Growing an edible garden is a fun experience for both parents and children, and can be a great way of spending more quality time together as a family. The experience itself will teach kids about where food comes from as well as offer short time success with the fruits of their labor. For all the newbie green thumbs out there, here are a few tips on how to have a thriving edible garden.
Best Places to Plant
Edible plants do best under full exposure of the sun, however also benefit from some coverage to block potential winds and storms. The best placement for a garden is a corner of the yard that gets full exposure during the day and is close to a fence. These plants are also functional in various residential settings. If you are limited on space, a couple of big pots will allow enough room for root systems of the plants to flourish.
Best Plants to Use
Depending on where you live, there will be certain veggies, fruits and herbs that grow best for the climate. Put some time into researching the best plants for your area, and be sure to make note of the growing season of each plant. Consulting the neighborhood nursery can really help in making those decisions as well.
Plan to make your garden as functional as possible. Set aside garden tools in a rustic bucket or place a bench nearby. This will enhance the aesthetic of the garden and provide an organized design that is easy to interact with.
Get to Planting
There are multiple things to think about once you are ready to start planting your garden. Some people go with old tires or old wine barrels to plant in so they can use a specialized soil. This option works well and will require the standard planting soil that has a little fertilizer in the mix. Each plant will have directions on how to fertilize in the future, but it is probably a good idea to invest in some plant food while you’re at the market. The other option is to plant in the dirt you already have in the lawn. It is still recommended to use some additional potting soil when putting the plants into the ground. Purchase a soil test kit to test the pH of the soil. A 7.5 pH level is the upper limit for planting an edible garden. Adjust your lawns fertilizer cocktail accordingly to ensure success of the garden.
The transfer process of planting is super important. If done wrong, the plant can go into shock. For each plant transfer squish the sides of the pot together to soften the soil. Turn the planter pot upside down, using your other hand to catch the plant as it comes out of the pot. The roots at the bottom of the soil should still be intact. Run your fingers gently through the root system and place it in the pre dug pit.
Water is the most important step in the maintenance regime. A common mistake is over-watering and of course under-watering the garden. To avoid these problems, you can install an irrigation or sprinkler system that works on a timer. Here are some signs of under and over watering.
- Wilted or dead leaves
- Browning on the edges of the leaves
- Soil is clearly parched and crackin
- The garden is saturated (may have puddles around)
- Moss or mold is growing near the stem of the plant
- Wilting of the leaves
- Yellowing of the leaves
Compost Do’s and Don’ts
Composting, a project in and of itself, can enhance the health of a garden and reduce waste of the household. You can use a bucket to collect the compost materials, but it is recommended to keep it somewhere safe outside: it may smell. Over the next year, the materials will begin to decompose and will be a great addition to a garden. There are materials that you do and do not want in your compost batch so be mindful of what you are putting in the bucket. This is a great lesson for children in recycling goods too.
Materials used in compost:
- Any leftover veggies or fruits
- Coffee grounds (Starbucks will give you their old coffee grounds)
- Leftover grass clippings/ leaves
Materials NOT used in compost:
- Any leftover meat, or anything containing fats or oils
- Animal feces
- Dairy products
- Weeds/ Diseased plants
So there you have it my dear readers! Everything you need to know to get started on your own edible garden project with the family. Do you have some favorite tips you would like to share from your own gardening experiences? Please do so in the comments below – we love hearing from you!