How to Start and Maintain a Kitchen Garden

Nowadays, many of us live in urban, highly populated areas, making it almost impossible to have an outdoor garden. This resulted in people, mainly in big cities, growing various vegetables and herbs indoors. And it has now turned out to be a great addition to the looks and overall appearance of any home. Apart from adding fresh fragrance and greenery to a room, indoor herb and veggie gardens have other amazing benefits and are also easy to make and look after.

In case creating your own indoor kitchen gardens sounds too difficult or time-consuming, there’s no need to worry,  as there are different traditional, windowsill, and hydroponic indoor garden kits.  

Before we begin, though, let’s take a look at all the advantages indoor gardens have to offer! 

Benefits of indoor kitchen gardens 

Bring the outside in 

Do you have no outdoor space? No worries, you can still create your own little green heaven inside. There’s actually a long list of vegetables and herbs that will thrive in your kitchen. Additionally, by bringing your greens inside you protect them from pests, extreme weather conditions and other factors that endanger the healthy growth of plants. 

Save money and time 

Growing your own herbs and vegetables at home will help you shorten your shopping list, save you some money, and even allow you to do some last-minute experimenting without an extra trip to the shops. By having a kitchen garden around, you will have amazing herbs and spices such as coriander, chilli peppers, spearmint and much more, available at all times. 

Eco-friendly 

Creating a kitchen garden is also a way to fight the biggest issue we face nowadays – climate change. In fact, the reason behind the sky-high prices of out-of-season greenery is partially based on the need for shipping products all the way across the world. Vegetables, fruit, and herbs then need to be distributed to supermarkets, which has a horrible impact on our environment. When buying produce, you are also unaware of the possible harmful chemicals that have been used to grow it. Although many institutions in western countries forbid the use of such chemicals, scientists believe that pesticide alternatives can also harm bees and other endangered populations. 

Pleasing decor additions 

Numerous studies have shown that having greenery inside increases productivity and wellbeing. Although our understanding of these benefits has not reached 100%, it has been proven that greenery increases memory retention and concentration. 

How to make an indoor kitchen garden?

Whilst making your own kitchen garden indoors is way easier than any other form of gardening, there are a few key factors that need to be considered. 

Pick the best veggies and herbs to grow indoors

Before purchasing seeds, make sure you do your research on which plants grow best indoors and together so that you optimise your space. Great veggies and herbs to plant in your garden are cherry tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, and rosemary, dill, sage, and basil. 

The best way to go about this is to choose greens, based on the dishes you enjoy the most. In case you love Mediterranean food, for example, then consider planting dill for making Tzatziki. Or do you enjoy pizza nights with friends? You can amaze them with a pizza made with fresh tomatoes and basil. 

Choose the right spot 

Now, when you have selected a nice variety of vegetables and herbs, it’s time to decide on the perfect spot to grow them, whilst still considering how much free space you will be working with. People often get surprised when they find out that herbs and vegetables don’t actually require that much space at all. However, you may have to get creative here and experiment with methods, such as shelving, ropes and use appliances to your advantage, to optimise the available space as much as possible.

Something important to keep in mind is that you’ll need to provide your plants with a sufficient amount of light. This being said, your kitchen window is a great place for your indoor garden. In case your home doesn’t get enough sunlight during the day, you can head to the closest garden centre and purchase a grow light. Those lights will make a huge difference and help your plants thrive the same way they would outdoors. 

Get your hands dirty 

Now that you’ve considered building an indoor kitchen garden, it would be good to know your options. You can start from scratch by planting seeds, or you can get grown plants if you would like to skip the first few steps.

In order to start growing your veggies and herbs from seeds, you need the following supplies (apart from the glowing lights, which would come in handy later on):

  • Seed-starting mix
  • Seeds
  • Water spray bottle
  • Small pots (with good drainage) 
  • Plastic cover (you can use plastic bags, cut old plastic bottles, or cling film) 

And now that you’ve got all you need for the gardening project, let’s have a look at the step-by-step how-to:

  1. Add some water to the seed-starting mix until it’s slightly damp, and stir the soil to make sure it’s all moistened.
  2. Fill the pots with the soil about ⅔ to the top and place 3-4 seeds in each one. Then cover the seeds with the moistened soil to the top of the pot. 
  3. Gently pat the soil to be sure that there is contact between the soil mix and the seeds. 
  4. Cover the pots with a plastic wrap of some sort to keep the moisture in. Keep the dome on top until you notice the first sprout. Removing the cover would give your new seeding the required air to keep developing. 

Important: Always check the instructions on the packaging of seed-starting mixes, as each plant and the appropriate mixes can have different requirements. 

Maintenance of indoor veggies and herbs

Even though indoor gardens usually don’t require a complicated maintenance schedule, there are still a few essential things you need to do that would ensure the healthy growth of your plants. Take the following into account and let your veggies and herbs flourish, without much effort. 

Water 

Almost all veggies and herbs require well-drained soil to get their delicious flavours. You may be tempted to water your greens every day to help them grow, however, herbs only require watering when their soil feels dry to the touch.

The water needs of different plants also depend on their stage and the soil type. For freshly seeded soil, for example, try to keep the soil moist for a longer period of time, spacing out watering with time. Greens that grow in sandy soils also require extra watering, than those in clay soils. 

Feed

Avoid over fertilising your kitchen garden. Vegetables and herbs that receive an unnatural amount of nutrients, especially nitrogen, tend to lose or have little flavour.  Organic fertilisers, that decompose slowly, are a great substitute. If the seed-starting mix seems to be doing its job well, you should probably continue with the same type of plant food as well.  In case you are unfamiliar with plant food, simply do your research on how to feed your greens. 

Over fertilising your garden can lead to unexpected and unnatural growth. The roots are then unable to provide the greens with enough nutrients and water, which can lead to a loss of flavour in herbs, and less produce for vegetables and fruits. 

Harvest occasionally

There’s nothing that stimulates healthy growth and strong flavours more than pinching the ends and harvesting vegetables when ready. You can cut about 5 cm off the plant tips on a regular basis, stimulating a new growth process. If you want your herbs to be bushier, cut the flowers that have developed and clean any dead stems.  

Transplant when needed 

Unfortunately, all plants eventually overgrow their small pots and need more space. If you notice roots peaking out of the drainage holes, this is your plant indicating that they need bigger pots. This is when you should consider either moving them outside or, in case this isn’t possible, distributing them in sunny spots around your home or giving stems to your friends and family!

Be patient

Most importantly, don’t lose hope. Every gardener has killed a plant- it’s a learning process. Don’t be shy and join gardening forums, read popular gardening blogs, and ask for more information in gardening centres.

Conclusion

As you are probably already convinced, it isn’t that difficult to create the perfect indoor kitchen garden for you and your family. Growing an indoor veggie and herb garden is not just an eco-friendly way for the inexperienced to get some of their groceries sorted, but it is also a great way to connect with nature.