Gardening Products

Home Beekeeping

Few gardening-related hobbies are as fascinating and satisfying as raising honey bees. Contribute to the health of your area's honey bee population. Buy this guide to learning bee culture and start your own bee hives.

Garden Chickens

Raise adoring pets that pay you back with delicious and nutritious fresh eggs. This offer provides all the information you need to get started with your own backyard chickens. Click here today to get started in this rewarding hobby.

Kitchen Garden Store

Learn to preserve the produce you grow in your home kitchen garden. This home canning starter kit includes everything you need to can your first batch using the boiling water bath method for high-acid foods. Find it and other canning supplies at the Home Kitchen Garden Store.


home kitchen garden

Oregano peeks out from under the first significant snow of autumn. When growing things outdoors is no longer an option, it can be very satisfying to plant an in-home kitchen garden.

Snow fell heavy on my home kitchen garden last night. This morning, every vaguely horizontal surface held an inch or more of light powder. I’m glad I’d already put my garden to bed, and that I’d finished a few related projects. Just last weekend, I planted two pear trees, a sour cherry tree, and two pecan trees and documented step-by-step how to plant trees in a blog post titled New Pear Trees in my Small Kitchen Garden. Now I’m kind of depressed.

Depressed? That might be overstating things. But the passing of fresh produce season is a bummer. Sure, I’ll still be able to buy stuff flown in from Peru, California, and other warmer regions, but none will compare to the produce that grows during spring, summer, and early autumn within a few miles of my house in Central Pennsylvania.

What’s a Home Kitchen Gardener to do?

So, I’m turning my attention inside. Depending on your determination and on the space you have available, you too can get gardening inside this winter. To provide encouragement, I’ve dug up some videos that show how one gardening enthusiast used her sun room in the off season to keep the produce going. I’ve included the first two in a series of five videos she produced on the project.

Please appreciate that this woman is very ambitious with her gardening. You don’t need to commit an entire room to your own in-home kitchen garden. What’s more, fancy storage containers, label makers, and other dedicated indoor gardening supplies aren’t necessary to succeed with winter produce.

On the other hand, for most of us, it’s impossible to over-emphasize two fundamental challenges of growing produce while the snow alls:

1. Winter sunlight may not be enough to feed vegetable and fruit plants

2. Many vegetables and fruits grow best in relatively hot weather

Lighting an in-Home Kitchen Garden

Will you need supplemental lighting to grow vegetables in the winter? Even if you have south-facing windows (for those in the northern hemisphere), your vegetable plants may not draw enough energy from the winter sun to plump up tomatoes, peas, beans, or whatever other items you grow. Generally, garden plants thrive when they get six hours of full sunlight each day.

South-facing windows in my basement have an extra-wide sill which is perfect for flower pots. However, the basement is cool, and winter sun isn’t bright enough for plants to produce lots of sugar and starch; I couldn’t grow beans and tomatoes here without supplemental lighting and heat.

Winter sunlight is weaker than summer sunlight. Only plants centered in unobstructed south-facing windows will get the dose they crave. If you add full-spectrum fluorescent lighting, and turn it on from mid-morning to late afternoon, you’ll have much better results than if you rely solely on natural sunlight.

Heat an in-Home Kitchen Garden

Plant biology slows down as the temperature drops. Some plants simply won’t sprout if the soil isn’t warm enough, and having sprouted, they grow very slowly unless the air is warm. Plants growing indoors in the winter may face two temperature challenges: First, we’ve all become very conservation-oriented, so we keep our living spaces in the sixties (Fahrenheit). Second, when we set up a home kitchen garden in front of windows, we expose them to the least cold-proof places in our homes; it might be ten to twenty degrees colder near a window than it is three or four feet away from the window.

You Know the Challenges…

To succeed with an indoor produce garden, provide adequate supplemental lighting and at least some localized heat near your plants. This may mean keeping a single room warmer than the rest of your home, or placing a space heater or several incandescent lights near your in-home kitchen garden.

The first video is three minutes, 20 seconds long. The second video is two minutes 41 seconds. Please enjoy them!


