Kitchen garden is a concept that involves planting herbs and vegetables that you use daily in your kitchen. For a creamy pasta sauce you might need to top it with basil leaves to give it the right aroma and flavor. When you have made spicy biryani, but need some fresh coriander leaves as garnish, you can always pluck a handful of coriander leaves from your kitchen garden and sprinkle them on top of your dish to give it extra flavor and visual appeal. If you have a balcony that wears a deserted look — with unused items, trash, brooms and unused furniture, you might want to create a small kitchen garden on a balcony and make good use of the space.
Easy tips to grow your own kitchen garden on a balcony
Converting your lifeless balcony into a green haven of herbs is what you should aim for. This can be achieved in small easy steps, and voila! you have your own kitchen garden.
All you need is love for plants and an appreciation of home-grown organic herbs. Some of the best beginner tips for a DIY kitchen garden on a balcony are as follows:
- Choose a sunny spot
- Start simple
- Research on what to grow
- DIY organic compost
- Not much space? Try vertical garden
- Names of plants to grow
- Rotation is good
Let us discuss all these factors in detail.
Choose a sunny spot
As sunlight is one of the main sources of energy for plants, it’s important to choose a spot that receives ample amount of sunlight for a major part of the day. But not all plants need direct sunlight. Choose the perfect spot on your balcony where the plant can enjoy the right amount of sunlight. If your plant needs more shade then don’t place it where it will receive direct sunlight. Choose a spot where there’s some shade. If you don’t have enough space in your balcony, you can make use of the space on your windowsill or patio.
Give your DIY kitchen garden a simple start. Don’t overburden yourself by planting all kinds of plants at one time. An important kitchen gardening tip: Use plants that are easy to grow and require less maintenance. Plants that are more commonly used in the household, like mint and coriander, are also fairly easy to grow. Just take a pot with half manure and half amount of plain soil (more commonly known as bhalo mitti). Dig an inch into the ground and drop some coriander seeds into the soil. Cover the soil and water it. In a week’s time you will see new sprouts.
Research on what to grow
When starting your own kitchen garden on a balcony, always do your planning and research bit first. What things you should grow in the given weather conditions of your apartment or house. Also, the season in which you are planning your kitchen garden also plays a significant role in deciding which plants would be best suited. Tomatoes, capsicum and brinjals require abundant sunlight. Cabbage, broccoli and carrots flourish in cold-weather.
DIY organic compost for your soil
Having the right mixture of soil in which you can grow your plants is one of the most important steps in the whole process. Since the plants will be grown in pots, it’s important to use nutrient-dense soil packed with essential minerals. To achieve this, you can make your own fertilizer at home by using kitchen scraps. To make an organic compost for your soil, do not throw away fruit rinds, vegetable peels and eggshells. Instead throw them in your compost bin with some grass straw, paper shreds and soil. Keep the mixture moist and use a garden pitchfork to mix it well. This will help create the right organic compost for your kitchen garden.
Not much space? Try vertical garden
Don’t let small space put you off from trying out your kitchen garden on a balcony. One of the innovative ways to let your plants grow is to make use of the vertical space and create your own vertical garden. You can buy hanging pots and mount them on the balcony’s wall. You can also plant orchids in hanging pots. It gives a nice colorful feel to the space. A number of plants like gourds, peas can grow vertically without requiring much attention.
Names of plants to grow
In Pakistan, you can easily grow a variety of vegetables in a kitchen garden and turn your balcony into a vegetable garden. Spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, brinjals, coriander, mint (dhanya, podina), cucumber, cabbage and also okra (bhindi) can be grown quite easily in small pots. People also sow beetroot and basil leaves (tulsi) in pots for their kitchen garden. Herbs and salad crops like tulsi, dhanya, podina, rocket leaves (ajwain k pattay), lettuce always come in handy when making salad or garnishing your dish with fresh herbs. You can get the seeds of these vegetables and herbs from a nearby garden store.
Herbs that you can grow on your own
People also harvest spring onion, garlic and fenugreek leaves in their kitchen garden.
For spring onions, sow an onion deep into the pot. Cover with soil. Water it daily. In a week or two you will see new spring onion leaves sprout. When you want to use these leaves, always cut the outer leaves and never cut the inner leaves as it will kill the plant.
If you are interested in harvesting mint leaves, then a quick way to get an organic produce of mint leaves is to buy a handful of podina from the local market. Remove its leaves. Take the stem and cut its ends then keep it soaked in water. Once you see roots emerging, sow them in the soil. In a week’s time you will get fresh mint leaves. A rule of thumb: never pluck leaves from the top, but always from the sides. Pluck the older leaves first. That way the plant will keep on producing more fresh mint leaves.
For garlic leaves that you can use it in omelettes, salads or in sauces. Sow a clove of garlic into the soil. Water it daily. Garlic leaves will sprout in a week or two.
So, are you prepared to take on your next DIY project? For more articles and blogs related to gardening, home décor and lifestyle stay tuned to the best lifestyle blog in Pakistan.