Starting A Kitchen Garden - By Jo Wood
Now is the time to start you kitchen garden…put on your wellies, pull out your shovel, source your seeds, find a nice spot where the sun hits and start potting! Nothing gives me greater pleasure than being able to step into my own garden and pick all the vegetables, herbs and fruits I need to create a wonderful meal for myself, friends and family. I first started my kitchen garden at my house in Ireland in 1991. I had tried in vain to find organic produce in the supermarkets and having had no luck at all, I thought, well it’s time I started growing my own organic vegetables, and I have to say I’ve never looked back!
Now of course the size of your garden will determine the way your kitchen garden is planned, but remember if space is limited, you can plant in window boxes or even empty dustbins! Of course you need good soil, so I always make sure that in February I dig some organic matter, such as manure or leaf mould, into my soil, which fills it with nutrients and enables proper drainage. It’s also a good idea to plan your garden in advance, because this will help with crop rotation, as disease among your plants is more likely if you plant the same crop in the same spot, year after year. I had to learn from my own mistakes, as after a few years of planting them in the same patch, I found that my potatoes failed to thrive. I learnt I shouldn’t plant different vegetables from the same family in the same position year after year, so it’s wise to find out which plants are related to one another in order to minimise this risk. I was then advised that I should adopt rotation planting in order for the earth to be replenished with different minerals and vitamins from the different vegetables. After all healthy soil means healthy vegetables.
Vegetable crops need to get at least 6 hours direct sunlight during growing times, so the position of your vegetable patch is important. I’ve also found that tomatoes grow well next to onions, lettuce with cabbage, radishes with carrots, and beetroots with celery. Never overcrowd your vegetables, as this can lead to disease. But also know that not all bugs are bad bugs. So if you plant flowers such as Daisy and Marigold, Nasturtium, Sunflower, and Purple Coneflower in your garden, these will attract insects that feed on pests that would otherwise blight your crop, given the chance. Additional tips to prevent the spread of disease are to spread organic mulch around plants, and pick up any fallen leaves or foliage.
Growing an organic kitchen garden means accepting the fact that all living things depend on one another for their survival, so we need to respect this instead of using chemicals to kill garden pests, as once nature’s balance is achieved, we can all enjoy the benefits of our natural produce, and live a healthier life.
Jo Wood is a regular contributor to our HH website, read her other most recent article on why we should all be as organic as possible here.
Jo is also has a range of organic beauty products which we LOVE - check them out here.