Homes and Property

A beginner’s guide to kitchen gardening

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A kitchen garden gives you the chance to grow your own food and saves you from buying it from the market.  

By CONSTANCE OBONYO

Posted  Wednesday, January 22  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Love to cook food fresh from the garden? With a garden right in your compound, you can get these much cheaper and easier. Someone who is already doing it shares his tips.

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A kitchen garden with a lot of fresh fruit, herb and vegetable goodies is a dream most homeowners aspire to. Peter Oketch, a salesperson with Basiima Stone Workshop in Najjanankumbi who owns a kitchen garden, shares tips for beginners:

Plenty of sun is essential
Most sun-loving plants (and this includes vegetables) will require a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day. Find a patch that offers plenty of this for your garden.

Boost your soil’s fertility
If you want to have healthy plants, aim for rich soil that drains well and is crumbly. Add whatever you can to it if you don’t have suitable soil. Adding a lot of organic matter like compost is a good place to start.
Start small
Curb the urge to rush out and copy a large kitchen garden you may have come across and admired. Nothing dampens enthusiasm like an unfinished first project.
If it is your first garden, you can get overwhelmed by all the weeding and maintenance. Start with a small patch and grow it with time and experience.

Wait for the rains
As a beginner, you are better off planting during the rainy season. Then, you don’t have to add watering to your daily chores and you can concentrate on other maintenance essentials, like weeding.

Mulching is important
Mulching may not be essential, but it is important. It will keep your soil moist, suppress weeds and keep your chores to a minimum.
Mix your plants
Grouping the same type of plant in an area attracts pests that can wipe your garden out. A pest that attacks beans but finds a maize plant next to it would have its eating cycle disrupted. This would help minimise damage to your plants.

Guard against drought
During dry spells, since kitchen gardens are usually small, find a way of covering your plants from the excess heat. A small shed made of wooden poles and leaves would suffice.
And you don’t have to hide your garden in the backyard either.
Some people have planted their vegetables in main flowerbeds where they have settled comfortably without looking tacky.
Experiment with new ideas to find out what works best for you.

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