You can’t get any fresher or tastier than food plucked from your own garden. If you’re looking for flavor and nutrition, here are some ideas for your own backyard edible garden.
Grow what you know you’ll use, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun, too! Tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, peppers, spinach, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, kale, chard, and squash are all listed among the easiest veggies to grow. To be sure your garden thrives and that you use it regularly, plant near your kitchen or in container pots on your deck or porch. Start small if this is your first garden! You don’t want to get overwhelmed and burn out before you enjoy your harvest.
Are you looking to switch things up in the kitchen? Celeriac, kohlrabi, amaranth, and daikon radishes can be difficult to find and expensive to purchase in a store, but they’re not very difficult to grow at home. If there’s a vegetable you’ve wanted to taste, growing it yourself can be a cost-effective way to try something new.
Some plants should not be located near one another, whether it’s because a taller plant blocks sunlight from smaller plants, they share a pest, or a plant releases chemicals that interfere with the health of others (e.g., don’t plant green beans near onions, which can stunt their growth). Your local nursery can guide you on what pairings to avoid in your area.
Seasoning your food is part of the joy of eating. Growing your own herbs so they’re always on hand when you need them is a useful and fun hobby for the home chef. Herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary can be grown in the garden, in container pots, or even in small pots on a windowsill. Garlic can easily grow in your vegetable garden.
Blackberries and other types of berries are usually the easiest fruits to grow in your backyard, unless, of course, you have an established fruit tree. (Note that trees can take a long time to mature enough to produce, so keep that in mind when buying trees to plant.) Some fruits can be grown indoors, such as kumquats and avocados, but they aren’t exactly low-maintenance, so do your homework before giving them a try.
Flowers are often added as an edible garnish to salads or cooked foods, but you can cook with them too. Calendula can substitute for saffron; nasturtium flavors vinegar and its seeds can replace capers; pansies can be candied. A couple of types of gem marigolds, squash and day lily blossoms, violets, clovers, and steamed, buttered dandelions are also wonderful additions to your menu.
A few caveats: Never eat flowers from a store or by the side of the road: you never know what pesticides, chemicals, and contaminants they could be coated with. And in general, only the petals are edible (pansies are an exception).