When starting your Kitchen Garden focus on plants that grow readily, have dependable yields, and that you will actually eat! This is my Top 7 list of plants for people starting their Kitchen Gardens, beginners will appreciate the availability of seeds & seedlings, and the variety of dishes you can create from these fantastic edible plants.  First time growers will learn a lot from this collection of plants – and will gain so much confidence they hopefuly start a life-long practice of growing your own vegetables.

All are recommended for planting during Spring (between September and November) and some into early Summer in temperate climates.

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Here is my Top 7 to get you started:

1.  Tomatoes

Try a cherry tomato variety as they seem to be more resistant to pests and diseases.  Make sure you plant within a frame for support as they are vigorous climbers, provide shade during days over 35 degrees for best results.

2.  Basil

Buy in punnets or sprinkle some seeds around, plant at the base of the tomato or in a herb patch.  Pick regularly to collect the smaller leaves and encourage bushy growth.  remove the white spikes of flowers as they appear to prevent the plant finishing too early.  Whizzed up with pine nuts, EVOO and parmesan makes a fabulous pesto for dinner in under 15 minutes.

3.  Zucchini

Just plant the one, and pick regularly while they are small.  This plant is pretty tough, and can be put in marginal soils and still do OK.  You can also enjoy the flowers in salads and pastas, or stuff, batter and deep-fry – just like they do in the restaurants!.

4.  Mint

Make a pleasant pot of tea – or use in Caprioskas, chop and add to Vietnamese style salads, make a real mint sauce for your next lamb roast.  Plant in a semi-shaded spot and keep moist, this is a plant and forget performer that won’t let you down.  Add a few leaves with thin slices of apple to a jug of chilled water at your next ladies lunch.

5. Eggplant

Tough as nails – and produces for some months too.  Growers will appreciate the difference in taste and texture between home grown and store bought.  Suits a variety of Asian and Euro dishes, from Indian style relishes to Italian style fritters!

6.  Lettuce

The non-hearting varieties are the best to start with as you can pick the outer leaves as needed.  Try a punnet of seedlings in a gourmet mixed for different colours, shapes and degrees of peppery flavours.  Will grow well in a pot in the courtyard or balcony, and looks very attractive as well.  Keep them in filtered light conditions in summer for best results, and watch out for snails & slugs.

7.  Cucumbers

Germinating from seed in a matter of days, they will happily grow up a simple frame or tumble out of a pot.  Pick regularly and enjoy the super crunch of home grown cucumbers. 

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