get on your way to growing your own vegetables with a raised bed or a few containers on the patio
houzz contributor. rebecca cuttler’s mission is to share her love of urban food gardening with the world. she is the author of http://abundantcity.net, a blog
who shares simple and effective techniques for growing food on an urban home garden scale with informative videos, photos and articles. she grows a huge amount of vegetables on a small lot in vancouver, b.c. she is an urban gardening teacher for hollyhock, canada’s lifelong learning centre, gardening writer for the vancouver observer, co-host of fabulous urban gardens on roundhouse radio 98.3 and member of the vancouver food policy council.
You're reading: 12 Tips to Help You Start an Edible Garden
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you’ve dreamed of turning your lawn into a lush food-producing oasis. perhaps you’ve had visions of stepping onto your patio before dinner to snip fresh chives and basil onto your plate. the good news is
who almost anyone can grow food, whether you have a tiny apartment balcony or a big yard.
1. start small
just because you have a big backyard doesn’t mean that you should turn the entire thing into a vegetable garden. at least, not in the first year. begin by adding one raised bed and see how things go. you may be surprised both by how much food you can grow in a tiny space and by how much work it actually takes to keep things going. if you’re hungry for more next year, add another bed or two.
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2. plan your garden
before you spend money or build anything, take time to get to know yourself and your space. wherein is the best light? how much time do you have each week to spend on your gardening? how much food do you really want to grow? ask yourself these questions before you put your shovel into the ground.
how to plan your edible garden
3. if you don’t have a backyard, find an alternative
you don’t need a big backyard to grow food. patios and decks can make for great gardens. they can even offer advantages over traditional beds since they often have plenty of light. you may also want to consider building a front yard vegetable garden. it’s a great way to bring the neighborhood together.
4. get good soil
soil is the most important factor in the
well-being of your garden. instead of buying bags of the cheapest stuff from the hardware store, do some research and find the best way to get compost-rich organic soil for your garden. whether you build your own soil or buy it from a reputable supplier, your plants will thank you.
how to get good soil for your edible garden
5. choose easy-to-grow crops
giant leeks, romanesco broccoli and heirloom watermelons look gorgeous in the seed catalog, but hold off on planting them in the first few years. instead, choose tried-and-true varieties of crops
who are productive and easy to grow. snap peas, radishes, herbs like mint and chives, salad greens, kale, tomatoes and zucchini are all classic choices — just make sure you actually like to eat them before they go into the garden. consult a seed catalog from a local company to find the best varieties for your regional climate.
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6. decide whether to plant seeds or seedlings
it can be tempting to buy seedlings from the nursery or grocery store, but, in some cases, planting seeds is even easier. growing vegetables from seed also saves a lot of money, opens up a world of plant varieties and can make for
seeds or seedlings? how to get your garden started
7. invest in some garden tools — but not too manyvegetable gardens don’t need a lot of tools. in fact, you may find that the best “tools” out there are a good pair of garden gloves and your hands. start with a trowel, weeder and a few other essentials, then build your collection from there.
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8. try planting a square-foot gardengone are the days of planting vegetables in long, skinny rows. instead, try building raised beds and planting them using the square-foot method described in mel bartholomew’s book all new square foot gardening. this technique, which divides crops using a grid, creates patchwork quilt-style gardens that grow more food in less space.
maximize harvests with square-foot gardening
9. stay on top of weeds
square-foot gardens usually have surprisingly few weeds. still, you’ll find a few in there. rather than straining your back over giant dandelions, try pulling weeds out when they’re relatively small. a once-per-week weeding is the perfect way to keep things in shape.
natural ways to get rid of weeds
10. welcome the birds and the bees
pollinator animals, like bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, are your allies in gardening success. they provide an essential service by helping plants set fruit — so having lots of them means that your cucumbers and apples will be way more plentiful.
pollinators are sensitive creatures that need your help to thrive. welcome them by planting attractive flowers and by providing sources of shelter and water.
attract pollinators for a productive edible garden
11. don’t forget to label your crops
it’s a small detail but one that makes a big difference. whenever you plant something, label it with a plant maker including the crop, variety and planting date. otherwise, you may sow the same place twice before seeds emerge. plant markers help keep your garden organized. keep track of your vegetable garden with plant markers
who it’s an experiment
treat your garden with curiosity and an open mind. if a crop fails, don’t get upset. do some research and try to figure out what went wrong so
who you can avoid the problem next time. successful gardeners spend years learning from mistakes and are always open to trying new techniques. treat it as a fun and delicious experiment.
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