Organise Your Veggie Patch

By Martina Mercer

Last year the Chelsea Flower show launched the new tactic for organising the vegetable patch. Keyhole gardening is now big news, and many of us have spent the winter deciding how to implement this strategy into our own gardens.

The psychology behind keyhole gardening believes that the closer you plant your vegetables to the kitchen door, (or the keyhole), the more likely you are to use them. With this philosophy in mind experts recommend planting veg that is rarely used closest to the kitchen, usually at the front of the veggie patch, and planting staples such as onions and potatoes near the back.

They claim that travelling to the back of the patch for vegetables we cannot live without encourages us to use other products that we’d normally leave to go to seed.

Most of us are guilty of this, as a new spring arrives, as well as planning what we will use from our organic gardening; we also like to try new produce and flavours. Swiss chard is so easy to grow and looks so pretty especially the bright lights variety, but is rarely used in everyday dishes. Other examples include kohl rabi, pea asparagus, salsify and artichokes. We do set out with good intentions and have visions of creating Michelin starred dishes with these vegetables; however, when time restricts us we seem to opt for the good old carrots, potatoes and peas.

When these exotic flavours are hiding at the back of the patch it’s easy to forget about them when planning the evening’s meal, so planting at the front where they can be seen at all times reminds us.

It seems strange that just a few feet makes such a difference to our culinary preferences, as no gardener can ever be accused of being lazy. The amount of preparation, digging and planting that is done on a daily basis ensures that green fingered folk are the fittest amongst people.

Yet, this method really does work, and you can carry on the psychology in the home. Instead of using the salad drawer at the bottom of the fridge for your rocket, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, place them on the middle shelf instead. Food that lives here is said to be eaten more readily as it is easily noticeable every time the fridge door is opened.

It’s certainly one effortless way to encourage yourself to try new foods, to introduce more vitamins into your diet and to use vegetables that would normally be given to a friendly neighbour or left to go to seed.

Using the same philosophy, pots of herbs around the back door or on the windowsill will entice you to add more flavour to dishes, cutting down on synthetic flavour enhancers and salt, and thus improving your health. So when you buy your seeds this March, go crazy and try growing the striped aubergines, the spaghetti squash and the salsify, who knows you may just discover you like them!

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