Here are links to other articles about growing vegetables indoors:

Technorati Tags: , , ,

While it can seem challenging to create a home kitchen garden, the basic principles of gardening are very simple. Consider: whole prairies, forests, and jungles, manage to maintain themselves without human intervention. They follow a natural cycle:

  • Seeds fall on soil
  • Moisture triggers germination
  • Plants grow and produce fruit/seeds
  • Seeds disperse and some fall on soil
  • Plants die, eventually decomposing into soil

The challenge in growing a home kitchen garden is that you’re often trying to get plants to grow in soil or climate that doesn’t appeal to them… or that gives plant-eating insects and other pests an overwhelming advantage.

The Successful Home Kitchen Gardener

The simple secret for success with a home kitchen garden is in a single word: knowledge. The more you know about gardening, the more, better produce you can coax out of any garden. Fortunately, with almost no gardening knowledge or experience, a first-time grower can be satisfyingly successful. But any newcomer to gardening wanting to improve their results should embark on an adventure of discovery: find opportunities to learn, and take the knowledge with you into your garden.

Home Kitchen Garden Sites

Kitchen Gardeners International

Granny Miller (sadly, Granny Miller is closing down her blog, but it’s full of great stuff)

My Folia (not a blog, a community of gardeners)

In My Kitchen Garden

Here are some suggestions for where to get started:

Get a mentor—I can’t emphasize this enough. Hang out in a home kitchen garden with someone who’s maintained one for ten or so years, and you’ll become savvy very quickly.

Contact your local Cooperative Extension office—Sounds a little stiff, but these folks live to promote agriculture and gardening (among other things). Many extension offices offer free seminars on planting, composting, and more. There’s a clickable map at their web site to help you find local extension offices and programs.

Read some good books—This is a very low-impact way to become an expert. There are hundreds of books about gardening, some even entertaining to read. Ideally, find books that are written specifically about the region where you’re growing a home kitchen garden. This book store offers many regionally-focused titles.

Home Kitchen Garden Forums

You many need to register and get approved by a forum moderator before you can post questions, but most forums let you do topic searches and read messages even if you haven’t joined.

Yahoo’s Veggie Patch

Craig’s List Gardening Forum

Garden Banter Look for the Edible Gardening forum.

Peruse at least one seed/nursery catalogThese provide massive inspiration: I always want to expand my garden when I read catalogs. Also, most catalogs are goldmines of information about plants, planting, plant care, crop yields… nearly everything you need to be successful. If you don’t have a printed catalog, check out the Johnny’s Seeds catalog on line.

Follow some gardening blogs—With many blogs and gardening web sites from which to choose, you’ll find some whose approaches and instruction perfectly suit your sensibilities. When you find a blog you like, participate! Leave encouraging comments, ask questions, and buy stuff from advertisements on the pages; a gardener who’s blogging about it will be thrilled to help solve your gardening challenges. I’ve listed a few compelling sites you can explore in the box, Home Kitchen Garden Sites… and if you haven’t yet, hop over to this blog’s sister: Your Small Kitchen Garden.

Participate in gardening forums—Gardening forums abound on the internet, and some specifically focus on kitchen gardening. I’ve joined more than I’ve been able to keep up with, but there’s good information on all of them. Floating a question on a gardening forum quickly teaches you that there are no uniquely correct answers. Answering a question on such a forum can draw ire and admiration. In any case, you’ll learn. The box titled Home Kitchen Garden Forums lists several that I’ve joined. I’m most active in Yahoo’s Veggie Patch. Beware, I’ve seen unfathomably rude behavior on some forums.


Technorati Tags: ,

I was astonished—and annoyed—to find ripe-and-ready woodland strawberries among the weeds in my home kitchen garden. The woodland strawberries around here are flavorless and dry which makes these volunteers “invasive weeds.” Ripe strawberries in November? Not in central Pennsylvania… until this year.

I planted a salad mix of lettuce seeds in September. Despite several frosts and one or two freezes, there are some beautiful leaves ready to harvest.

My home kitchen garden has seen a particularly mild autumn. We’ve had only ten nights with frost, and none colder than 26F. While the few cold nights killed off my tomato and basil plants, the dill weed still paints a wall of deep, frilly green at one end of my planting bed, and a small lettuce patch planted in late summer is calling me to harvest.


