This blog entry is all about a unique concept – indoor gardens in the kitchen. But that’s crazy, right? Obviously kitchens belong indoors, and gardens belong outdoors, and you could never put a kitchen in a garden or a garden in a kitchen. Right?!
We already know about outdoor kitchens (please refer to my award winning entry here: http://southshorecabinetry.com/outdoor-spaces/) (and by “award winning” I mean “my mom liked it”). So scroll away and listen to my “sage” advice about incorporating fresh produce into your kitchen and into your cooking.
Unique needs – One of the things you have to consider when you’re putting a garden feature in your kitchen is the hardiness of your chosen plants. Although plants such as cacti and succulents thrive indoors, they don’t make great eatin’. Herbs need sunlight, healthy soil, and nurturing growing conditions. Tend to each plant according to its individual needs, and group plants together according to how much sunlight, soil, and water they need. Take the “thyme” to read up on your plants and keep note of what they require from you, and don’t be afraid to talk to them (it’s better than talking to yourself, right?)
Sunlight – Most herbs will need a light source to make the most of their growing conditions. Unlike teenagers, your plants need a bit of light and fresh air before they can blossom into…uh, adult plants. Artificial light isn’t right for every plant, so positioning them as close to the window as possible is always a good idea. You can line your windowsills, put them in elevated boxes, and/or even hang them in the window (more on that later). Make sure they don’t get too much sun, unless you want dried herbs, in which case go ahead and throw that “caraway.”
Safety – While it’s handy to have fresh herbs on hand while you’re cooking, it’s best to keep them away from the stove and anywhere else they might catch on fire. The plants above are placed in recessed boxes alongside the stove and are protected from the elements (heh heh), which also include hungry pets, curious kids, and various household traffic. Also, it’s important to research the types of plants you want to grow and find out what risk they pose to your pets. For example, dogs and cats can be susceptible to pennyroyal (no, not the clown from “It”), mace, and wormwood. On the other hand, certain herbs can be beneficial to some animals, such as aloe vera and parsley. Overall it’s best to keep everything away from wandering hands and mouths.
Practicality – It’s important to put your garden in a location that will benefit your kitchen, not detract from it. If you have a window over the sink (see above) that you don’t care to look out of, by all means place your plants there! They’ll be happy in the sun and you won’t miss out on anything. While it’s important to put the plants in a place that is convenient and healthy for them, it’s also paramount that you think about your own needs as well. You want to find a place for them that feels like it was “mint” to be – for both you and your plants.
Accessibility – You want to place your garden in a place that’s easily accessible, but also safe from kids and cats and anything else in your house that’s destructive. This is where excess wall space comes in handy (though I know how hard that can be to come by). Ledges, shelves, and recessed openings can also make good places for plants to live.
Enjoy! – Finally, don’t be afraid to use what you grow! Though it looks nice it won’t last forever – use it in your cooking, for decoration, or as a statement piece in your kitchen island or entryway. You can add a bit of flair to both your kitchen and your meal!