How To Plant An Easy Edible Garden

John and I love food. A lot. In fact we both took a “how-compatible-are-you” test back when we started dating and we both listed eating as one of our favorite hobbies. So it’s no surprise that we finally got around to converting a formerly bushy bed in our backyard into an herb, vegetable & fruit garden for chowing down on fresh and organic produce all summer and into fall.


We cleared the bushes out (although we kept a little rose bush in the corner) and planted some organic lettuce seeds (along with a $9 raspberry bush from Lowe’s) back in March. And then a little peony plant surprised us by popping up in the back of the garden out of nowhere. Bonus! The next step was hitting up our local farmer’s market (South Of The James Farmer’s Market here in Richmond) for some delicious veggies and herbs. The vendors are always amazing, as are their wares. Check out these cheerful buckets of blooms…


… and these gorgeous radishes all purple and plentiful…


In fact the fruit and veggies were so enticing that we couldn’t return home without snagging a big box of fresh strawberries and a bag of arugula. But we also came home with eight new plants for our garden. For just $10 (!!!) we grabbed: one cherry tomato plant, one golden tomato plant, two basil plants, one zinnia, one parsley plant, one swiss chard and one oregano plant. Along with our existing rose bush, our new raspberry bush, our surprise peony and our newly sprouting lettuce, we knew those eight additions would be a great start to growing our own fresh eats out back.

But we also knew that we needed to add some lush and lovely evergreens to keep the space from looking sad and bare in the winter months once the herbs and veggies disappear. We swung through Lowe’s and picked up two Winter Gem Boxwoods (for $14.98 each) and one Cypress King’s Gold (for $14.98) to add color, structure and year-round interest. Then we returned home and laid everything out to come up with a loose idea of our layout.


With a rough idea of the plant placement under our belts, it was time for some quick soil amending. Although you can do this extremely thoroughly with a rototiller (they can be rented from Lowe’s and Home Depot), since it was such a small area we decided to rough up the soil with a shovel. Yeah it took a bit of elbow grease but we were able to dig about 8″ into the soil and get it ready for some pretty delicious organic nutrients (free courtesy of our backyard compost bin).


Not only did we add a good amount of compost to our roughed up dirt, we also threw down some nutrient rich topsoil just to be sure that our little sprouts would continue to, well, sprout. Then we raked everything together and turned the soil for a while until it looked blended and ready for planting.


There are many different formulas when it comes to amending soil (depending on whether you have sandy or clay conditions to start with, etc), but we have found that compost is really the magic touch to any garden- you just can’t go wrong adding some organic, nutrient-rich compost.

Then it was time to plant everything (we tossed a bit more compost into each hole), and afterwords we mulched the whole garden to keep weeds at bay and help everything stay moist. Here’s Burger stealing our new garden’s thunder. He’s such a camera hog. As you can see, the three evergreens provide structure and fullness that will last throughout the year while our rose bush (back left), raspberry bush (back middle) and peony (back right) will add eye candy and mouth candy too.


We also have a cherry tomato plant (in front of the rose bush), some swiss chard (in front of our boxwood) a zinnia (between the boxwood and the cypress), two basil plants (on either side of the cypress), and some parsley (to the right of the cypress). And of course there’s another tomato plant, some lettuce that we planted in March sprouting up and some oregano on the other side of the boxwood on the right (not pictured).

Here’s a close-up of the gorgeously colorful swiss chard and our surprise peony that’s ready to pop.


We love our little garden and we already have big plans to spruce things up even more (adding some pretty trellises for our raspberry and tomatoes to climb, power washing the brick, bringing in more herbs and veggies if we’re successful with our first attempts, etc).


But for now we’re taking pleasure in the simple things. Fresh basil…


… pretty red blooms…


… and raspberries that should be appearing soon.


We also love that we can actually see the garden from our sunroom. Now there’s no excuse not to eat our yeilds! Here’s a shot from above (I was standing on the daybed) just for one more vantage point.


And now for the budget breakdown. Eight herbs/veggies ($10) + three evergreens ($44.94) + mulch/top soil ($5) = $59.94. Not too shabby, right?

So what about you guys? Do you grow anything edible? Any plans for a container garden or even some windowsill herbs in your future? Tell us all about your planting to-do list.


  1. says

    I love gardening and last fall I made my veggie garden a little bigger. I grow the traditional stuff…lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, basil, parsley, zucchini, cukes, etc….I also planted strawberries last year but I don’t know if they come back every year? I’m thinking they do so I shall just wait and see. I want to plant rhubarb too, I have great memories eating the stalks dipped in sugar when I was child, and would like to re-create that for my own kids :)

  2. says

    I recently planted a small container garden for tomatoes, basil and cilantro (you can read about it on my blog – I had to go the container route since I have rabbits that would eat anything I put in the ground but I think it looks great and I’ve already started harvesting the basil leaves (in fact I had tomato, basil and mozarella last night before dinner – yum!).

