How to Grow a Kitchen Garden

The idea of growing your own food is fun and exciting, but it can be a little overwhelming to get started. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of growing your own produce and a few tips to get started.

Why Grow a Kitchen Garden?

So why grow a garden? First off, there are few things more rewarding than filling your plate with home-grown food. From crisp, cool greens to fresh, juicy tomatoes, you can base your entire menu on things grown from just your garden.

And it doesn’t get any fresher than picking your green beans and heading straight to the steamer with them.

Since there is little time between harvesting your produce and eating it, the nutritional content couldn’t be better. The longer produce is stored between harvesting and eating, the more nutrients are lost. So when we grow our own food, we are providing our family with the most nutrient-packed produce possible.

Growing a kitchen garden also allows you to fill your family’s plate with local, organic food. Because you are in control of what your plants are treated (or not treated with), you can be sure that the foods you are eating are healthy for your family.  Growing your own produce also provides countless benefits to the environment.

What to Grow

The question of what to grow is often baffling. Visiting a greenhouse or nursery can leave even the most seasoned of gardeners bewildered with assortment of varieties.

First off, think through the fruits and vegetables your family eats most often. If your family eats artichokes once a year, it’s best not to plant an artichoke and be swamped with the bountiful harvest. But if your little ones snack on cherry tomatoes daily, a cherry tomato plant would be a great place to start.

Next, take into account your family size. A large family can use larger amounts of produce and should plant more plants, whereas a smaller family or an individual would need only one or two of each variety. Also, keep in mind that many types of produce are easy to preserve, stretching the bounty of your garden into the colder months.

Also, consider the space you have available. Some styles of gardening include traditional row gardens, square foot gardens, and container gardens. If you are planning a container garden, prioritize your list and research if those plants grow well in containers. A few examples of vegetables that thrive in containers are tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and herbs. Also, think about the size of the fully grown plant. Squashes and pumpkins take up a considerable amount of space, while herbs, broccoli, and greens take up much less real estate. Other options are to use trellises to grow up instead of out.  Beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes are all examples of vegetables that like to climb.

Theme Gardens

Have you ever heard of a “salsa garden”? Some gardeners prefer to follow themes in their produce choices. Salsa gardens include tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, chile peppers, cilantro, and garlic to name a few.

Another example is an Italian garden which might include Roma tomatoes, onions, arugula, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, basil, and others. The foods you grow should reflect your families preferences, circumstances, and needs.

Final Thoughts

Getting our kids involved helps them get excited about what we’re growing and can be a huge learning experience. From learning how to follow the instructions on the seed packet, to developing responsibility in maintaining our gardens, they can learn many valuable lessons. Kids are also more likely to taste the produce they have helped grow. Let your kids choose what to plant, and when it’s time to harvest, you will have excited and willing produce eaters!

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