Along with other trends like great color, no chemical use, and slow growing, by far the greatest trend in recent years is being able to eat what you plant. According to the National Gardening Association, edible garden growing has increased nearly 20% over the past year. In fact, publications nationwide from Home and Garden to the Wall Street Journal have taken to the trend and are reporting on the various benefits of growing a garden.
First-time gardeners having various reasons and motives for cultivating an edible garden. Some are looking to help the environment – growing your own food actually helps to reduce our contributions to climate change and has been shown to be more water efficient than broadscale agriculture. Others are trying to practice healthier eating habits, as homegrown foods are typically far more nutritious than their grocery-store counterparts. Still some people are just trying to save a few dollars – $500 and more per year for a typical family with an average-sized garden.
In order to start your own edible garden, it’s first beneficial to know what grows well and fairly easily in your region and climate – click this link for a full list of edibles that grow in Florida. Just as important as knowing what to plant is knowing when to plant it. Flower, plant, and crop planting times should be spaced out accordingly for successful growth. Onions, peas, zucchini squash, and beets are easy growing crops and can be planted early in the growing season. Crops like tomatoes and peppers need more planning and may be more delicate. Ideally, you should plant your tomatoes, squash, beans and watermelon, after any possible frost has passed. Other commonly grown crops and herbs include: leaf lettuce, eggplant, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, mint, and tricolor sage. Fruits are also fun to include in to your edible garden – berries are common and only take one season to produce fruit, versus many tree fruits that can take several years to produce.
Not content with the usual fruits and vegetables? Add a twist to your garden with edible flowers. Flowers like Calendula, also known as Marigolds are great flowers that range in taste. Some are spicy while others are a bit tangy. Carnations on the other hand are sweet and can be used as cake decorations or mixed in to salads. Other edible flowers include: Cornflowers, Dandelions, Day Lilies, Banana Blossoms, and many others. Keep in mind to never consume flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers as the might contain pesticides.