10 Easy Vegetables To Grow At Home: A Beginner’s Guide To Edible Gardening
You might know Nic Wilson as lead guitarist in Melbourne rock band, British India, but what you mightn’t know is that he has quite the green thumb. When he’s not strumming chords he’s tickling tomatoes and ruffling a few lettuce leaves in his backyard, and he has some tips for the wannabe gardeners who’d like to eat what they sow.
Are you ready to up your levels of smug? Can you handle being that dinner party guest who is always going on about how much better a homegrown tomato tastes? Then get out that shovel and spade because edible gardening is for you!
It’s true; a lot of people find growing their own produce intimidating. After all, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Caterpillars can destroy your work; possums can beat you to that first ripened strawberry; or something might just never grow and you’re totally unsure why because you definitely read the instructions and kept everything at the perfect temperature.
But never fear, I’ve made the mistakes for you and am here to share some tips how to keep things nice and green (and not all floppy and brown).
Gardening is a really fun and healthy way to spend your spare time. And trust me when I say you will feel like an absolute boss the first time you announce very loudly to your partner/entire share house, “It’s time to harvest!”
First things first
The seasons will help your newly green thumb determine what specimens you’re able to plant. Hence why your local Bunnings turns into crazy town every time spring rolls around.
When at Bunnings/gardening store I would suggest badgering the employees in the gardening section as much as humanly possible. The older the employee the better – take advantage of their gruff, sagely advice. Chances are they will know what soil to purchase for which type of produce, or which type of wood does not contain poisonous chemicals that will kill off everything you try to plant in your DIY planter box (it was an ugly spring).
Top 10 (easy) things everyone should have in the garden
Most herbs are easy to grow and keep alive. Rosemary, Parsley and Mint are harder to kill than Keith Richards. They’re also commonly used in all kinds of cooking. Or suitable for throwing on top of your takeaway dinner – ta da!
Herbs are often the choice of a blooming botanist. They are a good choice because they generally don’t require much space. So rent payers will be happy to know that you don’t require an orchard-sized garden to try your hand at herbs.
Corn is easy to grow, gets to an impressive 6 ft tall and the cobs shoot out from the stalk. When the hairs at the end of the corn cob get brown and dead-looking, “it’s time to harvest!” It’s also fun looking out your window to see your own field of dreams. You feel like a legit farmer once these bad boys get growing.
It is really easy to grow and is a Godsend to always have on hand. After all, greenery = #health, right? Be wary of hot weather however. The sun can render it very bitter.
Now that you are an adult it’s time to start eating more greens. These guys are easy to grow in a pot or the ground. One of the benefits of growing zucchinis is the beautiful flowers that open before they start putting out the fruit.
You can pick these flowers, stuff them with ricotta, batter them and fry them. For the carb conscious you can make “zoodles” or, zucchini noodles for the layman. They are a great alternative for pasta.
Radishes are easy to raise from seeds and a fun thing to have ready to go in the garden. If you are ready to attempt growing something from the soil down (where you can’t quite see the progress) this is a great one to start with. If you pull them out too early, never mind – they’re mini ones! Micro vegetables, tres chic.
#6 Spring onion
Next time you go grocery shopping grab a bunch of spring onions. When you get home cut off the bottoms and re-plant the roots in a pot. They’ll start shooting again incredibly fast and are always great to have on hand to help garnish a meal.
This is another popular go-to for weekend gardening warriors. There are a tonne of different varietals of tomato so why not try planting a few different types.
Now prepare yourself for this strange but useful tip; once your tomatoes start putting out flowers it helps if you tickle them, it makes the plant think that it is being pollenated by bees thus putting out the fruit. I like to spend the afternoon tickling my flowers with some Barry White playing in the background. You may have some problems with caterpillars so try to keep them at bay with an organic pet-friendly pesticide.
Smug levels are red alert on this one. Purchasing one of these green goliaths will finally justify that NutriBullet you never use. As soon as this guy goes in the ground it shoots to the sky putting out its leaves for you to use. It’s a “super food” so get used to a general feeling of haughty horticulture for when you have visiting house guests, even if you never end up eating it.
If you ever needed an excuse to make a scarecrow, now is your time. Not that you need an excuse. It is advisable to plant several of them to really get the most out of having beautiful homegrown strawbs on the reg. This is also a good idea for people who have balconies as hanging strawberry planter baskets work a treat.
#10 Citrus tree
If you have a bit more space (not advisable for the nomadic) and a lot of patience why not go the whole hog and try your hand at planting a tree? Lemon and lime trees are a great place to start.
It will take up to seven years to see fruit so if you get bored easily spend the extra money and purchase a more advanced tree. If you want to try something cool get your hands on a grafted tree, there are great options such as orange and mandarin. Zesty!
If you are a cat owner an honorable mention would go to things like Cat Nip, Cat Grass or even Cat Mint. All are very easy to grow and your cat will love you sick for having these varietals on offer like a permanent feline buffet.
So why not give it a go? Sure there will be some failures but that is all a part of the fun and learning experience that gardening has to offer. You too could become that person who sends people on their way with strangely enormous cucumbers or enough lemons to fill a pillowcase.
By day Nic Wilson plays lead guitar for Melbourne rock band British India and by night is a gardener, film maker and martial arts enthusiast. The rest of the time he sleeps on a pile of money.
All photos: Nic Wilson