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A kitchen garden has numerous definitions. Also called potagers, the more common French term, these gardens are meant to supply the household with some vegetables, fruits or herbs. They may be highly ornamental, featuring lots of other plants that can make the garden very pretty, or then can be very simple, with just a few plots to grow food a family would enjoy eating.
There have been times in history when importance of the kitchen garden has been especially high. During both world wars, Americans and many other world citizens used small home gardens to produce needed food that might not reduce food surplus for military forces, and that might also make it possible to stretch rationed food. Today, creating a kitchen garden may have some similar aims. It may be a means to stretch the budget by growing food at home that then won’t need to be purchased at a grocery store.
Usually the most expensive year for the kitchen garden is the first one, when things like soil or compost may need to be purchased. People might need to buy supplies for created beds or the like, and gardening tools that can make the garden most successful. Thereafter, food produced in a kitchen garden usually does save money and tends to taste better than grocery store purchased fruit and veggies.
Though the idea of an ornamental garden is a good one, and there are many famous potagers, especially in Europe, the average kitchen garden may favor function over beauty. It can contain a lot of different things, including the favorite veggies, herbs or fruits of the grower, and it may be used year round for certain things. People might be able to grow winter lettuces or winter squash and cut down on purchases of these while extending the growing season.
Those who don’t have lots of space may still be able to create a quite functional kitchen garden by using a couple of raised beds or by growing some food in oak barrels. Things like tomatoes, zucchini and peppers are easily grown in large barrels, and one barrel or more could be devoted to favorite herbs. Some small fruit trees can even be accommodated in barrels, such as many mandarin orange varieties and other citrus trees. This means that people who don’t have access to much yard space or soil might still able to produce a passable garden.
There are organizations that celebrate the kitchen garden, like Kitchen Gardeners International, which sponsors a yearly celebration of these gardens in August. The business of encouraging people to create kitchen gardens is highly serious, since it can help address small shortages in food supply worldwide, and most gardening methods advocated are sustainable ones with little debt to the environment.
One good reason to have a kitchen garden is because you control exactly what goes on the produce. The gardener knows what pesticides, if any were used, and how the produce was grown.
An herb garden may also be an important part of a kitchen garden, since herbs are usually easy to grow and help round out a cook's ability to use everything he or she has grown to make a meal.
Kitchen gardens can also be good stress relievers, since the act of gardening and producing vegetables and herbs helps a person feel a sense of accomplishment. And, gardening is not a bad way to do some moderate exercise.
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