Planning Your Edible Garden

Post by Sharon

In my parents' day, victory gardens abounded. When they were younger, Depression Era gardens were a high necessity. Recent events and perhaps a shift in our culture to wanting to be less dependent and more independent has made us desire our own garden where we find exercise, therapy, nourishment, and independence. 

If you're thinking of growing an edible garden, I have some advice.

If you want fruits, in general you have to think longer term. They should be the first thing planted.

Fruit trees and vines such as grapes, bushes such as raspberries and blackberries can be put in first to start the framework the other plantings build around. 

Utilize an arbor or lattice for climbers such as grapes. Consider a dual-use to enjoy your garden, such as this arbor with a hammock. 

If you have a tall tree in the yard that offers a dappled light below, consider planting the fruit trees in a cluster on the east side so they are protected from hotter afternoon western sun. The cluster of fruit trees offers ongoing humidity to each other, creating a microclimate. 

If you want to do raspberry or blackberry bushes, I suggest placing under the fruit trees. If you do citrus, let the branches grow toward the ground, don't prune it back and paint the trunk. This way it's easier to pick and also the limbs naturally protect from trunk burn.

Don't forget pathways and beauty. Try and put the two together with reused items. 

Going overhead or vertical are ways to utilize space so much better - 

Rain gutters make marvelous planters that can be attached to fences or on a pergola overhead, especially good for things like green beans and peas that drip over the sides. 

Raised beds can be constructed or you can buy them already built and ready for planting. I used these raised tables below for many years in apartment. I even used them inside at a window to grow herbs. There are also ground level raised planters on Amazon, as well. 

What to grow? If you want to start with a raised planter like the table one above, consider growing your greens for salads and herbs. This is the most immediate and satisfying use of the space. You will find yourself picking kale, spinach, lettuce, basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley and cilantro often. 

This was me using the raised planter bed on the patio 
of my apartment - I used 3 of them!

If you want to take the planting to a meal-planning level, I would suggest in the warm season to grow tomatoes, peppers like jalepenos, bell peppers, cucumbers, basil, eggplant, and if your climate is not too extremely hot, consider some greens grown under the plants to protect from harsh light. Now, you can plan out salads and meals utilizing key ingredients. 

If you want to grow all your food in the garden or almost all of it, consider sitting down with paper and plotting out use of vertical, overhead, tree shade, planters, and varying planting times to get a continuous amount of food. 

There are some great videos on YouTube about growing your own food. I suggest some like these - 

Justin Rhodes
Living Traditions Homestead
Huw Richards
Container Growing