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Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden

Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden

by Niki Jabbour


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Follow your zany muse and get creative with your vegetable garden. Niki Jabbour brings you 73 novel and inspiring food garden designs that include a cocktail garden featuring all the ingredients for your favorite drinks, a spicy retreat comprising 24 varieties of chile peppers, and a garden that’s devoted to supplying year-round salad greens. Created by celebrated gardeners, each unique design is accompanied by both plant lists and charming anecdotes. This fully illustrated collection glitters with off-beat personality and quirkiness.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612120614
Publisher: Storey Books
Publication date: 03/25/2014
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 743,325
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Niki Jabbour is the award-winning author of Growing Under CoverNiki Jabbours Veggie Garden Remix, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, and Groundbreaking Food Gardens. Her work is found in Fine Gardening, Garden Making, Birds & Blooms, Horticulture, and other publications, and she speaks widely on food gardening at events and shows across North America. She is the host and creator of The Weekend Gardener radio show. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and can be found online at 

Read an Excerpt


Patti Marie Travioli's

Urban Farmscape

Urban farmscapers are gardeners who find ways to grow food productively in urban areas. Avid gardener Patti Marie Travioli doesn't have a large property, but she has managed to turn a sunny side yard into an urban farm that produces a steady supply of vegetables and herbs for her family 12 months of the year.

* An intensively planted, but compact garden for urban or small spaces

* The attractive design will work well in a side or front yard

* A wooden arch holds up vining crops and welcomes visitors to the garden

Patti Marie Travioli is an urban farmscaper, a phrase she coined to describe both her garden and her way of gardening. Her goal is to grow food in the city, in a productive and attractive way. "I can't think of anything more picturesque than an urban farmscape," she says. Her home garden is located in her side yard — the spot that receives the most sun.

Perfect for a small yard. Her plan for a summer-harvested 10- by 20-foot urban farmscape is ideal for a front, side, or backyard. Thanks to her plant suggestions, it packs plenty of production and curb appeal into a compact space. "This design will work very well in a small yard," she notes. "The key is that it has to have a southern exposure." Patti grows the crops in her own garden in raised beds framed with plain 2- by 12-foot pine boards, which are affordable and durable. "In my farmscape, I like to organize the garden, and I like the look of raised beds, which help me to keep plants where they need to be kept," she says. She also notes that her raised beds make it easy to extend the garden season with cold frames.

The perimeter bed is 2 feet wide, and the center beds are 3 feet wide. "There isn't much space for the 1 1/2-foot-wide paths," she admits, "but it makes me feel as if I am walking between rows of edible delights!" An arbor marks the entrance to the plot; Patti suggests planting fast-growing annual hyacinth beans at the base so that by midsummer it will be smothered in pretty purple flowers followed by extremely ornamental burgundy-purple bean pods.

City plants. Patti's plant choices are well suited to a small space garden. "I have selected varieties based on my experience, or sizes that grow well in an urban setting," she says. "Tomatoes are one of my favorite vegetables, and I am becoming a master of pruning, caging, staking, and trellising." Her top cherry tomatoes are 'Gold Nugget' and 'Sungold' because of their earliness, incredible flavor, and brightly colored fruits. She also grows carrots year-round. "Once someone grows winter carrots, they will be amazed at how naturally sweet and delicious a carrot can be," she declares.

Lemony edging. Like any avid cook, Patti appreciates a steady supply of homegrown herbs, used fresh during the growing season or dried for winter. Near her sidewalk she has even planted clumps of lemon thyme to release their sharp, fresh lemony fragrance each time someone treads on them. "Guests come over and ask: 'What do I smell? It smells so good!'" she laughs. And to attract beneficial insects, she interplants nasturtiums and calendulas (both have edible flowers), as well as cosmos, sweet alyssum, and 'Helen Mount' johnny jump ups.

To keep the harvest coming from early spring to late winter, Patti is a serious succession planter. "I start planting smaller quick-growing plants for fall once my summer crops are about to be harvested," she says. "It takes a little practice, but once I got started, I began to look at the space in the garden differently." She also divides her year into three seasons — spring, summer, and fall — with a planting plan for each, so that she stays on track of what needs to be seeded and planted for a nonstop harvest.

