Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How to Tuesday - Planting a Kitchen Garden



Growing up in Manhattan in the 80's, there were few places to garden, this however did not stop my mom from trying. I remember our apartment window ledge filled with petunias, marigolds, and portulacas. This is probably were I got my love of marigolds. :)

When our family moved to NJ, I was initially devastated. I missed the city, taking the A-train to school, walking to Fort Tryon park, visiting the museums, and of course visiting with my Grandmas (One lived on the first floor of our building, and the other we would visit every Thursday for black bean soup).

The second year we were at the house, my mom really started gardening; my dad did too though it was mostly cleaning up weeds etc. Mom had planted some flowers, roses etc., but the best part was the tomatoes and zucchini. As a kid I hated gardening, pulling out weeds, helping plant bulbs, mulching... I would do anything to get out of it, it was punishment. The worse part was during the early spring when mom had horse manure delivered, of course this was placed directly outside my bedroom window. Now imagine this if you can: Warm weather, no AC in the house, open windows with the aroma of the wrong end of a horse wafting into your bedroom...not a particularly appetizing smell and unfortunately this was what I associated gardening with.

Oh! But collecting those sunkissed tomatoes, and twisting off the zucchini, that was fun and delicious and slightly made up for the horse shit!

Cruise before the craziness.
Both sides of my family, and my husband's family come from agrarian backgrounds, it's in the blood.

I remember watching "Far and Away" when I was younger with my family. Tom Cruise was handsome and in his prime, but outside of that what always stuck with me was what his father tells him in the movie...



"A man is nothing without land, they say land is a man's very own soul."

Joseph Donnelly, played by Cruise, takes that advice to heart and plans to go to America and claim his own land during the Oklahoma Land Rush. If you have time I'd recommend watching it. :)

On a scientific note; Psychology Today had a great article on the the calming nature of gardening and the importance of reconnecting with the Earth.

I started a small herb garden when I moved into my own place. It consisted of Rosemary, Sage, Basil, and Spring Onions. It wasn't until 2012 that Kishore and I planted a kitchen garden, and this year we really expanded it.

This year's garden contains:

Potatoes, tomatoes, beets, radishes, carrots, red onions, green onions, chilies, lettuce, sweet potatoes, mustard, bell peppers, garlic eggplants, tomatillos, green beans, spinach, kale, chard, cucumbers, snow peas, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, okra, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, lemon, lime, and various herbs.



...it's turning into a farm. 
Well... I always wanted a farm boy, now I got one ;) 
Farmer Kishore tending the garden.

If you are interested in starting your own kitchen garden, I would suggest starting with herbs that you frequently use. As tempting as it is to start right out of the gate, I think it is best to start off small. Starting small gives you time to learn about what will work and what won't for your particular situation.

Here are a few things to get you started on your own herb/kitchen garden:


1- The biggest factor people forget to count is time.

It's great to have a large kitchen garden, but if you don't have time to properly take care of it that's a lot of potential food going to waste. It really upset me that during the government shutdown in Fall 2013, the White House garden was allowed to rot, when all it would have taken was someone to spend the time collecting the produce.

2- Other major factors are: Gardening Zone, Space, and Soil

These take a little bit of research depending on what you want to plant, where you want to plant it, where you are located, and what kind of soil you are dealing with. I'll use the cantaloupe example; it's not so much that I couldn't grow cantaloupe it was the investment of time, money, space, and special care.

3- Keep your plant choices to essentials. 

Try to grow what you will use. As much fun as it maybe to try and grow cantaloupe; it takes up a lot of room and a lot of time. I only got one tiny melon that didn't taste as good as those in the store. 

Here is an excellent guide to which plants are the most efficient to grow: 
Here are some good beginner garden plant plans based on 4' x 4' garden beds: 

Good luck gardening! 

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact me!






4 comments:

  1. We just moved into an apartment and I've got on my 'to do' list to make a small balcony herb garden. I really admire your garden and wish one day I can do the same in a house.It takes a lot of work but it's very satisfying. Something to do when retired too ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amelia, it does take a lot of work but it is totally worth it! I'd love to know what your herb garden will include! Just as a suggestion, try vertical gardening to maximize your gardening space. Hope to see a picture when you get it set! :)

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...