The Ultimate Guide To Creating An Edible Garden

Is there anything more delicious than something that is homemade? Yes, homegrown ingredients! Growing an edible garden means you are able to produce your own herbs, vegetables and fruits, right in your own backyard. Edible gardening really is the best of both worlds, enabling you the same pleasures of gardening with the added bonus of being able to eat your produce! It’s also a lot easier to grow your own edible garden than you may realise. We, the gardening experts at Jim’s Mowing NZ, explain some of the benefits to planting an edible garden and how you get started on your thriving veggie and fruit patch!

The benefits of planting an edible garden

There’s no doubt that sustainability is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Even the fruit and vegetables you buy in the supermarket have their own ‘environmental footprint’. This footprint includes the amount of water they were grown with, the energy required to produce and transport them, and how far they have travelled to reach the supermarket. Growing your own through your edible garden is an easy way to reduce this footprint and source locally.

They say you are what you eat, so it makes sense that you want to understand what exactly is in your food. By growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs, you know exactly how your food has been grown. You are in control of how you grow, which is important if you are concerned about whether your food is grown with added chemicals or modifications.

As the cost of living continues to rise, growing your own fruit and vegetables is an affordable way to enjoy more healthy produce for cheaper. After purchasing the initial seeds or seedlings and some additional gardening tools (like specialised fertiliser), you’ll be able to harvest your produce for free!

Not only does an edible garden produce delicious food for you to enjoy, it can furthermore benefit your garden and the environment. Companion planting can boost the growth of your other plants by creating necessary shade, deter some pests, and improve overall soil quality. Edible plants can also attract a wide range of pollinators and other beneficial insects to your garden!

How to grow an edible garden

Now you are aware of the excellent benefits that come with planting an edible garden, it’s time to begin growing your own! We break down the steps to planting your edible garden and how you can set it up for success.

Determine if your space is suitable

So, you’ve fallen in love with the idea of growing your own edible garden! But is your property set up for it? Even a small balcony space can produce a variety of herbs, fruit and vegetables, however there are some requirements to ensure that your edible plants are able to grow.

Ideally, an edible garden needs:

  • Sufficient space (can be a whole garden plot or a few pots)
  • Well-draining soil with organic matter
  • A position with natural sunlight (how much sun or shade will be determined by your plant types)
  • Shelter from extreme wind, rain and other weather elements
  • Access to water

It’s important to note that you can plan your edible garden to fit your needs! For example, if you are working with a smaller space which has a bit of shade, you can plant small herbs in pot plants such as chives, parsley or rosemary.

Selecting your edible plants

As mentioned above, your plant selection is likely determined by your space (the size, position, and access to sun and water) and the growing region you live in. You should also be choosing your edible plants by season. Some plants grow best in cooler conditions during winter while others prefer the heat of summer and can only be planted during the warmer months.

Our recommended edible plants include:

  • Low maintenance herbs such as basil, chives, rosemary, thyme and parsley.
  • Plants which grow well in pots and containers including strawberries, tomatoes and lettuce.
  • Quick harvesting plants like radish, spinach and kale.

Seeds vs seedlings

If you are new to gardening, you may be wondering what’s the difference between growing from seeds and seedlings? Seeds come in packets of 20 to 5000, and when planting you may not know how many seeds will sprout into viable plants. A seedling is a young plant which can be planted straight away and there is a shorter time period between planting and maturity – as in how long it takes for your plant to become producing fruit or vegetables. You can also grow your edible plants from cuttings! Seeds are a lot cheaper than purchasing a seedling, however, they require more time and attention. If you don’t have a lot of gardening experience, we recommend opting for seedlings when planting your edible garden to maximise ease.

Prepare the soil

To ensure that your harvest is bountiful, you will need to prepare the soil for your edible garden. If you are using pots or garden beds, you can purchase specially formulated soils such as a vegetable and herb premium mix. If you are planting directly into your garden soil, you can test the soil using a home soil testing kit to determine the pH level. For an edible garden, you want your soil pH to be around 6.0-7.0. If your soil has a low pH level, you can add some limestone mixture to the soil around 2 months before planting.

To prepare your soil for planting, turn over the top 20 cm of soil and break up any large clumps of dirt as well as removing any sticks, weeds or rocks. To enrich the soil and give your edible plants a boost, we recommend adding some organic compost or manure to your soil.

Plant your chosen edible plants

Now it’s time to get your hands dirty and start planting your edible plants! If you are using seedlings, you can plant directly into your garden beds or pots. Simply make a small hole so there is room, and place your plant into the soil (just be sure to follow the spacing advice for your specific plant). Cover the roots and give it a little water after planting. In the case of planting with seeds, you can choose to either plant directly into the soil or use a seedling tray. By using a tray, you’ll be able to easily manoeuvre your seeds and move them indoors or out. Don’t forget to label them! Once they have sprouted, you can pot them or plant them into the soil.

Be patient!

Depending on what you’ve chosen to plant, you’ll have to wait a few weeks before you begin to harvest and start eating your produce. Keep an eye on your plants, and water them regularly.

Monitor for pests & disease

Nothing can destroy your hopes and dreams of an edible garden faster than pests and disease. When watering your plants, ensure to monitor carefully for any pests or signs of disease. This can include sickly or stunted growth, holes in or damaged leaves, and wilting stems. It’s best to remove any pests by hand and if you are using a treatment spray, make sure it is able to be used on edible plants.

Rotate plants seasonally

As many edible plants are ‘annual’, they only last for a season and will need to be replaced. If you plan your edible garden carefully then you can enjoy a range of delicious produce year round! When planting seasonally, don’t forget that you need to think ahead – meaning if you are wanting to grow summer vegetables then you will have to begin planting in the spring.

Enjoy your harvest!

After all that hard work to care for your plants, you can now literally enjoy the fruits of your labour! Simply cut or remove your produce from your plants, give it a good wash and then it’s ready to eat, give away or freeze. It’s best not to leave produce over ripening near your plants as it may attract pests and birds to your garden.

Let the experts tend to your edible garden

Need a hand with your edible garden? You can trust the professional team at Jim’s Mowing NZ to look after your garden and ensure it is thriving! We’re able to provide a range of different expert gardening and landscaping servicesGet in touch with our friendly team to arrange weekly, fortnightly or month services or Book Online today!