27 Mar Kitchen Gardening 101 – Growing Your Own Produce Can Be Easy
There’s something to be said about growing your own produce. The joy of picking organic herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables you’ve managed to raise is indescribable – and your micro harvest tastes a whole lot better having been cultivated by loving hands.
People go into kitchen gardening for a number of different reasons. One of the greatest benefits is how green a potager can be. Your budding window sill will also welcome any fruit peels, pips and seeds – using the nutrients of the compost as fertiliser. Having plants in your home also purifies the air and adds a pop of colour. The list of advantages goes on and on.
But how do you get started? With so much information on the net, it’s difficult to decide what seedlings to begin with; which plants are going to happily co-exist with one another, and which herbs don’t play well with others (here’s looking at you mint).
So we’ve done the grunt work for you. Growing your own potager is fairly easy; we’ll show you how.
HOW TO BEGIN?
Getting your kitchen garden off the ground, so to speak, is going to take a little time and effort initially. Microgreens are always the easiest to grow (remember the beans you grew in a damp cotton pad during primary school), there are also dedicated growing seed starter kits out there to get you started. They take up very little space and require minimum effort.
If you’re an ambitious gardener however, I suggest deciding how much space you’re dedicating to your potager and going from there.
You’ll make the most of your space, by looking into vertical gardens. If you don’t have a great deal of space, stacking your planters or pots will give you the opportunity to plant more without running the risk of cluttering your space.
WHAT DO I PLANT?
There are a number of herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables that thrive indoors – with access to sunlight and fresh air, of course. Pick a few of your favourite ones to start with as you’ll be more excited to watch them grow. Basil is a crowd favourite; it works in salad, on a pizza or as a welcomed addition to any pasta dish. Basil also naturally repels mosquitoes, and will need a lot of sunlight so bear that in mind. Oregano is another herb that will want to soak up the sun.
Rosemary needs soil that is always moist until the seeds begin to sprout so I suggest you plant it separately. Thyme is also fairly easy herb to raise too; it loves sun and heat, and needs good drainage so that the soil doesn’t remain damp for elongated periods of time.
Tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and sweet bell peppers are extremely easy to grow on any kitchen windowsill in a container or pot. Spinach is another simple one. Once you’ve planted the seeds in good soil (with good drainage), you can water them every second day in summer and once a week in winter, and enjoy homegrown produce all year round.
Self-seeding herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables are a joy to grow. You get a real return on investment with the produce. The greatest expense is in purchasing the initial seeds. After that, you’ll enjoy your personal harvest for as long as you want to cultivate your kitchen garden. Though your kale, collard greens and radishes are simple to grow, they’re simple to mess up as well: too much of a good thing is as bad for humans as it is for plants. Don’t overwater your plants. Don’t expose them to too much light. If the sun has set, you needn’t prop your potager under a lamp, they’ll dry out.
It’s imperative that you choose containers that are both plant and person-friendly. Nothing will discourage you more than watching your seedlings wither away because you exposed them to toxic plastic – biodegradable and natural material containers are your best bet.
While we’re on the subject of pots, you can’t expect your kitchen garden to grow in containers and stands that are too small for them – they’ll suffocate. Give your herbs, spices, fruits and veggies space to grow to their full potential.
Reusing potting soil will be detrimental to your potager so be sure to use the correct soil whenever you are planting new seeds. Turn the soil when you are watering it too.
A great way to cut costs, while cultivating your potager, is to consider making your own compost. Anything from orange peels and carrot skin to pepper pips and grape seeds is going to be packed with nutrients your soil and plants will appreciate. It’s a little harder to make fertiliser if you live in an apartment, because a garden would be the best place for compost to thrive. However, composting kits or indoor composters are a saving grace. These are safe, chemical and additive-free products dedicated to using organic waste to feed your potager. Indoor composters are generally airtight devices that trap the odor of the composting process, so you can store them in your kitchen. Other composting kits like fermented wheat bran (bokashi) can be added to your compost depository to kickstart the decomposition process.
Don’t let your herbs flower. Snip the buds to ensure the plant focuses all its energy on growing flavourful leaves. In the same breath, harvesting your plants often will help them grow – consider how well your hair grows after you’ve chopped off your split ends. The nice thing about growing a micro field indoors is you won’t have to worry about rodents or vermin trying to get their pesky paws on your budding crop either.
Cultivating your own kitchen garden is fairly simple and extremely rewarding. Plant a few seeds, watch them grow and you’ll realise that you don’t necessarily need a huge garden to grow an impressive harvest of organic produce.