No surprise: There is still oregano. I added one plant about four years ago. Now there’s a five-foot diameter circle of oregano from which I use a few dozen sprigs each year.

For at least two weeks, I’ve intended to put the garden to bed. The last thing I figure to do each season is toss fallen leaves from my lawn onto the planting bed. When my wife put the kids on alert that this weekend they’d rake the yard, I knew I had to end my procrastination. The few things I did:

  • Cut the ties that supported my dead tomato stalks against the tomato stakes
  • Pulled the dead tomato plants and tossed them on the compost heap
  • Pulled the tomato stakes and leaned them against the side of the house (they may make it into the shed before snow falls)
  • A few tomatoes are trying to escape the garden. They lay waiting under cover of dandelions, hoping I’ll get careless and leave the rodent fence down.

  • Pulled the stakes that supported the last pea trellis; I’d left one of three pea trellises standing to support a late planting—too late a planting: the young peas froze though some of the plants continued to grow
  • Dug out a few of the largest, hairiest weeds… mostly so I could see what types of roots they had
  • Inspected the awesome dandelion crop and surveyed the undergrowth for anything unusual
  • Collected gardening tools I’d conveniently stored in the garden through the season and leaned them against the house
  • Opened several panels in the rodent fence so it’d be easy to rake leaves into the garden

Free Mulch for my Home Kitchen Garden

After lunch today, the kids raked the leaves and moved all of them into the garden. They spread the leaves over all the weeds, right up to—but not covering—the perennials I want to preserve. They also left the lettuce poking through. Most obviously: they didn’t cover the dill; they didn’t have enough leaves to cover the dill.

There is still coriander; I’d hoped it would re-seed itself, but this year it didn’t. Hours after I took this picture, I saw two juncos plucking the seeds off the dried plants.

So, the garden is in bed for the winter. Snuggled under about a foot of dead leaves, the dandelion greens may rot a little, or they may go dormant and enjoy the soft cover. Whatever the verdict in the spring, I know I’ll be digging deep to pull weeds as I prepare to plant my home kitchen garden.

I was surprised even more than by the strawberries to find this critter on one of my tomato stakes. I thought these things flew south for the winter; this one must be waiting for cheap fares.

Technorati Tags: , ,

8oz jelly jars and standard canning lids and bands infiltrate every counter and cabinet in my kitchen. For me, jelly and jam canning season starts with strawberries in the spring and continues with sour cherries, raspberries, peaches, and pears. I use larger jars to can tomatoe sauce and appplesauce. I may try pressure canning next season though I’d more likely can stews and soups than I would plain vegetables.

Are you still looking at a pile of produce from your prolific home kitchen garden? Home canning may be the best way to deal with it. My past several posts have presented videos detailing home canning. We’ve introduced canning terms and equipment, and we’ve discussed both boiling-water-bath and pressure canning.

This post completes the series about how to can. There are two videos embedded at the end of the post that together make up the fifth lesson on canning: Pressure Canning Basics. Equipment for pressure canning tends to be more expensive than that for boiling water bath canning. In fact, you may already have a pot or two you can use for boiling water bath canning. However, if you want to preserve vegetables in canning jars, you must use a pressure canner.

These videos clearly explain the procedures and encourage you not to fear poisoning yourself. If you follow instructions, you’ll find it’s easy to preserve just about any produce through till the next harvest.

Quick Home Kitchen Garden Cooking

Also note: a pressure canner is a pressure cooker. Most of us have never experimented with cooking foods under pressure. Once you have a pressure canner, there’s no barrier to tray pressure cooking. Just about anything you cook in a pot on the stove will cook much more quickly under pressure; you can produce one-pot meals in fractions of the time it takes to cook them without a pressure cooker.

To get started, watch the videos below. Then hop over to the Home Kitchen Garden Store to find a pressure canner suited to your canning needs.

