ARTICLE

How to grow an edible garden

Who wouldn't want fresh fruit and vegetables on their doorstep? In the city, garden space is often at a premium. But converting even a small area into a fruit and vegetable patch can yield delicious results. Follow these five steps and you'll be on your way to growing your own.

How to grow an edible garden

Five steps to an edible garden

WHAT TO GROW IN MARCH

1. Set up a dedicated area
You can incorporate edibles into existing borders and flower beds as well as having fun with container growing. A dedicated area in the form of a raised bed is a good start, especially in a small garden. This could be as simple as digging up a 1.2m x 0.6m rectangle of lawn and hammering in some planks to frame it. This is best done in the autumn, and some soil enrichment in the form or well-rotted organic compost should be dug into the soil.

2. Make space on top of a lawn
If a raised bed is plonked on top of a lawn, the grass will have to be killed with proper weed-supression techniques and soil will have to be brought in. It is even possible to build a raised bed several feet tall on top of concrete, a more expensive proposition.

3. Understand crop rotation
The three general categories of vegetables you can grow are roots, brassicas (the cabbage family) and others. With raised beds, you will have to adhere to the principles of crop rotation, so it makes sense to have three dedicated beds, and use one for each category of vegetable, alternating each year. Bean and pea crops fix nitrogen in the soil, so whatever follows from them benefits from this. Brassicas are a good choice of crop to follow beans as they are nitrogen hungry.

4. Create beds for permanent plots
Of course, you can also have beds for permanent crops like rhubarb, asparagus, and fruit bushes and trees. You could also have the supplementary luxury of a greenhouse or coldframe.

5. Remember the overall look
At home, the garden is usually in constant view and should be treated like an extended living space to make the most of it. So planning an edible garden there might require a more aesthetic approach than allotment gardening, as well as diligent maintenance, so that you can live with it, admiring its beauty at all times.

Adapted from New Urban Farmer by Celia Brooks Brown, £8.98 (Quadrille), at Amazon.