How to create a kitchen garden
Nothing is more fun (and tasty fun) than growing your own fruit and vegetables! And the good news is that you can start a vegetable garden just about anywhere. But, before you dig in, best prepare your garden properly. Are you keen to create your own vegetable garden? Please let us help you!
A kitchen garden, wherever you are
In order to grow your own fruit and vegetables you certainly don't need acres of land. Kitchen gardening in pots or containers can be very successful as well. A compact vegetable border or even a ''square meter kitchen garden'' will offer you loads of produce. Alternatively, a vertical kitchen garden (making use of wall space) is another option as are kitchen gardens running on coir substrate, hydro substrateorsoil substrate.
A soil substrate kitchen garden
Should you start kitchen gardening in soil (soil substrate), preparation is key. Soil preparation means clearing the soil from rubble, pebbles and any crop residues. You might wish to test the soil on its acidity level, which will indicate whether adding lime to the soil is necessary or not. Fertilize thoroughly before sowing, using well-rotted cow manure or other organic matter such as Worm Delightor Kilomix, which will improve your soil tremendously.
The ideal location
The perfect spot for a kitchen garden is an area where your vegetables and fruit will bathe in sunshine for at least six hours per day, as they absolutely need the light and warmth the sun provides. Try to avoid shade as much as possible. Fortunately some vegetables and herbs perform rather well in half shade, so should your garden be lacking in sunshine, select these plants.
Make a plan
Make a plan before you start, so you'll know exactly what to sow and which seeds and/or seed plants to buy. Try to visualize which vegetables, fruit or herbs you wish to grow and what it takes to let them do well. Tropical plants, for instance, suffer in our climate, so tomatoes, red and green peppers and so on need a greenhouse to grow in. Next to that it's wise to section all available space and preferably go for companion planting. In applying this system you check the characteristics and needs of every plant and put ''nice neighbours'' next to each other, usually in one bed. A well-known example of ''nice neighbours'' is carrots and onions, as carrot flies hate the smell of onions, and vice versa. ''Unpleasant neighbours'' exist too, carrots and tomatoes for instance. Tomato plants exude a substance that hampers root growth; in these cases allowing considerable interspaces will help greatly.
A great help is to lay-out your garden based on crop division, e.g. putting various sorts of vegetables in separate beds. A well-known useful crop division is: potatoes, root crops, leguminous crops, brassicas, leaf crops and fruity crops. Allowing each group its own bed is a very good idea indeed, as it makes crop rotation so much easier. Just rotate each group every year, thereby preventing crops from exhausting the soil. More on crop rotation? Do read our article on function and use of crop rotation.
Sowing or planting
Having decided on what to grow, it is time to order or buy whatever you need, choosing between sowing or planting seedlings (young plants). By the way, both methods score in advantages and disadvantages…
Sowing: sowing seeds is cheaper than buying seedlings, because seed packets contain amazing amounts of seeds - effectively all potential plants - therefore costing far less than seedlings. Compared to the easier job of planting seedlings, a realistic disadvantage may be the labour-intensity connected to sowing, next to the extra time it takes before you can harvest. A real advantage is the wide choice in seeds.
Planting seedlings: your garden centre stocks seedlings you can plant out immediately, cutting growing time by miles and offering you quick produce. Possible disadvantage: buying seedlings is definitely more expensive than sowing.
Tips for beginners:
- Start small! A large garden is wonderful, but its maintenance can be overwhelming.
- Easy to grow vegs for beginners are: carrots, lettuce, beans and courgettes.
- ‘Well begun is half done’ is very true, so be well-prepared and make a fitting plan.