Kitchen Gardens, as Gorgeous as they are Useful, will bring Joy to every Member of the Family | Part 1: Getting Started



Kitchen Gardens, as Gorgeous as they are Useful, will bring Joy to every Member of the Family | Part 1: Getting Started

Vegetables, fruits, and herbs all in one place in a kitchen garden that works for you—even edible plants become delightful works of art in your backyard.

By Mark Zuleger-Thyss


Creating a Kitchen Garden ~ In 6 Parts



Creating a kitchen garden is practical, therapeutic, and life-affirming with its gorgeous plantings and wholesome food for weeks on end.
And you don't even need to be a born gardener.



Every child has, at one time or another, had a butterfly settle down on her nose, eliciting giggles. Equally precious is the look on her face when she bites into her first fresh peach—pure joy for you and her.



Growing grill-ready, bright-yellow cobs of crunchy sweet corn is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. Zucchini and carrots are even easier to grow.

With abundant fragrant herbs, colorful fruits, and nourishing vegetables all readily accessible to you, it can be enjoyable to decide what to plant in your first kitchen garden. Don't stress—consider foods you know to give you the greatest pleasure to eat. Homegrown foods produce joyful memories for all.

A kitchen garden is convenient and beautiful—and you don't need much space. The most important thing is that it only takes a little money, time, and effort to bring it all together.

Whether at a farmer's market or your local grocery store, shopping for fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a hands-on experience.

But even more fulfilling is scooping up a similar bounty by wandering outside your kitchen window. Starting a kitchen garden for culinary purposes, you'll be able to grow the produce you buy regularly, but for which you'll pay much less.



Starting Your Kitchen Garden

Any gardening project must start somewhere. Start small if this is your first attempt at creating a kitchen garden. Before tossing seeds every which way, do some planning to set yourself up for success.

If you envision row after row of corn, dozens of zucchini plants, and hours of backbreaking work, you need to understand the point of a kitchen garden.


When is a vegetable garden not a kitchen garden?

Both are gardens, but the digging and endless work on row after row of vegetables is not representative of a kitchen garden. More work and more land is required. Too much food. That's what you call a vegetable garden, a veggie patch, or a row garden.

Both types of gardens will provide plenty of food and serve their intended purposes, but a row garden is too much to consider for many of us. A kitchen garden for your culinary pursuits is the best way to begin.

Beyond how practical they are, there's much to be said about the impact of fresh, home-grown produce. Culinary gardens can be beautiful, while also serving as hedges and blooming flowers outside your kitchen window.



Learn about your Growing Area

A kitchen garden is relatively small, under 250 square feet (ca. 23 square meters), while a vegetable garden would be more expansive. If you often harvest from the kitchen garden, you'll want it right outside your backdoor.

Next, check out what USDA Hardiness Zone Map says about the area where you live. Then, gain a good understanding of the climate and conditions of your yard. The information USDA will show you what kind of plants will thrive in your area's environment.

Understand how long your local growing season is and when your plants should be put into the ground.

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants will most likely thrive at your location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones. 



Preparing Your Garden’s Soil

Your new garden will provide a space for growing herbs, leafy greens, vegetables, and fruit for everyday use in the kitchen.

Once you know your growing zone, the next step is to examine your soil. So, rather than grow plenty of one thing, try different types of leafy greens and veggies, so there's always something to harvest.

Your local agricultural agency can help you with a soil test to learn if your soil is alkaline or acidic, plus identify any essential nutrients it may need to help plants thrive. Some plants may require neutral to alkaline soil—cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage—while others like acidic soil. Blueberries, raspberries, radishes, tomatoes, and bell peppers thrive best in acidic soil.

Bright, direct sunlight and healthy soil are always the perfect combinations. And light, loamy soil is the best choice for a culinary garden. This soil type is specially formulated to contain a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. It is a desirable medium used by farmers, gardeners, and landscapers because of its favorable qualities.

Prepare your garden soil by adding 2 to 3 inches of well-finished compost and plant directly in the mixture. If you're starting from seed, keep the soil moist for the seeds to germinate and for the seedlings to take root.




Finding the Ideal Spot

Fitting your garden in the best location is as important as making room for gardening in your daily routine.

Position your garden right outside the backdoor of your kitchen. Of course, this depends on your available room, but choose a spot that meets your plant's light requirements.

There are other considerations, such as proximity to outdoor faucets and entry to your basement.

Lugging heavy watering cans and hoses out to the garden shows how proximity to everything you need is essential. Easy access and ease of performing chores ensure plants will get the care they require.

If you are lucky to have a bulkhead outside the house (an inclined outside door over a stairway leading to a cellar), it's a handy place to store rakes, shovels, and hoes.


Start Small and Don’t Overdo It

Your kitchen garden doesn't have to be large or require arduous tending. However, keeping it small means there's a way for just about anyone to assemble a garden.

You may be tempted to plant various fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but start out small with easy plants. Green beans, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes grow almost anywhere, and you'll have room to plant a few rows. A few tomato plants will supply enough for months.

We stress the importance of doing it sparingly, regardless of what you choose to plant. The rule of thumb is to grow only what you can take care of.

An edible garden offers many possibilities despite its small size. Devote your garden to a few heirloom varieties of tomatoes, for example.

If you want to get creative while remembering to stay small, check out planting Bibb or Tom Thumb lettuce – just a row or two. Lunar White carrots; Red Tuscan kale; red or golden raspberries; Blue Lake green beans; sweet Georgia onions—all these varieties could find a home in your kitchen garden if you pick wisely.

You could even grow Meyer lemons, limes, and kumquats planted in pots, which quickly move indoors when the weather turns cold.


Begin Your Gardening Journey Today! 

Growing your own food for the joy of adding small harvests to everyday meals is one of the little pleasures in life.

A kitchen garden may be the favorite part of your home. It makes cooking much more fun and provides a little getaway spot in your backyard. A small garden outside your kitchen affords you all the benefits of gardening without the hassle of an enormous vegetable garden.



You don't have to toil away like a farmer to save a few dollars by having your own little garden plot. The kitchen garden really is possible for anyone who craves their own gardening journey.







© 2005 – 2023, Mark Zuleger-Thyss, Garden of Healing, LLC.

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