Our readers know we strive to keep edible gardening as simple as possible. This includes choosing what to grow in your edible gardens.
Winter is the perfect time to browse seed catalogs and get together for seed swaps with fellow gardeners. Be warned, deciding what to plant can be tough if you let it. The sheer variety of edible plants is overwhelming. You could spend hours just deciding what radishes you want to grow (we have!).
We started thinking about the best way to choose what to grow for first time or novice gardeners. Being mindful of how many plants to grow is one big key to keeping the garden manageable and enjoyable. A overplanted and cramped garden can and will make you feel overwhelmed. Next, we looked at what we are calling “OAF” (Organic Affordability Factor). That is, how much does it cost to buy a specific organic edible at the store or farm? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what can our readers grow to help them avoid the most pesticide-laden produce?
The official DIY Backyard Farm plant/seed selection recommendations for first time or novice edible gardeners are:
1) 20 Plant Varieties or Less (includes herbs).
2) Be mindful of “OAF”. That is, how much are you spending on your favorite, organic produce? Find out what produce you are spending the most money on and grow it yourself. Costs for organic edible plants vary around the world, so having a list here is not practical.
3) Grow safer foods. Environmental Working Group offers a great guide and smart phone app to identify the “dirtiest” produce. Scan the list, figure out which ones you eat or would like to eat, and then grow your own. Find the info here – All 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data – EWG’s 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. Do not fret if you cannot grow a certain item because your climate or conditions will not allow it. You can source those items from reputable organic growers or retailers.
4) Finally, make sure what you have selected will grow in your garden. Visit the DIY Backyard Farm “Getting Started” page for more information on garden site selection and understanding what will grow in your area.