Home-grown freshness

There’s nothing to beat harvesting fresh, tasty vegetables and herbs from your own garden, so get stuck in this spring and plant up a kitchen garden.

There’s no time like spring for getting into the garden and planning what you will be planting for the season ahead. The kitchen garden is no exception, and also deserves some careful thought. Not only will you save money by growing your own food crops, but you will have the satisfaction of having a ready supply of fresh ingredients for all your summer dishes. Life is a garden filled with home-grown, delicious herbs and vegetables that will help to improve your family’s health and give you much joy.

Tips for success

Follow these tips for setting up your own kitchen garden:

  • Choose a site that offers you about 5 x 4m of usable space. This should be able to provide food for a family of five.
  • Make sure the area you have chosen receives at least four to six hours of full sun a day. Plants grown in shady spots will not perform well. However, if partial shade is unavoidable, remember that the dappled shade thrown by a tree is preferable to the dense shade created by a wall or building.
  • Before sowing and planting, prepare the soil well. Dig over the soil in the beds with a fork to a depth of at least 30cm. Add liberal quantities of compost (half a bag per square metre) to the soil and work in 60g or a handful of organic fertiliser per square metre.

Red pepper

Modern trends

Mixed plantings are all the rage as vegetable and herb gardening becomes a trend with younger gardeners. Planted as part of a mixed border or even between other plants as companion plants, the choices are endless. Many new edibles have attractive foliage and can be used to great effect in modern gardens.

Plants for the kitchen garden 

Choose herbs and vegetables for their culinary appeal, as well as their decorative colour and texture:

Herbs:

  • Basil is an annual herb that can be used as an edging plant around your kitchen garden. Grow it in full sun and water well
  • Parsley is an essential kitchen ingredient. Plant it in full sun in richly composted soil.
  • Lavender is a fragrant herb ideal as a small hedge to frame your veggie beds. All lavenders need full sun and well-drained, lightly composted soil with a good twice-weekly watering.
  • Plant hardy thyme in well-drained soil and full sun. It can withstand drought, heat, frost and strong winds.
  • Evergreen rosemary is easy to grow. All it needs is full sun, a deep well-composted hole and a twice weekly watering.
  • Flavoursome chives take such little space in the kitchen garden. They are ideal for lining pathways or the edges of borders. Plant them in full sun.

Vegetables:

  • Lettuce, radish, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and broccoli will all be ready for picking within a few weeks and take up little space.
  • Carrots, chillies and tomatoes will take longer, but bear prolifically.
  • Runner beans, climbing peas, butternuts and squash can be accommodated where space is limited by training them up trelliswork or pyramids.
  • Plant frilly, red or other decorative lettuce as fillers in your garden beds in place of annuals.
  • Plant onions in rich, composted soil. Keep them well watered.

Tomatoes

Butternut