Patti's Picks for City Gardens


* Beans: 'Provider' bush and 'Fortex' pole

* Peppers: 'Ace' sweet and 'Early Jalapeño' hot

* Cucumbers: 'Diva'

* Large tomatoes: 'Big Beef', 'New Girl', 'Brandywine', and 'Amish Paste' (indeterminate; staked or trellised)

* Cherry tomatoes: 'Gold Nugget' (determinate; caged) or 'Sungold' cherry tomato (indeterminate; staked or trellised)

* Spinach: 'Tyee'

* Radishes: 'Cherriette'

* Scallions: 'Nebechan'

* Eggplants: 'Fairy Tale'

* Swiss chard: 'Bright Lights'

* Beets: 'Cylindra'

* Cabbage: 'Gonzales'

* Carrots: 'Caracas'

* Broccoli: 'Belstar'

* Lettuce: 'Allstar Gourmet' baby lettuce mix


* Sage: 'Extracta'

* Thyme: 'German Winter' and lemon

* Dill: 'Fernleaf'

* Oregano: 'Greek'

* Basil: 'Genovese Compact, Improved'

Patti's Garden Plan

1. Entryway arch with hyacinth beans

2. Sweet peppers and lemon thyme

3. Cucumbers, sage, thyme, and dill

4. Sunflowers

5. Bush and pole beans

6. Large and cherry tomatoes

7. Oregano, basil, and hot peppers

8. Spinach, lettuce, arugula, radishes, and scallions

9. Eggplants and Swiss chard

10. Beets, cabbage, carrots, and broccoli


Susan Appleget Hurst's

Culinary Herbs for Beginners

Is your food lacking flavor? Consider growing some of your own culinary herbs, which can be enjoyed fresh from the garden or dried and frozen for winter use. And, as Susan notes, because most herbs are easy to grow they are also a great choice for those new to gardening.

* Versatile design is adaptable to sites of different sizes and shapes

* Features a gourmet selection of easy-to-grow, yet flavorful, herbs

* Allows you to flex your gardening skills by growing some of the herbs directly from seed

Susan Appleget Hurst has been an herb enthusiast for more than 20 years, but she recalls growing up in a household where the only herbs on her plate came from a jar. "It was a year in culinary school that introduced me to the flavor of fresh herbs," she admits. Her interest really took off when she realized she could have a thriving herb garden despite intense summer heat and pest pressure.

Choose the right spot. Susan defines herbs as useful plants, and culinary herbs are simply plants that are used primarily for seasoning food. Depending on the size and shape of the available site, Susan notes that the shape of the garden could be rectangular; bent or folded into a V- or U-shape; or split up into two or more smaller beds. Whatever shape garden you end up with, Susan emphasizes the importance of starting out with the right site. "Herbs are pretty tough plants, but they need full sun and good drainage," she advises. Some herbs, like spearmint, can tolerate less sun, but you can't get away with soggy soil.

At first glance, Susan admits that her plan might seem a little big for a beginner, though it includes some of the most commonly used herbs. "It also includes a few that are not so common, but should be!" she laughs.

Easy care. Once autumn arrives, most of the perennial herbs can be left in the ground to winter over and return the following spring. Tender herbs such as rosemary can be dug up and moved indoors to a sunny windowsill for winter seasoning.

In the waning days of autumn, many gardeners rush to clean up their plots in hopes of getting a jump on the following spring, but Susan recommends holding off. "The protection from the extra leaves and litter on top of the plants will help most perennials get through the winter better," she says. Plus, any seed heads left on the spent plants will provide a cold-weather snack for local birds.

Harvest before flowering. Once you've established an herb garden, it's time to learn how to cook with your garden-fresh bounty. Susan recommends harvesting herbs before they flower. "When a plant flowers, the flavor changes," she says. Often, herbs taste stronger after the plant has flowered; some become altogether unpalatable.

