illustration of a woman and child working in a vegetable garden

The Kitchen Garden

Take your love of food to the next level by growing your own. Our first ever Allrecipes gardening guide gives you tips and advice to get you started — from growing herbs indoors to cultivating container gardens on your patio and raised beds in your backyard.
By Vanessa Greaves
April 05, 2021

If there's been a positive outcome from being confined to our homes for the past year, it's been the rise in our quest for self-sufficiency in the face of real or perceived scarcity. Many of us took to baking bread for the first time and cooking from scratch the way grandma did — and a record number of us began growing our own food.

One year later, some of our new-found enthusiams may have faded (how much sourdough starter can one freezer hold?) but growing our own food is more popular than ever — to the point where seed vendors can't package the stuff fast enough to keep up with the demand.

Kitchen gardening — that is, cultivating the vegetables, herbs, and fruits that go into the meals we make — was once a natural way of life. But as we came to source more and more of our food from grocery stores, growing our own became more of a hobby rather than a necessity. Even with the rise of shopping at farmers' markets to get closer to the source, it's still someone else growing the food.

The continued popularity of kitchen gardening one year into the pandemic suggests people have discovered something we gardeners have known all along — gardening offers benefits far beyond a harvest of heirloom tomatoes warm from the sun or the freshest, sweetest salad greens you've ever had. It turns out gardening is also a great way to escape the news, reduce stress, gain a sense of accomplishment, and feed your household all at the same time. And besides, if you started gardening last year, it means you began laying the foundations of a lifelong skill you can continue to build on this year and the next. If there's one thing you learn as a gardener, it's that there's always something new to learn.

Whether you're new to gardening, want to brush up before you dig in, or you're looking for inspiration for this year's garden, you'll find plenty of ideas and practical tips in this, our very first guide to kitchen gardening. As you scroll through and explore the topics, you'll find articles written by home gardeners for home gardeners, sharing down-to-earth advice on what to grow and how to grow it — no matter if you're gardening in pots or in your backyard. We wish you a good harvest and the greenest of green thumbs.

How does your garden grow?

illustration of a woman tending a garden bed
Credit: Julian Birchman/Allrecipes

When we tend a garden — digging, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, planning the next raised bed or container full of herbs — we are in touch with a natural rhythm that we have almost no control over. Sure, we can coax things along with greenhouses and fertilizers, but nature pretty much follows its own schedule. So we go with the flow, relax into the rhythm, and find ourselves enriched and renewed in the process.

Planting a garden is an act of optimism, but there are things we can do to help ensure our efforts will flourish. It starts with planning: What to grow and where to grow it. In this section, you'll learn what it means to grow an organic garden, how to make the most of your growing space, what all those gardening terms mean, the difference between seeds and starts — and which you should choose. And if you have no space for a home garden, perhaps you'd be interested in joining a community garden — we'll help you out with that as well.

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The rise of small-scale gardening

illustration of a woman tending plants growing in pots on a balcony
Credit: Julian Birchman/Allrecipes

You don't have to have a big space to grow food — a kitchen garden can be a line of pots on a windowsill or planters on a balcony. Herbs, lettuces, tomatoes, and strawberries are just some of the edible crops you can grow in containers.

Here, we'll teach you the basics of container gardening, show you the vegetables and herbs you can grow indoors, and share a couple of fun ways to regrow everyday vegetables from scraps you used to throw away. It's an easy and instructive activity for kids, too. Who knows — you could be raising a new generation of home gardeners.

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Grow your savings

illustration of a woman watering a container garden
Credit: Julian Birchman/Allrecipes

It's so satisfying to snip a few herbs for your recipe or pick fresh lettuce leaves for a salad — all without having to make a trip to the grocery store. Think of the money you'll save by harvesting just what you need instead of buying a whole bundle of herbs you might not use up. And there's no packaging to toss out. There's none of that wastage when you grow your own.

In this section you'll find everyday ingredients you can grow at home: salad greens, essential culinary herbs and spices, and herbs for tea drinkers. We'll also share a guide to culinary herbs you use all the time that just happen to boost your immune system, too.

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