About Kitchen Gardens | Malta
Traditionally, the kitchen garden (known as potager) was not part of the regular garden. The regular garden typically contains lawn areas, ornamental plants and flowers, and patio areas – it is a place for relaxing as opposed to having a practical purpose. The kitchen garden in comparison is usually a source of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
The difference between a kitchen garden and a plot of land used for farming is that while a plot of land is 100% purely functional, with food being grown typically in rows, the kitchen garden is a more casual environment, mixing different produce together, typically into different designs, and incorporating some ornamental shrubs/plants/flowers as well.
Nowadays, especially in Malta, many houses do not have space for both a regular garden and a kitchen garden. In this case, the trend is towards people utilizing what garden space they have to produce more for their families, while leaving a part of it as typical ‘garden’ space. If your ‘garden’ area is a court yard, or has been paved over, it is still possible to enjoy the rewards of a cultivated kitchen garden! More information below.
If, like many people, you are concerned about the quality of the food you are buying, are interested in eating organic but find it too expensive, or just want to have the joy of growing your own food and putting it on your families plates – kitchen gardening is a great place to start, and depending on the size of your garden, can provide quite a lot of your produce!
What can I grow in a Kitchen Garden:
Below are just a few examples of what can be grown in a kitchen garden:
Herbs: These are some of the easiest to start off with, and most rewarding as they do not have specific growing seasons and you can ‘cut and grow’. Popular herbs to grow are basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and mint. While most herbs go great in a garden, keep mint away from them! Mint needs to be grown in a separate area, or in a pot, or else it will take over your garden like a weed. Fresh herbs are used in many recipes, as well as for medicinal purposes, and being able to reach into your garden and pluck a few fresh leaves is always rewarding. You can also dry the herbs you produce, allowing them to last even longer.
Vegetables: If you’re new to gardening, you may want to start with salad greens such as lettuce, which grow quickly and easily. Seeing your crops grow in under a month will give you motivation to keep going, and are more quickly gratifying than waiting a few months for any results! Depending on the size of your kitchen garden, your options are nearly limitless. In Malta we are lucky to have moderate temperatures, with no frost to harm plants – although you need to ensure that what you plant can withstand the summer heat.
Fruits: Planting fruit trees such as orange, apple, lemon, etc won’t give you the same quick gratification as many herbs and vegetables will, but after a few years, the rewards are plentiful! If you own your own house, and have the space, investing in such trees can only be a positive thing. To shorten the waiting process, you can buy young trees quite cheaply and re-plant them into your garden. There are however many other fruits that don’t grow on trees that have much shorter growing seasons! Tomatoes and Chili Peppers are gardening favorites, since they can be trained to grow upwards, they don’t take up much space and you see results reletively quickly.
Edible Flowers: These are beautiful flowers that enhance the appearance of your garden, whilst also being useful in enhancing your home! For example, violets make striking garden flowers, as well as fancy garnish, and can be used as a subtle flavoring in cakes and candies. Edible varieties of hibiscus are a good choice as well, as are roses. Rose petals can be used as garnish, to make a sweet syrup, or dried to be used in pot pourri. Make sure you check to make sure the flower variety you’re planting is edible beforehand if you are planning on growing flowers to be consumed. If you have pets, ensure that those flowers are not dangerous to your cats/dogs/etc.
How do I start a kitchen garden:
First, look at your outdoor spaces. For convenience, choose the one closest to the kitchen, so you’ll be more likely to go to it when you’re in the middle of cooking something and just need one more tomato. However, you should always choose the space that receives the best sunlight! Spaces that receive sunlight from sunrise to sundown, but can have areas shaded from our very hot midday sun are optimal.
Second, prepare your soil! Remove any weeds (and their roots), remove sod, and check your soil quality. If you notice that your soil quality is very poor, or does not drain well, you may want to consider raised garden beds. This is also a good suggestion for those with court yards or paved over gardens. A raised garden bed can either be purchased, or be built even by a beginner DIYer. Click here for instructions on making your own garden bed.
If you live in an apartment, for have a decently sized terrace, you can also have a raised garden bed put into it to have your own mini kitchen garden! Having raised garden beds also allows you to segment what you’re growing easily, which can simplify taking care of your plants.
Then you need to decide what you want to grow, and in what shape/design you want to grow it! For more detailed instructions on creating your own kitchen garden, click here.
What are the benefits of a Kitchen Garden:
- Reduced grocery bill – The more items you grow/produce yourself, the less you’re buying from the supermarket
- Knowledge of your food origins – You know exactly how you grew that head of lettuce, wether you used pesticides on it or not, what fertilizers you used, etc.
- Reduces cost of organic food – If you’re interested in eating more organic produce, but find the cost to be prohibitive, then growing your own food is a good alternative to buying organic food at the supermarket. Read benefits of organic food here.
- Promotes learning and relaxation – Gardening has been proven to be a relaxing hobby that reduces stress, as well as helps children learn about how things grow, and how food is produced.
Where to buy gardening tools, accessories and plants for a Kitchen Garden in Malta
If you’re looking to start a kitchen garden in Malta, please feel free to consult All Malta Online’s list of trusted gardening supplies providers who will be able to supply you with everything you need to get your kitchen garden started, and running smoothly. Wether you need the wood for a raised garden bed, soil and seedlings for your garden, or some fertilizer, you can find something to suit your needs. View All Malta Online here
If you are a supplier of gardening supplies for kitchen gardens in Malta and would like to sponsor this article, please contact 99669946 to discuss further.
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