Six Edible Plants Every Kitchen Garden Needs
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Regular readers of this blog will know I love to be surrounded by nature and ‘green things’ – the clue is in the name of the site, right?! But there’s more to it than just enjoying gazing out onto grass and trees. While we all know getting into nature is good for our health, research shows that even taking care of a few house plants from a reputable supplier can pay dividends. In fact NASA tells us that some house plants absorb pollutants from the air such as formaldehyde, toulene and benzene. To find out how many plants you need in your home and which ones remove which pollutants, check out this post.
Once you’re good at looking after house plants, why not move onto edibles? There is little more satisfying than adding a flourish to the meal you’ve just created with fresh herbs, vegetables, or fruit that you have grown in your own garden. The great thing is that you don’t even need to have a large garden or any garden to grow your own edible plants. You can get great results in a small kitchen garden or a collection of window boxes.
Here are six options of plants I’ve grown successfully in containers on my patio:
- Runner Beans
Runner beans can be planted in the middle of the spring and will do well in a large pot, as long as you can build a supportive structure, as they like to climb. Runner beans are hungry plants, so make sure you have some good quality compost in the soil to ensure they have all the nutrients they need. Water them well once the plants have seed pods and you’ll need to protect them from slugs until the plants are established. Runner beans are well worth the effort because the harvest is impressive and you can freeze a glut.
The cucumber is a staple of any salad and surprisingly easy to grow. They should be planted in late spring to ensure they have plenty of warm weather. You can plant seeds but you should put them on their side, this prevents rotting. Cucumbers like plenty of water and sunshine; so make sure they are south facing. They will mature quickly and it’s best to harvest them when they are small, that is when they have the best flavour.
This root vegetable is not always the most popular but, for those that do enjoy it, you’ll be happy to know you can grow it in a pot. Simply plant the seeds in the spring and water them occasionally. When they are ready you can harvest the vegetable and the leaves, it’s all delicious. I eat beetroot most days – a couple of times a week, I’ll roast them in the oven with olive oil, then use them throughout the week chopped up and added to rice, salads or just eaten as a side vegetable. For more details about the amazing health benefits of beetroot, check out this post.
There are many different herbs that can be grown in your kitchen garden. All you have to do is create a rack of small pots and add the ones that you like the most. They grow quickly and many herbs can be harvested throughout the year. That means you will always be able to give your food the extra special ingredient it deserves. I love growing thyme and sage because you can still pick them in the winter. And I have a regular supply of lemon balm and mint for making tea.
Strawberries can be grown in a pot or a variety of other containers, they usually work best when layered and the fruit has room to hang down. This is another plant that needs very little attention. Simply make sure there is some compost in the soil, plant them in the early spring, and give them plenty of water. Just make sure you protect the plants from slugs and make sure you have some cream handy when you’re ready to harvest them!
This is another staple of every salad and it’s very easy to grow. You may even be surprised by how tasty freshly grown salad is. It’s very different to shop bought salad bags. It likes a sunny spot and they are ideal for smaller pots because they don’ t need to put down deep roots. . The seeds only need to be sown 3-5cms deep. If you sow them in mid-spring, they’ll be ready to harvest during the summer. But be aware that in a very hot summer, plants can bolt, so move them somewhere with shade from the afternoon sun.
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