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Kitchen Gardening 101

Jul/09/2023 / by Rashmi Gopal Rao

Experience the joy of nurturing a garden

A woman cutting fresh green herbs from a pot, with assorted vegetables on kitchen counter
Photo via Shutterstock

Gardening can bear plenty of rewards. It is therapeutic, enriching, and you get to cook with fresh produce, packed in flavor and nutrients. If you wish to have your own little garden, summer is the right season to start your patch.  All you need is a wee bit of planning and some dedicated time each day to tend to your plants. 

Layout Planning and Orientation

The first step is to decide the amount of space you want to use for your kitchen garden.  If you are a first-time gardener, it is best to keep the area small and start off by using pots.  As you gain experience you can tackle larger areas with ease and opt for a more diverse variety of plants.  If you have a small space, you can also consider vertical gardening by planting against fences and walls.

It is important to plan your layout considering the direction of sunlight during different times of the day.  Plants like peppers and tomatoes need copious amounts of sunshine while plants like cherries can thrive in the shade.  Herbs easily grow in pots while trailing plants can be positioned at the back where you can instal climbing support like trellises.  Plan the layout and number of beds and pots carefully, since you need to ensure that all plants are easily accessible.

Preparing the Soil

This is a key step in prepping your garden. Start by removing unwanted plants and weeds, as well as large stones or pebbles. If you have some experience with gardening you can use your own soil and compost.  Alternatively, potting mix and compost are available in stores like Walmart and Amazon.  There are even organic pot mixes that you can buy at gardening stores.

Choose the Plants to Sow

Once the basics are taken care of, it is time for planting.  Again, if you are a novice, it is better to have plants that grow easily and require minimal maintenance. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, peppers, zucchini, squash, lettuce, and spinach are ideal plants for a kitchen garden.  In addition, you can also plant chillies and herbs like coriander, thyme, and rosemary.  Onions, carrots, and radish are also easy to grow. 

It is important to grow what you like. Try to include different varieties, and consider having companion plants like marigold, basil, and mint in between as they help repel pests and attract pollinators.  There are several nurseries where you can not only buy seeds, but also saplings and small plants that can be transported directly to your planter bed. 

Taking Care of Your Garden

Once your plants are sown, ensure that you water them regularly.  Vegetable plants require a lot of water, at least a couple of inches a week.  If you do not have drip irrigation, ensure that you monitor your plants and hydrate them regularly.  You will also have some additional tasks, such as removing extra seedlings that have sprouted, providing the right support for tall and climbing plants, and getting rid of weeds. 

You will also need to mulch the soil and check its fertility from time to time.  Soaking banana and vegetable peels in water and using that water for your plants is a good idea to feed them some nutrients. 

Harvesting vegetables too early or a tad late is a common mistake most new gardeners make.  Ask gardening friends for advice or check online for the best times to harvest the veggies or herbs you have planted.

Gardening can be relaxing, fun, and restorative. So plant some seeds and watch your garden thrive.

Happy Gardening!

Seema

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