Starting your Organic Kitchen

HOW TO START AN ORGANIC KITCHEN GARDEN

I have a raised bed vegetable garden and a kitchen garden, and I grow organic food in both spaces. But, you may ask, “What’s the difference? You’re growing food and it’s organic, so what makes a vegetable garden different from a kitchen garden?”

Good questions — and the simplest answer is, for me, “location.” While my organic raised bed vegetable garden is at the back end of our 1-acre lot, my organic kitchen garden is right outside my back door. But there are more differences, and if you’re intrigued by the thought of having your own organic kitchen garden, read on for my best tips!

Location. As I mentioned before, my kitchen garden is right outside my back door, next to the patio. It’s a convenient spot to pop outside and clip a little of this and grab a bit of that as I’m making dinner — much more convenient than walking to the back of my property every time I need something. That convenience of location encourages me to truly use this garden in ways that I didn’t previously consider.

Mixed use. While there’s no rule that says your veggies have to be in a veggie garden, and your flowers are in another garden, and your recreation space is in yet another location, kitchen gardens afford the opportunity to mix it all up in one space. In my kitchen garden, we have rock seating around a fire pit, and the surrounding garden has edible plants, flowers, ornamental grasses, and a few art pieces. Most vegetable gardens tend to be dedicated spaces for growing bigger vegetables in larger quantities, but they aren’t typically the same spot in your garden where you gather with friends.

Plant choices. Your plant choices are what allow the kitchen garden to be mixed use spaces closer to the back door. Focus on small edible plants that you reach for regularly when you’re preparing a meal, and leave the larger veggies for harvesting in the larger vegetable garden. For me, this means lots of herbs, some edible flowers, and a vertical aeroponic planter where I grow salad greens. I don’t have space in this garden for, say, the vining squash plants, so I reserve an area in my larger raised beds for those kinds of crops.

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