How to start an eco-friendly indoor garden in your kitchen
Make your own indoor garden in your kitchen, with these tips from Denby
Gardens can have a huge impact on our health and well-being, plus they can be good for the planet. In this article, Hayley Baddiley from quality table and homeware brand Denby shares her tips for creating your own indoor garden in your kitchen. Don’t let the dreary winter weather scare you off from growing delicious veg – with the right amount of light, you can grow certain foods indoors all year-round. Otherwise, use this guide to get ready for spring 2021!
There are so many benefits to gardening. Studies have shown that it can boost your mental well-being as well as your physical health (RHS), and as if that wasn’t reason enough to give it a go, you can eat what you grow!
Choosing to garden can have a positive impact on the environment as well, as it cuts the food miles of your meals and reduces your carbon footprint. It can also help to tackle household waste, as you can grow and pick the amount that you’ll need.
If you don’t have a back garden, don’t worry — you can still enjoy the benefits of growing fruit and veg. In fact, many people choose to grow crops indoors as a way to protect them from pests and bad weather, so if you’re thinking about giving it a go, you can achieve great results with an indoor garden in your kitchen.
Whether you’ve been vegan for a while, will be giving Veganuary a go, or you’re just looking for fun ways to be more conscious, now is the perfect time to try your hand at growing your own vegetables. Below, I’ll talk you through creating an indoor kitchen garden full of fruits and veggies.
Make space in your kitchen
First things first: your garden will need a designated space in your kitchen. You can start things off easily by buying special indoor garden containers, including fancy systems such as hydroponics. Or, for a more DIY approach, you can assemble your own patch with a series of large pots or wooden crates filled with earth.
Almost every vegetable needs light and warmth to grow, so try to pick an area of your kitchen near a window or patio doors to let the most sunlight in. You could also consider UV lights to help your garden grow if your kitchen or the area you have chosen is quite dark.
Another thing crops need is space; many vegetables will fail to grow if they don’t have sufficient space, so I would recommend plotting out your patch carefully to maximise your yield. If you don’t have much space to spare, try sticking to just one crop for now until you’re confident you can figure out how to fit more in.
If you’re a beginner, you can start with something simple. Root vegetables such as carrots and beetroot are surprisingly adaptive and can even be grown in sacks filled with earth! They need deep containers if you want them to be long and straight, but if you don’t mind wonky veg then they are happy to make do with just 20 inches of soil. All you have to do is make sure not to crowd them by planting too many in one pot.
If you’re very short on space, you could always consider a herb garden. Most herbs, especially mint, parsley, and chives, require direct sunlight and warmth in order to flourish. They are also happy to be grown together in a window box, or even just a pot on your worktop, so a herb garden is a great option if you can’t clear a significant amount of space in your kitchen.
Care for your crops
If you don’t have a compost bin already, they’re a great way to reuse kitchen waste and help your garden flourish. You can fill them with all sorts of organic materials such as coffee grounds, fruit and veg scraps, and even some types of packaging, meaning your crops will benefit from plenty of nutrients and you can significantly reduce what you throw away in your kitchen bin. Some varieties of food such as orange peel and banana skin can even be applied directly to your garden without composting them first.
The water we boil or steam vegetables in is often drained away, so instead of filling up your watering can with water from the tap, make what you use go further. Save the water you use during cooking and use that to keep your garden moist once it’s cooled — not only is this great for the planet, but the vitamins and minerals that are lost when you cook your vegetables can enrich your crops. Alternatively, keep a barrel outside in your garden to collect rainwater.
Enjoy your crops
Once your crops are ready to harvest, they can be used in all sorts of recipes after a good scrub. Simply wash your fruits and veggies thoroughly before cooking or eating and enjoy! Whatever you don’t eat straight away you can freeze.
Crops with a high water content such as tomatoes, celery, and cabbage don’t freeze very well when they are raw as they tend to go mushy, so you can make what you grow last longer if you cook them first. Try making soups, stews, curries, and sauces in larger batches, portioning them, and writing the date on the container before popping them into the freezer. That way, you can enjoy the fruits of your labour safely for up to six months.
Indoor garden crops can be made into all kinds of preserves, from jams to chutneys and pickles, that can last for as long as 2 years in your cupboard unopened. These are great for adding flavour to your dishes and also make great gifts when presented in beautiful bowls that they can cherish.
Any herbs and spices that you grow can even be used to infuse oils. Try flavouring olive oil with basil, garlic, or even chilli, and you’ll be surprised at how far just a little will go.
Whether you want to be prepared for spring 2021, or you want to start growing some seasonal indoor veg now, the tips in this guide can help you start your own indoor garden in your kitchen, full of healthy and delicious vegan food… So get growing!
Article by Hayley Baddiley from quality table and homeware brand Denby