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.
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