Susan's Garden Plan

1. Parsley

2. Basil

3. Dill

4. Tarragon

5. Calendulas

6. Chervil

7. Cilantro

8. Mints

9. Thyme

10. Oregano

11. Sage

12. Lavender

13. Rosemary

14. Nasturtium

15. Chives

Mix Tried and True with Brave and New

Susan encourages gardeners — even new gardeners — to be brave in their plant selection and not shy away from unfamiliar herbs. She suggests planting the following collection of herbs that offer a wide range of flavors.


Basil. Start heat-loving basil indoors and move the seedlings to the garden once all risk of frost has passed. Even then, it'll sit and sulk until the hot weather begins. To keep a fresh supply going all summer long, put in new plants every few weeks.

Calendulas. This edible flower happily self-sows from year to year, and the young seedlings can be dug up and moved wherever you like. Sprinkle the bright yellow or orange petals into salads or over dinner plates for a hint of color (the leaves are also edible).

Chervil. Fresh chervil has a lot of flavor and tastes like a cross between parsley and anise. Try it in salads and in egg dishes.

Cilantro. Don't plant the entire seed package all at once. The plants bolt (go to seed) quickly, so you'll want to plant some every couple of weeks for a long season of harvest. Because it prefers cool weather, it'll do best in spring and autumn.

Dill. To get enough dill for both fresh eating and pickling, scratch a few seeds in the garden in spring for fresh leaves and sow again later to get the seeds for pickles.

Nasturtium. Heat-loving nasturtiums are very easy to grow and spill appealingly over garden beds and onto nearby footpaths. They also have edible seeds, flowers, and foliage. They're peppery, like radishes, and they're very striking with red, orange, yellow, and cream-colored blooms.

Parsley (biennial). Use curly parsley as a beautiful low border at the front of flower beds, because it stays bushy and green all season long. For culinary use however, flat-leaved (Italian) parsley is more robust in flavor. In addition to being easy to grow, parsley is also a host plant for swallowtail butterflies.


Chives (Zones 3 to 11). Most garden centers sell pots of chives, but because it's so common and prolific, consider getting a clump from a gardening friend or neighbor. Onion chives, those with tubular leaves and purple blossoms, seem to self-sow less aggressively than garlic chives (those with flat leaves and white blossoms).

Lavender (Zones 5 to 9). Neither gardeners nor bees can resist the fragrant purple flowers of lavender. Happy lavender plants need excellent drainage and full sun, but proper variety selection is also important. In colder climates, opt for 'Munstead' or 'Hidcote' English lavender, traditional and hardy varieties. Warm-climate gardeners can try French or Spanish lavender, both of which have silvery foliage and elongated purple bracts that are often compared to rabbit's ears.

Mints (Zones 3 to 11 depending on variety). Mints have a well-deserved reputation for being extremely invasive. Any plant with a square stem (the signature characteristic of the mint family) is likely to take over the garden. Keep an eye on it and don't put it in the ground; place it in a pot. To keep the plant healthy, repot it every few years, removing most of the rootball with a sharp knife and replanting just a quarter of the original plant.

Oregano (Zones 5 to 9). Common oregano is very hardy, but Greek oregano, which is the preferred type for culinary use, will only overwinter in Zones 5 and higher. In colder areas it may need to be replanted from year to year.

Rosemary (Zones 8 to 10). One of Susan's essential herbs, rosemary is a key ingredient in a well-stocked kitchen, where it is used to flavor potatoes, roast chicken, and homemade focaccia. It's very slow-growing, and you can save yourself time by picking up seedlings from your local garden center. To thrive, rosemary needs sun, plenty of air circulation, and good drainage. Clay soil gardeners beware — if planted in poorly drained soil, rosemary will sulk. Instead, consider planting it in a pot or window box.

Sage (Zones 5 to 9). Variegated and golden sages may be beautiful in pots and in the garden but aren't the best choice for your plate because they don't have a lot of flavor. Garden sage, also known as common sage, is the top pick for culinary use.

Tarragon (Zones 5 to 9). Look for plants at your local garden center. Culinary tarragon (sometimes called French tarragon) can only be grown from cuttings or division. Don't plant seeds, as they will be Russian tarragon, a less desirable species that is neither flavorful nor attractive.

