Zone planning and planting

Traditional waddle fences separated potager gardens from each other and into zones. Here is a modern waddle fence in New York City.

Traditional waddle fences separated potager gardens from each other and into zones. Here is a modern waddle fence in New York City.

New zoning in Chicago is causing controversy in communities. Here I set out my own garden zoning framework.

When I design new gardens in the spring, I divide garden plots into zones. These zones are based on:

  • the frequency of use/eating (based on my eating habits or those of my customer)
  • seasonality
  • maintenance demanded by the vegetables, herbs and fruits

A French permaculture technique, it sets out zones 0-6 with 0 being the home. I only use three zones in my small kitchen gardens because I’m growing a couple hundred square feet, not acres. The vegetables and herbs used most often have closest proximity to the house, making it easy to go out the kitchen door and snip dinner. Other vegetables fan out from the back door.

Here’s my personal garden “zoning” framework:

  • zone 1: closest to home, most frequently harvested such as herbs, salad greens, onions, beets, kale, chard, peas, beans
  • zone 2: crops more permanent and requiring less daily maintenance such as broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash
  • zone 3: larger, single harvest crops such as corn, garlic, sweet potatoes and potatoes, parsnips, turnips, winter squash
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