“I want to spend a life healthy, full of energy in a natural environment and feeding myself and family with fresh organic food”. This is the statement what I come across regularly whenever I meet my friends, neighbors and students. Well I encourage them that yes environment and healthy food are two basic requirements to spend a joyous life. However, in today’s fast pace urban life, I can’t promise to help them in spending a life in healthy environment but yes, getting fresh, healthy and organic food is in their own hands. How? My reply is simple, grow a kitchen garden in backyard of your home or if you are living in an apartment, use your balcony and equip it with pots to grow your own daily use food items. Believe me, kitchen gardening is easier, safer, free of pesticides and chemicals and most importantly it gives of peace of mind and delicious meals.
The next question I come across with is ‘how much space do I need to exercise kitchen gardening?’ Well kitchen gardening doesn’t mean that it should be carried out right outside of your kitchen door. It can be in a balcony of your apartment, or in garden outside your home. You are in middle of making your delicious meal and you ended up with no green chilies in your fridge? No problem – it’s just steps away.
Location and Soil
The place where you want to establish your kitchen garden should have access to plenty of sunlight and soil that has good draining capacity. If puddles don’t disappear from soil after a good rain, then your soil is not fit for it. After locating a place with strongest sunshine and good draining soil, my recommendation for kitchen gardening beginners is to start small that is easily manageable to allow you to earn experiment in the first season.
How much Space for Kitchen Garden?
To do a simple garden math, if you are a family of four adults, a kitchen garden measuring 800 square feet is enough to feed you annually. This means, 200 square feet per person a year. More generous climate with healthy soil can even grow more however; you should not forget the goal of your kitchen garden that is to have fresh, healthy and delicious meals of your choice whenever you want. So my recommendation, don’t race behind more production especially if you are a beginner and in first year of your kitchen gardening. Don’t forget that chief driving element to grow kitchen garden for a beginner is to have a garden that tastes good.
What to Grow in Kitchen Garden?
After solving the space factor, next is what to grow? Well it is rather easy. You know the taste of you family and their liking. But for beginners, I recommend, don’t go for buying expensive seeds. Start with salads like lettuce or may be green chilies and tomatoes. These are the crops that can easily grow and keep you motivated.
Choosing the Healthy Seeds or Transplants
Next thing is choosing a seed or transplant? Well it’s totally up to you. Most of us like to use seeds in a fascination to see juicy baby stems coming out of soil. I don’t want to do a recommendation here. But it’s good to have transplants for kitchen gardening beginners. If you have prior and good experience with seeds in your flowering gardens—go for seeds.
Stay Away from Synthetics
As the stem is out of soil, never ever think of adding any pesticide, herbicide or chemical fertilizer. If you do so, the objective of having a kitchen garden will die immediately. Mulch, Mulch and Mulch, that’s the only option for you keep your meals organic. Grass clippings, straw, shredded leaves, pine needles, dead weeds that haven’t gone to seed good source of mulch. Farm yard dung from livestock can also be a good source of organic fertilizer.
Don’t Die Your Plants of Thirst
Watering the garden is your chief responsibility. Vegetables and fruits are made of water. So they drink a lot of water. Water your kitchen garden as much as they need. Again–draining of soil matters a lot here. If your soil has poor drainage, then you have to be more careful.
Safeguard Your Efforts
Last but not the least; keep an eye on your kitchen garden. Harvest your crop timely or someone else does so. These ‘someone’ may be bacteria and insects as you are growing organic so they have greater opportunity to get their share. And if you ‘someone’ in your kitchen garden includes four legged animals like rabbit or deer, fencing your garden is the best option. If you are growing your kitchen garden in pots, you can use mesh to eradicate any chance damage.
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