a vegetable garden/orchard enclosure and having them close to your productive garden makes a lot of sense. I would discourage you from free-ranging your chickens in your productive space as they dig up seedlings, scatter mulch and dig under the roots of trees to create dust baths. Chickens can be very destructive in a garden.
This plan space allows for four 1.5m x 8m annual garden beds. These can either be at ground level or raised depending on which system suits you better. As I get older a raised bed is much more appealing then working at ground level. Again, thinking of the future and planning appropriately is essential.
The 1.5 width makes it easy to be able to reach the middle of the bed from either side without treading onto the garden which can cause soil compaction and plant damage.
These annual garden beds are the heart of my food production system with space to grow all the annual vegetables I need to feed my family. With successive planting of seasonal crops, I can be harvesting vegetables all year.
A Perennial vegetable and herb bed will contain all the perennial vegetables I like to grow as well as any non-invasive herbs. Perennial vegetables and herbs are best planted separately to annual vegetables, so their roots are not disturbed with cultivation or the continual planting of annuals.
What I would include are 2 x rhubarb plant, 10 x asparagus plants, 3 x globe artichokes, 2 x sorrel, 1 x rosemary, 3 x thyme, 1 x sage and 3 x chive plants. The front of these beds also can grow strawberries though I do get better crops from my hanging baskets.
In beds surrounding the annual garden beds, I have selected a variety of fruit trees that grow well in my climate and that I like to eat and preserve. Larger trees and climbers are placed on the southern sides of the enclosure (Southern hemisphere), so they do not shade the annual garden beds.
Included in these are:
3 apples (gala, and granny smith espaliered on the chicken run fence and one pink lady pillar apple in a garden bed) For good pollination at least three different apple varieties are needed.
1 x nashi pear
1 x miniature peach
1 x miniature nectarine
4 x dwarf citrus – 2 x lemon (Meyer and Eureka) 2 x mandarin (Imperial and Ellendale), 2 x orange (Navel and Valencia)
10 x blueberry bushes (various varieties planted in front of the espaliered apples and pergola) Again there is better pollination if you have a several different varieties.
2 x thornless Blackberries (Trained up the enclosure side)
1 x cherry (espaliered onto the enclosure side)
5 x raspberry
3 x current bushes (black, red and white)
1 x gooseberry
10 x hanging baskets of strawberries. This utilises unused space, increases air flow around the plants reducing fungal infection and prevents soil dwelling bugs eating the fruit.
1x finger lime (so I can move it into the glasshouse in winter)
1x Tahitian lime (so I can move it into the glasshouse in winter)
1x Kaffir lime (so I can move it into the glasshouse in winter)
1 x Bay tree (Bay tends to sucker and develop into a large thicket, I have a chance of controlling it in a container)
I like to grow the extra vigorous herds such as mint, peppermint, lemon balm, oregano, and marjoram in pots. All these herbs will very quickly take over a garden bed if not contained. I would place these in the pots below the various containerised trees.
In my ideal garden I have used this pace for a glass house/garden shed/ potting area for growing seedling and propagating plants. I move my frost ender potted plants into the glasshouse during winter.
This area could be used for a pergola to train climbers such as passionfruit, grapes, or Kiwi fruit on, or for more garden beds.
All climbing plants require maintenance. They tend to be very vigorous and need constant cutting back to keep them under control. They can take over both structures and other plants quickly, so they are not my favorite food-bearing plants.
Passionfruit are frost tender so will not grow in my garden and are far too vigorous for a pot so have been excluded from this system.
I have tried kiwi fruit and found them extremely vigorous. You must plant both a male and a female plant for pollination reasons. As a result, the two plants soon overwhelmed and eventually destroyed, my first chicken enclosure. When they cropped, we were literally picking buckets of fruit every day and really after the first 50 or so we got a bit sick of them. It was not a hard decision to remove them from my garden. But that does not mean they may not work in your system.
Grapevines can also be very vigorous. I have grown one over a chicken enclosure and the tendrils twined into the mesh, making it very difficult to remove the stem when pruning them, especially on the roof. I needed to work on a tall ladder, and I am not good at working at heights. Grapes need to be pruned to get a decent crop so leaving them unpruned was not an option. They may work on a free-standing trellis system like you see in vineyards, but I did not have the space for this within my garden. We also had constant mildew issues living in an area that always has rain in February, when the fruit is ripening. Again, in the right climate grapes could be included.
A garden shed and compost bins can be either incorporated into the enclosure or placed outside but with easy access to the garden. Putting these items outside will maximise the area of productive plants that need the protection of the enclosure.
This system can be adjusted to fit your space and your selection of food plants. It is a system that provides for maximum production from minimum space and as such is ideal for most backyard situations or where you need to build an enclosure to protect your plants from the many ever hungry birds and animals that are local to your area.