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How Can I Create a Kitchen Garden?

By: Rachel Collier - Updated: 30 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Kitchen Garden Vegetables Plants

What better way to give your garden a facelift than with a kitchen garden? If you’re ready to breathe new life into your back yard, why not give growing your own a go.

What’s Great About a Kitchen Garden?

Growing your own produce is hugely satisfying, with home-grown foods often tasting way better than the travel-weary selection available at your local supermarket.

As the recession bites, more and more of us are saving money by growing our own and we’re paying homage to Tom and Barbara Good in back gardens up and down the country. Cost saving and taste aside, kitchen gardening provides healthy, outdoor fun that every member of the family can enjoy. Why not get the kids started early by giving them a little patch of their own to cultivate?

What Conditions Does a Kitchen Garden Need?

A successful kitchen garden, much like any other type, requires a good balance of water, sunshine and good, well-drained soil. The traditional kitchen garden would have been placed close to the house to ensure easy maintenance and harvesting, but wherever your space, those three main elements will help your plants to thrive all year round.

How Much Work is Involved in Making a Kitchen Garden?

With a little initial groundwork your kitchen garden will require as much or as little effort as you wish to put in. The more you grow, the more hands-on you’ll need to be, so if you’re new to gardening it’s a good idea to start fairly small, but leave yourself room to grow. Define beds using wood or even hedging to protect your plants from predators and the elements, especially important for tender varieties.

Which Vegetables Should I Plant?

There are so many delicious vegetables easily grown at home, but for the beginner those that fall into the ‘cut-and-come-again’ category are most satisfying, like lettuces and runner beans. Other easy options are early potatoes, leeks, onions and courgettes (becoming marrows if left unpicked). Sweetcorn is another good choice, and a great one for the kids to look after.

Is There More to a Kitchen Garden Than Growing Vegetables?

Yes! Don’t think your kitchen garden begins and ends with vegetables. Tomatoes can be a great success, producing a prolific crop, and why not try soft fruits, like strawberries and blackberries, too – many berries freeze well to make pie fillings or smoothies later in the year. If you enjoy cooking with herbs, a kitchen garden is the perfect home for a huge range, creating a real sensory delight. Try woody winter roast favourites rosemary and thyme, and summer salad sensations basil and oregano.

Our quick guide to getting started in your kitchen garden will certainly give you food for thought, but there is a wealth of information available in books and on the internet to help you get the most from your efforts. Explore crop rotation, raised beds and more demanding planting stock and enjoy not just a new hobby, but a whole new menu, and perhaps a new way of life.

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