Building your kitchen garden: How to grow greens and veggies at home
Going to the store for every single vegetable or greens you need, can be quite the hassle, if we’re not going to talk about the cost. For centuries, home owners have learnt to grow their own greens in what we call kitchen gardens. This can be a sizeable space in the backyard or a small portion by the lawn. But you do not always need such large spaces to build your kitchen garden. Your window grill, terrace or even balcony can now suffice.
Your family certainly needs the nutritious vegetables that your garden can provide. So, if you’d like to grow your own veggies and greens but have no clue how to go about it, you’ve come to the right page. This post will teach you everything you need to know about having your own kitchen garden, what tools you need and what vegetables you can grow.
What you need to build a kitchen garden
Space: You must choose a space for whatever greens you want to grow. There are a number of factors to consider in choosing a space. The first and most important is sunlight. What is the direction of the sun? Will it get to the spot you’ve chosen? How much sunlight will your plants get? Sometimes, the kind of vegetables you want to grow can determine the space you choose; other times, it is the space and availability of sunlight that determines what greens you can grow.
For instance, herbs and vegetables (like basil, curry leaves and mint) may need up to four hours of direct sunlight every day, while there are some fruits and vegetables that may require up to six hours.
Soil Type/Mix: Once you have decided the type of vegetables and greens you want to grow, it becomes necessary to know what type of soil supports them. When it comes to your vegetables, there is one thing that determines what type of soil you should use. Root vegetables and deep-rooted plants may fare well in sandy soil, but that’s as far as it goes. Shallow roots will likely not survive the summer in sandy soil as the nutrients and moisture drain quickly, leaving the soil loose, gritty and dry.
We’re often told that a good soil should have the right amounts of sand, clay and loam. Heavier soils (like loam, with the right amount of moisture) consist of smaller particles and will hold water and other nutrients longer than sand. Shallow rooted vegetables like broccoli perform better in such soils. If you do not know the kind of soil you have in your neighbourhood, it is easy to perform a simple test.
Put some soil in two different bowls. Add some water to the soil in one bowl. If the wet one is sticky and the dry one is hard, then what you have is likely clay.
A sandy or loamy soil will be light and easy to dig up. It will also be easily drained.
You can also prepare your own soil to have a good balance for most vegetables you may want to plant. You will need Red Earth, a porous mix and any organic manure. Red Earth is easily sourced from rural settlements or a nursery; a porous mix can be a combination of materials including earthen pot pieces, sawdust, broken tiles, coco soil, coconut back/husk and powdered bricks, etc. Organic manure is your regular cow dung or compost, consisting of decomposing organic matter.
Pot type: Earthen pots are always best due to their porosity and ability to wash off excess water. If it is not available, you can use items like tyres, wooden crates or sacks. Use at least 6″ deep rectangular pots or tray-like containers for leafy vegetables, 16″ x 10″ large pots for fruiting vegetables and at least 12″ deep pot for root crops.
Seeds: You can get seeds (or stems) from the local farmer, the nursery or from vegetables you buy and use. You may need to dry them too. You can plant seeds in a small pot and transplant subsequently or simply plant in a big one.
Some common vegetables to grow in your home garden
There are several vegetables you use daily that can be planted in your home garden. They include;
Tomatoes: Can be grown in a large 16″ x 12″ rectangular pot to allow space for the fruits. Tomatoes have great antioxidant benefits.
Spinach: This is a broad non-hairy, leafy plant with deep tap root, but not so deep branch root. It is a great source of calcium and energy.
Lettuce: Great for salads, soups and wraps. It is a great source of Vitamin A and Calcium.
Cucumber: Cucumber is a good source of fibre and water and is extremely low in calories.
Carrots: Carrots are a Roots vegetable, with amazing fibre, vitamin and mineral properties. Carrots are also highly antioxidant.
Other vegetables you can grow include lemon, kale, bell peppers, pumpkin, radish, potato, onion, squash, and microgreens.
These steps may not be all exhaustive but will definitely guide you to owning your own kitchen garden in your home.