This is my 5th year growing an edible garden. My garden is my happy place. What started as a small container garden when Zoe was a baby has now turned into a labor of love. Last year I transitioned from containers to a full garden bed. It was a great season and learning experience. This year my goal was to build a raised garden bed to go along with the in ground garden bed from last year. So far the raised bed is doing great while the in ground bed needs a lot of love. Here are some tips for anyone wanting to grow an edible garden.
Tips for Growing An Edible Garden
Plant What You Like To Eat
My very first tip is to plant what you like to eat. You can grow almost anything as long as it is sustainable in your area but there is no point in growing things you won’t eat. You already know what you like to eat so now you need to do the research to determine if what you love will actually grow in your area and the conditions needed for a great crop.
Once you narrow down what you will be growing, plant 2 to 3 of each herb, vegetable or fruit. Last year, I only planted one eggplant plant. This year I planted 3 because we love eggplant and it’s a great substitute for meat on our weekly Meatless Monday menu.
You also want to know which vegetables, herbs and fruits do well from seed, ones to start indoors, ones to buy from starter plants or seeds to direct sow. In my gardening experience, I’ve never had success with zucchini or squash from seeds direct sow or started indoors. This year I went with starter plants and they are thriving.
In-Ground, Raised Bed or Containers
If you are just starting out you may want to start with containers. It’s not necessary but containers are easy to put almost anywhere and can easily be replanted if something fails. Otherwise I would honestly recommend going with a raised garden bed. Why a raised garden bed? They are pretty easy but also larger than containers. The soil you choose to use matters of course but my honest favorite thing about raised bed is the minimal if any weeding you have to do. I built my raised garden bed using this plan from Lowe’s.
If you are going to go straight in-ground, researching and testing your soil is a must. You will want to add in good garden soil, compost and fertilizer as well. Amending the soil throughout the growing season is also a good idea. Considering a weed barrier is a must and be prepared to weed even with a barrier in place. I did not do this and this year a new invasive weed has all but taken over the entire in ground bed.
It’s also important to know what grows well together and what needs to kept separated. As for me and my cucumber plant “fun” this year, considering how much space certain plants need is also important. We love cucumbers but next year our cucumbers will mostly likely be in a bed of their own. You can see some of the work I’ve done to try to tame the cucumber plants on our IGTV channel.
Watering, Fertilizing, Pruning, Bug Care
Consistent watering is one of the keys to growing a successful garden. We’ve had a lot of rain this season so I have not had to water as much. Staying on top of the weather forecast and your watering schedule has to be a priority.
Fertilizing your edible garden will help yield a larger crop. Know what each of your plants needs and choose a food that works well for everything in the same bed or different food options depending on each container. I use 2 different types of plant food interchangeably. Be sure not to use anything that will deter pollinators. Your plants need pollinators to visit so they can fruit.
Most plants tend to better when they are consistently pruned. Herbs in particular benefit from being consistent harvesting or pruning.
You will spend time removing bugs from your garden. There will be bugs you have never seen before and some might just scare you. But keeping an eye out for invasive bugs before they do major damage or complete kill your plants is a must.
Once again do your research. Some edibles like to be picked just before full maturity while others will lose flavor if they are left on the plant to long.
Must Have Gear
- A flexible long hose
- Garden Sheers
- Cages and ties
- Spray Bottles
- Protective fencing or netting
Growing an edible garden is a lot of work. You have to know this but once you commit to it, you will find that gardening is actually fun. Join a gardening group, share your crop with family and friends and get adventurous with new plants. Have fun.
Are you a gardener? What tips do you have for growing an edible garden?