If you’re trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle but find the high cost of good food to be prohibitive, a kitchen garden plot might be the answer.
Food is a big deal! We are all constantly trying new ways to make meals that are affordable, tasty, eye-catching, and healthy.
Nobody wants to eat the same old thing week after week. Shifting towards better quality ingredients in our food can create a big shock at the cash register, though. How do we help keep our food costs low, yet make meals that are high-quality?
One way: Produce some of your own fruits and vegetables in a kitchen garden.
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Starting a kitchen garden
Everybody has a go-to set of foods they cook with regularly. For many of us, that list includes fresh produce like tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and potatoes. What if you could grow those essentials, and instead of running to the grocery store, you simply step out of your door?
That’s what a good kitchen garden does for you.
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You’ll have access to the freshest of foods in a steady supply that will keep you eating great seasonal produce. Besides reducing your food costs, you’re going to create a brand new hobby that will bring you joy and reduce your impact on the environment. Honestly, does it get much better than this?
Now, not to make you feel bad about your own efforts, but want to see an AMAZING kitchen garden? The Royal Kitchen Garden at Hampton Court Palace grew food to feed hundreds of people during the Tudor reign.
What to plant in a kitchen garden
Be certain that you are planting crops that you actually love to eat. Don’t wind up like some of your neighbors who grow okra or eggplant, never eat them, then spend the rest of the summer trying to give them away.
If you’re growing a kitchen garden for the first time, beware the desire to grow all the things. While that sounds good, if you’ve never grown anything except a houseplant, be cautious. Keep it simple and start with plants that are both easy to grow and a crop you absolutely love.
Crops to consider for your kitchen garden
There are so many crops to consider, but these are a few that are both easy to grow and easy to use in your efforts to cook at home.
- Tomatoes: They’re a staple in many dishes, are a must for garden fresh salsa, and they’re easy to preserve. Roma tomatoes are especially good for cooking with.
- Summer squash: Zucchini and yellow crook neck are just two easy-to-grow varieties. Use them in place of noodles in lasagna or preserve them for the pantry in a zucchini relish.
- Green beans: Grow them on a trellis or along a fence, or opt for lower-growing bush varieties. These dilly green beans might replace cucumber pickles at your place!
- Cucumbers: Related to zucchini, cucumbers are another easy to grow crop perfect for pickling or turning into this cucumber picante sauce.
- Carrots: Great for snacking, but carrots are a must have addition to soups and stews, and make a great side dish, too.
- Potatoes: A great source of calories that you can easily grow in your kitchen garden, simple baked potatoes are an easy, filling meal. For fun, try your hand at homemade BBQ chips.
- Herbs: They’re good for cooking and for medicinal use. Tight on space? You can grow a windowsill herb garden to add flavor to your meals.
Once you’ve successfully grown some of these easy crops, you’ll probably be inspired to expand your kitchen garden next year.
What do I need to start a kitchen garden?
Make sure you choose a spot in your yard that is going to get lots and lots of sunlight. The majority of the plants that produce our food need a good amount of sunlight. [See this post for crops that tolerate shade well.] You’ll also want to be certain that you have good quality soil. Crops grown in well-amended soil will yield a great harvest for you.
As far as tools go, stick to the basics. A hoe, a shovel, and some kind of plant marker for each crop will be sufficient. Consider the idea of tool sharing for bigger items, whether as part of an organized group or just among neighbors.
There is no greater sense of accomplishment than sitting down to eat something from your own kitchen garden. Your time, labor, and energy go into building up that garden. When you take that first forkful, it is going to taste like victory.
Enjoy every bite!