4 Tips for Starting Your Own Kitchen Garden
Growing your own food can be a great hobby and it's the perfect way to live a more conscious lifestyle. Here, Hayley Baddiley from Denby shares her tips for starting your own kitchen garden.
With many of us looking to live a more conscious lifestyle, kitchen gardens are more popular than ever. Not only can looking after them be great for your wellbeing, but growing your own produce means you can cut down on your food and packaging waste, as well as reduce your carbon footprint.
Here are four tips to help you start your own kitchen garden right at home.
Choose a space
The first step to starting your own kitchen garden is deciding where you'll grow your produce. If you've got the space, you can consider planting directly into the ground. But, if you only have a small garden or don't have one at all, there are a few other places you can turn to.
If you can't plant straight into the ground, consider planting at a height instead. Window boxes are perfect for growing vegetables in, especially if you live above ground level. You can simply open your window to water and harvest your produce without having to go outside.
Root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, parsnips, and onions will fare particularly well in a window box or planter, along with lettuce, herbs, and small fruits such as strawberries. Just make sure you space each plant out to prevent overcrowding as they grow.
Living Windows have a great range of kitchen garden gear you could consider. These would also be perfect for use on balconies or patios.
Alternatively, you could bring your kitchen garden indoors. Windowsills are the perfect place for your plants to grow, as they'll get plenty of natural sunlight.
You can use almost anything to grow your plants in. Consider bringing your window boxes and planters inside if you've got the room. But, if you're short on space and only want to grow a couple of small plants, think about reusing old ceramics or picking out beautiful new pieces to add an extra touch of style. Bowls, teacups, teapots, and jugs all make great growing vessels, and this is often a much more conscious option than buying single-use plastic pots and containers.
When it comes to planting, Parveen, the Managing Director of Living Windows, says “I’d recommend avoiding the use of kitchen scraps as an addition to the soil, as this will create a composting environment, and as the right microbiota won’t be there to break down the scraps then you’ll likely end up with a horrible, smelly sludge.”
Parveen recommends that you use a good quality compost mix such as John Innes No 3 compost and some form of drainage for the bottom of your window box or planter. This will ensure your plants have a good, nutritionally balanced medium to grow in.
Recycle your scraps
The best thing about starting a kitchen garden is that you can grow whatever you want, including all your favourites. Consider saving the scraps left over from preparing your vegetables, fruits, and herbs, and replanting them.
Most vegetables have a root that you'll cut off before cooking. Instead of throwing the root away, place it in a dish of shallow water. It might help to place a few cocktail sticks around the edge of the dish to hold the vegetable up. After a few days, it should start to sprout, and you can plant it in some soil and wait for your vegetables to grow.
For fruits, save their seeds and plant them in soil. It might help to place them on a piece of wet kitchen towel or a slice of orange peel for a few days to allow them to sprout before planting.
If you'd like to cultivate herbs, you can take cuttings from an existing plant to regrow. When you're using herbs in your cooking, put a small sprig aside. Then, you can either plant it straight into some soil or place it into a cup of water to grow new roots before planting. If you do the latter, make sure the leaves are always above the water level to keep them fresh.
Reuse your kitchen waste
With regular watering, your plants will soon grow into food you can eat. Instead of always using fresh tap water for your plants, consider reusing the water that's left over from cooking your vegetables. Some of the nutrients can be lost to the water during the cooking process, so why not give this to your fruits, vegetables, and herbs? Just set the water aside to cool while you eat, then feed it to your plants to give them a little boost.
Keep anything you don't eat
Although growing your own produce means you can pick and cook only what you need, you may eventually need to harvest the whole plant while your fruits or vegetables are still fresh and ripe. If you don't think you'll use it all right away, there are a few ways you can preserve your food so it won't go to waste.
You could try making soups, stews, broths, and sauces out of any left-over vegetables. These can keep in the fridge for a couple of days or can be frozen to help them last longer. Consider storing them in freezer and microwave-safe ceramics for a more conscious alternative to plastic boxes.
Alternatively, you can make jams, chutneys, pickles, and flavoured oils from your spare fruits and vegetables. These can keep for up to a year. If you store them in beautiful jars or bottles, they can make great homemade and conscious gifts for your friends and family, too.
Guest Author: Hayley Baddiley, Denby Pottery