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How to Grow a Kitchen Garden: Start Doing These Tasks in January

For the first dispatch of our kitchen garden guide, learn how to prepare your ground

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By House & Garden | January 12, 2024 | Gardens

In a new series, our garden editor Clare Foster lays out a month by month guide to getting a kitchen garden off the ground. In this first instalment, follow her as she prepares the ground

If one of your New Year resolutions is to grow fruit and vegetables, take the time now to design the plot and you will reap the rewards in just a few months. I started six years ago with a blank canvas – just a patch of lawn divided into various spaces, including a vegetable garden. Separated from the rest of the garden by a hornbeam hedge and a trellis of espaliered apples, my vegetable plot is 11.3 x 5.3 metres, with an extra 3.7 metres square tagged onto the side to make it L-shaped. A greenhouse at the far end faces out over three long raised beds and a square bed to the side.

You can buy raised-bed kits in timber, wood or recycled plastic; or make your own with timber sleepers at least 10cm thick. Image via Unsplash.

Raised beds neatly contain each growing space and can be surrounded by gravel to suppress weeds. You can buy raised-bed kits in timber, wood or recycled plastic; or make your own with timber sleepers at least 10cm thick (narrower timber tends to warp and buckle). My three main raised beds are 3.6 x 1.4 metres. This long, narrow configuration works well for many crops. Also I can kneel on either side to plant and weed without having to stand on the soil in the bed. The other bed is bigger at 2.4 x 2.6 metres, with more space for planting bulky crops, such as potatoes and pumpkins.

To maximise my growing space, I have added galvanised troughs (180 x 457 x 405cm) along the boundary fence to use for salad leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers. Compared with the allotment I had previously, my veg plot is not a huge space but, with some careful planning, I can produce a good succession of vegetables throughout the year.

January’s garden tasks

  • Draw out a plan for your vegetable plot and clear your space.
  • Make raised beds.
  • Loosely dig the soil in each bed and add topsoil mixed with manure or compost.
  • Cover the paths between beds with landscape fabric, then add a 5cm layer of gravel.
  • If necessary, fence your plot to protect it from rabbits or deer.

This story originally appeared on House & Garden UK.