Grow a Kitchen Garden

Grow a Kitchen Garden 

No greens for your smoothie? No problem! Do you have wilting herbs in the fridge? What a waste of money. Try a trendy kitchen garden, it’s easier than people think. There is nothing to it but to do it, the experts say.

While I would normally recommend a plan, those of you new to gardening and keen to start, immediately, if not sooner I think we can help by recommending you start small and follow a few simple steps, make the right choices for the garden and soon you will be harvesting. 

IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE.

1. It’s all about the SOIL!

Normally I would be saying amend your soil, but this can be difficult. So, I am saying by starting small and putting in a few simple and fun interventions now the long-term plant for great soil and having organic produce will be achieved. You will still need to start from the ground up, but you need some confidence also. Hence, for your first year buy in a good mix either in bags as a potting mix or by the trailer load. 

2. Step back from the complicated and expensive tools; novice gardeners should start with containers or an easy-to-build raised bed.

Because it can take years to build/ amend the soil of your yard to retain moisture and boost and support soil microbials when gardening in the ground I am suggesting to use containers, as either pots or raised beds.  

Both of these systems will have excellent drainage and aeration. The advantage of this is your plants roots will not rot, fungal and soil borne disease will not be encouraged.

3. Next Step 

You’ve got the container; you’ve got the soil. All that is missing is the plants!

You can either “direct sow” seeds or plant “transplants”, which are already started before they get to their growth destination. Some seeds, like root vegetables, should always be directly sown in their final soil home. Other plants, such as tomatoes, thrive in a garden once they’ve been nurtured as a seedling and ready to transplant.

It is strongly suggested that at this stage you plant seedlings, a few of your favourite eating types. I mean why would you grow something you will not eat?  Maybe think about planting a few herbs, which are more easily grown but will always be there for you to use in the kitchen either cooked or cold in salads or garnish. How about rosemary, oregano, chives, spring onions and do not forget, mint. Most of these herbs will grown well in containers and can be moved around as companion plants. 

As mentioned before there’s no point growing stuff you and your family don’t like. So, ask them what they like to eat and you will encourage help and support from them and extra hands in the garden also. 

Win win/ love it!

 As well as simply thinking about what you like eating, here are some other points to consider:

  • Work out a list of the types of vegetables you tend to buy then see how they fit in. 
  • You can choose crops by when to plant them or follow some suggested plant combinations.

For spring planting are cool weather crops, such as lettuce, kale, swiss chard and spinach. When harvesting leafy greens, pick the outer leaves, never cut off more than one-third of the foliage because once you cut it off, that’s the end of the plant. Did you know that if you leave the stalk of a cabbage in the ground after you take the head, small cabbages will grow again along the stork? This also applies to broccoli so you can continue to crop. Head size gets smaller but just as nice and eventually you need to pull out the whole plant so you discourage disease from forming in your beds. 

However, plant choice is a predominately important factor in successful gardening. Start with easier plants first and get some experience behind you before you try more challenging plants.

4. Timing is everything when it comes to the garden.

Plants are fussy and are subjective to the “Zone” in which they are planted. Climate change is making things a little more complicated. However, for me, it comes down to where you live. I live in, according to       the map, a cool climate. This is not exactly true. The suggestion is to listen to those who are planting and growing in your area now, ask at your plant grower or nursery for what to plant now advice.

 

  1. Keep them alive!

Plants are basic; they need sun, water and food (fertiliser).

Plant conditions vary based on the type of plant you are planting. Each plant or seed packet will be labelled with its sun needs, water needs & planting guidelines.

To determine just how much water a plant needs, or if its deficient or being overwatered, try “finger test”. Put your finger in the soil. If it is wet up to the second knuckle, no need to water.  Overwatering is a big mistake, causing you plants roots to rot, as mentioned before and it will wash away nutrients and rot the roots.

Feed your plants and they’ll feed you, is an old saying but very true. Apply a fertilizer, if your wanting organic produce suggestions are:

Pelletised manure

Liquid fish-based fertiliser

Blood & Bone – side note this needs to be mixed with the soil to become effective.

A seaweed compound – side note this is not a fertiliser but acts to strengthen the cell walls of your plants and is good gear. 

  1. The final step is the most delicious; harvest and feast!

Watch your plants grow do not tug at them, it disturbs the roots and stops them growing. Watch their grown and smile at your own growth. You have learnt a new skill and if you have made a mistake somewhere along the road learn from it, be thankful you had it now at the early part of your gardening journey and do not give up. 

Write it down as a future reference in a gardening journal, because you will forget.

Happy Gardening Susan