Please enjoy the videos:

Technorati Tags: , ,

I have only a boiling water bath canner. Posing for this photo are apple sauce, black raspberry jelly and syrup, chili sauce, red pepper rellish, tomato sauce, sour cherry jam, peach jelly, and pickled vegetables. Many other jellies and jams, as well as chutneys and apple butter chose to remain in the pantry during the photo session.

If your home kitchen garden produces more than you can eat in a season, then home canning may be for you. My last two posts have been about preserving produce from your home kitchen garden, and have presented videos that clearly explain the two types of canning, and that introduce the terms, equipment, and methodology of home canning.

If you’re new to canning, please read those earlier posts and watch the videos embedded in them. Then come back here and watch this video specifically about the boiling water bath method of canning used for high-acid produce.

When you see how easy it is to can fruits and vegetables, you might want to do your own. Visit the Home Kitchen Garden Store to buy everything you need to get started. There, you can find pots for both boiling-water-bath- and pressure- canning. You’ll also find sets of accessories, lids, pectin (for making jellies and jams), and books with detailed instructions and recipes for home canning.

Please read the item descriptions and user reviews thoroughly before you buy! Boiling-water-bath canners may hold five, seven, nine, or more quart jars at a time. A 21-quart canning pot, for example, can usually hold seven quart-sized canning jars. Pressure canners, while considerably more expensive, hold far smaller loads for the money… but many of them can double as boiling-water-bath canners. I’ve tried to include only products with good customer reviews.

Please leave a comment to share your experiences with home canning, or to point out omissions from the canning pages of the Home Kitchen Garden Store. Also, if you have questions about canning that you’d like to see addressed on this site, feel free to ask in a comment—or use the Contact Us link.

Please enjoy the video:

Technorati Tags: , , ,

When it comes to preserving produce from my home kitchen garden, I choose canning for fruits (including tomatoes). I especially enjoy making jelly: it’s incredibly easy to do, it usually tastes better than commercial jelly, it costs less than commercial jelly, and for some reason people who receive a gift of homemade jelly act impressed that a human might actually have made it himself.

Does your home kitchen garden produce more fruits and vegetables than you eat in a season? My last post provided an overview of food-preservation strategies you can use to benefit from the excess. Embedded at the end of that post was a YouTube video introducing key concepts about home canning: storing foods in vacuum-sealed jars.

That video was one in a series about home canning. And, though those videos have some of the most stilted narration ever written, they are well-produced and terrifically informative.

So, please continue your exploration of food-preservation by reviewing the next videos in the series. These explain more about the differences in equipment necessary for boiling water bath and pressure-canning methods of canning. The videos define more terms that are helpful to know when you talk about canning, and they demonstrate the steps necessary to process foods—whether with the boiling water bath or the pressure-canning methods:




Technorati Tags: , ,

When you grow fruit in a home kitchen garden, it’s a good idea to learn to make jams and jellies. I pack pint jars for my sandwiches and english muffins, and 8 oz jars as gifts for school teachers, music teaches, riding instructors, and friends.

If you planted a large home kitchen garden this year, then you probably already know how to preserve the fruits, vegetables, and nuts you grew in it. Or… maybe you planted the garden without thought about what you’d do if it produced more food than you could consume during the growing season? For those who are thinking of adding a home kitchen garden to defray food costs in the coming year, learning to preserve food could become of paramount importance.

Food Preservation Methods

There is no single method of preserving fresh garden produce so that it is as satisfying in two or three months as it is on the day you harvest it. Some fruits will keep for many months when stored in the right environment (cold-storage in oxygen-free containers), but their texture deteriorates and they’re never as satisfying as fruits picked fresh from a tree. Certain vegetables–especially root crops and squash–keep surprisingly well and can last through a long winter… but after lengthy storage, they almost beg you to cook them; textures change and they just aren’t as appealing as they were when you first harvested them.

Popular methods of preserving produce include:

  • Storing it in a cool, dry environment (typically, a root cellar)
  • Dehydration
  • Canning
  • Freezing
  • Pickling (and canning)

Root cellar—Storing potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, squash, and similar vegetables in a root cellar holds the produce in a condition quite similar to fresh; the items you preserve this way are most like fresh produce when you later prepare them in your kitchen. Unfortunately, most types of produce won’t keep in a root cellar any better than they will on your dining room table. Root and squash crops may keep for three to nine months when managed properly in a root cellar.

