There is nothing better than growing edible gardens and enjoying the “fruits” of our labor. Here you will find a range of growing tips for edible plants, everything from classic herbs to your favorite fruits and vegetables.
Whether you are just starting out or an experienced gardener, you are certain to find just what you’re looking for when it comes to edible gardening.
Discover how to grow edible plants from beginning to end with gardening information that covers it all including design, preparation, planting, care, harvest and more.
Gardening has many health and therapeutic benefits, and can be enjoyed by everyone. People with disabilities, older people and children can find it especially rewarding to spend time in the garden tending plants and growing their own food. With some planning and thought, you can create an interesting, productive and pleasant space that can be used as an edible garden.
An edible garden is a garden that contains flowers, herbs, seeds, berries and plants that you can eat. It does not have to be large. Your garden can start small with a few pots and containers, or even just a window box with a few herbs.
Benefits of growing an edible garden
Research shows that gardening is a healthy activity. Working in the garden provides benefits that include:
- enjoyment – from the physical activity
- exercise – physical activity improves your endurance, strength, mobility and flexibility
- relaxation – helps you relax and reduce stress levels
- fresh food – provides you and your family with a healthy source of inexpensive fresh food
- appreciation of food growing – provides an understanding of foods and their origin.
The best soil for an edible garden
The ideal soil for growing edible crops is:
- free-draining, but still able to retain moisture and nutrients
- rich in organic matter
- neutral pH to slightly acidic (pH 6 to 7)
- rich in soil life, such as earthworms.
To determine if your soil is free draining, dig a few small holes about 60 cm deep in different positions around your garden. Fill them with water and let it drain away, then refill it and time how long it takes to drain. The result will tell you:
- If the rate of drainage is less than 2.5 cm (one inch) per hour, then you have poorly draining soil. This is a common feature of clay soils, and can be improved by adding and digging in gypsum and compost. Alternatively, you may wish to plant plants that are suited to a waterlogged environment.
- A rate of 2.5 to 15 cm (one to six inches) per hour indicates good drainage. You should be able to grow most edible crops well.
- A drainage rate of faster than 15 cm (six inches) per hour is excessive, and is a common characteristic of sandy soils. Fast-draining soils can be improved by digging in plenty of organic matter such as compost and manure. Alternatively, you may wish to plant drought-tolerant plants, such as local Australian natives.
You can use a pH kit to determine the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of your soil. These are available from plant nurseries and hardware stores.
An ideal soil pH for your edible garden is neutral to slightly acidic (pH 6 to 7) .An acid soil can be adjusted by digging in calcium in the form of dolomite or lime. Alkaline soils are harder to correct, but may improve over time with the addition of sulphur and compost.