The Kitchen Garden: Planning
To create a kitchen garden that is successful the planning is important. It is one of the keys to success. This is a great time to make a too grow-list. Whether this is a beginners list, a this year list or a long term list. What would you like to grow? If you started planning last month you will already have given this thought. It is essential to think this through as some vegetables and fruit are easy and are affected by few pests, while others are much more prone to disease, pests or are just tricky to grow. The best time to plan your growing-list is the winter or the beginning of the year during the dormant, cooler season where you may have extra time to read more about each vegetable or fruit. Now this takes time, yet long term when you begin to learn more about what each fruit or vegetable needs during their life and growth cycle the more success you will have.
The list you make may then be divided into sections depending upon many factors. Such as; how much space you have, if you have lots of practical preparation to do, clearing existing weeds, roots, digging, how easy the foods are to grow. Have you garden space, troughs or containers ready to sow seed? It will really depend upon where you are as an individual on your ` Kitchen Garden Journey`. You may finish with a short term or first year `grow-list` and a long term `to-grow-list. Perhaps also a list stating easy and not so easy to grow. You can always add along the way.
Beetroot, Courgette Flower & Lettuce
Once you have practically decided what you can grow this year place an order for the seeds you need. Remember seeds do have a `life` so make sure you are not ordering too many. You will also need a container or containers to store your seed in a dry place. Organizing this well will make sure you keep the seed dry and in perfect sowing condition.
I have containers where I can sub-divide my seeds to place them in categories or as an individual vegetable. Such as carrot, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, kale, spinach, rocket and other green leaf like corn salad and purslane and so on. I do this because often I have different varieties of seed for each vegetable. If you have favorite vegetables you may also accumulate lots of varieties of say beetroot seed packets as I do. Creating a system also means you can easily locate the seeds just when you need then. For instance it is about to rain and your time is limited yet you really want to sow a certain seed before you finish. In this situation you want to be able to locate the seeds easily, quickly and know they are perfect for sowing.
When you are planning the produce you would like to grow you may choose to buy organic seed and support a company with organic, ethical and environmental standards.
There are also companies which stock heritage seed, non hybrid, older and heirloom seed varieties. One must remember that many of the hybrids have been breed to give higher yields, more pest and disease resistance and sweeter produce. Carrot and beetroot for example. Yet nature does not always work this way so there is no guarantee on results with these seeds. If the climate that specific season is not favorable you may not get high yields. So think carefully what you want to achieve, do you prefer a more natural, earthy tasting carrot or a carrot which is sweet. Do you want to support companies who support the environment? Check for non-genetically modified seed! I certainly would not want to be sowing any of these or supporting a company who makes GMO seed and I prefer an earthy tasting carrot. We will discuss the difference between these seeds at a later date.
When you do your seed order you will also need to consider purchasing plug plants, a step ahead of seeds, tubers and sets which certain crops will be started from. The tubers and sets may include onion, shallot, garlic, potato, sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke and asparagus. During this order you will need to consider space which will be ready to plant. It is amazing how many vegetables you can yield from space yet planted too close and they will not have to the room or soil available to fully develop.
Other areas of consideration are if you would like to grow fruit such as strawberries, where you would have a strawberry patch or bed. Fruit trees such as Apple, Pear, Cherry, Plum and the berries Blueberry, Raspberry, Loganberry, Redcurrant, Gooseberry etc.
Blueberry & Strawberry
Would you also like a herb garden, patch or herb planter? Herbs are a fabulous addition if you have the space. Not only for the aromatic element that they bring to the kitchen garden and kitchen, but that certain herbs will attracted the pollinators. As do many flowers. Another great addition to a kitchen garden. Within the realm of flowers you can attract pollinators and predators of pests, the latter is termed as companion planting. Add an element of the aesthetics to a productive growing space, grow edible flowers, to decorate salads and even to create a cutting garden to adorn the dining table and house with flowers.
The possibilities are infinite; however space will be a deciding factor on what you can grow in your kitchen garden. Organization and planning are key stages as we already have all the unknown elements of nature and the weather which will affect our success and harvesting. Such as late frosts and low sunlight levels during the peak summer. In our changing climate we really cannot predict the weather.
Even with these essential considerations this new Kitchen Garden Journey becomes a new, exciting venture and I am sure will become a passion.
Until next time enjoy
All Photographs © Laara Copley-Smith at Laara Copley-Smith Garden & Landscape Design. All rights reserved.
Laara Copley-Smith is a professional Garden Designer based in the UK with a passion for Kitchen Gardens and growing organically. Laara has been a vegan for over ten years, is a raw foodist and is a keen photographer. Laara offers an extensive range of bespoke design services and creative consultancy and can be contacted here.
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