Edible plants are very popular at the moment. My two latest books have been on this subject – The Edible Garden Planner and Fruit Growers Handbook. I was lucky enough to co author them with Diana Anthony from Australia, who is a mine of information on the subject.
Growing edible plants:
Growing your own edibles means you know how they have been grown, and your food can be free from harmful pesticides.
I used to ask clients if they wanted to grow their own veges or fruit trees and they often said they didn’t have the time, but now they are almost without exception wanting to grow them.
You can create your own edible garden with no more than 1m2 of garden space. Even if you live in an apartment, you can use planters to get started. There are a range of containers you can use to grow your edibles in if you have small spaces.
One that got my attention recently is the Vege pod:
It is a mini greenhouse with a plastic cover, on a stand & wheels about 1200 high. It has a reservoir of water at the base which can be drawn up by the plants and a misting system to irrigate. There are other smaller plastic containers you can use to grow your edibles in that can be assembled together to form larger units as required.
If you have the space use raised beds, as you can modify the growing soil to get the best results, and it is easier to work on if higher than ground level (less bending over). Also the drainage is better in raised beds. It is preferable to use macrocarpa sleepers to form your garden beds, as treated timber has chemicals that can leach out into the soil. If you do use treated timber, then fix weed mat to the inside of the sleeper gardens. I use a garden mix to fill the garden, ideally half compost and half soil. You can mulch with pea straw, and add new compost each season before planting.
Other things to consider are growing companion plants. For example, there are the Three Sisters that native American Indians grew- ie corn, squash and beans. The beans added nitrogen to the soil, the squash covered the ground like a mulch, and the corn grew upwards, and gave the beans something to grow on.
Crop rotation is another practice you can use. The idea is that you use different crops for each part of the garden on a rotation. For example, grow nitrogen fixing plants that add nitrogen to the soil like beans one year, root crops like carrots the next year and leaf crops like lettuce the following year. This way you don’t get nutrient deficiencies, and pests and diseases don’t get a chance to build up in the soil.
Planting by the moon is another practice you can follow. For example, plant root crops on a descending moon, and leaf crops on an ascending moon. That also applies to lawns- you can mow your lawns on a descending moon, as they won’t grow back so quickly.
By now you should have your garden prepared- that is compost and lime added. You can sow carrots, and plant brassicas like broccoli, and leaf crops like lettuce. If you want further information, you could always buy the Edible Garden Planner.
Enjoy your edibles!