Is it time you started your own kitchen garden?

Fill your kitchen cabinets with home grown veg this spring

Spring is here, and it’s the time of year when many of us resolve to make more use of our garden. And one aspect of gardening that is increasingly popular is to grow your own vegetables. Fresh home grown vegetables taste so much better than shop bought ones, and can also save you quite a bit of money once your veg growing process is established. And of course you also have the reassurance of knowing they are completely organic and have not been subject to any chemicals.

But if the thought of having your own kitchen garden appeals to you, how do you actually make it happen? It’s a lovely idea, but what do you actually need to do to be able to fill your kitchen cabinets with fresh home grown produce?

In this article we outline a simple five point plan to start your own kitchen garden this spring.

Find the best location for your kitchen garden

One of the keys to the success of your kitchen garden is its location. You need to find an area that is as sunny and sheltered as possible. Try to avoid any area that has regular shadows from nearby trees or buildings. 

If your garden is very small and there is no suitable area to dedicate to a kitchen garden, you could always consider a veg trug instead for a mini – and portable – kitchen garden.

Design the layout of your kitchen garden

Another important factor for your kitchen garden is the layout. It’s worth taking the time to plan this carefully before you even think about planting. 

A traditional design is to divide the area into four quarters, ideally with paths in between them all, so that you have easy access to all areas of your kitchen garden. This design works effectively no matter how large or small your kitchen garden area. 

Each of the four quarters can then be dedicated to different types of vegetables, for example root veg such as potatoes, peas and beans, leafy greens, and herbs. It’s a good idea to rotate the usage of each quarter of your kitchen garden every year. This ensures a healthy balance of nutrients across the whole of your kitchen garden, and can also help to keep your vegetables healthy and prevent disease occurring.

Also try to raise the beds if at all possible. On a practical basis, this makes it easier to manage the upkeep of your plants. It also helps with drainage, and is a valuable disincentive to pests such as slugs and snails.

Prepare your kitchen garden area

Once you have a good idea of what your kitchen garden is going to look like, take time to prepare the area well so that you have a solid foundation on which to base your kitchen garden. The area needs thorough digging and weed removal. Don’t skimp on these activities, otherwise poor quality subsoil and aggressive weeds could really ruin your vegetable growing aspirations very quickly.

If there is a time lapse between you preparing the area and the next two steps, it could be worth covering it with plastic sheeting to prevent new weeds growing and any other damage to the area.

Make sure you have the best soil possible

Before you add soil to your kitchen garden, make sure that it is the best quality possible. If you are using existing soil from your garden, it may be worth getting a soil testing kit (available from most garden centres and DIY stores) to find out the type of soil you have and whether it is going to provide the best growing environment for your veg.

The ideal type of soil is a loam soil, which is a mixture of clay, sand and silt. This makes it a fertile environment for growth, and also a free-draining soil that is easy to work with. You can boost it still further by adding organic material such as compost or manure. For best results, finish off with around 30 cm of topsoil.

If your soil is poor another option, particularly if you are using raised beds, is to fill them with a 50:50 mix of compost and topsoil rather than using soil from elsewhere in your garden.

Plant your vegetable seeds

Your kitchen garden is now ready for planting. If you are new to this, it’s a good idea to start with some safe, easy to grow options such as salad leaves, herbs, potatoes, courgettes, beans, and beetroot.

You can either plant from seeds, or get plug in plants to get you off to a good start. If you are planting from seed, you may want to keep these inside – for example in a greenhouse or kitchen – to protect them until they become seedlings.

Check the packets carefully to understand the best time to plant each type of seed. Early spring is generally a good time for most vegetables.

Also plan where you are going to plant each type of veg, trying to keep similar types of veg together, as mentioned in the Design section above. Climbing plants such as peas or broad beans will need some kind of a frame or wigwam support.

And once your veg are all planted, all you need to do is wait! Vegetables vary enormously in how long they take to grow. Salad vegetables usually take around 40 days, whereas potatoes, other root veg, peas and beans can take up to 80 days. Be patient : it will be worth the wait!

During this time you will need to keep an eye on your growing veg, and make sure that they are watered regularly. Even if there has been rain, this may not provide the intensity of hydration that your growing plants need.

We hope that the above ideas will help you and your family to get going on your kitchen garden this spring, and that you soon have lots of lovely fresh produce in your kitchen cabinets.

For more home and lifestyle inspiration visit us again soon here at DIY Homefit.