Now we’re getting used to spending more time at home, and having spent weeks worrying about shortages of food supply, many people’s thoughts have turned to growing their own food. As the Coronavirus crisis hit, not only were there runs on toilet rolls and tinned food, but seeds were sold in vast quantities, often to first timers in growing your own.
As a garden designer, I’m often asked to include veggie patches, raised beds, herb gardens, and sometimes even fruit orchards as part of my designs. But even if you don’t have a huge garden or acres of land, it is possible to grow lots of tasty fruit and veg, with zero food miles, and no chemicals. This may not be enough feed you and your family all year round, but it will provide you with fresh and delicious produce that will add extra zing to your cooking and salads, and can even ingratiate you with your neighbours, when you find you’ve sown too many courgettes or have a glut of raspberries on your hands that you don’t know what to do with!
So how do you go about creating a kitchen garden that can maximise the growing opportunities in a small space? Here’s my top 5 tips:
- Plant small fruit trees in pots Dwarf apple, apricots, even mulberries grow well in pots, and figs are all the better for having their roots contained. Remember to water and feed regularly as they won’t be able to reach into the soil for their nutrients.
- Grow potatoes in bags. Just add one or two seed potatoes per bag, and as they start to push out leaves, add more compost to ensure they are covered. After flowering, when the leaves die down, simply empty the entire bag into a wheelbarrow and find the hidden gold inside. The old comopost can be added to your raised beds as a soil conditioner.
- Grow upwards! Train peas, beans, mange-tout, even squashes and pumpkins up wigwams and supports to make the most of a small space. Small apple, peach and pear trees can be trained horizontally across walls and fences, taking advantage of their shelter.
- Interplant slow to mature crops with fast growing foods like radishes and lettuces in the gaps in between whilst they are growing.
- Grow perennial crops like raspberries and artichokes which readily produce food easily every year without having to start again from seed every year. Artichokes have stunning large silvery leaves and are highly ornamental in a border, so no need to relegate them to a productive garden – enjoy their fruit, flowers leaves and statuesque form all year round.