How to Establish a Kitchen Herb and Salad Garden
Summer is about to get in full swing and perhaps you would like to consider growing your own organic salad supplies and herbs at home where you can pick them fresh when you need them.
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A lot of people think about establishing a home herb or kitchen garden but that's about as far as they go. Summer is just around the corner and we will be looking forward to a crisp, fresh salad to accompany meals on the braai, or wanting fresh aromatic herbs to add to savoury dishes. If you are keen to grow salad greens and herbs in the kitchen or on a balcony, here are some tips to get you started.
Before we get started, I wanted to share my sustainable gardening project, where I started growing a few veggies just over a month ago and my family are now enjoying fresh lettuce every day, as well as a few other staple herbs. The tomatoes are a tad small at the moment but it won't be long before I can pick lettuce, tomatoes and onions from my own garden for serving fresh to the table.
Not everyone has the space outdoors to a vegetable or herb garden, but a kitchen garden will take up almost no space if it is mounting in front of a sunny window, and you will be able to enjoy picking organic salad greens and herbs as and when you need them.
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GROW SALAD GREENS AND STAPLES INDOORS
My family and I all love a fresh, crisp green salad during the hotter months of the year and growing my own has saved me a fair bit of money. But it's not just about saving money, it's about growing organic and being able to pick them fresh.
Growing lettuce, tomatoes and onions indoors is not difficult and all you ideally need is a sunny window where you can set up a shelf with containers to grow your own. If you don't have a sunny place in the kitchen, nowadays its easy to set up grow lights to provide the right amount of light for healthy growth. And if there's no space for a window garden, perhaps you can look at the option of a window box on the outside of the window!
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- Grow lettuce indoors
Lettuce don't need large pots, since their root system is not aggressive and won't take up a lot of space. A 10cm diameter flower pot is more than sufficient for a single lettuce.
Fill up your plant pots with a seedling mix. This is far better than plain garden soil and it contains nutrients to get seedlings started.
Place a lettuce seed in each pot and watch them flourish in no time. Once they reach the right height you can start picking leaves from the outside and let the lettuce continue growing.
If you sow seeds regularly - say every 2 weeks - you will have a continuous supply of lettuce that should see you through the summer.
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- Grow onions indoors
While you can grow all types of onions indoors if the conditions are right, it is far better to only plant spring onions for a kitchen garden. These take up far less space and will grow far quick than bulb onions.
Spring onions don't require large pots but you can use larger pots and plant more spring onions in each one. Make sure to leave plenty of room when sowing seeds so that each plant has room to grow.
A quality seedling mix instead of soil will provide all the nutrients the seedlings require for good growth.
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- Grow tomatoes indoors
Just like lettuce and onions, you can grow tomatoes indoors in the same way. It's a far that tomatoes grown indoors under the right conditions will be far less prone to attack by pests and diseases.
Unlike the other salad staples, tomatoes will require a larger pot, say around 20cm in diameter, to accommodate their root system. They will also require room to grow in height and a support system.
Start with an enriched, well-drained soil and only pop a single seed in each pot. If you want a continuous supply of tomatoes, have more pots available for planting.
Tomatoes love a sunny spot and, like all the above, a regular watering.
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If you treat your kitchen herbs and salad greens with love and care, they will nourish and provide for your family in return.