Freezing—Freezing produce retains a considerable amount of a food’s characteristics, and stands as the preservation method of choice for most green vegetables and fruits. Interestingly, freezing dramatically changes the characteristics of most root crops, making the mushy and unpleasant. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and chard are also lousy candidates for freezing, unless you plan to eat them cooked; once frozen and thawed, leaves become very mushy and bear little resemblance to the original product. Frozen fruits and vegetables will keep well from six to twelve months.

This two-gallon pot of applesauce is ready to go into canning jars. My kids will eat a quart of applesauce each week which means I could can 13 gallons a year and it wouldn’t be too much… only 11 gallons to go!

Canning—You pretty much cook fruits and vegetables during the canning process. Consequently, they soften up. In the case of vegetables, canning makes them softer than you might intentionally do when cooking from fresh; there’s no cripiness in a canned green bean. Home-canned fruits have exactly the same characteristics of commercially-canned fruits except that their flavor is exponentially better… probably because you can use fully-ripe fruit at home, and commercial canneries tend to use firmer fruits that won’t bruise easily when running machine processes. So, if you’re used to eating canned pears, peaches, applesauce, and the like, it’ll taste much better if you prepare and can it yourself. Canned produce will last from one to two years.

Dehydration—Dehydration may be the least common method of preserving produce from a home kitchen garden. It offers certain advantages over other methods: Dehydrated foods don’t require freezing, refrigeration, or storage in a root cellar. Bags of dehydrated foods are light and easy to store. When cooked, many dryed vegetables and fruits rehydrate convincingly back into something resembling the original product. As well, semi-dehydration can produce new forms of a food that are just as scrumptious as the original. Consider, for example, raisins and prunes. As long as you keep fully-dehydrated foods dry, they will last a year or more.

Pickling—This method of preservation has the greatest impact on the flavor of the food you preserve. To pickle vegetables and fruit, you add acid—usually vinegar—and, in most cases, salt. Different pickling methods involve canning, or open-barrel storage, but the end result is a product soaked with vinegar, salt, and seasonings. Pickled foods have distinctive flavors and usually serve as side dishes or as ingredients in recipes. Canned pickled produce will last for one or two years.

Harvest Time in Your Home Kitchen Garden

At the end of the growing season in Pennsylvania, I’m in the throws of preserving garden produce. Because frost has killed off my vegetable patch, I’m through with tomatoes… and I’ve already done jellies and jams from various fruits when they were in season. A few weeks ago, I made my first pickled vegetables, and I just put up (meaning, “canned”) to gallons of applesauce. I’ll be canning another two gallons of applesauce this weekend, and, perhaps, two more gallons next weekend.

Even when I’m not using my own produce, canning pickles and apple sauce provides a modest financial boost: the cost of pickled vegetables at the local market is $4 per pint. Mine cost just $1.25 per pint. My applesauce, made with commercial apples, costs about a dollar per gallon less than commercially-canned applesauce, and it tastes about $4 a gallon better (if that makes sense). Had I spent $15 to protect my apples from insect damage this summer, my home-grown applesauce would cost about four dollars per gallon less than commercial applesauce.

Here’s a video that introduces home canning. The narration is a bit stilted, but the content is golden. Please enjoy:

Follow this link: for in-depth information about preserving produce with a food dryer.


Technorati Tags: , ,

Basil will grow happily for you during winter in a pot in your house. When you plant any herbs or vegetables from seed indoors, use commercial potting soil. Bringing soil inside from your yard or garden risks introducing pests that may attack established house plants.

If you have a home kitchen garden in the norther hemisphere, you may be putting it to bed for the winter. At least those of us who live in hardiness zones 8, 7, 6, 5, and lower are dealing with (or have already dealt with) this unhappy truth. But winter is no reason to suspend gardening altogether. Rather, winter provides opportunity to manage simple gardening projects with relatively large returns.

If you don’t yet have a home kitchen garden, don’t put it off until spring. Start now and within four-to-six weeks, you can start harvesting tasty homegrown herbs and vegetables that will help keep you pumped for spring planting.

