Growing your own produce is such a satisfying experience! Once you experience a bite of your first homegrown piece of fruit or veg, you’ll no doubt be able to imagine yourself in the shoes of Tom or Barbara from The Good Life! However, not all of us have swathes of allotment land – and if this is the case for you, a good place to start your homegrown journey is with a kitchen garden.
What is a kitchen garden?
A kitchen garden is a space that is dedicated to growing fruit and or vegetables, usually separate from ornamental plants and lawn areas. It can be as small or as large as you like and can be situated in almost any location, even balcony gardens and small urban gardens – so don’t worry if you’ve only got a limited amount of space!
The phrase ‘kitchen garden’ can be interpreted in a number of ways. Common examples include:
- Potager garden: this is an ornamental vegetable garden style which originates from France. Both edible and inedible plants can be found in potager gardens, with the main goal being to grow produce in a visually pleasing way.
- Vegetable garden: this is a small-scale form of vegetable-growing that usually includes several plots designed to grow a variety of vegetables, plus a nearby compost heap for easy fertilisation.
- Herb garden: these gardens are usually small in size and can be located on windowsills, containers or beds. Common herbs grown in herb gardens include basil, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme, lemon verbena and more.
There are many reasons for wanting to create a kitchen garden; perhaps you wish to have a healthier diet, to save money on your food shopping, or to have the satisfaction of growing something edible from scratch.
How to create a kitchen garden
Start planning your garden well in advance
Early spring is the best time to start creating your kitchen garden, but planning in advance will ensure that you have the equipment that you need (so that you don’t have to keep dashing off to the garden centre). Research kitchen garden designs on Pinterest to get an idea of what your garden should look like – i.e. size, layout, position – then further your research into the kind of equipment you’ll need to create it. Planning in advance may also save you money, as you can compare the prices of equipment from various retailers.
Get your tools together
Basic tools will no doubt come in handy for your garden. A shovel, spade, garden fork and shears are a must-have in any vegetable gardener’s tool arsenal. If you’ve got an indoor or balcony garden, you probably won’t need a shovel and may even get away with using a big, old metal spoon if you don’t want to go out and buy a spade!
Depending on what you’re growing, you may also need containers, stakes (for climbing produce such as runner beans and tomatoes), mesh (for preventing garden pests from munching on your produce), and/or raised beds for a larger garden (if your garden soil is not good quality, or you don’t have any beds in your garden at all). Wooden plant labels/markers are also very handy in case you forget what you’ve planted where.
Decide what you’re going to plant
When it comes to choosing your produce, pick fruits and vegetables that you’re most likely to eat. It seems obvious, but it can be easy to get carried away with the many wonderful things that you can grow in a garden!
Seeds are the cheapest way to grow produce; however, it can take a long time before you see any results, and it can be frustrating if your seeds for some reason fail to grow. If you’re eager to get started, I’ve got a really easy way to get stuck into kitchen gardening…
…Plug plants and bare roots!
Take the hardest part out of creating your kitchen garden by having someone else do the growing for you! All you’ve got to do with plug plants and bare root plants is transplant them into larger containers or the ground and care for them until they’re ready to sprout fruits or vegetables. Then you can start harvesting!
If you really want to grow from scratch, try growing seeds alongside your plug and bare root plants, so that once you’ve harvested all your produce, your seeds will have likely matured and maybe even started producing fruits or veg.
QVC has a great range of plants for kitchen garden purposes, from delicious berries to fruit trees and more! However, if you want lots of different types of plants in one handy package, their 5-a-day Fruit & Vegetable Collection is ideal. It features over 20 plants – everything you need to start a plant-based diet or just a healthier eating regime. Plus, it’s incredible value for money.
In the 5-a-day Fruit & Vegetable Collection, you’ll receive:
Blueberry Bluecrop – self-fertile, rich in flavour, fruit in abundance in late July to August. A compact shrub which provides interest all year round with elegant white flowers in spring, and colourful foliage set against red stems in the winter.
Blueberry Elliot – self-fertile, excellent, robust flavour, later cropping August to September, upright habit. White flowers with a delicate pink tinge, crimson red foliage in the autumn. Loved by pollinating insects.
Gooseberry Invicta – One of the heaviest cropping varieties available, flavoursome smooth-skinned fruits from May-July. The flavoursome, smooth skinned fruits stay firm and retain their shape when cooked, making excellent pies and preserves.
Raspberry Polka – One of the best autumn varieties. Awarded the RHS Perfect for Pollinators. Up to 2.5kg of large, deep-red juicy berries with a deliciously sweet flavour, from August through to October, with good keeping quality.
Strawberry Elsanta – Aromatic and glossy, exceptionally tasty. 400-500g of fruit from mid-June to mid-July. Awarded the RHS Perfect for Pollinators.
Incredicrop – Easy to use slow-release controlled feed for edibles. Boosts your harvest yields and improves flavour.
Nurserymans Choice Vegetable Seed Packet x 5 – selected at random from the latest garden centre range.
Has this convinced you to start your own kitchen garden? Let me know in the comments below!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.