This spring, a friend asked for growing tips; she wanted to start a tiny kitchen garden that would not be too overwhelming.
My two tips for anyone who wants to grow food is to start with varieties that grow naturally well in your climate conditions, and focus on plants that you use in the kitchen but cannot necessarily find at the market.
If you eat a lot of herbs and salads, those are a fantastic starting point. They grow quickly and you can harvest them throughout their growing season. You have to have more patience with vegetables – they need a lot more sun and time to develop into delicious things to eat.
While you can find superb potatoes or strawberries in a store, a good range of tender greens is usually missing. That’s why I always recommend starting with herbs and leaves. They are indeed low maintenance and high return, as garden designer Jinny Blom teaches us.
If you want to grow fruit, try berries. If you want to grow vegetables, try zucchinis.
Radishes are great and easy too. I grow a variety called the French Breakfast Radish. They are cute and delicious – and quite heat tolerant, which is a major factor for me in Italy. You can even grow radishes in a pot. I harvest them when they are relatively small and the taste is tender – I slice them in salads with a mandolin.
The final tip: have flowers in your kitchen garden. They bring in bees and butterflies and make everything look better. I grow flowers in the same beds as food but I also have some additional pots that I can move around: Russian sage, verbena and lavender are some of my kitchen garden staples because they like the sun that my veggies need.