A kitchen garden is where herbs and vegetables are grown around the house for household use. Since early times a small plot near to the house has been used for growing a variety of vegetables according to the season. Local varieties such as radish, broad leaf mustard, chilli, beans, pumpkins etc. are all grown in the kitchen garden.
In this chapter we provide information on how to establish and manage kitchen gardens with minimum input for maximum output, and show how to produce varied and nutritious crops of herbs and vegetables for use in the kitchen. For people to stay healthy it’s very important to have a healthy diet. A healthy diet means a balanced mix of rice, bread, pulses, vegetables, herbs, fruit etc. Vegetables are a very important part of a good diet as they contain various nutrients for many body functions. For growing, energy and protection against disease, vegetables play an essential role.
Vegetables are especially important for the young, and for pregnant and nursing women.
- to grow healthy, fresh vegetables yourself;
- to save the cost of buying vegetables and herbs;
- waste resources such as sweepings, kitchen scraps and dirty water can be recycled onto the garden;
- wasteland around the house can be made productive.
Because there’s often no tradition of kitchen gardens, many people can’t grow the vegetables they need for a good diet. Or they spend lots of money on vegetables, or their health suffers from lack of vegetables. It may be that you haven’t been able to make a kitchen garden. There are several reasons why it may be difficult to make a kitchen garden, or if you have made one, it is not successful.
- pests, diseases or livestock have destroyed the crop;
- no good seed or seedlings;
- lack of space;
- lack of water;
- lack of fertility;
- no spare time;
- lack of the right skills.
These vegetables have wilted because of lack of water. In this chapter easy methods are described to solve these sorts of problems, and so help the family to be able to grow good produce from their kitchen garden.
Benefits of the Kitchen Garden
- Beneficial Connections in the Kitchen Garden
- collecting waste water
- home nursery (hot bed, fruit nursery, etc.)
- living fence
- vegetable beds
- livestock stall
- sweepings pit
- air nursery
- fence (not living)
- liquid manure
How to make the work easier in the Kitchen Garden
- domestic waste water collection
- ash, water, hair, etc. composting resources from the house to the land
- seeds from the garden to house and from house to garden
- sweepings from the house and courtyard
- waste water used for irrigation in the kitchen garden
- use of compost
- liquid manure also used to control pests and disease
- fodder from the land and live fence, and compost returned to the land
- mulch material from the live fence and edges
- vegetables etc. from the kitchen garden to the house
Things to pay attention to
To make and manage a kitchen garden easily, and to give best production, the following things are important:-
- Site selection
- Water management
- Seed & seedlings
- Design of the garden
Good management of the garden needs knowledge of all these. Then we can make our kitchen garden more successful.
If you already have a kitchen garden you may not need to choose a new site, it’s enough to improve the old site. If you are making a new garden, there are many factors to consider. For example: –
- how to protect from livestock?
- how can you bring water to the site and distribute it?
- how is the soil? How can the fertility needs be managed?
- where is the sunlight coming from?
- how can the area be accessed easily from the house?
When these issues are considered, the best site can be chosen and the work of making the garden will be easier.
The kitchen garden area needs protection from the very start. It should not be possible for livestock to enter the area. A permanent fence should be made. Thorny plants can be cut and used to make a fence, but the best method is to plant a living fence to protect the garden.
Then, the crops within the garden will also need protection from damage by many types of pest and disease. There are many ways to do this. Mixed cropping, rotations, liquid manure, etc. are all ways of protecting crops. There is more information about crop protection in the chapter Integrated Pest Management.
It is important to provide enough moisture for the kitchen garden. There are many ways of conserving and increasing the moisture available. For example:-
Mulching: prevents the wind and sun drying the bare soil;
Green Manures: also cover the soil, and so help in conserving water;
Windbreak: wind will dry out the soil, so stopping the wind helps to conserve soil moisture;
Provide shade: in the hot season trees can provide shade to the kitchen garden. A few small trees, such as Lucaena, mulberry, Moringa (drumstick), Persian lilac, or even fruit trees in the fence or within the garden can be used for this. As well as giving shade, these trees can also provide other benefits, such as firewood, fodder or mulch material.
Mist collection: mist collects on the leaves of trees around and within the kitchen garden, and drips onto the soil to provide extra moisture.
Irrigation: if there is no irrigation for main food crops, it is likely that there is also not enough water to irrigate the kitchen garden. But if the above methods are used, then more water is conserved and so less is needed. Collecting and using waste water from the kitchen can be enough to water the garden. Also, direct water from communal tap stands can be used on kitchen gardens.