How to: start a kitchen garden

How to: start a kitchen garden

kitchen garden

Growing your own veggies, herbs, and even fruit is easier than you think!

Urban lifestyles and spaces have generally become smaller, but clever selection and planting can give you the pleasure of eating fresh homegrown produce daily, says Sue Both of the GardenShop. By preparing the soil correctly and selecting simple and fuss-free plants that are easy to grow, you and your family will enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables from your own garden in no time.

33% of household food waste comprises fruit and veg. Rather pick as you need from your own garden.


Soil preparation

Produce can be grown in beds but grows equally well in containers. For maximum yield it’s important to prepare
your soil properly before sowing or planting.

  1. Mix at least one-third compost to two-thirds soil.
  2. Add a handful of organic vita 3:1:5 fertiliser per square metre into the top layer (15-20cm) of your soil.
  3. For containers, use potting soil mixed with compost and vita 3:1:5, not garden soil. Garden soil will compact in containers and prevent proper water penetration, drainage and root growth.
  4. Make sure plants are fed regularly every month. An organic liquid fertiliser is easy to apply and won’t
    burn the plants if the mixture is too strong. gives these tips:

  • Most vegetables and fruits need well-drained soil and at least seven hours of direct sunlight daily. More sunlight = sugar = sweet fruit. Yes please!
  • Nitrogen is the most vital of all the plant foods as it promotes larger, better-quality crops and increases the protein content of fruit and vegetables.

Quick and easy


Radishes are one of the easiest and fastest-growing vegetables. They’re great to use in salads or sliced and used as a bread topping with salt and pepper. Radish seeds should be planted in well-drained soil in full sun. Make sure you keep the soil moist until the seeds have germinated. The soil doesn’t have to be very deep – about 15cm will suffice. Radishes can be harvested about 35 days after sowing and planted all year round.

Tip: Sow a new batch of seeds every three weeks, and you’ll always have fresh radishes available.

Swiss chard 

Swiss chard is often confused with spinach, but chard is more prolific and hardier. Seeds are easy to grow and
harvesting can start about 60 days after sowing. Plants should be spaced about 30cm apart. By harvesting the outer
leaves and leaving the inner four to five leaves on the plant, you can prolong its lifespan for up to two seasons.

Tip: To prevent aphids (insect pests) from invading your chard, plant marigolds or nasturtiums in-between. Mulch the base of your plants to prevent evaporation and weed germination.


Beans are fun to grow and their roots release nitrogen into the soil, making it a great companion plant. Most beans are climbers, but bush varieties are also available. The seeds are best planted in spring and in full sun, and take about 60 days from sowing to harvesting. Regular harvesting stimulates new flower growth and pod formation.
For climbing varieties, use either make-shift stakes like reeds or a more permanent type such as metal obelisks.
Beans can also be planted in hanging baskets, leaving them trailing down instead of growing them up stakes.

Tip: Soak the bean seeds overnight in warm water to speed up the sprouting process.


Fruity flavours


Strawberries are surprisingly easy to grow. The best way to plant them is in strawberry pots or hanging baskets. If they’re planted in beds, make sure you mulch the plants with at least 7cm of straw or bark chips. The mother plant makes runners, which rapidly make ‘babies’ that can also be planted. Make sure strawberries are positioned in a sunny place as this improves the sugar content of the fruit. Strawberries will flower and fruit throughout summer and the more you pick the more strawberries you’ll harvest.

Tip: To prevent slugs and snails from attacking your fruit, place a thin layer of broken egg shells around the base of the plant. The phosphates released by the egg shells improve fruit formation too.


Figs are fast-growing trees that will start fruiting from an early age. Various types are available and you can ask your local GardenShop for advice on the best kind for your area. Fig trees grow well in large containers and make great
shade trees too. Depending on the variety chosen the trees can bear fruit for about four months of summer. Figs grow best in well-drained soil and sunny areas.

Tip: Paint eco-friendly fruit-fly bait on the trunks of your trees in the summer months to prevent fruit flies from
spoiling your produce.


No household can function without lemons – a key ingredient in many dishes. They’re rich in vitamin C and double up as a powerful cleaning agent. Lemon trees grow well in open ground or in containers. Make sure you position the trees where there is well-drained soil and lots of sunlight. When selecting your tree, make sure it has a healthy graft. Many varieties of lemons are available but Eureka is an all-time favourite as it flowers and bears fruit throughout the year, and is more pest-resistant than other varieties.

Tip: Dilute two tablespoons of Epsom salts in water and pour it around your tree to promote healthy growth.



About Nolwazi Dhlamini

Features Writer for Your Family magazine. She’s worked in print and digital media, and finds thrill in understanding human behaviour. Nolwazi believes everyone has a fascinating story to tell, and it just takes the right person, asking the right questions, to find it.


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