Kitchen Garden

By Agropedia on 08 Apr 2016 | read

Submitted by naipictuasdharwad 

Kitchen Garden

It is worldly wisdom that we should eat our greens. That is the way to health, and if we grow our own greens, we will have health and happiness. Whenever you take up any creative activity you are bound to be happy, gardening included. Kitchen gardening adds so much spice to one's life. Our elders laid much emphasis on the importance of garden produce for good diet, well before doctors started advising us about vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Growing our salads using vegetables and having an occasional fruit tree to provide, lemons, mangos, and coconuts - the table will be very inviting with the occasional tomato, cucumber or lettuce picked minutes before eating.

Nature is a SHE, none can match her in wrapping, preserving and presenting food. You will appreciate all these things when you are gowing food yourself in your own backyard.

One more thing - you can be sure that they are free from all chemicals and poisons when you grow your own. You plant a good seed, provide organic manure and kitchen waste and water - that is all. No fertilizer, no poisonous insecticide, fungicides, viricides, bactericides, or weed killer. Any poison you put on your crop, you have to eat it yourself in the end. Just remember this simple truth.

Just raise a good crop, share something with the birds and the beasts. Even when you buy produce, buy only that fruit or vegetable with a mark on it showing you that it was visited by an insect. It is your guarantee that it has been tasted and found fit for your consumption. The more shiny and blemish free the produce, the more chance that they are loaded with residual poisons. Insects are nature's food tasters in this chemical infested agriculture.

The principal requirements are seeds, manure, land /containers, handy implements and supports. Decide which seeds to buy after getting the consensus of the family, only choose that which is liked by all, a judicious mix, and raise them in very small quantities just to meet your requirements. Also space them properly so that the crop matures in stages and not all at once.

The manure of the kitchen garden can be supplemented by kitchen waste and sweepings. If we inoculate it with vermiculture it would enrich the soil.

It would be prudent to divide the available space into three parts: Seed and Stem crops, Root crops, and Greens. Rotating these crops by interchanging will give them a spurt in growth and productivity.

Seeds and Stems; Beans, Capsicum, Cucumber, Lettuce, Peas, Sweet Corn, Tomato, Spinach

Root crops; Beetroot, Carrot, Onion, Potatoes, Radish.

Greens; Cabbage, Cauliflower, Knolkhol,

If serious interest is given for land preparation, all the better. You can improve your soil condition by putting in red earth, sand, and lime depending on availability. It is not necessary to kill all the other plants and sterilize the soil in the name of weeding. A live soil will be vibrant and your sown crop establishes its own harmony by striking a relationship in the root zone and establishing a mutually helpful neighborhood called mycorrhiza, just like local people welcoming new families in their neighbourhood. We interfere only when the weeds start competing with the sown crops by moderate thinning.

So it is all very interesting!

Gardens do not grow on water alone. Plants need more than seventeen mineral nutrients. We have yet to make a complete food for plants. It is not necessary. Organic manure, animal manure, and kitchen waste all have the food your garden needs, because all these three are from the plant source and moreover it has the food in the right balanced quantities, no less no more, just the right amount. No harm in putting your tea leaves or old battery cells, they work wonders with your roses and citrus plants. But not the fertilizers which are nothing but acids, salts, and petroleum which carry fire within and burn the soil, killing the soil environment.

Fertilizers are hot because they are loaded with energy and fire, whereas manure from natural sources is cool and nutritive like mother's milk. It is nature. It requires very little thinking to know what is right and what is wrong. If we honestly analyze most of our diseases we should be concerned about chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We have used so much energy, power, and pressure, in the process of manufacturing them. All that energy has to manifest itself somewhere in the food chain, and we who eat have to face the music. The safest way is to be with Nature.

We are masters in our own garden. Let us do what we think is correct. OK?

It would be nice to have a few little tools to tinker with in our garden. It may just be a trowel, a spade, a shovel, or a garden scissors, only just what you need. You will start alone, but gradually your family will join you. You will have lots of critics and expert advisors all for free!

