Times are different ATM. People are hoarding and shelves in supermarkets are empty and people are worried. Starting a garden at home is possible even if you don’t have much space. Even a relatively small plot of land can produce a variety of foods to help feed you and your family. If you are wondering whether to establish your own kitchen garden, here are some reasons why you should go ahead.
Provides Food Safety
By growing your own food, and knowing what you are inputting into the ecosystem on which it grows, you can feel secure knowing that you can feed yourself and your family with unadulterated, fresh food, even in times of shortage.
Uses Waste for Positive Functions
A garden is designed to minimize waste. In fact, it converts what is commonly thought of as waste into useful products, be that flowers to feed your creativity and wellbeing, fruit and veg which feeds your body or something which provides habitat for beneficial birds, insects and wildlife. So, the food scraps from your kitchen become compost, old jeans become mulch, and it may even be possible to recycle the greywater from your bathroom and laundry for use in the garden, if you set it up.
Preserves Heirloom Species
Modern agricultural practices tend to use manufactured seeds. A food garden is a great opportunity to save your own seed thus preserving heirloom species – those that have been unadulterated by modern industrial processes and are part of the natural heritage of a location. There are now concerted efforts to preserve these species, and using them in your own garden enables you to play a part in that effort.
In your own kitchen garden, you get to decide what goodies are available. You can plant a wide variety of different foods (depending on the space available and the local climatic conditions, of course) to make your diet broader. You can also plant different varieties of certain plants to ensure a year-round supply. You will no longer be limited by what the local shops have in stock.
Gives You Fresh and Nutritious Food
Not only does growing your own food mean you can expand the variety of foods you eat, and know that they are unadulterated with chemicals, you also get to experience the taste of the produce at its freshest. Digging up a potato, plucking some broad beans, or snipping off some herbs, carrying them straight to the kitchen and incorporating them into a meal gives the most flavour, as the produce hasn’t had the time to deteriorate. The other substantial benefit of this short time from harvest to table is that food retains a greater proportion of its nutritional content, making the food from your garden better for you.
Provides Opportunities for Sharing
Often, a garden will give you an abundance of produce − so much that you couldn’t eat it all. This gives you the opportunity to share the abundance from nature with your friends, family and neighbours. But even if you have a very small plot, you can still enjoy sharing. Perhaps your neighbours grow types of vegetables that you don’t and vice versa. Suggest a swap so you can both widen the range of your menu. Sharing any surplus your garden creates community and resilience, and it applies not only to food but also wisdom
A kitchen garden, actually any garden attracts wildlife. The plants and trees provide habitats for birds, mammals and insects. A healthy soil also provides an environment for microorganisms to thrive, which in turn will help your plants to flourish. And if you have room for a pond, the diversity of the species attracted is increased again.
This diversity is another reason to establish a garden. By planting a wide variety of species and welcoming as diverse a range of wildlife as possible, you create an ecosystem rich in biodiversity. This helps, even if in a small way, to counter modern food production practices that are typically monocultures.
Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
Your carbon footprint – the ecological damage via greenhouses that your way of life has on the planet – is reduced if you eat food from your garden. By avoiding supermarket produce, even just for some of your food, you reduce the carbon cost of transporting foodstuffs to shops and the energy and water used to package it.
You have set up a garden, successfully grown vegetables that you have eaten straight from the land. You have done so while respecting the planet and making every effort to minimize the negative impacts of modern food production. That’s should give you a great sense of self- fulfillment and a satisfied smile on your face.
No greens for your smoothie? No problem! Do you have wilting herbs in the fridge? What a waste of money. Try a trendy kitchen garden, it’s easier than people think. There is nothing to it but to do it, the experts say.
While I would normally recommend a plan, those of you new to gardening and keen to start, immediately, if not sooner I think we can help by recommending you start small and follow a few simple steps, make the right choices for the garden and soon you will be harvesting.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE.
1. It’s all about the SOIL!
Normally I would be saying amend your soil, but this can be difficult. So, I am saying by starting small and putting in a few simple and fun interventions now the long-term plant for great soil and having organic produce will be achieved. You will still need to start from the ground up, but you need some confidence also. Hence, for your first year buy in a good mix either in bags as a potting mix or by the trailer load.
2. Step back from the complicated and expensive tools; novice gardeners should start with containers or an easy-to-build raised bed.
3. Next Step
You’ve got the container; you’ve got the soil. All that is missing is the plants!
You can either “direct sow” seeds or plant “transplants”, which are already started before they get to their growth destination. Some seeds, like root vegetables, should always be directly sown in their final soil home. Other plants, such as tomatoes, thrive in a garden once they’ve been nurtured as a seedling and ready to transplant.
It is strongly suggested that at this stage you plant seedlings, a few of your favourite eating types. I mean why would you grow something you will not eat? Maybe think about planting a few herbs, which are more easily grown but will always be there for you to use in the kitchen either cooked or cold in salads or garnish. How about rosemary, oregano, chives, spring onions and do not forget, mint. Most of these herbs will grown well in containers and can be moved around as companion plants.
As mentioned before there's no point growing stuff you and your family don't like. So, ask them what they like to eat and you will encourage help and support from them and extra hands in the garden also.
Win win/ love it!
As well as simply thinking about what you like eating, here are some other points to consider:
For spring planting are cool weather crops, such as lettuce, kale, swiss chard and spinach. When harvesting leafy greens, pick the outer leaves, never cut off more than one-third of the foliage because once you cut it off, that’s the end of the plant. Did you know that if you leave the stalk of a cabbage in the ground after you take the head, small cabbages will grow again along the stork? This also applies to broccoli so you can continue to crop. Head size gets smaller but just as nice and eventually you need to pull out the whole plant so you discourage disease from forming in your beds.
However, plant choice is a predominately important factor in successful gardening. Start with easier plants first and get some experience behind you before you try more challenging plants.
5. Keep them alive!
Plants are basic; they need sun, water and food (fertiliser).
Plant conditions vary based on the type of plant you are planting. Each plant or seed packet will be labelled with its sun needs, water needs & planting guidelines.
To determine just how much water a plant needs, or if its deficient or being overwatered, try “finger test”. Put your finger in the soil. If it is wet up to the second knuckle, no need to water. Overwatering is a big mistake, causing you plants roots to rot, as mentioned before and it will wash away nutrients and rot the roots.
Feed your plants and they’ll feed you, is an old sating but very true. Apply a fertilizer, if your wanting organic produce suggestions are:
Liquid fish-based fertiliser
Blood & Bone – side note this needs to be mixed with the soil to become effective.
A seaweed compound – side note this is not a fertiliser but acts to strengthen the cell walls of your plants and is good gear.
6. The final step is the most delicious; harvest and feast!
Watch your plants grow do not tug at them, it disturbs the roots and stops them growing. Watch their grown and smile at your own growth. You have learnt a new skill and if you have made a mistake somewhere along the road learn from it, be thankful you had it now at the early part of your gardening journey and do not give up.
Write it down as a future reference in a gardening journal, because you will forget.