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Your Kitchen Garden

Starting Your Own Garden of Easy-to-Grow Edibles, From Your Deck To Your Table.

Article by Stephen Neilson

Photography by Lisa & Stephen Neilson

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

Next time you’re disappointed in the fresh produce at the (super?)market, or watch it wilt prematurely in your fridge, or wonder whether it’s really raised to be healthy for you or is laden with latent chemical consequences… regardless if you feel your thumb is green enough… if you want to eat clean enough, it’s time to get keen enough to give growing your own “kitchen garden” a try!

Pick some sunny spots. Prepare some lovely pots. Purchase some plants of your favorite veggies and herbs at your local home or garden store. Google “Seed Savers Exchange Heirloom Seeds”… browse their bounty; buy a few packs of organic seeds to meet your needs.

Just three years into growing our own kitchen garden, my wife Lisa and I are thrilled.

Plant your seeds, watch them grow, then… Dinnertime!


For your family’s health (and our planet’s), choose organic potting soil, seed starters, and nutrients/fertilizers, and natural pest treatments. Your garden will thank you, as will your family when you dine on your garden’s bounty knowing it’s free of harmful pesticides and artificial chemicals.


It’s easy to buy plants at local stores to stock your garden, but cheaper and more fun to jumpstart it growing plants from seeds indoors. Start small with a single seed tray planted with a few family favorites placed near a sunny window. Follow seed packet instructions; transplant outdoors when ready.


Raised beds, pots, window boxes, new or repurposed, pristinely elegant or recovered and rustic, any and all can grow your garden in your style. Make sure the size/depth match your crop’s root depth and allows room to spread; place containers to receive plenty of light.


Herbs love outdoor window boxes or a sunny deck, and many can be grown indoors in small containers on windowsills and counters. Fresh Parsley and Cilantro garnishes; Mint for your juleps and Mediterranean dishes; sprigs of Rosemary cooked with chicken or salmon, or infusing your cooking oils. Spectacular!


Some like them hot, some like them not, but peppers aim to please with spice levels all along the spectrum to enhance your favorite dishes: cooked, stuffed, pickled, chopped into sauces, roasted and blended into soups, adding spice and color. Plant your pots of peppers, then… pick a peck!


Many nutritious, delicious greens thrive in containers; this Bok Choy plant of ours actually had leaves still growing and pushing up through several inches of late January snow. From Rainbow Chard’s vivid colors to hardy, delicious Kale, just snip-and-serve your own homegrown salads.


Sliced on sandwiches, chopped into salads, cooked into marinaras, the tasty tomato comes in many delicious varieties. Start with high-producing, fast-growing cherry tomato classics such as Sungold and Supersweet 100, which yield dozens to hundreds of delicious fruit from mid-summer to fall.


From this Pattypan squash to other popularly grown varieties such as Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Cinderella, Zucchini, and Yellow Summer squash, they’re great options to grow at home, becoming delicious, nutritious, attractive soups and side dishes (and table decorations) from summer to early winter.


Grow your own Salsa Garden! Peppers can be prolific producers, so pot up your faves, from hot Jalapeños, Serranos and Tabascos to mild Marconis, Bells, and Poblanos. Harvest throughout the summer and fall, chop ‘em up with red onions and your herb crop (garlic, cilantro) and a splash of lime juice, and… you're en fuego!


This herb earns its own ovation, lending its lovely, lacy web of spice to so much more than pickling brines. Toss into egg dishes (try a Green Shakshuka recipe). Add to savory salads as a dressing with greek yogurt. Garnish your seafood. Get your thrill with dill.


Mix your container-veggies with a splash of flowers of complementary or contrasting colors to add visual energy to your kitchen garden; here, a colorful array of cherry tomatoes is bordered on the left with torches of red salvia.


As season’s end nears, capture & revisit your successes and challenges. Take notes for next year’s garden. Take time to celebrate the bounty brought to your kitchen through your gardening efforts. Take pics; share with friends & fam on the ‘Gram. Congratulations!

  • Dill
  • Bounty
  • Seedlings
  • Tomatoes
  • Greens
  • Peppers
  • Herbs
  • Squash
  • Go Organic
  • Mix & Match
  • Containers
  • Salsa