If you are like me, then we both have a secret fantasy of having the Martha Stewart garden of our dreams. A large field of pristine organic vegetables hanging lazily from sturdy vines in the sun, just waiting to be picked and prepared in some perfect way.
But we all know what that really means. Most of us are not Martha and we don’t have the time, or the staff to maintain something so luxurious. We know we want to grow something, because after all it doesn’t get more local, delicious or nutritious than picking something from our own backyards. But there is the issue of time, money and knowing how to even start a garden at all.
Enter the kitchen garden, an easy little plot that attempts to solve all three of these vexing issues. A kitchen garden is simply a bed, or containers, of plants, that are grown with the intention of eventually eating them. A kitchen garden ideally is planted as close to your kitchen as possible, the idea being that while you are cooking you can easily go and pick what you need – a few sprigs of rosemary for your roasted chicken, or cherry tomatoes for your salad. Kitchen gardens are ideal if you do not have a lot of area to work with because, besides location, they are not meant to take up a lot of space.
I admit, I do have a big garden. Out in my yard I have planted the big guns – cucumbers, eggplant, Big Boy tomatoes, corn, sweet peppers and other hefty vegetables that take up large amounts of space and sun. But on my deck I have my kitchen garden. Five medium sized containers that house my most used herbs such as basil, parsley, mint, oregano, rosemary and thyme, and two pots for my much used cherry tomato plants. My big garden is for true harvesting, my kitchen garden is for everyday use.
Think a Kitchen Garden is a Good Idea?
Here are the three things to consider when starting your kitchen garden:
Start With the Right Location
We all know that most plants need sun and water to grow. Vegetables, in particular, need a minimum of 8 hours of sun a day and access to water. Make it easy on yourself. Plant your kitchen garden close to the hose. Maximize sun by putting containers on top of rollers and move them with the sun if need be.
Decide What To Grow
Think about what you love to eat and grow that. Love tomato and basil salads? Grown those in abundance. Can’t get enough of cucumbers? Use stakes and grow them upwards.
Great Soil Is Non-negotiable
Besides water and sun vegetable plants need to be planted in nutritious soil. Poor soil results in weak plants that are prone to pests and diseases. When filling containers or beds use 2/3 potting soil with at least 1/3 compost – the dirt that has all the nutrients. You can buy bags of compost at any garden store.
Once your herbs and vegetables start flourishing you will realize just how easy and convenient a kitchen garden is. Have more questions? Go to my website at www.greenpalette.com to check out my upcoming Gardening Tele-class and try my recipe for a Cucumber Mint Lime Spritzer, a unique and refreshing way to use those herbs and vegetables from your garden.