Your Own Kitchen Garden

 

Your Own Kitchen Garden

by Diana Kadama

Did you just realize after serving your favorite dish that you forgot to buy parsley to garnish? No worries – it could be just steps away. Nothing beats the satisfaction of going out into your garden to pick fresh produce. You might be saying to yourself, ‘I am not fortunate enough to have the space for a vegetable garden’. But who said you must have plenty of space? The beauty about a kitchen garden is that you can utilize even the smallest space around your house, or the verandah.

Small as it may be, the kitchen garden can be your source of herbs, fruits and vegetables for a year-round supply. Herbs are a favorite because of their multiple uses. For instance, in addition to improving the beauty of your home, herbs can control pests, flavor and provide a pleasant scent for food as well as be used for medicinal purposes. Besides, compared to other crops like fruits, herbs take up less room, produce multiple harvests in a year and can survive hot and humid weather conditions.

Pots and containers

You don’t need an actual garden, especially if you lack the space, to grow herbs. Most herb varieties can be planted in pots or containers and placed on the windowsill, patio, or balcony. While any container can be used to grow herbs, remember that high quality and fast-draining soils are the best because they allow the plants to absorb the required nutrients. Also keep in mind the watering requirements for individual herbs.

Planting:

Always remember to choose locations where the plants will receive direct sunlight and the soils drain well after the rain. Also note that besides light, herbs need warmth, moisture and space to germinate well. And while most herbs can grow just below the soil, others require a certain planting depth to germinate. Research about the herbs you want to plant and follow the instructions on the seed packets.

Having the seasons in mind also helps you determine when to plant. Remember that while some herbs mature over a shorter period and can be harvested several times a year, others are annual. Basil for instance is an annual herb, while mint and rosemary are perennial.

Weeding and watering:

When weeding, take care not to damage the plant. While a damaged leaf can be replaced by a new one, a damaged stem will not. Also, depending on the spacing between the herbs, you can handpick or use a hoe to get rid of the weeds. Mulching also helps reduce the amount of weeds that usually compete for nutrients with the herbs. With frequent weeding, water is able to sink into the soil rather than run off on the weeds. Also remember that plants need the right amount of water and at the right time in order to absorb the essential nutrients. Potted plants, for instance hold in water longer than garden plants, so you need to be careful not to over water the herbs.

Pests and diseases:

Always watch your herbs for signs of pests and act immediately to prevent spreading. Pesticides are a quick fix, but not always advisable because they may contain harmful substances. You can deal with pests in different ways such as by introducing natural predators like ladybirds into their kitchen garden to eat the pests.

As you build experience, skills and confidence, you can gradually introduce other herbs, flowers and vegetables to your kitchen garden to add beauty, attract beneficial insects as well as repel undesirable ones. 

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