Warm soil and frequent rain make for perfect conditions to plant your first potted edible garden. Below are some plant combinations to give you an idea of what grows well together. Each of these plants should be easily accessible at your local plant nursery.
The three-pot combination includes leafy greens, hardy Mediterranean herbs and softer herbs. I have found that these are the most commonly loved, both for taste and the fact they are harvestable in a relatively short time, rewarding you sooner so you can get the hang of the growth cycle of plants. From here, you’ll have the confidence to move into fruits and veggies, gradually expanding your repertoire and skillset.
You’ll need three outdoor pots that have drainage holes. A small, medium and large pot will sit well together in a corner of the deck or courtyard in a sunny spot. The bigger the better as they will hold more soil and water for healthier plants, and be stable should the winds start to blow.
Buy a premium potting mix (no less!) to fill your pots. This should cost you about $12-16 but is well worth your cents. Remember, your plants are only as healthy as the soil they’re grown in. You can add bagged cow manure to the pot for extra moisture retention as edibles are generally better in damper soil than the average plant. Use about 20mm of sugar cane mulch to the top once all seeds have sprouted through. While you’re at the nursery, you might as well pick up some Dipel spray, too, just in case those pesky caterpillars get too hungry.
Some leafy greens are better grown from seed; others are less sensitive and can be planted as seedlings.
Rocket will take off from seed at the moment so scatter a dozen and cover with a few millimetres of soil. Once the seeds have sprouted, only retain a few of the best seedlings to grow on.
Plant from seedlings, and if you find that Tuscan kale is too large (or, as some say, too leathery), try the common curly kale. One to three seedlings will be enough. Be sure to stake them with bamboo if planted in a windy spot.
Best grown from seedling, so similarly to kale, one to three seedlings is all you will need as they’re robust plants that can grow to take up a fair bit of room.
These are best bought as small plants and grown in full sun next to the pizza oven or barbecue for quick pickings. Mediterranean herbs are perennial plants so should last you many years, (unlike your seasonal annuals like coriander or basil). This plant selection will only need watering twice a week, prefers full sun and can tolerate windy balconies or rooftops.
Buy a 100mm-140mm pot, and be sure to choose a more upright growing species, as opposed to the ground cover/prostrate variety. Plant towards the back of the pot with the sage and thyme spilling over the front half.
Plant as is. There’s no need to divide these.
You’ll probably get one to three seedlings within it, so again, you can plant as is without the need for dividing.
The softer herbs are always winners in our clients’ gardens, particularly in summer, as they add easy flavour to any old salad. Some herbs are better grown from seed, whilst others are less sensitive and can be planted from seedlings. Always chat to a green thumb at the local nursery if you’re unsure.
Buy a punnet of seedlings, choose the healthiest looking one (strong, upright and even shaped), and plant it into your pot. Don’t plant the entire punnet; trust me, you’ll get loads more produce from a single 50cm-tall plant that’s not weakened by competition in the pot.
Do the same as you would with the parsley – choose only one plant and throw the rest in the compost.
Definitely plant from seed, never seedlings. Plant three seeds five centimetres apart and, once they’ve grown to a small seedling, choose the strongest of the pack to keep and compost the remaining two. Coriander will grow for longer after the summer solstice as it won’t go to seed as quickly.