Creating a Small Kitchen Garden

Creating a small kitchen garden is one of the strategies that you can use to grow your own food when you have limited space or limited time. It can be used to provide a steady, seasonal supply of fresh produce that you can eat as you grow it.

Little or nothing is left over to preserve, so you avoid lots of the extra work that is often associated with large gardens. However, due to the contrariness of nature, most small kitchen gardens often produce more than can be eaten in real time. Typically, this is rarely a problem as most home gardeners also learn how to preserve fresh produce.

Your kitchen garden can include a wide variety of plants from tasty herbs to succulent vegetables and fruits. Culinary herbs are used in so many different recipes from desserts to main dishes that it only makes sense to grow as many as you can. If space is an issue, there are all sorts of strategies to get around that concern.

Sustaining Your Kitchen with a Garden

Kitchen gardening is gaining popularity as more and more people realize just how much better homegrown produce tastes than store-bought vegetables and herbs. Home gardeners get the freshest food since they can pick and eat it on the very same day. There’s nothing quite like going out of the kitchen door to pick a handful of lettuce or a few sprigs of parsley.

A variety of factors influence just how well a small kitchen garden supplies your culinary needs. A great deal of this has to do with what you plant and how you plant it (your small kitchen garden plan). However, you also need to factor in such circumstances as available gardening space, optimal growing conditions, average crop size, the ease of pollination, and weather conditions.

Any one of these factors can negatively influence your garden’s ability to sustain your kitchen if you haven’t taken it into consideration. Plus, variables such as taking a family vacation and the neighbor’s dog wandering over to your yard might also enter into the picture, disrupting your harvest and damaging some of the produce that you could have enjoyed.

Plants vary in their peak production schedules as well, so you need to keep up with the garden once it begins producing. To that end, it is nice to garden in a small plot that limits that amount of work that you have to do prior to and during harvesting time. If you stage your kitchen garden properly, you won’t have very much to do once you get everything planted.

One of the best strategies that can be used when creating a successful kitchen garden is to use sustainable technology that encourages self-sufficiency. Since you can reduce your garden’s need for soil, water, and nutrients, you can reduce your need for a larger plot of ground in which to cultivate your garden favorites thereby making small kitchen gardening feasible.

Use compost and nutrient-rich soil to provide your garden with the nutrients it needs to flourish. Make sure that you select a spot where the sun shines daily. Consider placing a rain barrel nearby to catch freshly-fallen rain that can be used to water your plants when needed.

Supplying your kitchen with fresh produce by growing herbs and vegetables in a small space is a rewarding activity that produces a healthy supply of mouth-watering herbs and vegetables without the need to go to the store. Along with that chance to indulge in healthier eating habits, growing your own produce in a small garden offers a chance to get a bit of exercise and sunlight, two key ingredients to a healthy lifestyle.

Tips for Maximizing Garden Space

Plant Smaller Varieties

If you want to maximize space so that you can grow a wider variety of flavorful veggies and herbs, you can plant smaller varieties. You should avoid vining varieties of plants such as melons, cucumbers, and beans to save space. Instead, plant bush varieties of vegetables that take up less space and require less care. You can also plant mini-vegetable varieties and cherry tomatoes to save space.

Limit the Number of Plants

Start with a small amount of plants so that you can conserve space in your garden for a wider variety of herbs and vegetables. Only plant the number of plants for each type of herb or vegetable that you think you will be able to benefit from throughout the growing season. If you plant more than you need, you are wasting space that could be used for a different type of herb or vegetable or giving yourself more work for no real benefit.

Container Gardening

Since they can be placed almost anywhere, you can use pots and containers to plant certain varieties of herbs or vegetables. While you can take advantage of container gardening to save on garden space, you need to think it through before you begin. For example, smaller pots tend to dry out more quickly than larger ones. Therefore, if you choose smaller pots, you are going to spend more time watering your plants each day. On the other hand, larger pots take up more space, limiting where they can be placed in your kitchen garden.

Additionally, you need to consider the hardiness of the plant varieties that you select as well as their tendency to overtake their planting site with roots. Some varieties of plants quickly outgrow small containers and do better in larger containers including basil and leaf lettuce. The pots that you select should be a minimum of 4 inches deep as well as across the top of the container. Just make sure that each pot has drainage holes so that you can avoid drowning the roots.

