Kitchen gardens are an excellent idea for a project. They are cheap to start, they can help you save tones of money on your grocery bill, and they make for a great hobby. Gardening is one of the most relaxing activities that you can engage in. Here are some tips:
- Many hands make light work
Involve the entire household in the work. Since kitchen gardens are relatively small, it does not make sense to hire laborers. Simply enlist all family members in the work. A couple of hours spent gardening every week could be the perfect setting for some regular chit chat with your spouse or children.
- Enrich the Soil
When we grow plants and harvest, we take nutrients out of the soil. These nutrients must be replenished. Always add a good layer of compost to the soil before planting. At least 5 centimeters of compost on top of the soil will ensure that the soil produces a good harvest. Work the compost into the soil by tilling the land twice, each time in a different direction.
- Use raised beds for root crops
Should you want to grow carrots, onions, sweet potatoes or any other root crop, raised beds will be best. The bed should be 41cm wide and 1.5m long. This gives the crop more room to expand, which means that your onions for example will produce larger bulbs. Tomatoes and green vegetables also do well in raised beds. Raised beds keep the crop warm and dry, and the plants get more oxygen.
- Choose the site carefully
The ideal spot for a kitchen garden is sunlit, slightly sloping and close to a water source. This will make it easier for you to water your garden during the dry season. You don’t want to waste valuable time and energy carrying a watering can to and fro. Locate the garden close enough to the house so that it can be easily monitored and in a place where people will not walk through and trample the plants. A small area of 25 feet is good enough for a start. Don’t start too big.
- Pick the right crops
Plant crops that you like to eat. After all, that is the whole idea of a kitchen garden. Look at your weekly meal plan and select the fruits and vegetables that you eat most. If you are new to gardening, go for low maintenance crops. Other considerations are the availability of planting material and the space requirements as well as water requirements and whether they can be met. Consider planting one or two perennials at the edge of the garden such as banana plants, avocado trees or guava trees.
- Arm yourself with these garden tools
Instead of the standard shovel, consider buying a smaller shovel with a pointed blade which is more ideal for kitchen gardens. Get a hoe for breaking up the soil, removing weeds, and preparing seed beds. A rake is used to remove rocks and loosened weeds. It can also be used to level a seed bed and to spread mulch. A wheelbarrow, a watering can – or a sprinkler set or a hose. Keep the garden tools sharp and clean them after every use. There is a big difference between a blunt hoe and a sharp hoe.
- Take time to plan
Invest a little time in planning and researching on your garden. Find out about the different plants that you can grow and research the best methods to grow them. One easy way to do this is to talk to other people who also garden and to learn from their successes and failures. If possible talk to an expert. If not read literature. Time spent planning is never wasted.