A Home Kitchen Garden Indoors

There are plenty of herbs and small vegetables that are happy to grow indoors. I poked around for a bit, looking for a good instructional video explaining how to set up an indoor planter. Sadly, most of the videos I could find on the subject started with established potted plants. At this time of year, you’re more likely to be working with seeds.

With that in mind, if you’d like step-by-step instructions for planting herbs in a flower pot, please check out the article, A Very Small Kitchen Garden: Basil that I wrote in August of 2008. My intent with that article was to provide enough detail that even someone who had never before planted anything would be able to muddle through.

Simplicity Overkill

While searching for the perfect instructional video, I came across a thinly-veiled advertorial for a seed company in Maine. This company packages seeds sandwiched between sheets of biodegradable paper. You toss the seed sandwich into a flower pot with soil, water it, and you’ll soon have a small home kitchen garden.

At first, I thought, “silly.” Then I thought it was a good idea for less experienced gardeners who want minimal bother… but it would probably be crazy more expensive than buying seed packs and planting them more traditionally.

So, I hopped over to the web site mentioned in the video and found the seed packs aren’t unbearably overpriced. True, you’d get more seeds for the same money if you bought traditional packets, but that’s no bargain if you use them to plant a single flower pot during the winter. What’s more, this seed company, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, offers a special deal: six “seed disks” (that’s six varieties of seeds), six flower pots, and six saucers for $10.95… a very good price for a sizeable indoor herb garden. Here’s the rub: these sets are back-ordered through late November!

Have a look at the video. It’s a simple idea that certainly has a place for beginning home kitchen gardeners. And, if you happen to buy anything from Johnny, please let them know you heard about them from Thanks!

Technorati Tags: , ,

Bad economy = reason to create a home kitchen garden. My last post, Pickles from Your Home Kitchen Garden, explained how I came to make pickles–actually, pickled mixed vegetables–and calculated my savings over buying similar pickles at the local farmers’ market. Here’s an authoritative video on the growing trend toward managing home kitchen gardens as hedges against economic problems:

Here are links to other articles that help make the argument. You oughta create your own home kithcen garden and reduce your cost of living:

  • Anything for a Small Kitchen Garden – There’s a fundamental philosophy behind my fascination with the small kitchen garden: don’t bother planting something if you’re not eventually going to eat it. Sure, I enjoy looking at flowers …
  • the importance of the kitchen garden – the dismal state of soviet agriculture turned out to be paradoxically beneficial in fostering a kitchen garden economy, which helped russians to survive the collapse. russians always grew some of their own food, and scarcity of …
  • planning a kitchen garden – for the first time in my adult life, i have adequate space for a real kitchen garden. we’ve got two boxed gardens in the back yard, a big batch of winterized compost, and big plans. what’sa “kitchen garden”? …
  • Your Small Kitchen Garden – Read Trent Hamm’s article in its entirety at: A Small Kitchen Garden is Healthful. Gardening, like so many other activities, leads the experienced to comment: “You …

Technorati Tags: , ,

If your home kitchen garden is in a temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, your growing season is truly coming to a close. If your home kitchen garden is in a southern hemisphere temperate zone, you’ve probably already planted your cool-weather spring vegetables. Please refer to the box, Southern Spring Vegetables, for some thoughts especially for spring planting.

For you winter-bound northerners, I have an important recommendation: map your garden as you put it to bed for the winter.

Map Your Home Kitchen Garden?

An early map of my home kitchen garden back when I tried to cram as much as possible into a small space. Back then I allowed only 18 inches between rows.

By keeping track of where you’ve grown things this year, you’ll be prepared next season to plant the same vegetables in different locations.

Crop Rotation for Nutritional Balance

Farmers and long-time gardeners understand that it is crucial to rotate crops in any garden. For example, it’s standard practice to plant corn one season, and soy beans the next in the same field. The reason is simple: corn plants devour nitrogen; soy bean plants “fix” nitrogen into the soil. Each crop is happy to follow the other.

