1. What space have you got?
It really doesn’t matter if you’ve got acres or just a small patio with some pots, you can still grow some delicious food when starting a kitchen garden.
One thing you will need to consider when deciding how to use the space you have though is where gets the most sunlight. Whilst some plant can thrive within the shade, sunlight is key to helping most things grow.
Over time you’ll learn & understand how the sun moves throughout your space not only during the day but throughout the seasons too.
If your space is large enough & you’d like to grow things in the ground then check to see what type of soil you have. Soils can be wet, dry, clay-like or fine, understand what you have & learn what would be best suited for it. This will also help you decide whether or not you want to grow directly into the ground or in beds or containers instead.
Another thing to consider is the use of a greenhouse. Some plants prefer the heat that we just don’t get much of here in the UK. It’s not essential to have but it can be useful to invest in one if you’re looking to grow things tomatoes, chillies, peppers, cucumbers etc.
Greenhouses can be very expensive though so a good place to start would be to try a small, pop-up one to see if you enjoy growing in this way.
2. What should you grow?
Perhaps the hardest part of all is deciding exactly what it is that you’d like to grow when starting a kitchen garden. Once you figured out your space, this will help massively, for example, if your limited for space then you might want to stick to things that can be grown easily from pots rather than in the ground (herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce etc.).
Most importantly though is to plant what you love to eat! Think about what you use most in the kitchen.
If you’re a keen cook then I’m sure you’ll get through lots of onions, garlic & herbs. If you like spice & heat in your dishes then what about chillies?
If you’re a salad lover then lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber & edible flowers are a good place to start.
As a keen baker & preserver, I always like to grow fresh fruits & berries along with several varieties of edible flowers to be used as decorations.
The thing I get through most though would have to be potatoes, we’re carb lovers so I always make sure to assign plenty of space for growing them.
Understanding what produce you’ll actually use in the kitchen will help reduce your food waste or things ending up back in the compost heap.
3. Seeds vs. plugs
Despite what the internet may have you believe, not everybody grows everything from seed, there’s no shame in nurturing some ready started plugs.
There’s still great reward in both.
Growing from seed will require a little more planning, understanding when & where is the best time & place to sow. Most seed packets will tell you all of this though.
Plugs are a great alternative though, they give you a little more time & breathing space as you try new things & plan your kitchen garden.
Either way, so long as you end up with some delicious produce, it really is down to personal preference.
4. Organic vs. non-organic
Is growing organically important to you or are you happy to use chemicals to suppress pests & weeds?
This is entirely down to personal preference.
Organic gardening is generally less harmful to animals & the environment whilst non-organic product tend to be cheaper & more readily available.
These days there are a wide range of organic fertilizers & pesticides available though, which don’t contain nasty chemicals. Any products that contain an ingredient called ‘neonicotinoids’ can be harmful to bees & worms, both important pollinators & composters in the garden.
Instead of pesticides you could consider using some netting to protect your plant.
Whichever method of growing you prefer though, it’s important that you feed your plants to help nurture them, not just water them.
Fertilizers, mulch, compost, your plants need energy just like we do, make a schedule or set aside a particular day of the week to feed your plants.
5. Just give it a go!
The best way to learn anything is simply to try it.
Whether you’ve got a finely executed plan for sowing & growing or you just make it up as you go alone, you’re learning. Be it from what’s worked or what hasn’t.
Try different plants & methods. Everyone has their own gardening style but it’s a style that’s cultivated over a long period.
Don’t get disheartened if things don’t go right too. Plants die, catch diseases, grow erratically, or sometimes just don’t grow at all. It’s a learning curve & it’s when things go wrong that we probably learn the most! Have fun with starting a kitchen garden.