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Published February 9th 2011
Imagine using fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs every night when you cook dinner. Does that sound outrageously expensive? Not if you plant yourself a kitchen garden.
The kitchen garden originated in Victorian times and was a regular feature in country manors. Unlike the ornamental gardens, the kitchen garden was entirely practical; the space contained the produce, herbs and edible flowers that were used to feed the manors residents. The plants were also used for teas, medicine, craft and other purposes.
The kitchen garden was planned and plotted carefully to make the most of the space and the plants. The selected plants often served several purposes, for example, mint could be used in cooking, in teas and for medicinal purposes. Since you do not have the acres of land afforded to the Victorian upper class, you will need to be even more careful when planning your garden.
No kitchen garden was complete without a herb garden. This was often the most elaborate part, as herbs had many uses. The great thing about growing a herb garden is that it doesn't need to take up a lot of space. You can grow your herbs from seeds or from cuttings; both are available at any nursery or in the garden section of your local department store. See this article for more information.
Fruits and vegetables take up a lot more room so you may have to narrow down your choices here. The most important thing to contemplate is the needs of the household. You should grow the produce you eat the most.
You will also need to consider your own gardening skills. Amateur gardeners should begin with easy crops, while green thumbs can try something trickier.
Finally, use the size of your backyard and the climate as a guide. This website will tell you all you need to know about climate zones.
Tomatoes and strawberries are easy to grow and a good crop to get your started.
Tomato A popular and versatile plant, tomatoes are nearly impossible to kill. All you need to do is take a fresh tomato, remove the seeds and bury them in fertilised soil. You can, of course, purchase seedlings from a nursery if you would prefer. Once the plant starts to grow, you will need to attach the vine to a fence or wooden stake.
Strawberries thrive in the Australian climate and they don't take up a lot of space. Plus, of course, they're delicious. Before you plant your strawberries, remove all weeds and grass from the soil and add a generous amount of manure or compost to enrich the soil. Leave a gap of about thirty centimetres between each plant.
This fruit is very susceptible to attack from slugs and birds. Keep pests away by culling the ripe berries regularly and placing mothballs or pans of stale beer around the patch.