If you would like to give your kitchen garden some personality, select attractive pots that add a touch of color, a themed aspect, or some beauty to their surroundings. This is especially important if you are planning to winter your plants indoors in a sunny corner of the sunroom, mud room, or den.

Square Foot Gardening

The practice of square-foot gardening can be used to help conserve space in a small kitchen garden. This strategy effectively limits the number of varieties as well as the number of plants that can be grown.

Square-foot gardening refers to the practice of creating 4-ft. by 4-ft. garden plots. Each plot is then subdivided into 1-ft. squares, each of which is used for a specific type of vegetable or herb. This type of gardening is easy to maintain, which is one of the primary benefits for using it. If you want to use a systemized method of controlling how much space you take up in your small kitchen garden, you should use this method.

Vertical Gardening

Take advantage of vertical gardening for those varieties of vegetables and fruits that you want to include in your kitchen garden that grow on vines. Vining plants that are grown vertically take up less space, are easier to take care of, and are usually healthier than those that are grown along the ground. Cucumbers, peas, string beans, and similar plants can all be grown upright as long as they are secured to a trellis, wall, or garden stakes. Plus, you get the added advantage of adding an extra dimension of beauty to your garden.

A 4-Season Harvest

The 4-season harvest requires a bit of planning, especially if your area of the country truly experiences all 4 seasons of weather. During colder weather, all that is needed is the simple use of pots and containers that can be relocated to a sunny room of the home. The goal of the 4-season harvest is to provide your kitchen with a small amount of manageable produce that you can use as it ripens. Therefore, you never need to preserve the produce since it is constantly being used.

The 4-season harvest makes use of succession planting. This is accomplished by planting at intervals to allow your crops to mature at different times. This strategy makes it possible for gardeners to continually have something ripening and ready for eating in the kitchen garden throughout the year. Since you rotate the crops that you grow, you can eliminate the need to preserve any of it.

Small Kitchen Garden Design Ideas

Raised Beds

Gardeners who have soil that is less than perfect for optimal growing conditions can use raised beds in their kitchen garden. These are easy to create with a bit of lumber, topsoil, compost, and a bit of muscle to put it together. It is important that you use materials for your retaining walls that can withstand the pressure of the soil.

If you use untreated lumber, you should try to get wood such as black locust, which is noted for holding up well. Pressure-treated lumber can be used, but some concern exists as to it leaching toxins into the soil. You can also use concrete blocks, bricks, or other substances to create your walls.

You can build up a raised bed on any surface, allowing you to plant vegetables and herbs on concrete, blacktop, soil, or wood. Plus, you can design your raised bed to fit into any space so it does not have to be a rectangular shape.

Raised gardening beds offer a few benefits. Since they are higher than ground level, they reduce the distance that you need to bend to tend to your garden. Additionally, raised beds can reduce the infestation of some insects and pests.

Incorporating Herb and Flower Borders

Herb and flower borders are fragrant and appealing. Planting flowers and herbs around the border of your garden can attract beneficial insects such as pollinators. This strategy assists in the pollination of your plants, ensuring a better, healthier crop of produce. Picking your herbs is simplified when they are located at the border of your garden rather than throughout. Plus, the attractiveness of this type of garden border is undeniable.

Assisting with Pollination

In order to ensure a good crop from your plants, you can assist with the pollination since it is essential for a high yield of quality veggies, fruits, and herbs. Attracting pollinators to your kitchen garden is an excellent strategy. Plus, you can take steps to protect these pollinators as well.

Planting tall plants or using vertical gardening techniques assists in attracting pollinators to your garden. Attracting bees is easier if you provide alternate sources of nectar for them. This is accomplished simply by providing a diverse assortment of plants and flowers for them. Even common weeds such as dandelions and clover can be used to attract pollinators with their brightly-colored flowers and sweet nectar.

If you must apply insecticide, avoid doing so on windy days or when the plants are in bloom. Additionally, you should only use insecticides when the pollinators are less likely to be active. Typically, pollinators are less active early in the morning and once the sun has gone completely down for the night.

Unfortunately, some areas do not have sufficient population of insects to assist with the pollination of your plants. In this case, hand pollinating can be quite useful. The most difficult part of hand pollination is identifying the male and the female flowers. Once you have done so, you need to transfer the pollen from the male to the female. The exact method you use varies depending on the type of plant that you are hand pollinating. One example can be seen with the hand pollination of squash. You simply use a small paintbrush to transfer the pollen from the male anther to the female stigma in order to bring about pollination.

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