Fresh From Your Garden | gardening

Concerned about what is in your food?  Read the labels and see all the additives that are in just a can of peaches, greenbeans, or even something as basic as spinach.  Even worse are the additives they don’t tell you about. . .pesticides, growth hormones, even insect resistant hormones.  But there is another problem recently being discussed; that is nutrient depletion.Plants grown in the same area repeatedly begin to deplete the area of vital nutrients, not only for the plant but for the consumer as well.  What is the solution to the problem?  Home gardening. A kitchen garden doesn’t have to be a large garden.  Kitchen gardens have been around for hundreds of years.  These little gardens can be laid out in various places across the lawn.  A small area walled off by spinach on the outside with peas growing in the middle makes an attractive corner.  In another corner could be a yummy blueberry bush with small heads of lettuce in a roll in front.  Edging this little corner could be any number of herbs or edible flowers.  With a little planning anyone can have a nice kitchen garden to enjoy year round.  You can also store much of your harvest by canning, freezing, or drying. (More of that to come.)The kitchen garden can hold its own against any picturesque landscape.  It competes easily with a lush front lawn or even a flower garden.  Many kitchen plants have beautiful flowers and foliage of their own. The kitchen garden doesn’t have to be planted way off in the back.  After all who wants to go on a hike just to get a little spice for supper?  The kitchen garden needs to be close to the kitchen.  Easy access makes the garden more appealing.  The look of the garden itself is already attractive.  Even a deck can be a perfect place for a small garden.  Large containers and potting boxes supply just the area needed for the vegetables and herbs.What do you plant in a kitchen garden?  What ever you use in your kitchen.  From spices to vegetables to little garnishes all these can be planted in your garden.  Many of these wonderful goodies also come with their own home remedies to common ailments.  Just think, a medicine cabinet in your own garden!The most valuable tool at this stage is the mighty pen (and of course paper goes with it!)  Begin writing down what you want in your garden.  What do you like to eat?  What would are your needs and preferences?  Consider vegetables, flowers, fruits or berries, and herbs.  Write these down.Now assess what you have.  Look at your lawn.  Is it begging for attention?  Does it need some landscaping?  Change the scenery with your kitchen garden.  Do you have a sunny garden spot? (Use your imagination.)  Is there a shady place in a corner?  Divide the garden up.  It doesn’t have to be one large plot.  Consider your patio.  Large containers and garden boxes make a great patio garden.  Examine your time, space and needs.  Budget your garden to fit your life style as well as your pocket book.Climate and season are also important.  Not every plant grows well in every climate, but don’t limit yourself to just one season either.  Climates can vary even in your backyard.  One area that gets plenty of direct sunlight for several hours a day would be different in climate to the area that is constantly in the shade.  Different plants can be grown in each of these areas.  If you have a small garden pond the humidity there will be greater than an area away from the pond.Don’t try to hide your garden.  Let these miniature ecosystems take on personalities of their own.  They can enhance the rest of your landscape and develop a continuing theme, or each garden can become its own section, like verses in a song.  The herb garden can be separate from the salad garden.  A floral garden can be in another area.  Use your imagination and let the landscape come alive.Section off your areas with hedges or small fences.  In the past these kitchen gardens were often enclosed to separate them from the surrounding world.  Let that idea create a smart well dressed look to your garden. Summarizing it up: 1.  Decide where to put your garden (keep it close to the kitchen) 
2.  Decide what to plant. 
3.  Know your climate and the needs of the plant. 
4.  Prepare your ground for planting.