Whether you call it a kitchen garden, vegetable patch, allotment, your windowsill or otherwise, having a space where you can grow your own food and being able to do plot to plate cooking is a brilliant adventure!
I couldn’t do a cookery challenge where growing your own wasn’t included. It makes up a huge part of my life and I’ve been doing it since I can remember!
If you haven’t read some of my previous journal entries, have a flick through Hens, A Gardener’s Best Friend, How to grow food on your windowsill and Day 3: Ingredients Matter for a little inspiration.
In a nutshell though, growing your own food means:
- You’ll learn how food is meant to taste – as soon as food is harvested, its flavour and nutrition content begins to change. The longer it takes for you to eat something after it’s been picked, the lesser the flavour.
- This means your cooking game will significantly change for the better without you having to change anything.
- You’ll save money – obviously this depends on various factors and at what stage of the journey you’re in, but on the whole growing your own food is significantly cheaper than buying it.
- You’ll up your nutrients – by having seasonal food, you’ll be eating food that’s at its peak.
- You’ll find yourself relaxing more and more – a brilliant side effect from gardening is it’s a great way to get away from it all and just relax.
Regardless of whether you’ve just started growing or have been doing it for years, here’s my top tips in creating your own organic kitchen garden!
1. Choose Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs That You Love To Eat & Have Time To Grow
It’s really easy to get swept up in buying organic seeds, easy to forget what space you have and actually, and most importantly, what you love to eat!
There’s no point in buying things you’re not that fussed about because I doubt you’ll change your mind when it comes to harvesting time. But buy growing things you love to eat it’s a win-win!
Then think about how much work is involved with what you want to grow.
Look, I really don’t mind admitting this, but I’m a REALLY lazy gardener 😀 hahaha who also has quite an active lifestyle so growing fruits and vegetables that I love, and don’t take up all my time is brilliant!
For example, however much I love tomatoes, I only tend to grow them every other year because normally I don’t have the time they need.
Potatoes, garlic and onions on the hand, I shove lovingly in the ground, water them when they need it, MAYBE deweed (you really should deweed but yeah…) and water them when they need it.
Never had a bad batch 😀
2. Plan Your Own Organic Eco-System
Once you work with nature and not against it, everything will change for you and your garden/home.
When I bought my little cottage, I immediately began transforming the garden in to an organic kitchen garden.
To do this, I did the following things:
- Researched companion planting
- Used crop rotation
- Got hens
- Never used pesticides
- Grew food as well as wildflowers, sunflowers and other pollinator loving plants
- Had a water source, in my case, a pond
Companion planting is exactly how it sounds. You pick plants and flowers that work well together and help one other to grow. Whether for example that’s planting onions next to carrots to help with pest control, or, and probably my favourite planting sweetcorn, squash and beans together to create a perfect circle.
Known as ‘The Three Sisters’, planting sweetcorn (or sunflowers), squash and beans together means the beans put nitrogen back in to the soil and they provide support for the sweetcorn, while the squash leaves cover the ground creating shade that locks in the moisture and prevents weed growth!
I told you, my absolute favourite 😀
Crop rotation again is exactly as it sounds. You rotate your crops so vegetables that sucked up various nutrients one year, move in to a place where other vegetables put that nutrient back in.
It not only saves you having to buy more soil, but it keeps your current soil healthy and in tip top condition!
Note: You can also use ‘green manures’ at the end of growing season to replenish your soil. Simply grow the green manures, then dig in the plants and let them rot down over winter 🙂
Hens are brilliant! Their poo is gold for any organic gardener. Plus they’re hilarious and they give you eggs! For more information on how they help and how to look after them click here.
You don’t need to use pesticides if you’re varied in your planting. By using a range of different vegetables, fruits, trees and flowers, you’ll attract a range of wildlife who’ll take care of the pests for you.
Also hens can help you here! Did you know that hens will eat ants? So if your fruit trees are covered in ants, the chickens will eat them at ground level and helping your trees!
As you’ve seen above, planting wildflowers and flowers alongside your vegetables makes complete sense. Bees and other bugs will pollinate your plants and they’ll have a lovely meal! And that water source will keep them there as they won’t have to travel again for a drink!
3. Don’t Give Up When You Fail
Failure has a stigma attached to it which is a shame because I see it and it should be seen as a learning opportunity. I still fail in the garden and gardeners I know with 50 years experience still fail!
But that’s all part of the fun!
Growing your own food is a delicious learning journey and one that’s extremely rewarding.
Be vigilant. Keep an eye on the weather. Get someone to babysit your plants when you’re away. Research what you want to grow and the best ways of doing it. Create your own ways!
Just don’t give up when something goes wrong because I can guarantee it will hahaha!
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Along with the daily journal posts here, each Wednesday at 12pm BST I’ll be going live on my instagram @therebalancechef to recap on the week’s progress and show you around my kitchen. Depending on the weather you might even meet my rescue hens!
The main point of this challenge is to have fun with it, learn new skills and refresh old ones.
I want to see your creations so don’t forget to tag me and show off what you’ve been doing!
I’m taking part in the Rebalance May Cookery Challenge! Check it out here http://www.therebalancechef.co.ukTweet