Thyme (Zones 5 to 9). As a woody perennial herb, thyme is very slow-growing from seed, so for instant results pick up seedlings from your local garden center. The plants are extremely aromatic and compact, typically growing 6 to 10 inches tall, depending on the variety. Common (English) thyme is traditionally used for cooking, but don't be afraid to experiment and try different types like lemon thyme, which has a wonderful citrus fragrance!


Excerpted from "Groundbreaking Food Gardens"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Niki Jabbour.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


About the Contributors

Urban Farmscape - Patti Marie Travioli

Culinary Herbs for Beginners - Susan Appleget Hurst

Pollinator-Friendly Raised Bed - Paul Zammit

Beautiful Balcony Edibles - Andrea Bellamy

Southern-Style Backyard Farm - Carolyn Binder

Edibles on a Patio - Donna Balzer

American Potager - Jennifer R. Bartley

Eggs & Everything - Jessi Bloom

Fig-Pig Patio - Steven Biggs

Critter Control - Karen Chapman

Eat Your Yard - Nan K. Chase

Partially Shaded Vegetables - Marjorie Harris

Sidebar: Windy City Harvest 

Small Space Beds - The Chicago Botanic Garden

The Circle of Life - Emma Cooper

Sunburst Veggie Garden - Shawna Coronado

Sidebar: Living Walls

Formal Herb Garden - Kate Copsey

Chile Lover's Garden - Dave DeWitt

Starter Kitchen Garden - Roger Doiron

Sidebar: Lasagna Gardening 

Formal Kitchen Garden - Ellen Ecker Ogden

Grocery Garden - Jenks Farmer

Backyard Orchard - Colby Eierman

Front-Yard Foraging - Sarah Elton

Canner's Garden - Daniel Gasteiger

Slow-Food Garden - Laura Henderson

Power Foods - Dan Jason

Heirloom Sampler - Marie Iannotti

Wildlife-Friendly Garden - Tammi Hartung

Hanging Gutters - Jayme Jenkins

Modern Truck Garden - Leslie Land

Vintage Victory Garden - Lamanda Joy

Asian Vegetables - Wendy Kiang-Spray

Garden Squares for Kids - Karen Liebreich and Jutta Wagner

Urban Homestead - Theresa Loe

Teaming with Microbes - Jeff Lowenfels

Urban Shade Garden - Kathy Martin

Edible Knot Garden - Karen Atkins

Vertical Vegetables - Rhonda Massingham Hart

Culinary Courtyard - Rachel Mathews

Concrete & Steel Garden - Laura Mathews

Front-Yard Suburban Farm - Chris McLaughlin

Southern Spring Garden - Dee Nash

Founding Fathers Garden - Teresa O'Connor

Terraced Hillside - Barbara Pleasant

Edible Hedge - Charlie Nardozzi

Italian Heritage Garden - Doug Oster

Community Plot - Michael Nolan

Edible Cutting Garden - Debra Prinzing

Biodynamic Farm - Mac Mead

Garlic Sampler - Liz Primeau

Rooftop Farm - Colin McCrate and Hilary Dahl

Gourmet Containers - Renee Shepherd and Beth Benjamin

Cocktail Garden - Amy Stewart and Susan Morrison

Chicago Hot-Dog Garden - Amanda Thomsen

Upcycled Edible Patio - Jean Ann Van Krevelen

Pallet Garden - Joe Lamp'l

"Good Bug" Garden - Jessica Walliser

Elizabethan Garden - Stephen Westcott-Gratton

Sidebar: An Easy Way to Expand Your Existing Garden

Forager's Garden - Ellen Zachos

Water-Wise Herbs & More - Nan Sterman

Beat the Grocery Bill - Mark Cullen

Fall & Winter Vegetables - Niki Jabbour

52 Weeks of Salad - Michelle Chapman

Edible School Garden - Benjamin Eichorn

Backyard Brewer's - Rebecca Kneen

OTTO Pizza Garden - Toby Adams and Annie Novak

Year-Round Front-Yard Garden - Rebecca Sweet

Edible Campus - Vikram Bhatt

Backyard Beekeeper's Garden - Kenny Point

Best-Tasting Tomatoes - Craig LeHoullier


Plant List


Customer Reviews