Grow Your Greens At Home
Kitchen Gardening Tips
Creating something always brings joy and a sense of accomplishment. It can be through a piece of art, a tasty dish or even a beautiful kitchen garden. Self-made kitchen gardens is the topic of discussion out there these days. All it takes to make a successful kitchen garden is some enthusiasm, some preparation and a whole lot of you.
First-of-all, let us list down what all you need to start your own vegetable garden. So go ahead and discover the perfect kitchen garden recipe.
Step 1: Pick your green corner
Zeroing on the location of your kitchen garden comes first. Choose the one that’s close to a water source and offers generous amount of sunlight. While most vegetables need 4-6 hours of light, anything over 6 hours makes it an ideal location. But for the place that gets 4 hours or less, salad gardening is a great alternative. If your balcony faces south or west, fruiting plants is the best option as these two directions get maximum exposure to the Sun. North-facing balconies get a good sunbath only during peak summers and are hence, a great option for planting salads and leafy greens. In case, you have lesser floor space, container gardening is a great way to grow salads as they can easily be hung in the balcony. A container of about 12” in diameter and 10-12” in height with 8-10 liters of potting medium is perfect to grow salads or leafy greens and can easily accommodate about 3 plants.
Step 2: Measure the space
Well, 10 square feet of space is enough to have a garden with a little variety. If you don’t have the luxury of space, container gardening is the best alternative, as mentioned above.
Step 3: Think of the vegetables you want to grow
We know you are already counting but specialists suggest that it’s always best to start small. The simplest way is to think about things your family members like to eat. But you are not yet done. Knowing how long a vegetable will take to harvest is equally important. Going for the short-term vegetables is a wise thing to do if you are a beginner. These include spinach, fenugreek, coriander, mint, lettuce and radish. However, if you think you can let your taste buds wait a little longer, tomatoes, brinjal, capsicum, chilli, cauliflower and cabbage are some of the commonly preferred long-term greens.
Step 4: Picking the right soil
Please ensure that if you are growing plants on the ground, the soil you use should be free from any debris or stones. However, it doesn’t matter when going for container gardening.
Step 5: Set your budget
Your kitchen garden’s produce highly depends upon your budget. The cost depends on the kind of set-up you want, ranging from mere nothing to several thousands. A container filled with potting mix can cost you anything between Rs.200 to Rs.400 depending on the quality of the container and the mix you buy.
Step 6: Gather all that you need
While Terracotta is an eco-friendly and also the most popular choice among gardening lovers, you can always go for a plastic or a wooden planter box if you find the former a bit too heavy. Just remember, the container should have at least one hole for easy drainage.
Two types of seeds are available in the market – open pollinated and hybrid. While the former give rise to the plants and give you the advantage of saving seeds for the next crop, the latter can’t be saved since the offspring is not the same as the parent plant.
Mixing coco peat and compost in equal proportions can give you an ideal potting mix with good hold and sufficient nutrition.
While there are different types of fertilizers available in both organic as well as synthetic categories, we suggest you go for the organic ones only. Vermicom post, manure and kitchen waste are popular forms of organic fertilizers.
Step 7: Know the set-up procedure!
There’s only one thumb rule – the seeds need to buried twice as deep as they are wide and as soon as they germinate, they need to be exposed to sunlight or they will become tall and lanky. Note that what seeds are to be sown depends on the location and time of the year.
Some plants can directly be sown in their final growing area, whereas certain plants have to be transplanted from one location to another. This is done for various reasons. For larger areas, it is easier to grow seedlings in one area and transplant healthy seedlings over a larger area when they are ready.
Taller plants have a tendency to bend or fall. Hence, a twine or a long stick is used to hold the plant in its position. If it’s a climber, creating a set structure is a common practice used which helps the plant to spread and sprawl.
Step 8: Nurture it every day!
Do it every day. Do it in the morning. And till the water drains from the bottom of the container. Properly watered plants can surprise you with their growth.
Just like us, the plants need their daily diet of nutrients. A handful of compost or manure every 10-15 days will keep the soil healthy.
Even the pests love a nice vegetable garden. The most common ones are Aphids, Mealy Bugs, Mites and Worms. Mix 10ml of neem oil, 1 liter of water and 5 ml of liquid dish-washing soap. Spray this solution on both sides of the leaves once a week. Besides, a little daily scouting to look for holes and cuts will help you identify the pest attack and act promptly.