Nothing is quite as satisfying as snipping off a handful of fresh herbs from your very own kitchen garden. If you are deciding to make the shift to grow your own veggie garden, or just complement your regular shopping, a little garden can make a huge difference. To make it even more rewarding, why not add some fun ideas? From visually delightful to delicious, you’ll be grinning from ear to (corn) ear, reaping your home grown rewards.
Planning your kitchen garden
With any gardening project, it requires careful planning to make the most of your resources. This is particularly true with a kitchen garden, as you may be working with limited space. The first set of considerations revolves around size, shape and location. Think of the area. It will need sunlight, a water source to irrigate your plants and close proximity to your kitchen. Your crops will need accessibility, so add easy to reach spaces and little paths in between. Ultimately, these gardens encourage regular picking and fresh eating, straight from your micro crop to table top.
The second set of considerations — focusing on what you will be planting. Incorporate what you will actually be using and are in regular need of. Love fresh basil, or need a constant supply of leafy greens? Make them a priority. For more resources on how to approach gardening, explore our general tips page for more information.
Veggies to plant
After you have highlighted the needs of your kitchen garden, you can consider the types of plants and groups to incorporate.
These plants are a plus — not for their yield size, but their compact nature. Kitchen gardens aim to make the most of available space. Look for smaller versions of your favourite plants to add more variation, while being economical with your space.
A fabulous gardening hack is to grow compatible plants together. Think of making use of vertical growing plants, ground dwellers and climbers. Great pairings include:
- Corn, beans and squash
- Tomatoes, basil and onions
- Leafy lettuce, peas and brassicas (broccoli, cabbage)
This is a phrase for snipping plants that can readily regrow, producing new leaves in their place. These plants include well known favourites: basil, beetroot, coriander, chard, dandelion, mustard, parsley, rocket, and spinach.
This concept involves the rotation of spent crops and replanting new crops. This method creates a successful, consistent yield in the same space year around in different seasons.
Methods, techniques and ideas
Once you decide what will best benefit you, you can then draft out your planting area. Each garden is best designed with your needs in mind. Explore some garden design rules of (green) thumb here. One of the great aspects of a kitchen garden is they can be more aesthetically pleasing than regular gardens. Picture tidy and well-maintained plots and small units — the more space efficient, the better!
Four types of kitchen gardens
- Container garden (effective for those with limited space)
- In-ground garden bed (for those with the advantage of more ground and great soil)
- Raised garden bed (closer to use, better for soil quality)
- Window box garden (for smaller spaces, convenient if on a window sill)
Genius gardening ideas and shapes
Here, the trick is to maximise space, but still provide growing room for each item. To achieve this, these are some of the best ways to craft your veggie patch.
Grow in triangles
More efficient than square plots, growing in triangles happens to be one of the best arrangements. Using this method, if staggered correctly, can increase yields by 10-14% as compared to rows or right-angled spaces.
Rounded or “mounding”
Think of creating a small heap of soil and building it up to form a raised, rounded area. To achieve this, have the arc higher than the length of the base. (Example: if your base length is five feet, create an arc of six feet tall). This overall generates more surface area, which in turn will give you more tillable ground.
Vertical (ladder, trellises or climbers)
When ground space is not an option, add endless growing possibilities with a simple solution — move up! A wonderful concept that solves many a space dilemma is to create vertical gardens. This could involve growing up a trellis, ladder, fence or wall space with shelving or built-in plant boxes. This is where vine or climbing plants are more logical, as well as container plants. Another benefit of a vertical garden is that it is less likely to be consumed by a fungal disease, which usually starts at soil level. More circulated air, more growing space, resulting in more produce — winning all around.
Unusual but blooming brilliant
Other great ideas to incorporate into maximising minimal space:
- Utilising another overlooked surface area — the doghouse roof. Create a mini green roof for Fido, making use of the exterior at an accessible height.
- Planting in cinder blocks and building up a constructed wall around your garden.
- Reusing tins as containers and adhering them against a wall.
- Discontinued use items like old boats or replaced bath tubs for containers.
- Make use of hanging spaces or containers, but also airspace. If you have heard of the term “thriller, filler and spiller” plants, this concept makes for a visual treat. Thriller plants are eye-catching central in a container, filler plants then occupy the spaces in the container and spillers then cascade over the edges, hanging their goods.
Planning, planting, planted
For more ideas to implement in your kitchen garden, contact us for ideas or speak to a garden centre assistant at your closest Plantland branch.