If you have limited outdoor space or not enough time for a full blown outdoor garden, a kitchen garden might be right up your alley. Before you start perusing the aisles for MiracleGro, consider making an organic garden instead. The kitchen is a great place for a organic garden for all your vegetable and herb needs. Nervous? No worries, I’ll guide you through it step by step. So, grab a planter box and some garden tools and let’s get to work!
1. First thing you need to consider is whether or not you have any pets in the house. If so, you’ll need to research any potential plants to consider whether or not they will harm your furry or feathered friends. Cats in particular are notorious for eating indoor foliage and poisoning themselves in the process. The ASPCA has a printable list of toxic and nontoxic plants for your animals’ safety, but if you’re unsure, you can always double check with your vet.
2. Next, figure out what are all the potential plants you’d like to include in your garden. Do you want fruit? Vegetables? Herbs? Flowers? All of them? Make a list of what you’d like to have and then, figure out how much room a mature plant will need.
3. Consider your space. You might only have enough room for two, two foot planters or one round planter or even a few hanging baskets. Every space is different, so be realistic about how much room you have. Remember: crowded plants are not happy plants. However, don’t be afraid to put plants high and low. You aren’t restricted to just counter space!
Once you’ve figured out your space issues, you’re almost ready to go shopping!
The Shopping List:
One good thing about planting inside, is that you don’t have to get your soil tested or take a chance on putting a plant in the ground that is ill-suited for it. If you don’t have a compost pile yet, your organic soil is available in almost any home improvement store. Additionally, organic compost and plant feed is also available at the same location.
I would suggest a half and half mixture of compost and soil for most indoor plants because they’re not going to be in direct sunlight and are therefore going to need a little richer soil than most.
If you prefer to get your own organic compost, you can either start one in your own backyard or, if you’re near any farms, go ask the farmers for some animal waste. Cow waste in particular makes excellent compost. Before you wrinkle your nose, have you ever seen a compost bag labeled Black Kow compost? Guess what it is? Yep. It’s poo. Plants love it, people garden with it. That’s the circle of life, baby.
Of course, you’ll need planters. Again, you can build your own from reclaimed or recycled objects or you can go buy some already prefabbed ones. Your call. It might be easier for you to construct something to suit the space but, if you’re not really construction savvy, it might be just as easy to go get a planter from Home Depot.
There are several types to choose from:
- Hanging Planters: These planters hang either on the wall or on your ceiling, depending on your preference. I’ve found it easier to keep animals out of these types of planters if that is a concern. Pros: The hanging planters are particularly interesting because they provide a cool visual picture that is almost art and keep the pets out of them. Cons: On that same note, I wouldn’t suggest putting plants in these that require a lot of sunlight. They’re notoriously hard to get light to without taking them down.
- Planter Box: These come in many different shapes, sizes, and prices, though commonly rectangular shaped whether they are ground-level or raised. Pros: You can fit a variety of plants in here and because of it’s rectangular construction, you should be able to water and prune these without difficulty. Cons: They can be heavy once they’re full and you may need help moving them around. Additionally, animals tend to dig in these more than any other type because they feel that the structure is steady enough to support them. Finally, because they’re harder to move, unless you want to invest in a grow lamp (which I highly recommend you do anyway), it might be a pain to move it wherever the sun goes to get the needed light.
- Planting Pot: The most famous of all planter types, the planting pots are usually round, come in a plethora of sizes and can be found on end tables, coffee tables, kitchen tables and kitchen islands everywhere. Pros: They’re easy to move, easy to rearrange and can be relocated easily if needed. You can also ensure the soil, water and humidity levels for each plant is optimal. Cons: You can only have a few plants per pot and, even if you get a larger pot, most herbs, vegetables and even flowers don’t have roots deep enough to utilize all the leftover space efficiently.
Your best bet is to get a mix of the three types for a really efficient working kitchen garden. Use your hanging planters for plants that don’t require as much light. Use planting boxes for things like tomatoes that you’ll need to stake up as they mature or use them for those plants that only require a medium amount of sun exposure. Finally, use planting pots for plants like orchids or aloe which requires specialty soils or additional special care separate from the rest of your garden.
Your next question should be: juvenile plants or seeds?
If you’re new to gardening, I would go with some juvenile plants if you can find them. Starting seeds can sometimes be frustrating but if you want to take it from the ground up, go with a seed starter kit like this one.
I would suggest planting the juvenile plants outside because this part can get quite messy.
- Put a good thick layer of your compost/top soil mixture in the bottom, at least 3 inches or however much it takes for the bottom of the plant to be roughly 1 inch below the top of the container.
- DO NOT PULL THE PLANT OUT OF ITS CONTAINER BY THE STEM! It’s a good way to break your plant or damage it irrevocably. Instead, cut off the plastic with a pair of heavy duty scissors, just be careful not to clip the root.
- Place plant in the planter with at least 6 to 12 inches separating each plant and then fill in the rest of the planter with your mixture.
- Congratulations! You’ve achieved a kitchen garden!
How often to water?
The plants should come with some instruction for when is best to water. It will be more or less depending on the temperature of your home and the humidity level. If it doesn’t, once a week is great for most common veggies and indoor plants. Most nurseries and bloggers have great suggestions if you get stuck on something.
How much sun?
Again, it depends on the plant, however, you’ll notice that your plants either stop growing or become puny looking whenever they are without a good amount of sunlight. Either move the plants to a sunnier position or get a indoor plant light like this one or this one. I suggest getting an indoor plant light if you’re going to get into indoor gardening. It’ll come in handy, especially during the shorter months.
Just that simple! You’ll be a planting fool in no time flat. Enjoy!
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