How to start a kitchen garden
Always wanted to grow your own greens? Claire Barnardo gets you started this season.
How often have you wished you could simply pick vegetables from your own garden, instead of having to go to the shops? Well that’s entirely possible, no matter what size space you have. Not only is growing your own veggies a good health choice, it’s also more affordable and very satisfying as well. We’ve decided to get started with growing your own salad. Get into action with our starter guide!
Sun, soil and seeds:
- Find your spot
Vegetables grow best in a sunny position. Start by preparing your soil, digging it up, mixing in compost and keeping the soil moist.
- Know your space
You can go green whether you’ve got a garden or not. Here’s how to match your space to the right vegetable choice:
– If you have a garden…
If you’re lucky enough to have a spacious garden then you can look at growing more rambling types of vegetables. Try cucumber, courgettes, patty pans and watermelon.
– If you have a small patch…
For a more compact garden area, try lettuce, spinach, leeks, beetroot, bush beans and aubergine. These veggies also make good borders as they grow in a contained space.
– If you have a window box or pot…
Chillies make beautiful pot plants, as do small cherry tomatoes. It’s also a good idea to grow tomatoes in large pots (20 litres) and train them up a trellis, or try other runner plants that do well in pots with frames, like peas and beans.
- Sowing seeds
Planting from seed is far more affordable than seedlings. The gardener’s secret is to use about three seeds at a time. Make sure that the soil is moist enough at germination (when the seed is sprouting) and sort seedlings when they are big and strong enough to be separated. You can store leftover seeds in a packet in a dark space.
- Lettuce and rocket
With many wonderful types to choose from, growing your own lettuce is the way to go. Find a sunny spot and prepare the soil. Sow seeds in short rows and cover with netting to protect from birds. When the seedlings are about 2cm big you may need to space them out more. Lettuce is also ideal to grow in window boxes – try variations like iceberg, cos or wild rocket for a more vibrant taste.
– Continue to sow seeds each week for four weeks to have a constant supply throughout the summer.
– Make sure that you choose a spot that gets afternoon shade: full sun in the summer is too hot for lettuce.
Reliable and quite easy to grow, tomatoes enjoy warm and sheltered spots. Make sure you match the variety you choose to your space and location. They need good soil, regular sun, compost and water.
– Sow seeds thinly as most start sprouting within two weeks.
– To keep tomatoes at a contained size, pinch out the growing tips so that the plant produces fruit.
- Peppers and chillies
Peppers and chillies love to grow in sunny pots. Sow seeds thinly on top of a composted soil pot, water and wait a week. You may need to transfer smaller seedlings to bigger pots as they grow.
– Support larger plants with a stalk and some twine.
– Water often, especially in hot weather, as these veggies get thirsty often.
And why not make your own compost!
The best compost comes from organic waste – things that are found right in your home.
- Save vegetable and fruit cuttings from your kitchen (everything except citrus, which is too acidic for compost).
- Also set aside used tea bags and eggshells.
- Add it all to your compost heap.
- Turn the compost heap regularly.
- Make sure it gets a lot of sun.