Ideally, start in the fall by breaking up the soil,
removing large rocks, then adding compost or other organic
material and perhaps a cover crop to make the soil more
fertile for spring planting. “Yeah, yeah, but we're starting
now!” Well, do take time to remove sod or weeds from your
plot, and add compost and manure. After planting, be sure
to mulch with straw, wood chips, and/or cocoa bean hulls
to keep the weeds down and the water in.
If you garden in containers, use good-quality potting
soil and fertilize every week.
In small gardens, growing vertically saves precious
space. Peas, pole beans, cucumbers, sweet peas, the sprawling
vine-like indeterminate varieties of tomatoes (determinate
varieties grow into tidier, bushy plants), and even small
pumpkins and melons can be grown up trellises, fences
What goes in a kitchen
Kitchen gardens are most fun when they are both
practical and pretty. Mix up vegetables and flowers, because
eating your own food at a table set with a vase of your
own flowers is as good as it gets. Here are some of our
leap to mind immediately as great vegetables for
children to grow. Large pumpkin seeds are easy to plant.
Harvesting and carving their own Jack O' Lanterns makes
kids so proud. Pumpkin vines get big and wander, so for
small spaces or in containers, grow cute little pumpkins
like Baby Bear, Jack Be Little or New England Pie.
Carrots do well
in light, rock-free soil. On the other hand, you get interesting,
leggy carrots in hard, rocky soil. Varieties that are
harvested as baby carrots, like Little Finger, and round
varieties like Thumbelina, are good for heavy soil or
Green beans taste
best eaten warm and raw right out of the garden. Purple
varieties, like Royal Burgundy, are easy for kids to spot
among the green leaves and gobble up. Make a teepee out
of four long bamboo poles, tie it at the top with twine,
put it in a pot or the ground, and grow your green beans
up the poles.
called pot marigold), with their prehistoric-looking seeds,
and nasturtiums are two easy-to-grow flowers
I love. They both reseed themselves in our garden and
are bright orange, yellow and red contrasts to green leaves
a place in a family kitchen garden. We grow sweet small
cantaloupes, a French variety called Charentais, and are
still trying for success with watermelon - maybe this
Cherry tomatoes like
Sweet 100s, Sun Gold and red and yellow pear tomatoes
make delicious, sweet snacks for kids taking a break from
tree-climbing or hide-and-seek. Cherry tomatoes ripen
much earlier than bigger tomatoes making them favorites
of impatient gardeners.
Potatoes are indescribably
amazing to dig up. They seem to magically pop out of the
dirt. Potatoes are easy to grow in containers or even
a bag of potting soil, and homegrown, freshly dug potatoes
are the most tender you will eat.
especially herbs with fruity fragrances, encourage children
to touch and smell and taste in the garden. Some really
luscious herbs are lemon basil, lime basil, tarragon,
rosemary, pineapple sage, cinnamon basil, and lemon verbena
Use vegetables as ornamental
Eggplant, red chard, Bright Lights chard, oak leaf
and Red Sails lettuces, kale, artichokes and many other
vegetables are attractive plants that would deserve a
second look even if they weren't edible. Slip beautiful
vegetables into flower pots, flower beds or along the
driveway to increase your harvest.
However large or small your kitchen garden, there is
nothing like growing and eating your own.
a Kitchen Garden