When my garden journey started back in 2010 I had ZERO experience. I just knew I wanted to garden big and share my bounty with my community at farmer’s markets. Fast forward 12 years and my interest in gardening has become my passion and my business. This journey has expanded my life, allowed me to experiment and problem solve, and led me back to my roots. The path hasn’t always been easy, but it is always worth it.

Client: My very first client – ME!

Location: Lake Geneva WI

Design: 1950 sq. ft. raised Kitchen Garden including 384 sq. ft. of veggies, herbs and flowers; 120 sq. ft. row of raspberries & 3 elderberry bushes; 200 sq. ft. of asparagus. We also have a 3776 sq. ft. in-ground vegetable patch including 200 sq. ft. of strawberries and a 75 ft. row of black raspberries.

Process

Stage One: Our current property was overgrown and neglected when we found it in 2015. Because in-ground gardening was all we had experience with, we went to work clearing the space. In addition to general renovations, we had to remove many Black Walnut trees, which are deadly for gardens because they leach the chemical juglone into the soil, sometimes even years after removal. The soil was a blend of clay and rocks and had extremely poor drainage. After heavy rains, our root crops would rot in the ground and the overly saturated soil drowned out our red raspberries.

Stage Two: We have spent the last 7 years working to amend the soil, but we still deal with drainage issues. In Spring 2020, after another rainy season, we were desperate for a quick solution to overcome the areas that were not draining, so we created some basic pine raised beds and relocated the red raspberries.  We’ve also experimented with diversifying our crops; depending on the weather we sometimes had varieties both in-ground and in the raised beds.  Through years of experience, we have learned what crops grow better in certain environments.

After a successful season in 2021,  we expanded the Kitchen Garden by designing a new space with a different feel and style than the traditional in-ground vegetable patch that we started with, ensuring more bountiful seasons in the future.

Highlight: I’m all about going big with your spaces and experimenting as you go. It’s how I learn best. I wouldn’t be where I am today, with a successful Kitchen Garden and endless ideas for expansion, if I hadn’t worked through the tough times and figured out ways around our setbacks. I’m still experimenting with new crops, and can’t wait to find new favorites.

Plan to Expand: Our goal this year is to plan out an acre of fruit trees, blueberries, and Aronia berries. We also are going to research and experiment with mushroom spores. A greenhouse is in the back of my mind, too, and that requires a lot of long-term planning.

 

Katie Oglesby, garden designer Lake Geneva Wisconsin