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Your guide to building an edible garden at home.

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In this fast-paced world, it’s nice to find small pockets of calm – a place or activity where you can shut out the noise of daily living and just focus on the task at hand. For a growing number of people, gardening is the perfect escape. The botanical hobby can be deeply meditative. 

But while taking care of any plant is a rewarding experience, keeping an edible garden allows you to really take advantage of the fruits of your labour. Pretty plants and flowers are nice to look at, but nothing beats the experience of whipping up a meal using something you grew yourself. Plus, it’s a great way to save money! 

If you want to design an edible garden but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about putting together an edible garden!

RELATED: How to start a windowsill garden

Step 1: Assess your home

Don’t assume that you can just buy a few gardening materials and have at it. Before anything else, you must determine the size and location of your garden, because this dictates pretty much everything else about your garden set up. If you live in a house with a backyard and a big space for gardening, you have more leeway with big plants and fruit-bearing trees. If you live in a small apartment, you might only manage a windowsill herb garden in your kitchen. 

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Step 2: Figure out what you want to plant

What can you plant in an edible garden? While there are loads of herbs, vegetables, and fruits to choose from, you’re better off going for the ones you really enjoy eating and cooking with – otherwise these plants will just go to waste. Imagine growing pots of coriander only to realise you hate it! 

Another thing you need to consider is seasonality. Some fruits and veggies only grow in certain seasons, so do your research before purchasing seedlings. One tip for beginners is to stick to perennials first. These are fruits and vegetables that live for over two years and are generally hardier plants. Some examples of perennials are garlic chives, potato onions, asparagus, basil, wild rocket, and avocados. 

Feeling a little stumped? Here’s a list of edible garden plants:

Herbs

Gardening newbies often choose herbs as “starter plants” because they’re small, low-maintenance, and easy to grow. A lot of them grow indoors too, like basil, mint, oregano, bay leaves, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. This is perfect for urban-dwellers who live in high-rise condominiums! 

Other herbs you can grow in your backyard:

  • Dill
  • Sage
  • Coriander
  • Cilantro
  • Fennel
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass

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Vegetables

If you think veggies can only be grown outside in a plot of soil, you’re mistaken. Here are just a few vegetables that can be grown indoors:

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Rocket
  • Tomatoes
  • Ginger 
  • Chillies

Just make sure they’re kept in an area that receives ample sunlight, like a large window or a balcony.

Edible garden: 26 best plants that you can eat

Fruits

Not a lot of fruits are easy to care for, especially for beginner gardeners. There are a few exceptions though, including ones you can keep inside. Here are some small indoor fruit trees you can try your hand at growing:

  • Apricots
  • Lemon
  • Avocado
  • Raspberries (needs six to eight hours of direct sunlight)
  • Kiwifruit

Step 3: Designing your garden

As we mentioned, your edible plant garden’s layout will depend on your space and the kinds of plants you want to grow. 

Those with big yards can incorporate edible plants into their landscaping. For example, you can line walkways with berry bushes and small fruit trees or use herbs like basil and parsley as edging plants. Meanwhile, those with smaller spaces like apartments and condominiums can try square-foot gardening – this is when you divvy up a planter box into a grid of 1-foot squares and grow different in each square. 

Gardeners who live in even smaller spaces can try layering their planters or going vertical. A vertical garden doesn’t just save space – it looks good too! Another way to utilise space is by letting vines like cherry tomatoes or grapes grow on posts and trellises.

More tips for building an edible garden

Instead of using chemical fertilisers, compost!

Turn fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen into compost. This, in turn, can be mixed into the soil to enrich it. It also helps stave off pests. 

Know your tools

Using the proper garden tools will make the job easier, safer, and faster. Essential gardening tools include gloves, scissors, watering can, hand rake, shears, spade, Japanese gardener’s knife or hori-hori, hand weeder, hand pruner, and a stool or bench.

Avoid using chemical pesticides

The point of growing your food is so you can avoid the harmful chemicals found in mass-produced fruits and veggies. Instead of using artificial pesticides, opt for natural remedies like chilli spray.

Add flowers to the mix

According to landscape designer Lauri Kranz, flowers “do the vital work of bringing pollinators into the garden”. Some flowers that grow easily in Australia include bougainvillea, sweet pea, marigolds, and zinnias. 

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