How to start your edible garden?
Having tried planting something but feel like giving up because the plants keep dying? Don’t feel disheartened, as everyone has gone through those stages – including the experts!
At Self-Sufficient Penang, we think that “green finger” is a myth – it takes skills and patience to grow your own food. No shortcut!
Here are some tips for you to set up an edible garden:
Tip #1 – Positioning
Garden comes in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a backyard in a terrace house, to a balcony with potted plants in high rise buildings. Given the right conditions, you can start your own garden at almost anywhere!
Sunlight is probably the most important factor to be considered for your garden – it’s what your plants rely on. Most food crops like basils, tomatoes, lemongrass, fruit trees, etc enjoy being under full sun for at least 6 – 8 hours. If you are planning to have a garden in apartments, place your plants on the balcony or by the window that is facing east/west, or wherever they can enjoy morning and/or afternoon sun.
Tip #2 – Choice of plants
You want to grow something that you like and use very often. It is totally fine to collect more plants as you explore into new recipes. You may also want to collect rare/uncommon species that are hardly found in the markets.
Also, the choice of plants needs to be realistic to your situation. It would be difficult for a huge fruit tree to be fitted into a small balcony.
Some plants serve more than one functions: you can use the leaves, fruits; the flowers give scent to your home; attract pollinators and support urban biodiversity……. get those plants!
Tip #3 – Make your own compost
You want to be confident that your crops are totally free from any artificial chemicals/fertilisers – that’s the whole point of having a home garden! Compost is rich in organic materials, essential nutrients and trace elements that your plants need to thrive. It also contains good bacteria that condition the soil, making it more fertile, and it holds moisture yet allowing the excess water to drain. The best thing is: it’s free! You can make your own compost from kitchen scraps and dry leaves, which cost next to nothing. And by this, you are helping the environment by reducing domestic waste too!
Tip #4 – Maintenance
You reap what you sow? More like you reap what you sow, water, prune, spray, fertilise…… you get the idea. Lots of things – good or bad – can happen between when you first planted your crops and harvesting. You need to maintain your garden regularly to ensure the plants are growing optimally.
Watering is crucial for plants. As they are going to be exposed to full sun of the day, watering them in the morning is always good. When you find pests like aphids, stink bugs, and grasshoppers, consider removing them physically or spraying organic pest oil. Some plants, like tomatoes, need to be fertilised regularly as they start to flower, while some plants, like basils, need to be pruned regularly to stay young…… the list goes on!
Tip #5 – Propagation
Like us, plants have a limited lifespan. It will come to a time when you are looking for younger plants ready to replace the old, dying plants in your garden. Therefore, having a mini nursey (preferably sheltered/indoor, by the window) to multiply and nurse the young plants is a wise move. Fortunately, many plants can be easily “cloned” from cuttings. You can also save the seeds and rhizomes of some plants in a cool, dry place when they do not need to be planted right away.
Tips #6 – Harvest!
It’s time to enjoy the fruit of your labour! Some “cut and come again” crops like mints and basils can be harvested as you need, while fruit crops such as tomatoes are as good as seasonal harvest. Don’t forget to share with your neighbours and love ones!
Now you know how to start setting up your garden! What else are you waiting for? Today is the day!
You can start growing edible greens by using Self Sufficient Penang’s seed starter pack! We are launching our Hustle Basils and The Heritage Kind start packs, which you can start your unique collections of different basil varieties and heirloom tomatoes! Simply follow the instructions to plant the seeds, and soon enough you will be overwhelmed by the lush, fleshy plants ready for you to enjoy!
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