OK guys and girls, it’s time to get down to the serious task of gardening. My first lesson is to help you plan your kitchen garden before you actually start planting.
When planning your kitchen garden, start by asking yourself a few basic questions, like:
Who will be doing the gardening?
After an initial burst, there is a tendency to leave all gardening related activities to hired gardeners (or maalis as we call them here). However, I suggest involving your family, especially if you have children. These are invaluable lifelong experiences for them to have with you.
Will your family eat what you grow?
Though pictures of vegetables in gardening books look so delicious that you end up buying seeds for veggies you’ve never eaten before, try to hold yourself back. You’re probably going to regret it. There’s no point in committing to growing your own garden if no one is wild about eating what is grown. Instead, make a list of your family’s favorite vegetables. You can rank these in order of preference and this can serve as a guide in deciding how much to plant. Also, when buying seeds for any vegetable, it’s important to check if they are adaptable to your area.
How much space do you have?
That is, how much area can you afford to convert into a usable garden space. This is very different from how much empty ground you have.
Some hints when planning you garden
- Try to first map out a plan for your kitchen garden on paper
- Some plants can be planted indoors first (or under cover) as far as 12 weeks before you actually need to plant them in the garden
- In your plan, place tall and trellised crops on the north side of the garden so they don’t end up shading your shorter vegetables
- Place perennial crops in a part of the garden where they are sure not to be disturbed
Where should the garden be located?
- Vegetables grow best in a level area with loose, well-drained soil, and at least 6 hours of sunlight in the day, while 8 to 10 hours is ideal. That should be a key determinant in the location
- Locate the garden near an easily accessible supply of water
- Ideally, choose a spot near your home so it’s convenient for you to tend to your garden whenever you have the time
- Avoid planting your garden near trees and shrubs, as these compete for nutrients and water. Trees and shrubs are also likely to shade over your garden. Likewise, avoid locations near buildings
- Observe shading patterns through the growing season beforehand if possible. If you’re low on options and have to plant a garden in a shaded location, be sure to utilize shade-tolerant crops
- Try not to plant vegetables from the same family in the same spot in the garden more than once in three years. Rotating locations helps prevent the buildup of insects and diseases
- Finally, for those of you growing your veggies in pots, be sure to buy pots and soil compost
Planning your kitchen garden as well? Let us know where you decided to start. Did you planted your veggies in pots or a bed on the rooftop? Which part of your house gets 6 hours of sunlight?
Got any other questions for us? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.