Kitchen Garden

Discover edible treats in our seasonal kitchen garden, producing fresh fruit and veg all year round. 

Colourful chillies in the Kitchen Garden

Reopening in late spring

Our Kitchen Garden is where we grow edible plants to learn more about producing healthy and sustainable food.  

We grow different varieties of common fruit and veg, from carrots and apples to pumpkins and chili peppers.  

We also grow heritage varieties, and we experiment with more unusual crops. These may be important sources of food for the future, because some of our staple crops will have to change as the climate becomes more unpredictable.  

For example, in 2018 we grew a species of tomato that is much more resilient to changes in climate than the regular tomato.  

In Georgian times, our large Kitchen Garden supplied members of the royal family living in Kew Palace.  

Today, the fruit and vegetables from the Kitchen Garden are used in Kew’s restaurants, and are sold between May and September at our Kitchen Garden sales.

The science of kitchen gardening 

Crop rotation 

We operate an annual crop rotation in the Kitchen Garden. This means we plant families in different beds each year. Rotating crops creates a moving target for pests and diseases that attack each crop. Each plant family has different nutritional needs, so crop rotation also helps to prevent nutrient depletion in the soil.  

Companion planting 

To encourage the natural ecosystem, we plant 'beneficial' and 'sacrificial' flowers and herbs to support our crops. This helps gardeners avoid having to use chemicals.  Beneficial plants, like marigolds (Calendula) attract useful insects. Once attracted to the beds, hoverflies, ladybirds and lacewings are likely to eat pests. Sacrificial plants, or 'trap crops', give the target pest an alternate feast. Cabbages, for example, can be interplanted with radishes to protect them from flea beetles.  

No dig method 

Our horticulturalists use a 'no dig' method in the Kitchen Garden. This is when a layer of organic matter is added to the top of the beds, which suppresses weeds, and protects beneficial bacteria and helpful creatures that live just below the surface.  
 
This works differently from more traditional methods, where organic matter is dug into the soil. This can be costly in time and labour and is also damaging to the soil structure as it causes loss of moisture. In a 'no dig' system, soil animals like worms lend a helping hand. They help mix the soil by pulling organic matter from the soil surface down into the crop bed. 

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