Lessons learnt in my kitchen garden

I have really enjoyed growing vegetables in the new raised beds this year, though the earlier part of the year had rain, rain and more rain with a rather late onset of summer. The raised beds were inspired by Grow all you can eat in 3 square feeta must read for all those who are venturing into kitchen gardening …or even considering it!

There are things I’d like to say I would do differently next year and I’d like to share these so that it can be helpful to you too:

  • On the flip side, the dwarf beans, spinach and chard that I tried this summer were so tasty and rewarding that I will be planting more of each next spring. These vegetables I found are not difficult to grow and can be a good way to start your kitchen garden.
  • Courgettes and butternut squash needed a lot of room this year and the huge courgette leaves shaded the other vegetables in the raised bed. They both seem to be great ramblers and need to be planted where there will be enough space for them to do so. I also now know that the reason I harvested very few courgettes and no butternut squash is because these plants need a lot of rich compost and as such I will enrich the soil using lots of manure before planting these two varieties.

  • Next spring I will plant flowers close to the vegetables – I noticed this year that some plants in my flowerbeds were alive with bees whereas the plants in my raised beds were missing out! One plant which hosted coach loads of bees was the golden marjoram that I had initially planted in my flower border for its leaves as they look beautifully bright when the sun come out. So I will be planting golden marjoram as well as others like lavender closer to my raised beds to help pollinate the flowers of the vegetable plants.
  • I have grown cucumbers for the first time this year as Phil, a friend gave me a seedling to try out. Next year, I will definitely be growing more of these and set a trellis next to them as need support to climb up. The cucumbers I harvested were so tasty and nothing like the ones from the supermarket …as autumn is setting, I’m missing my garden cucumbers already!

  • I have had unwelcome visitors especially at the beginning of summer, particularly when the plants were very young. Pests like slugs and snails gathered pace but we have simply picked up as soon as we saw them. Although it was very wet weather for the first half of summer this year, we were able to get on top of this problem. This autumn, I also have been picking up a few caterpillars lingering on the young kale and purple sprouting broccoli and again picking them off has helped to keep the problem at bay. Netting has helped to keep the birds, especially pigeons and squirrels off the vegetables. So please do not be put off by pests, I have found that keeping a regular check on your kitchen garden for intruders is well worth it!

Most importantly, grow vegetables and fruits you enjoy eating, especially the easier to grow varieties like the beans, perpetual spinach and chard that I started with this year. It is an addictive habit that results in fresh tasty vegetables! Have a go, start with a flowerpot and a few seeds … you might just surprise yourself!

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