Waking up to the sound of birds chirping, the fresh scent of flowers, and the satisfaction which comes with being surrounded by nature is like a dream come true. A perfect start to your day full of joy and feeling of freshness. Most of us belong to the generation which doesn’t have much time to stop and appreciate the nature around us. Let us try and rectify this situation by creating a beautiful kitchen garden in our backyard.
Which elements to include in your kitchen garden?
The very first question that pops us in our minds while planning a garden is what all should be included? Well here is a one – stop solution to this problem. I have prepared a list of all the elements you can include in your backyard garden.
Landscaping / pathways (for easy access) –
The very first thing to do is to decide the area and prepare a layout. Work on the shape and size of your garden depending upon the area available in your backyard. With the help of the list given below you can decide which elements to include and plan how much area you want to devote to each element. Another important task in landscaping is designing sidewalks, paths and patios. You can also seek professional help for designing your garden.
Paths are a necessity to make your garden more accessible. They also make the garden look attractive. Paths can be made of rocks or pebbles which are temporary and can be adjusted according to our need or they can be permanent cemented pathways or pavements too.
Proper water channels should be provided with the help of pipes, drips or sprinklers. A good drainage channel should be planned in order to avoid water logging.
And at last, add a gate. It can be big or small, you can even decorate it with flowers or leafy plants to create a perfect entrance to your garden.
A water body – may be a small fountain / a pond
To build a perfectly balanced ecosystem for the plants, the first requirement is a pond. A water body attracts small animals like squirrels to quench their thirst. Even if the space is a constraint, you can put small containers made of plastic or cement which can double as an ornament also.
Fruiting trees with good canopies like mango will attract birds. Trees will provide shade in the garden and home for small animals and birds. The trees will provide support to the climbers also. Local trees, plants and flowers attract native biodiversity and preserve our environment. Large trees with cracks and crevices in barks create excellent shelters for animals. These can create a sustainable food web by attracting small insects which in turn will attract small animals and snails which feed on them.
The choice of trees should be such that you can consume seasonal fruits all year round. It is important to grow the trees with proper spacing in order to avoid overcrowding while utilizing the resources efficiently. The most common type of trees which can grow easily in a tropical country like India is amla, papaya, mango, guava, chikoo and drumstick. A small backyard can easily accommodate 2-3 trees of amla (Indian gooseberry), 3-4 plants of papaya, one jamun, one guava, one drumstick and one chikoo tree. If you live near the sea then I feel it is customary to add 3-4 coconut trees in your garden. These can be planted near the boundaries or extremities of your backyard.
Papaya and banana trees can prove to be very good as border crops. If you have a space to include a small pond or fountain, coconut or mango trees can be used as borders of paths towards the pond.
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Your home garden should be efficiently used to grow only organic food to be eco-friendly in a true sense. The most important component in our home garden is vegetables. Once you have tasted the freshly grown vegetables which are matured on the plants or vines itself, there is no turning back.
The most common and easily grown vegetable is tomato. They can be grown for the maximum part of the year and are utilised in almost every meal of the day. Other vegetables that can be included are bell peppers, chillies, spinach, brinjal and beans.
Vegetables like cucumbers, bottle gourds, bitter gourds which grow as vine are good options for limited space in home garden as they require very small area and can utilize vertical space growing along the trees. This can fulfil the goal of vertical farming at home. Vegetables like carrot, potato, radish and turnip can also be grown in the rows alleys of trees.
Growing vegetables will require pollinators to ensure fruit and seed formation. The best way to attract honey bees is to lure them through flowers. In urban gardens where space is already scarce, flowers are the best way to attract pollinators and are also soothing for the eyes to look at. Flowers add colours to the garden and attract beautiful butterflies too.
Try and stick to native plants and avoid exotic flowers or ornamental plants. Lawn weeds like dandelions and clovers are favourite food of beneficial insects like wasps, ants, hoverflies and honey bees. Flowers like rose, hibiscus, bougainvillea, lantana, crossandra, ixora, night jasmine etc. can be planted.
Some flowers like marigolds can also be planted on borders as they help in repelling mosquitoes and bugs. Marigolds produce an aromatic substance known as pyrethrin and chrysanthemum produces pyrethrum which acts as natural mosquito repellent. Geraniums are a good choice for your garden as the flowers are exceptionally beautiful and also repel mosquitoes.
The next category of plants that can be included are shrubs. These are small plants which are less than 3 m in height without a prominent woody trunk. Flowering shrubs are the best choice for your home garden. Planting diverse shrubs with different blossom seasons will also break the monotony in your home garden. The scent of flowers in a hot summer afternoon, the vibrant colours filling up your kitchen garden will leave you mesmerized by the beauty and diversity of nature.
|Spring flowering shrubs||Lilac, Rhododendron and Weigela|
|Summer-flowering shrubs||Shrub rose, Limelight hydrangea, Cinquefoil, Spirea, Butterfly bush, Hibiscus and Summersweet|
|Winter flowering shrubs||Camellia and Abelia|
Herbs are plants which add tons of flavour to our food. Furthermore, these are super easy to grow and maintain. Here is a list of herbs which you can include in your organic vegetable garden: thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, parsley, cilantro, chives, sage and mint.
One more advantage of planting herbs is that they also repel bugs, mosquitoes and flies. Basil is one such herb which is easy to grow and maintain and also helps in deterring insects. Most bugs despise the smell and taste of herbs like peppermint. Citronella is a great herb as it doubles as a border crop and repels flies and bugs. So planting them would keep the unwanted bugs and insects away from your home garden and they will act as organic biopesticides.
So pick up a pen and a pad, plan your very own garden, gather your supplies and purchase the missing elements from us and pave your way towards a healthy, beautiful, natural and colourful home garden!