Growing a Kitchen Garden

by Rachel Laurendeau on June 17, 2013

wall stone INThanks to my horticultural background, people are always asking me for tips on their gardens. Is this a weed? What kind of tree is this? What is this awful disease that’s taken hold of my tomato plants? When should I prune my apple trees? I don’t mind the questions, and I answer them to the best of my ability but I must admit, my favorite questions are those revolving around vegetable and herb gardening.

“What should I grow in my kitchen garden?”
The logical answer is, “whatever you like to eat.” Sure, radishes are easy to grow but if no one in your family eats them they’re just going to go to waste.

What you grow will also depend on your area’s growing season, the quality of your soil, how much space you can allocate to the vegetable garden, the type of garden you’re putting in (raised beds, containers, traditional in-ground) and many other factors. Your local gardening club or garden center should be able to give you tips for your area.

Some of my favorites for the veggie garden:
• Basil
• Beets
• Carrots
• Cilantro
• Kale
• Lettuce
• Oregano
• Parsley
• Peas
• Spinach
• Summer squash
• Swiss chard
• Tomatoes
• Wax beans
• Winter squash

“How much should I plant?”
Again, the simple answer: “only as much as you’re going to eat.” Don’t plant 30 eggplant if you’re the only person in your family who eats it. Also keep in mind how prolific certain plants can be. For example, one zucchini plant can typically provide enough for a family of four for the entire summer. Other crops like Swiss chard and kale, if you just keep harvesting the outside leaves, can keep producing over the summer, so you don’t need to plant too many of those either.

Green Tip: if you do happen to plant more than you can eat, many cities have programs called “plant a row” (or something similar) where you can donate your extra produce to a food bank or soup kitchen.

“Where should I plant my kitchen garden?”
The majority of herbs and vegetables thrive in full sun so you should select an area that gets plenty of sun and has lots of air circulation. City gardeners will likely be growing in containers or raised beds. You can build the raised beds out of wall stone, pavers, reclaimed brick, or wood (don’t use pressure treated wood or the chemicals will leach into your soil).

If you’re worried about weeds or grass growing along the edge of your garden, you can put a border of river rock over landscape fabric around the border.

Happy gardening and enjoy the harvest!

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