All plants you grow in your home kitchen garden have their own nutritional needs. Potatoes, for example, prefer acidic soil (low PH), but they don’t require a lot of humus (decayed plant matter). Tomatoes, on the other hand, enjoy acidic soil, and will grow pretty well on a compost heap—or even in soil containing 50% raw manure.

Crop Rotation Beats Disease and Pests

There is a disturbing number of diseases, insects, and other pests that want a part of your home kitchen garden. One simple and effective way to reduce the damage is to confuse the bugs by moving their favorite foods out from under them.

Consider: if your tomatoes contract blight one season, planting more in the same place next season increases the chance that the new year’s crop will also get blight. By planting at the opposite end of the garden, you put a buffer between where the blight was, and where it would do the most damage.

Southern Spring Vegetables

If any of you in the southern hemisphere are still getting around to planting, plant peas! Have you already planted your home kitchen garden without including peas? Then quickly find some space for peas, and then plant some!

Why am I encouraging you to plant peas? Many things you grow in a home kitchen garden are indistinguishable from the same items bought from local growers at farmers’ markets and roadside produce stands. I have never bought peas anywhere that were as good as the ones I grow at home. In fact, home-grown peas are so much better than any store-bought or locally-grown peas that my kids give me attitude about which ones they’ll eat and which ones they’d rather not.

When you grow your own peas, you obtain a crucial ingredient for a sublime springtime dinner experience. Each spring, this is the main event that gets me gardening—though I enjoy many other foods prepared from my garden crops, the one I anticipate most of all is a pot of creamed potatoes and peas. I’m sure there are many fine recipes for this dish under any of the names: creamed potatoes and peas, creamed peas and potatoes, new potatoes and peas, or new peas and potatoes.

In a few weeks, I’ll put together a “how-to” article so you can cook up your own pot of this delicacy when your spring peas are ready. Please don’t miss out: make sure you plant peas in your home kitchen garden as early in spring as possible.

Your Home Kitchen Garden Map

Mapping your home kitchen garden needn’t be a big chore. A rough sketch with labels or symbols marking the various crops is enough. In a fit of zealousness one year, I drew a map of my 15 foot by 15 foot raised bed garden on my computer. Each season, I printed the map and then wrote in the names of items I’d planted. I’ve scanned one of those early maps and included it in this post.

It’s crazy simple. The vertical lines in my map mark off one foot increments. You can see that I planted tomatoes that year six inches from the wood that holds in the soil of my raised bed… and a second row of tomatoes just two feet to the east of the first row.

I planted lettuce and spinach in the corner of the garden, figuring it’d be gone by the time my squash plants needed the space—and the squash row was right next to the lettuce and spinach. I also planted peas in a space convenient to the squash plants; peas are usually finished by early summer when squash is just getting going.

Anyway, the layout and rationale for one of my home kitchen garden plantings isn’t so important as it is that you map your own garden. Then, tuck that map where you’ll be able to find it when the ground starts to thaw. I kept mine on a clipboard that I stored under my workbench. Over the years, I never threw out a map; just added the new year’s map onto the stack. I’d have done just as well to store my garden maps in a folder in my filing cabinet.

Whatever you do, make sure you’ll know one year’s map from another’s. Looking at the one I posted here, it bothers me that I didn’t at least write the calendar year on it. Oh, well. You’ll do better.

Here are other articles with thoughts that may prove useful as you plan next year’s home kitchen garden:

  • Vegetable Garden Layout – Sprawling acres of land or just a deck or patio or containers, you can fulfill vegetable gardening desires. Here is comprehensive information for making a successful vegetable garden.

  • vegetable gardening – Ill briefly cover the basics of vegetable garden design, but you might also want to get some gardening books. Planning your garden is one of the most important parts of vegetable gardening, and its quite simple. …

  • Vegetable Garden Design Hinges On Chosen Crops – Image via Wikipedia Getting ready to put in a garden can be an exciting time in the spring and determining the vegetable garden design can be part of the process of planning what vegetables to plant where in the garden. …

  • Design The Perfect Vegetable Garden To Suit Your Dinner Table – When creating your vegetable garden design, you want to make sure that each seed is placed at least six inches apart. Any less than that and you risk overcrowding, which means that your vegetable garden may not produce as much as you …

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,