That Perfect Kitchen Garden!
Would you like the hugely fulfilling and rewarding task of planting, nurturing and growing your own home grown produce? By creating a garden kitchen you can have fresh fruit or vegetables adorning your table in no time!
Working on building and growing your kitchen garden can do wonders for you physically and mentally, it offers you the chance to switch off from the noise of the world around you, and to focus on doing something for yourself. Imagine stepping outside on a quiet still summer morning to be greeted by a multitude of colours, sights, scents, and textures of your thriving kitchen garden. Raised beds bursting with lush crops and plants laden with fruit or vegetables, arches of sweet peas, and sweet scented fruit trees filling the air. At the end of the garden stands your greenhouse laden with plants growing various produce and seedlings ready to plant! Sounds amazing doesn’t it? So why not turn this dream into a reality? Here is how:
Firstly, you need to decide on the perfect position for your kitchen garden, this may be predetermined if you lack space, or need the plot to be in a certain spot to ensure it gets the sun, Finding a sheltered but sunny position is the best. However, this isn’t always possible so you need to think of solutions, for instance look at ways of getting some sort of screening to block the winds, or remove trees, branches, dense shrubs to allow the sun access. You need to note how the sun hits each area of your kitchen garden to plan where you are going to position certain plants.
The next thing to consider is your soil! There are various types of soil from acidic clay to alkaline chalk, what type of soil you have can have an impact on what plants you can grow, or how they perform. There are various ways you can determine which type of soil you have, you could get a horticultural expert in, take soil samples to a local garden centre, or use a kit to perform a simple pH test, be sure to take samples from different areas of your garden kitchen as you may have a variety of soils.
It may be that you need to clear away tree stumps, weeds, overgrowth, and grass before your soil can be prepared ready for your plants. You may need to call in the professionals for this bit, plus it will save you time! Once the plot is ready, mark out the new kitchen garden layout which is worth some careful deliberation, maybe even seek advice from a garden designer. Organising your available space is key when planning an efficient, workable, yet beautiful kitchen garden. The most popular system used for kitchen gardens is a raised bed system, as it is practical and makes maintaining and harvesting crops much easier. Ensure each bed is surrounded with sturdy timber, such as railway sleepers. Then fill them in with a mix of top soil, well-rotted manure, and compost, this creates a rich nutrient base for your plants. Raised beds are usually evenly spaced with paths surrounding them to allow easy access to care for the plants in them, its best to try have paths wide enough to fit a wheel barrow down, and to help reduce weeding cover the plots over with landscaping membrane before topping off with bark or something similar.
What to Grow:
When choosing what to grow it would make sense to go for fruit/vegetables that are most frequently enjoyed at home, that score high on flavour, and have high resistance to pests and diseases. Don’t waste time and energy on crops you won’t use or that you will struggle to get to grow. The best plants to start with in your kitchen garden are ‘cut-and-come-again’ types, like salad leaves, rhubarb, courgettes etc. Also not forgetting the variety of easy to grow and maintain herbs you can have too.
Whilst plants do take priority in your kitchen garden It is important to remember that you also want to create a calm, relaxed, happy environment in which to spend your time gardening. Placing focal points such as an arch covered in beautiful flowers such as sweet peas at your entrance, whilst fencing the area off with a beautiful post and rail fence, or a traditional hedge, or hazel hurdles, will define the area and hopefully deter unwelcome guests. You could also add wigwams, bean tunnels etc. to punctuate the raised borders, and use them to support climbing crops such as sweetcorn. There are numerous other support structures you can use in your garden to add character too such as Tunnels, Obelisks, Curved stake and hurdle-style plant supporters, all not only add to your garden but support the growing plants too.
Adding choice features will also add character and beauty to your garden, especially items rooted in horticultural heritage which will add a sense of tradition to your garden. Think of adding items such as hand-crafted rhubarb forcers, galvanised steel feed bins, salvaged butler sinks, stone statues and handmade flower pots.
One of the biggest things you should definitely think of investing in is a greenhouse! Having a greenhouse will prove invaluable when it comes to raising seedlings, nurturing tender plants, and growing crops that may not do as well in our climate. The greenhouse in a sense also becomes your office, your workplace, where sowing seeds or planting containers can take place no matter the weather. You can also use it to display your produce too!
The key is to think long term when purchasing the right greenhouse for you. Where is the best position for it to get the right amount of sun? What size does that mean I should get? What exactly will I use the greenhouse for? How much growing space and storage will I need? Should I get a lean-to or a freestanding design? (Little tip if you get a lean-to you ideally want it on a south facing wall, if you get freestanding you want the ridge along the top to run east to west). You also need to consider position for ventilation purposes and somewhere with hardly any shade, but at the same time you don’t want it too exposed in case it gets too cold. Ideally you also want access to power and water too.
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