Today we will share an inspiring story from an avid Kitchen Gardener- Salma Kamal. She is currently running project with the name ‘My Kitchen Garden Project‘ and run ‘basics of kitchen gardening educational programs’ in schools for students to grow their own vegetables. She also writes blogs for Kitchen Gardeners International, a community of over 25,000 international kitchen gardeners.

In this small interview, she has answered some of the very basic questions a beginner gardener would need to know. Hope the cheflings out there get some inspiration and start their very own Chefling Garden.

At what age gardening inspired you?

I was born with green thumb and among broth­ers and sis­ter I was the only one who took keen inter­est in plants. I inher­ited pas­sion for home kitchen gar­den­ing from my mother.

After mar­riage, I had to move abroad first to Eng­land and then Mid­dle East. Dur­ing my stay in Lon­don, after fin­ish­ing house hold chores I used to take walk around the neigh­bor­hood .I soon become aware that British peo­ple were avid gar­dener. After exchang­ing pleas­antry they usu­ally talk about their garden and gar­den­ing expe­ri­ence. The land lady where we were stay­ing had a very well kept small gar­den. I used to see her work­ing for hours in her gar­den. Grad­u­ally, my inter­est began to devel­op. I started to buy seeds and grew plants in what ever space I had.

What do you feel are the benefits for home chefs of maintaining kitchen gardens?

Yes! Its absolutely must that home based chef keep a kitchen garden specially a herbal garden.

A kitchen herb garden is one of the easiest and most useful gardens you can grow. Herbs can be grown without much afford  and you can have a generous supply in a surprisingly small space.

Any basic tips for starting off a kitchen garden? What are some of the basic plants you can grow?

You don’t need a big land ,as  all vegetables can be easily  grow in Pots. Peo­ple are also growing bananas, olives and lemon in pots on roof tops! Only the pot size would vary according to vegetable grown. For example, you need a big pot to grow water mel­ons gourds and a medium size pot to grow toma­toes, chilies, okra, egg plant. What you can grow all depends upon space you have and amount of sun light and water avail­abil­ity. You can grow vines against walls, bal­cony and trel­lis to save space. Six hours of sunlight is necessary to grow vegetables but some leafy vegetables like salad and spinach can be grown in shady spots.

Is cooking your passion too? What was the first dish you made fresh from your garden?

If you are a kitchen gardener the passion of cooking follows naturally..When ever I have too much crop of ladyfinger or eggplant , I try  to cook it in a different variety way each time.

What’s the minimum land size required to run a kitchen garden?

It all depends upon amount of sunlight .You must choose a place in your house with at least 6 hours of sun light. So depending upon space you have , your kitchen garden could be any thing between few pots or wall (container, vertical) or few vege bed or full back yard kitchen garden. Efficiency strategies include companion planting, crop rotation, succession planting, spacing, and vertical growing. Even in the smallest space you can produce a bountiful harvest and extend the growing season.

This season is best for planting which vegetables and fruits?

God has blessed Pak­istan with all four sea­son sum­mer , spring,  autumn and win­ter, so all veg­eta­bles can be grown in Pak­istan .

The win­ter veg­eta­bles are usu­ally in planted month of August, Octo­ber and Novem­ber before frost sets or in Feb.- to March and har­vested in March, April till May.Win­ter crops are pota­toes, peas, radish‚ car­rot, cau­li­flower, cab­bage, salad, dania, onion, gar­lic, salad, spinach.

The sum­mer crop is planted in Octo­ber, Novem­ber before frost or March, April, May and har­vested in May June, July, August & Sep­tem­ber till Octo­ber. Sum­mer veg­eta­bles are Bit­ter gourd (karela), Ladyfin­ger (bhindi), Mint (pud­ina), Mush­rooms (khumbi), Egg plant (brin­jal) Pump­kin (kaddu) Bot­tle gourd (lauki), ridge gourd (tori) and green gourd (tinda) Green beans (French beans, flat beans etc), bell pep­per (Shimla Mirch) ‚chill­ies, toma­toes.548340_4311757825191_2064899923_n

If you have questions, feel free to post them in comments and we will get the answers from her. You can also follow her group and find other newbie gardeners

Madiha Hamid

Chefling-in-Chief Founder Chefling Tales. A foodie that loves to travel and explore different flavors of Pakistan and the world. She loves to cook recipes that are different , yet simple. She wants people to know and understand the beauty of Pakistani Regional Cuisines @madihamid