Seven Lessons I Learned from My Kitchen Garden

Two months ago, I embarked on a journey to plant a kitchen garden by taking an online class with Nicole at Gardenary, and I have learned so much!

Little did I know, this experience would teach me the basics of planting and tending to a kitchen garden and change my outlook on gardening forever. Now that my garden thrives and provides a bountiful harvest, I want to share the seven invaluable lessons I’ve learned.

Raised garden beds with various plants and vegetables, framed by metal arch trellises, alongside a cement pathway.

My Kitchen Garden

A variety of leafy vegetables growing in a sunlit raised garden bed.

My journey into kitchen gardening has been filled with valuable lessons and discoveries.

From planting only what we love to focus on soil health and daily maintenance, each aspect of gardening has contributed to the success of my garden.

By embracing these seven principles, I’ve cultivated a thriving kitchen garden and gained a deeper appreciation for the joys of growing and harvesting my own food.

How I Created My Kitchen Garden

I planted my garden two months ago, and watching the progress has been exciting.

Planting over 300 small vegetable and herb plants in four raised beds for our kitchen garden.

Can you believe the difference in just eight weeks?

Lush vegetable garden with assorted green plants and a wooden trellis in the center, surrounded by green foliage and garden structures.

Here are my blog posts that explain exactly how I created my garden.

Seven Lessons I Learned from My Kitchen Garden

#1 – Plant Only What You Love

Planting over 300 small vegetable and herb plants in four raised beds for our kitchen garden.

In the excitement of starting a garden, it can be tempting to plant a wide variety of vegetables and herbs. However, I quickly realized that focusing on plants we enjoy eating is key to a successful and rewarding garden. By planting only what we love, we can ensure that every harvest brings joy and satisfaction to our meals.

Here is what I planted:

  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Chives
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Green onions
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers 
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • San Marzano Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Watermelon Radishes
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Red lettuce
  • Green lettuce
  • Peppers – red, orange 
  • Jalapeños
  • Green onions 
  • Zucchini
  • Heirloom Beets
  • Ruby Red Beets
  • Golden Beets
  • Chinese Snow Peas
  • Sugar Snap peas
  • Broccolini 

I planted over 20 tomato plants, my favorite vegetable, 14 zucchini plants, a lot of lettuce (and arugula), and beets.

I planted many plants I had never grown, including kale, cauliflower, celery, watermelon radishes, spinach, Chinese snow peas, sugar snap peas, and broccolini.

But I love them, so why not?

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#2 – It’s OK to Focus on Making It Look Good

Planting over 300 small vegetable and herb plants in four raised beds for our kitchen garden.

When I first started my kitchen garden, I focused solely on functionality. My handyman and I built the four raised garden beds, which have become a special part of our backyard.

But, after adding trellises to support climbing plants like tomatoes and cucumbers, I was amazed at how much the overall aesthetic of the garden improved.

Raised garden beds with various plants and vegetables, framed by metal arch trellises, alongside a cement pathway.

Suddenly, my four planter boxes transformed into a beautiful, inviting garden space that added charm and character to our backyard.

#3 – Creating a Harvesting Schedule is Just as Important as a Planting Schedule

A raised wooden garden bed filled with various plants including tomatoes and zucchini, situated next to a building with a patio umbrella.

While planning and planting are crucial steps in gardening, I quickly learned that creating a harvesting schedule is equally important. By harvesting vegetables and herbs at their peak ripeness, we can enjoy the freshest flavors and maximize the yield of our garden. Plus, regular harvesting encourages continuous growth and ensures nothing goes to waste.

I will be honest as I am still struggling with this. I don’t have much gardening experience, so learning to determine if a plant is ready (without digging it up) is hard!

#4 – Planting Vegetables Close Together is a Good Thing

Planting over 300 small vegetable and herb plants in four raised beds for our kitchen garden.

In the past, I hesitated to plant vegetables too close together, fearing overcrowding and resource competition. However, through my Gardenary class, I discovered the concept of intensive planting, where vegetables are planted closely together to maximize space and minimize weeds.

Can you believe the difference if you compare the photos above and below?

Beet greens growing vibrantly with deep red stems in a wooden planter box, surrounded by other lush green plants.

Not only does this method increase productivity, but it also creates a lush and abundant garden that is both efficient and aesthetically pleasing.

#5 – Find a Way to Grow Your Plants Up for More Space

A single pea pod hanging from a vine entwined around a black metal trellis, with a sunlit garden background.

Space is often limited in a small kitchen garden, posing a challenge when growing vining vegetables like beans, peas, tomatoes, and squash.

Lush garden with vibrant plants in wooden raised beds along a sidewalk, featuring arched trellises and a shaded atmosphere.

I learned I could grow my plants upward by utilizing tomato cages and arched trellises, freeing up valuable ground space and maximizing sunlight exposure. This method increased the productivity of my garden and created a visually striking vertical garden that added height and dimension to the space.

#6 – Spend 10 Minutes in the Garden Every Day

Sunlight streams through foliage, highlighting green tomatoes on vines growing against a wooden trellis.
My first tomatoes!

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my Gardenary class is the importance of consistency and daily maintenance. By dedicating just 10 minutes each day to tending to my garden, I could stay on top of watering, weeding, and pest control tasks, ensuring that my plants remained healthy and thriving.

Plus, spending time in the garden each day allowed me to connect with nature, reduce stress, and appreciate the beauty of the growing process.

#7 – It’s All About the Soil

Vegetable garden soil getting delivered to our home.

Last but certainly not least, I learned that the foundation of a successful garden lies in soil quality. Through my Gardenary class, I discovered the importance of using healthy, nutrient-rich soil that provides a supportive environment for plant growth.

By incorporating organic matter, compost, and other soil amendments, I created a fertile soil ecosystem that nourishes my plants and promotes strong root development.

Four raised garden beds and three trellises installed.

Good soil is essential for garden success. It’s one of the most important things you can do in your garden.

One Last Thought

View from a porch with a wicker basket containing plants on a table, overlooking a lush garden and chairs.

It’s important to make your gardening project easier by having the right tools.

I use a few things all the time to manage my kitchen garden. A good hose with a pivoting or extension wand helps with hand watering. The right toolset, with a small trowel and clippers, is essential. And a gathering basket makes your harvesting so much easier!

Blogger’s Best Spring Garden Ideas

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Add coziness to your outdoor space this summer with a DIY tabletop fire bowl you can make in minutes.

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We made simple tomato cages for our stock tank garden.

Watering Potted Plants While Away | Happy Happy Nester

Watering Potted Plants While Away can be a bit challenging. I came across these fantastic glass bulbs that you fill with water, and they gradually water your plants. It’s a simple self-watering system that simplifies plant care and removes the guesswork from the process.

DIY File Cabinet Planters | My Sweet Savannah

Turn thrifted file cabinets into high end looking metal planters with a bit of elbow grease and some spray paint! You will save hundreds on this easy project!

Must Haves for Mothers Who Love to Garden!


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  1. Hi Leslie,
    As I commented on IG, thank you for your posts, very helpful. I have Nicole’s book, Leaves, Roots & Fruit, and have learned a lot. Did you augment your soil or did you decide to start fresh with her 103 soil blend?

  2. I have always dreamed of having a kitchen garden, but I never had a yard. My husband and I just bought a cute little home with a yard that’s perfect for my garden dreams. Only thing is the previous owners were elderly and didn’t keep up with their lawn. So we are having a dumpster rental come this weekend to clear everything out. But then I can start on my gardening adventure! Thanks for sharing all your tips! As a newbie they are very helpful!

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