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This is the year to finally grow your own food garden! There are four main groups of produce typically grown in food gardens:
- Nuts & Seeds
- Herbs, Spices, & Teas
Read on for 100+ ideas for all these types of edible food garden crops and tips for starting your own food garden at home.
“What do you need to know to begin growing your own fruits and vegetables? Probably not as much as you think. The important thing is to start with the basics. Dig over a patch of land, sow a few seeds and – unless you completely neglect your growing plants – you’re almost certain to end up with something you can eat.”Kitchen Garden: A Month-by-Month Guide to Growing Your Own Fruits and Vegetables, by Alan Buckingham
What to grow in a food garden
Vegetables grown in kitchen gardens include savoury leafy greens, beans, potatoes, corn, carrots, onions, tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, and peas. Fruit grown in a food garden includes sweet strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, grapes, and tree fruits like apples, pears, and plums.
Nuts include almonds, macadamia, hazelnut, and pecan. Grains include quinoa, amaranth, and oat. Culinary herbs include flavourful oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, basil, bay, and chives. Spice plants include horseradish, ginger, garlic, and wasabi. Teas grown in the food garden include peppermint, fennel, chamomile, lemon balm, and bergamot.
Now let’s discuss how to create your own healthy garden full of edible food!
Designing a food garden
The purpose of a food garden is, of course, to grow food. A garden may be to supplement a bit of your produce, grow and can a year’s worth of pasta sauce, or feed your entire family. Whatever your garden goal, planning out the food garden is a key part of success.
“A space that’s 5 x 10 feet can be big enough for a first garden. Even if you’re feeling ambitious, start no more than three or four 4 x 8-foot beds in your first season. But choose a site that has room for expansion.”Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden, by Deborah L. Martin
A food garden can be anything from a few container pots on a patio to a large field of veggies. It can be a traditionally designed potager garden or an indoor countertop setup with LED plant lights. You can also surround your food garden with companion plants (for instance, evergreens make wonderful companion plants for berry bushes).
“If you don’t have the space to dig in a traditional vegetable garden with rows, or to install a raised bed or two, there are plenty of options that give green thumbs the opportunity to grow edibles. Sneak food plants into your ornamental garden among the perennials”Gardening Your Front Yard: Projects and Ideas for Big and Small Spaces, by Tara Nolan
Crop idea list for food gardens
Here are some crop idea lists to help you plan out your own food garden.
Vegetable food garden crops
Here are some ideas for food garden veggie crops to add to your edible kitchen garden:
- Corn Salad
- Mustard Greens
- Swiss Chard
- Sweet Potato
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Onions
Fruit garden crop ideas
Here are some fruit ideas to add to your food garden:
- Paw Paw
- Ground Cherry
- Goji Berry
- Goumi Berry
“Don’t try to grow oranges in Ohio or tulips in South Texas. Stick with the tried-and-true flowers and produce that thrive in your area, and choose disease-resistant varieties whenever possible.”Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden, by Deborah L. Martin
Nuts & seeds to grow
Here are some nutty, seedy crops to grow in the food garden:
- Macadamia Nut
- Pine Nut
- Sunflower Seed
- Sesame Seed
Herb, spice, & tea crops for the food garden
Here are some ideas for herbs, spices, and tea herbs to grow in the food garden:
- Cutting Celery
- Salad Burnet
- Sweet Cicely
- Chili Peppers
- Saffron Crocus
- Ginger Mint
- Apple Mint
- Anise Hyssop
- Lemon Balm
- Rose Hip
- Lemon Grass
- Lemon Verbena
“One of the key objectives of our new lifestyle was to produce as much of our own food as possible. I quickly learned that I would rather be vegetarian than eat my darling chickens. From that moment of realization that I could no more eat my pet goose than eat one of the kids, I threw myself into making the best kitchen garden possible on our plot… it was the only way we were going to get a good meal!”Italian Kitchen Garden: Enjoy the Flavours of Italy From Your Garden, by Sarah Fraser
Quick Tip: All these plants require photosynthesis, so make sure you put them in a space with a lot of sunlight for optimal growing!