Let’s say you’re craving a fresh salad or need some basil to top a homemade pizza. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk outside and collect some lettuce, vegetables, and herbs from your own personal garden? Creating your own edible garden allows you to do just that. No outside space for a garden? Don’t worry—it’s also possible to create a container or indoor edible garden. 

Whether you have a green thumb or no gardening experience at all, you can easily create a garden full of good things to eat. Below, learn more about the basics of edible gardens, what to grow, and how to create an efficient edible garden design. 

What Is an Edible Garden? 

An edible garden produces a harvest that can be consumed. That can include greens, vegetables, fruits, beans, herbs, and more. Edible gardens can provide you with an ample source of inexpensive, fresh, healthy foods. Plus, tending your edible garden can be enjoyable and relaxing. 

plants
Tending an edible garden can be enjoyable and relaxing. 

What Are Easy, Edible Plants to Grow? 

You have a wide range of options when it comes to edible garden plants. Wondering what to include in your garden? Find some inspiration and edible garden ideas below. 

Flowers 

You can create an edible flower garden that is appealing to both your eyes and your taste buds. Many flowers’ leaves, petals, sprouts, and seeds are edible, which can add a beautiful garnish to your meals. Consider these types of flowers for your edible flower garden:

  • Sunflowers
  • Angelica
  • Daylily
  • Violas 
  • Carnations

Herbs

Herbs are useful to have on hand to add flavor to any meal—and many are easy to grow. Try adding these herbs to your edible garden:

  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
cutting plants with scissors
Harvest microgreens for a fresh garnish for any dish. 

Vegetables 

Vegetables are healthy additions to any edible garden, but they can be colorful, ornamental plants, too. Try these vegetables as accent plants in your garden:

  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Rainbow chard
  • Red cabbage 

How to Make an Edible Garden

Creating an edible garden isn’t hard—but it does require some planning. Follow these four steps to start your own small-space garden. 

Step 1: Establish Your Goals and Create a Plan

Before you get your hands dirty, you’ll need to create a plan for the types of vegetables, herbs, and flowers you want to plant, as well as the size of your garden and where to plant it. Consider the following questions: 

  • What are your growing goals? Do you want to grow enough food to sustain you and eliminate trips to the grocery store to stock up on fresh produce? Or do you simply want to have a few fresh vegetables and herbs on hand to supplement your meals? Or, maybe you want to try growing some varieties of plants you can’t readily find at the grocery store.
  • How much space do you have? You can grow a surprisingly sizable garden in even a small space. However, you’ll need to be aware of your space restraints ahead of time, so you can realistically determine what and how much you can plant.  
  • Where is that space located? The logistics of your garden will change based on its location. If you will garden outdoors, it’s best to use raised beds. For an indoor garden, you’ll likely need smaller containers. In either case, you’ll need to find a sunny place for your garden, whether it’s near a bright window or in a sunny spot on your balcony or patio.

Build Low-Cost Raised Beds

Easy Gardening With Raised Beds

Step 2: Choose What to Plant

Selecting the plants to include in your edible garden isn’t as simple as deciding what you want to eat. Your garden will be most successful and produce higher yields if you choose plants that thrive in your geographic area. Do some online research or visit a local nursery and ask for advice about what plants would do best in your garden. 

Also consider what you’ll actually eat. Think about what you use the most when you cook or prepare meals, and focus on those types of plants. 

Once you’ve honed in on your selections, decide whether you’ll plant seeds or seedlings (also referred to as “starts”). Some plants—like bok choy and radishes—grow extremely quickly, so there’s no real benefit to starting from seedlings. Even from seeds, you’ll see plants begin to grow within a week or two. On the other hand, seedlings make it easy to see the precise placement of each plant, so you can easily tell them apart from any potential edible garden weeds.

plants
Source: Unsplash
You can grow your edible garden plants from seeds or seedlings—each method has pros and cons. 

Step 3: Create Your Edible Garden Design 

Now that you know what you want to plant, develop an edible garden design that details where you’ll place each plant. Consider your plants’ watering and sun requirements, and try to group plants together that have similar preferences. 

Strategically placing certain plants close together can also help the garden succeed. This is called “companion planting.” For example, flowers can attract beneficial insects, like ladybugs and butterflies, and keep disease away from other plants. Some edible garden plants grow better when placed next to each other. The rule of thumb: If they taste good together—like spinach and strawberries or tomatoes and basil—they will grow well together.  

You can take this concept even further with an edible forest garden. These gardens consist of three layers—ground cover, shrubs, and trees—that mimic a natural ecosystem. Each layer benefits from the others, creating a highly productive garden even in a small space. 

plants
Source: Unsplash
Companion planting can maximize the efficiency and yield of your edible garden. 

Step 4: Plant Your Garden

Now, the fun part—getting your hands into that soil. To start, fill your container about halfway with soil. This will give your plants some stability. If you’re working with seedlings, gently remove them from their plastic containers and loosen the roots a bit. Once you have them in place, fill the rest of the container with soil, leaving about an inch of space from the soil to the top of the container. Finally, water the plants and place the container in a sunny spot. 

If you’re working from seeds, be patient! You may see only dirt for a few weeks, but soon enough, sprouts will begin to emerge.

tiny plants
Once you have your plants in place, make sure to water them and put the container in a sunny spot. 

Creating an edible garden is a process of trial and error. Take pictures to document your plants’ growth, take notes to help you troubleshoot and identify ways to improve, and most importantly, enjoy the process. Put in the effort, and before you know it, you’ll be able to—quite literally—enjoy the fruits of your labor.  

Get Growing

Create a Small-Space Edible Garden