Shopping at farmers markets is a great way to lower your carbon footprint and get healthy food. But for convenience, savings and freshness, nothing beats a kitchen garden.
“Kitchen garden” refers to any garden that provides home cooks with fresh produce. Creating such a space is possible no matter the size of your home, says Elba I. Cox, principal broker and owner of EcoPro Realty Group in Lake Oswego.
Cox isn’t a gardening expert, but she’s always grown food at home. Between that and advising nascent homeowners on how to fulfill their gardening dreams, she’s picked up some good tips.
Even the tiniest urban home can house plants on a windowsill or porch. “I recommend starting small,” Cox says. “Maybe just five or six herbs such as oregano, mint or chives.” If an outdoor space has room for a compact bush, try rosemary or edible lavender. For ground level homes, place containers at least 10 feet from the street to minimize exposure to pollution.
If you want more space for gardening, look for homes near community gardens. “They’re amazing for the well-being of the individual but also for the neighborhood,” Cox says. “All the neighbors and their children go in there and work. People get to know each other.”
“On the suburban side we can get a little more creative because we have more land,” Cox reports. Ideally a vegetable garden should have four to six hours of morning sun. When looking for convenient spots, don’t count the front yard out. If you’re worried a visible veggie garden won’t sit well with neighbors, Cox points out that a front yard garden makes it that much easier to share bountiful crops such as zucchini or tomatoes. The site should also be close to a water source to minimize the schlepping of hoses.
May is the best time to start a kitchen garden, although an indoor garden can be set up anytime. Once an outdoor garden is established, “The most important thing is to check it for slugs two or three times a week,” Cox says. “Otherwise your plants could disappear overnight.”