What are some of the crops you can grow in a kitchen garden?
Consumers no longer trust the quality of food that they buy from the market. The desire to eat home-grown quality food has led to the innovation of various types and designs of kitchen gardens that are fit for small spaces of land. But which crops can do well in a kitchen garden?
A long time ago, the term kitchen garden had a completely different meaning from what we know today. Over the years, the term has transformed to mean something completely different and to meet a need that is completely different from what it used to serve those years.
Back then, let’s say, ten years ago and before, the kitchen garden was known to be a small piece of land that was immediately adjacent to the kitchen building. It was advocated for mainly for two reasons:
- It was a way to recycle the kitchen wastewater: Used water that escaped from the kitchen was channeled directly to the farm instead of draining it through other means. Interestingly, kitchen gardens were very popular in the African rural areas especially the water-scare areas. There was no single drop of water that was supposed to go to waste, either clean or dirty.
- Used to grow regularly consumed green vegetables: From where I grew up, a kitchen garden simply meant a small onion plantation behind the kitchen block. Leafy onion was one of the most grown kitchen garden crops, and I think it is still the most popular up to date owing to the fact that it is needed for every meal that is prepared every day.
You see, back then, nobody designed a kitchen garden with the mentality of producing quality food for sale of for self-consumption, no. A kitchen garden was an adaptation mechanism to bridge the gap caused by water shortages and inadequate supply of leafy vegetables in the market. But today, the story and history of kitchen garden has changed completely- the desire to eat healthy “organic” food is the key driving force behind the kitchen garden initiatives that have taken the world by waves, especially the urban dwellers. It is clear that the consumer, especially the urban population, does not trust the farmer anymore, and more so the food distribution channels.
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Medical reports have been out there in plenty arguing that contaminated food contributes a lot to the human diseases experienced nowadays. Food contamination may happen at the farm level due to the improper use of chemicals. It can also happen along the supply and value chains due to many factors like poor hygiene, addition of preservatives, among others.
With this in mind, many individuals and families now believe that the best way to eat healthy food is by taking over the role of producing food themselves. Even though it is provoked by the fear of contaminated food, this move is highly commendable although it can only meet a small need in food demand.
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So, if you are out there and wish to start a small kitchen garden to grow a few crops for yourself and your family, I encourage you to soldier on, and not to look back. You are on the right course. I have done a small research to shortlist a few crops that do well in a small kitchen garden, regardless of the type or design of your garden. But I as have said, you cannot grow everything in a kitchen garden, a huge percentage of your food will still have to come from the market. A kitchen garden will only supplement a few food items.
Crops that grow well in a kitchen garden
1. Leafy onions and garlic
Garlic and onion are crops that are easy to maintain, and hence they do quite well in a kitchen garden set-up. You rarely need to control pests because they have a bad smell self-defense mechanism. As long as the soil is fertile and well-drained, your onion and garlic will do well.
2. Coriander (Dhania)
Coriander is very easy to grow. Their seeds are easy to germinate and they do not need transplanting, you sow the seeds where they will grow till maturity.
3. Cherry tomatoes
Tomatoes are the most suspected highly-contaminated food in the market due to pesticide residues. Freshly homegrown tomatoes could be a good idea. Tomatoes varieties that are described as “definite” are the most suitable for kitchen gardens because they do not require trellising (mechanical support) since they do not grow tall vertically.
Peppers are equally easy to grow. They have few pests as their enemies.
5. Runner beans
Runner beans are particularly convenient if you are using containers that are nailed to the wall. The beans use the wall to climb and gain support. Growing these beans creates a beautiful green environment on the walls of your house.
Though not very common, leaf amaranth is well a good try in your kitchen garden. Seeds germinate easily and they do not need transplanting.
7. Leafy green vegetables
Sow a combination of as many green leafy vegetables as you can. Vegetables such as kales, spinach, collards, cabbages etc. do well in a kitchen garden environment. However you need to watch out for pests as they are very susceptible.
Carrots are also easy to grow and mature quickly. All you need to have is well-drained soil in deep containers.
Why should you buy vegetables when you can grow them?