With some of the basic design elements discussed earlier there are now considerations to be made on what to grow in line with your taste buds. We all have such differing preferences in the kitchen; we also have likes and dislikes. Whilst planning our kitchen garden whether we are a seasoned gardener or a total new-bee a great exercise is to make a list of the vegetables and fruit you use in the kitchen.
Questions for consideration:
What are your favorite vegetables ?
What you grow needs to be useful to you. Space in the kitchen garden can be limited or as I classify is premium space. Unless you are very lucky to have enough space to experiment with crops you have never tasted. Personally I like my kitchen garden to be productive with crops I love. Keeping in mind how useful, versatile & `worthy of growing space` they can be. For instance certain favorites do not do well on my soil so this would be wasted space for example. There are also certain vegetables which I love that would struggle in the UK climate. The same will possibly be true for you.
Fresh salad & green smoothie
Which fruit do you love: A few scenarios
Do you love blueberries for instance and observe that you have a permanent space and enough room for your own blueberry bushes.
What about strawberries, easy to grow, tolerant to sun/shade. Although only a certain window of cropping time they produce lots of fruit and the more you pick generally the more they produce.
What a joy to pick your own strawberries. With an added bonus of a great fruit to introduce children to the kitchen garden and where food comes from.
Do you love fresh berries yet find them expensive so you only buy them occasionally ?
Berries are generally a crop which is easy to grow, whilst they do take a permanent space during cropping time they are plentiful. Fresh is best yet they are a crop which is suitable for freezing to use out of their season when they are more expensive to buy and to boost winter nutrition.
How do you use these vegetables & fruit ?
Considering how you cook or prepare food in your kitchen and whether you cook or prepare food for most or few of your meals.
Today many people do not, leaning towards pre-prepared packaged foods for many meals. Even those who proclaim to be health conscious and this include many vegans, can be purchasing ready-made foods. When you start to `grow-your-own` it is the beginning of a new journey of discovery which may lead you to re-invent your kitchen and how you use it. You may also begin to reconsider how you buy your food presently as the vegetables and fruit you grow will come with no packaging!
This process will not only revolutionise how you interact with the food you grow and buy. It will also give you the opportunity to look at how you nourish yourself, increasing your nutrition with organic home grown produce during the cropping season and re-consider your nourishment for the entire year.
Spinach, green juice & fresh peas in the pod
Make a list of what you currently buy, how you buy & what you do with it:
For instance I love beetroot, I use beetroot in various ways including for vegetable juices, blended in raw soups, grated as a topping for soups. Grated, sliced, diced, minced, spirilised in salads and for mixtures in wraps, it can also be grated in raw patties. Even for a `Raw Fooder` as I am there is many options.
Beetroot is easy to grow, cropping from July in the UK and if protected will survive in winter soil for cropping into a new year. As you see this is a valuable vegetable for me, not to mention all the health benefits beetroot brings to one`s life in terms of the mineral and vitamin content.
How could you use them if you had fresh at hand & would growing a crop of certain produce give you more options in the kitchen ?
This may inspire you to be more creative with your produce. May be it is time to re-think your kitchen.
Does this also mean you will have certain vegetables or fruit which are not always available in your location. This would be something to celebrate as you pick your first crop.
How do you store the vegetables & fruit you buy ?
If picking fresh produce you want to have a good storage system to keep them fresh and be able to pick on a regular basis. Give this consideration now. You can lose crops if you do not store them correctly and whilst many crops are used fresh where a fridge is the best way to keep them fresh. Certain crops such as potatoes, shallots, onions, carrot, beetroot, storing apples, turnips, rutabagas, winter radishes, kohlrabi, parsnips, cabbages, marrow, pumpkin, and winter squash will store. Keeping well and longer if this is with the correct storage system.
Do you buy frozen berries & have you a facility to freeze bumper berry crops ?
As stated previously berries are suitable to freeze.
Cherry tomatoes & a bowl of berries
Are there certain vegetables & fruit which are not available or easy to buy ?
Take note any which are expensive or difficult to find. With some research you will be able to discover how to grow, how easy they are to grow and what growing conditions they like. This will enable you to decide if they could be added to your to grow list.
Do you use herbs in the kitchen ?
Some herbs need a permanent space in the kitchen garden others will be grown each year so they can be located where there is suitable and available space. Others may require winter protection. If you have limited space decide which ones will be included, with a secondary list for if you have space. I sometimes just seed annual herbs which are easy to grow in any spaces left, such as dill, fennel, coriander.
Do you want to grow your own produce fresh for health reasons ?
You certainly will increase your nutrition and nourishment by adding organic home grown fresh produce to your diet. You may like to consider what this will be. It will inspire and motivate you in creating a kitchen garden however small or large.
For instance I love to research food and nutrition, as a raw fooder and avid juicer I grow kale each year to add to green juices. Kale is a mineraliser and alkaliser to the body. This inspires me even when I am working in my vegetable garden during the winter. As I know I will be taking home a big bag of greens such as green curly kale and black kale.
Enjoy reinventing how you approach, use & enjoy your food.
This may revolutionise your diet as well as your garden.
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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