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A Kitchen Garden for Decoration and Utility

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/26/2006 | Home Improvement
A kitchen garden has a charm all its own. There really is nothing to beat the look and taste of fruit and vegetables that you've grown yourself. If you add a few decorative herbs to the mix, there's absolutely no reason why your kitchen garden can't look as good visually as your flower garden.

It's a fact that fruit, vegetables and herbs are very rewarding to grow. There's an extra special flavor to produce you've grown yourself.

But be warned, a kitchen garden is going to be very labor-intensive. If you're not into hard, manual work in your garden, a kitchen garden may not be for you. The only way you're going to get bumper crops of the fruit, vegetables and herbs that you grow is by lavishing tender loving care and attention on them.

Starting your growing early can produce a bountiful crop weeks ahead of its normal time, giving you a home-grown harvest at a time when those fruits and vegetables are particularly expensive in the shops.

You can make your kitchen garden as visually attractive as possible by careful planning. If space is at a premium you can choose some of the more decorative vegetables and herbs and plant them in your flower beds.

Ideally you need to choose a sunny site in your garden for most herbs and vegetables to do well. If you are growing fruit trees, you should ensure that they do not cast a shadow over the vegetables and herbs.

Remember that although most herbs are leafy and lacking flowers, they will provide greenery in your garden, even in the winter. Just exercise a little thought as to where to place them and think in terms of what your garden will look like in each of the seasons and factor this into your planning.

Most herbs will do very well when planted in containers, so they are an excellent option even if you don't have much space in your garden. Tall herbs can be planted at the back of a traditional flower garden and low-growing herbs make excellent flower garden borders.

The normal method of growing vegetables is in regimented rows. If they are kept properly weeded, this can still look good. Again, if you don't have much space, you can still grow a large range of vegetables in containers e.g. peas and potatoes. Some vegetables are even attractive enough to be planted amongst the flowers - but remember that you are going to have gaps once the vegetables are harvested.

You may be surprised to learn that there's a large range of fruit that you can grow even if you don't have several acres worth of orchard plot. Small apple trees can grow in pots on the patio, you can grow strawberries in containers and there are even certain varieties of cordon-trained apples and pears that can be grown against a garden fence.

Nearly all fruit trees prefer a sunny site. You will certainly suffer from poor crops if you allow frost to damage the blossom on apple and pear trees. Pears are particularly vulnerable because they tend to flower earlier than apple trees.

If you don't have space in abundance but still want to try your hand at fruit growing then you should look at planting trained fruit trees such as espaliers, cordons and fans against a fence or wall. They can look very decorative and take up very little room.

With a modicum of planning, thought and imagination there really is no reason at all why you can't have the joy of growing and harvesting food for your own kitchen table in your own kitchen garden, no matter how small the plot.