Kitchen gardens are brilliant because they not only help you out with cooking ingredients, but allow you to show off your green fingers. Filling spaces in a new or existing patch doesn’t have to be expensive, and even the tastiest of ingredients can be purchased and grown on a budget of $10 or less. Let us take you through 10 awesome plants to grow in your kitchen garden so you can get out there this weekend and plant something fresh for your dishes.
Bay Tree Sapling
Bay leaves are a beautifully fragrant way to add extra flavour to your cooking and can be placed in soups, stews and sauces whole to infuse before fishing out later. They can also be used as one of the main herbs to make a Bouquet Garni and are used a lot in Italian cooking.
Small Bay Tree saplings are available for under $10 and they are best grown this way as growing from seed or cutting can sometimes prove difficult. Bay trees love sunlight so need a sunny position but can be grown in a pot alongside your kitchen garden plants and moved around or brought inside during a long or particularly cold winter.
Rosemary is a woody, hardy plant that grows equally well in a tub or planter as well in the ground. This is a great plant for a kitchen garden as it will produce leaves almost all year round as well as pretty flowers in the summer. Rosemary is best bought as a small plant and it likes frequent watering but well drained soil. Studies show that the scent of rosemary may help to improve memory, but as an eaten herb is it great with potatoes and red meats.
Chives are long thin leafed plants that have a lovely bite and can be snipped over salads, soups, cheese dishes or used as a garnish. Chives are a great garden plant to cook with, but make sure you give them plenty of water so they don’t dry out. The purple summer flowers are pretty too and attract helpful pollinating insects like bees.
Fennel is a wonderfully versatile plant for the kitchen garden as all parts of the plant can be eaten and used in different ways- the bulb has an amazing aniseed-like taste that is great raw salads or cooked in stews and roasted vegetable mixes, the stalks can be eaten like celery, the feathery leaves used as a herb and the seeds are aromatic enough to use as seasoning.
Fennel seeds can be planted straight into the kitchen garden in late spring and should be kept well watered. Keep fennel away from dill and coriander plants as they will cross pollinate and you’ll end up with very bland tasting seeds!
Mint is usually used in desert and sweet dishes but adds a lovely flavour to savoury cooking and salads too, plus it is easy to grow and thrives equally well in the shade as in the sunshine. Mint needs lots of water but grows quickly into long stalks that produce leaves from spring until autumn. You can separate your mint bushes to create new plants which makes it an inexpensive starter and great value for money. If you’ve only ever tasted mint flavoured foods then growing the real thing in your garden will be a real treat!
Lemon Balm has large slightly hairy leaves that are amazingly aromatic and zingy. Just plucking one leaf and rubbing it between your fingers will produce the scent and give you instant lift energy and calmness. This plant can be used to make a fragrant tea that can help with digestive troubles. Inhaling the scent is also believed to have a number of therapeutic effects such as relieving anxiety, stress and insomnia. This herb can also be added to a number of savoury and sweet dishes.
Lemon Balm is grown from small plants in the warmer months but needs protecting from too much sun. It will return each year so you have an ever growing supply of this beautiful herb in your kitchen garden.
Sage is a small furry leafed edible plant that is light in colour and spreads outwards rather than upwards. Traditionally an accompaniment to pork, sage can be used in a variety of different dishes and has a unique flavour. Sage can be grown from seed and is easy to keep which makes it a perfect small plant for the kitchen garden but be careful not to overwater!
Sorrell is an underused herb that has a strong lemony bite and goes well with eggs and fish dishes. This is a great $10 plant to grow in your kitchen garden as it is easy to grow and will produce leaves all year round, giving you the perfect extra flavour for your cooking or salads. Sorrell can grow in small spaces too as long as it gets enough sunlight.
This crunchy lettuce is more nutritious than iceberg types and grows upwards rather than outwards, making it a space saver too. Romaines are grown from seed in the spring and can be started indoors before planting them into your kitchen garden. These plants tolerate heat well so by carefully picking the outer leaves for your kitchen your lettuces will continue to grow into the hot summer.
Romaine lettuce is the traditional leaf for salads, especially Caesar, and the crunchiness works well in sandwiches.
Parsley is a versatile and affordable herb for kitchen gardens that is used in a large number of dishes including those from Asia, France, England and Italy. The supple green leaves are packed full of iron and there are many different varieties that make this a wonderful affordable herb for the kitchen garden.