If you’ve never grown your own food it can be intimidating to know where to start. Try not to take an all-or-nothing approach. You absolutely do not need to turn your backyard into a meticulously planned out mini-farm in order to reap the benefits of home-grown veggies and herbs. Perhaps for you, slow and steady could win the race. If you master one or two small projects every year you’ll be well on your way to being a master gardener. Here are a few tips and tricks for kitchen garden novices.
You don’t need a separate vegetable garden.
Don’t get hung up on where to plant herbs and veggies. Raised beds in prime backyard spots are great but not always feasible. Start small and make it cute. Mix herbs in with decorative succulents or existing ornamental beds. Plant some lettuce along with violas. Kale is perfect for landscaping that’s both decorative and delicious. Interplanting can even help reduce the chance that edibles will fall prey to rabbits and other critters. The strong scent of companion flowers can act as a deterrent.
Plant what you like, not what you should like.
Sure, zucchini and summer squash are easy to grow. But unless you’re excited at the thought of a bumper crop of any given vegetable, it’s better to skip it in your own garden. Don’t get hung up on the “shoulds” but focus on what would be most useful in your own kitchen.
You don’t even need to step foot in a garden supply store to begin.
Have you ever bought a fresh basil plant from the grocery store, only to see it wither and die quickly? It’s not your fault! The containers of living herbs found in supermarkets are seeded with dozens of plants. They will not all survive in the small container. Check out Lovely Greens for a step-by-step guide with pictures for how to turn those grocery store herbs into your own thriving garden. Bring on the fresh pesto!
Consider a themed garden.
One recent trend in vegetable gardening is to plant everything you need for a certain meal together. A “taco garden” might have cilantro, shallots, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce. A spaghetti garden could consist of oregano, parsley, tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Take it to the next level with some spaghetti squash and you won’t need anything from the store at all. A “pizza garden” is an especially fun project with kids. Using similar vegetables and herbs to the spaghetti garden, add some arugula and plant everything in a circle divided into individual wedges.
Keep it visible.
Container gardening is a fantastic entry point for a number of reasons. One advantage is that you can make sure those containers are in a spot you can’t miss. Maybe that means right outside your kitchen window or next to the door you use to enter your house. Put them somewhere that you can see every day so you’ll always remember to water them and be able to harvest at the perfect time.