Edible Landscaping for Beginners: Your Edible Growing System

An important thing to consider on your way to developing an edible landscape is how you want to grow your plants.  What growing system do you want to use? As part of your plan you will need to figure out how you want to structure your garden and the growing system you choose can provide that structure.

There are several basic systems you can choose from to grow your edible landscape.  You don't have to tie yourself down to one system.  Feel free to pick what works best in your garden and what you find interesting.  Growing your plants in a method that you are passionate about is very important!

Raised Beds


Raised beds are one of my favorite methods to grow my edibles because of their benefits.  Herbs, vegetables, and fruits can all be grown successfully.  Raised beds provide a rich soil that you have control of, have good drainage, and look great aesthetically with a wide variety of materials. Materials can range from wood to stone and can be of many different shapes and sizes.  Raised beds don't have to have structured sides and can simply be a large mound of soil or a berm which can be incorporated into any landscape plan.  (Related post: Designing a Raised Bed Garden.)




Pots


Essentially growing a plant in a pot is like a mini-raised bed garden.  Pots look their best when incorporated into other garden areas where it becomes a focal point to draw the eye.  Select plants for pots that have a more compact size.  Herb combinations like rosemary and thyme look great when planted in a large pot. For vegetables look for bush plants or determinant plants to fill your pots.  With pots you have some added versatility that you may not have with other types of gardens.  When it gets cold you can bring plants indoors to overwinter or just to protect from frost.  Small citrus plants can be grown indoors when it isn't seasonally possible outdoors and you can even overwinter tender perennials like peppers.


In the Ground!


If you have suitable soil the ground or can amend an area regular in the ground beds are flexible.  They can be any shape, size, and contain any plants you want to put there.  There are no limits except for your available space.  

I'm a big fan of the combination approach to gardening.  Pots, raised beds, and normal garden beds can all be used in combination with great results.

More Unique Ideas
The three ways to layout your garden plan listed above don't have to be the only methods you use in your garden.  Here are a few more ideas to think about:


Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardening uses that z-axis to make better use of space!  Trellises, arbors and pergolas are the traditional methods used for vertical gardening but don't limit yourself to these areas.  Stacked pots, hanging gardens, and other methods of vertical gardening can increase your useable space without the need for more land.

Vertical Garden from Nashville Lawn and Garden show
This is from the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show.
It shows pansies being used vertically but they could easily be
swapped out for colorful lettuces, kales, or chard.

Green Roof Gardening

If you have a shed, playhouse, doghouse, or even a roof over your head growing edible plants on a rooftop might be a way to go.  You will have to make sure that whatever structure you grow upon has been structurally engineered to hold the weight of soil medium and plants that are fully saturated with water.


Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a great method to grow your edibles that insures a consistent crop.  It does require special equipment and fertilizers to work properly and may not be suitable for your garden plan, especially if you are new to edible gardening.


Aquaponics

Aquaponics involves using fish to help fertilize the plants.  The system becomes a self-contained food factory!  Both the plants and fish may be used for consumption.  This is another system that may not be for beginners.

Your plan needs to contain the main growing methods you plan to use.  Concentrate on the first three methods using raised beds, pots, or planting in the soil then as interest or time allows try out some of the other methods!  Your garden is only limited by your imagination (and maybe your pocketbook)!

If you've missed anything in the edible gardening series you can find it here: Edible Landscaping for Beginners.

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