Vegetables occupy an important place in our daily life particularly for vegetarians. Vegetables are the only source to increase not only the nutritive values of foods but also its palatability.  For a balanced diet, an adult should have an intake of 85 g of fruits and 300 g of vegetables per day as per the dietary recommendation of nutrition specialists. But the present level of production of vegetables in our country can permit a per capita consumption of only 120 g of vegetables per day.

Kitchen Garden

Considering the above facts, we should plan to produce our own vegetable requirements in our backyards using the available fresh water as well as the kitchen and bathroom wastewater. This will not only facilitate prevention of stagnation unused water which will be hazardous to our health through environmental pollution, but can be useful for successful production of our own requirement of vegetables Cultivation in a small area facilitates the methods of controlling pests and diseases through the removal of affected parts and non-use of chemicals. This is a safe practice, which does not cause toxic residues of pesticides in the vegetables produced.

Kitchen Garden Site Selection

There will be limited choice for the selection of sites for kitchen gardens.  The final choice is usually the backyard of the house.  This is convenient as the members of the family can give a constant care to the vegetables during leisure and the wastewater from the bathrooms and kitchen can easily be diverted to the vegetable beds.  The size of a kitchen garden depends upon the availability of land and number of persons for whom vegetables are to be provided.  There is no restriction in the shape of the kitchen garden but wherever possible rectangular garden is preferred to a square one.  With succession cropping and intercropping, five cents of land would be adequate to supply vegetables for an average family of four to five persons.

Land preparation

Firstly a through spade digging is made to a depth of 30-40 cm.  Stones, bushes and perennial weeds are removed. 100 kg of well decomposed farmyard manure or vermicompost is applied and mixed with the soil. Ridges and furrows are formed at a spacing of 45 cm or 60 cm as per the requirement. Flat beds can also be formed instead of ridges and furrows.

Soil Preparation

A good land preparation at the right time (like spring) maximizes the growth factors. You can have a raised bed near your house that will get its required dose of shade from the roof. Soil can be improved by adding some red earth. You can ask more about soil requirements from your neighborhood nursery. Your plot will be ready for sowing after it has been tilled.

You reap what you sow

Buy seeds according to seasons, your requirement and the amount of vegetables you would need for your family. While buying them enquire about the sowing and spacing technique of the seeds. For leafy vegetables you can sprinkle the seeds and cover them with more soil. For others you might need furrow planting while some can be transplanted.  

Manuring and watering

By adding organic fertilizers or manures you improve absorption, biochemical stimulation and growth in plants. Manures also add nutrients to the soil.

Another crucial factor for plant growth is water. However, you cannot water the kitchen garden the way you water your flower pots. These plots need abundant supply of water. Your vegetable garden needs regular irrigation for 10 days after sowing. You can then bring it down to twice or thrice every week. The soil should never be totally dry, it needs constant moist

Sowing and planting

Direct sown crops like bhendi, cluster beans and cowpea can be sown on one side of the ridges at a spacing of 30 cm. Amaranthus (meant for whole plant pull out and clipping) can be sown after mixing 1 part of seeds with 20 parts of fine sand by broadcasting in the plots. Small onion, mint and coriander can be planted/sown along the bunds of plots. Seeds of transplanted crops like tomato, brinjal and chilli can be sown in nursery beds or pots one month in advance by drawing lines. After sowing and covering with top soil and then dusting with 250 grams neem cake so as to save the seeds from ants. About 30 days after sowing for tomato and 40-45 days for brinjal and chilli and big onion the seedlings are removed from nursery and transplanted along one side of the ridges at spacing of 30-45 cm for tomato, brinjal and chilli and 10 cm on both the sides of the ridges for big onion. The plants should be irrigated immediately after planting and again on 3rd day. The seedlings can be watered once in two days in the earlier stages and then once in 4 days later. The main objective of a kitchen garden is the maximum output and a continuous supply of vegetables for the table throughout the year. By following certain procedures, this objective can easily be achieved. The perennial plants should be located on one side of the garden, usually on the rear end of the garden so that they may not shade other crops, compete for nutrition with the other vegetable crops. The adjacent to the foot path all around the garden and the central foot path may be utilised for growing different short duration green vegetables like Coriander, spinach, fenugreek, Alternanthera, Mint and

 A cropping pattern, which may prove helpful for kitchen garden under Indian conditions (excepting hill stations) is suggested below.