Want to save money and get better tasting food? Why not grow some of your meal yourself?
Then you can be sure of the origins of your food and know that it’s been handled safely and correctly.
If that sounds good; you need a kitchen garden. Growing a kitchen garden isn’t as hard as you might think and this is what you need to know to get started:
12 Things That Everyone Should Understand Before They Grow A Kitchen Garden
12Site Selection Matters
11When You Start, Stick To The Basics
Want a recipe for disappointment in your kitchen garden? Start by trying to grow everything and once and include a bunch of exotic, non-native species. Gardening is a skill and it’s one that develops over time.
The best way to give yourself the time to improve is to start simple. Classic herbs like parsley, mint and basil are all fairly hardy and easy to grow. Vegetables that are going to work well include: peppers, tomatoes, beans, radishes, cucumbers, etc.
Once you’ve got these under control then you can work up to plants that need more care such as onions, rhubarb, melons, etc.
Fruit can be quite easy though as you’ll be buying grafted saplings to get started. That means as long as the soil and weather are OK, and you tend them closely; they’re going to be just fine.
10Consider Implementing Raised Beds For Vegetables
9Vertical Gardening Is A Thing
Joy recently put up a piece here on Kitchen Authority about this, and it’s the way forward for kitchen gardeners with no space – you can grow crops vertically. In traditional gardens, you can add more space with wall planters, railing planters, and hanging baskets.
Vine plants, in particular, will be happy to run up a wall if you give them the guidance to get started. That means stakes in pots can help you add tomatoes, peas, squashes, etc. to your family’s diet with ease.
I love vertical gardening because it makes it easy to take care of your plants. When everything is at ankle level, you have to keep getting down in the dirt to see what’s what. When it’s growing up, you can identify fruit and pluck it with ease.
One peculiar benefit of vertical gardening is that it reduces fungal infections in plants. This is probably because there’s improved air flow and fungus finds it hard to settle on leaves.
If you do grow things on trellis, stakes, etc. do make sure to use cable ties to help secure the plants, this will not only keep things tidy but help them build the strength to grow larger and juicier fruit.
8You Need To Give Your Plants Space
7Succession Planting Helps With The Success Of A Kitchen Garden
In the good old days this was known as “crop rotation” but today, it has a fancier name and the idea has become more evolved.
Farmers traditionally planted different crops in a field so that each would take certain nutrients from the soil while giving back other nutrients. If you picked the right crops to rotate, each crop would support the following crop – making fields more productive. However, farmers also tended to leave their fields fallow for some part of the year to let the soil recover.
Kitchen gardeners don’t need to leave their soil fallow as they can always add a little top soil if necessary. So, they should be looking to “succession plant”, that is plant another crop immediately after harvesting the last to keep their garden at maximum productivity.
If you want to do this well, you’ll need to plan your garden carefully in advance. When you need seeds for succession planting, you’ll want them on hand and not find yourself in a mad panic trying to secure them locally before the planting window closes.
6You Don’t Have To Sow Seeds To Grow Crops
5Pick Crops That Mature Early If You Can
Not all fruits and vegetables are equal. If you have a short summer, for example, there’s no point in picking crops that take 6 months of bright sun and very little rain in order to mature. Those plants will not make your garden, a great place to be and you will be hungry.
Pick varieties that grow and mature quickly, on the other hand, and what you have is a rapid progression from seed to table. That means less disappointment and more importantly, more crops a year too. Saving you even more money.
4Pick Crops That Are Compatible And You Can Grow More Than One Thing At A Time
3Learn To Take Advantage Of Edge Planting
Edge planting is a bit like companion planting, but it takes place around the edges of your garden. There are three main benefits that you can glean from edge planting:
- A natural barrier against insect infestations. Marigolds and other insecticidal crops are brilliant as edge plants. They can be your garden’s first line of defense.
- To provide shade. If you don’t have a naturally shady part of the garden, grow plants that offer shade to your other crops. It’s a great way to see nature acting in harmony.
- To offer wind protection. Thick bulky shrubs can act as the perfect buffer against the wind blowing away all your high-quality topsoil.
2Tips On How To Choose The Crops You Want To Grow
1Don’t Forget Presentation Of Your Garden
One last thing. Your kitchen garden can be just functional if you want it to be, but I find most people want their kitchen gardens to look nice too. That means you’ll want to consider how you plant crops for colors, how you organize and lay out your garden before you get started.
Trust me, it will save you a ton of work if you pay attention to this before you begin. It’s really hard to change things around without disturbing the growing cycle if you don’t.
I love kitchen gardens. They save you money. They look good. Your food tastes better. It gives you an appreciation for the ingredients you use in the kitchen.
They are very, very easy to run if you start simple. Once you make them a habit in your life; you’ll wonder how you ever did without one.
You can grow a kitchen garden in as little or as much space as you have. Don’t think you have to go without because you live in an apartment, your windowsill or balcony is a great place to get things going.
I hope your kitchen garden brings you as much pleasure as mine brings me.
Let me know if you need any help with yours or if you have any amazing tips to offer our readers.
P.S. Once you’ve got your new kitchen garden up and running you’ll soon have extra vegetables and you’ll want to discover new ways to use them to their best advantage. Check out our 25 Best Cookbooks of 2019 article for inspiration.