  3. says

    I envy your lovely garden, and a SURPRISE PEONY? Wowza. We live in a townhouse with limited space, and I just have no clue where we would start to grow a little somethin’, somethin’. My friend recently planted some lemon basil. My mouth gets all watery just thinking about it!

  4. EastEnd says

    There’s a farmer’s market in Richmond????? How can I find out more about it? I’ve looked high and low for one and have been lamenting the lack…..

    I’m also soooo jealous of your garden! Apparently my yard is known in the bird world as a bird sanctuary, to the point where one actually built a nest in the wreath on my front door. They eat everything I plant. There are cds fluttering in the wind and I have one of those owls from Lowe’s that scares me to death but the birds just bash it around. I keep trying though….they’ve already devoured my brussels sprouts plants but I’m resorting to deer netting and pinwheels now……

  5. Bree says

    What a great idea to create a garden from an existing flowerbed by the house! I’ve been planning to plant a good-sized garden for a while now, but can never seem to get my husband to build me the boxes! Oh well… We are pretty lucky in that we have 2 tangerine trees, a navel tree, and a lemon tree, as well as the most amazing Blackberry bush growing in the yard from the previous owners. The berries are just now turning black and are huge!

  6. Melissa says

    Looks great! Can’t wait to see your progress with the garden this summer. Will we also see an update soon on the seed starter kit you started a couple months ago?

    Oh, I also wanted to mention in case you’re not familiar with raspberry plants – they can get wild pretty easily! We were so excited that we had raspberry plants growing along the side of the house we bought late last summer. This year, those babies have spread everywhere! I had no idea they would take over the side yard so quickly! We spent time pruning them this spring and pulling out some of the new plants that started growing this year. Seriously, they were invading our yard. I think the key is to keep an eye on them each spring and control them by pulling out new plants that are sprouting in places you don’t want them. We did enjoy our raspberry harvest last summer, though. It was great to have fresh raspberries for breakfast, smoothies, and to mix in to refreshing adult beverages! :)

  7. says

    We have an herb garden planted beside our back deck, next to our grill. Whenever my husband grills, he grabs some of the herbs and integrates them into whatever he’s cooking. We like to cut pieces of the rosemary bush and grill veggies or shrimp on them and he even rubs the rosemary and lemon balm on steaks and chicken – it’s yummie!

  8. Melissa says

    We plant about eight basil plants each year so I can make pesto and freeze it to last all year long! We also plant tomatoes and rosemary, and this year, we’re trying out broccoli. In pots, we planted thyme, oregano, chives, Italian parsley and mint. We’re trying to sell our house, so I wanted to be able to take those with us! It’s amazing how much more cost-effective it is to grow your own herbs and veggies!

    By the way, I love your blog! I’ve gotten so many ideas for our next house, which hopefully won’t take too long to find!

  9. stephanie says

    OH I love growing our own food!
    Last year we planted some peach trees and I am so excited to see the beginnings of lots o’ little peaches showing up! For Valentines day my husband gave me Lemon trees because my FAVORITE drink is lemon water. We have grape vines planted along our fence. Spinach and tomato, corn and pumpkin, are all growing as well. First attempt at corn and the pumpkin was a happy accident. (after the ‘experiment’ of watching our jack-o-lantern decompose–our girls could not stand to watch them go in the trash) Our fav by far is the strawberries ’cause we can enjoy them knowing there aren’t any chemicals in them! It’s taken several years but we are finally enjoying strawberries! We also have a few chickens! So we get fresh eggs as well. And less trash-what doesn’t go to compost can usually be fed to the chickens. And yes we are a normal family livin’ in the ‘burbs! we just have a fabulous big back yard!! Enjoy your garden!!

  10. says

    Last year my husband and I planted an herb garden which turned out pretty well. We learned not to plant it in too much sunlight…those delicate little plants need shade too. And there’s pretty much no such thing as over-watering. I think we did basil, rosemary, cilantro, chives, and thyme. The only thing I’m still trying to figure out is–what’s the best way to preserve those herbs since they grow quicker than we use them. Advice, anyone?

  11. says

    I’m totally jealous that your plants are already in the ground! I am still waiting for our backyard to be tilled :(

    I can’t wait to see the progress and what you guys learn! Most importantly, I can’t wait to see the veggies! I think I might cry if none of mine actually produce veggies.

    Also, thanks for the tip about looking for raspberry plants at Lowe’s–I keep looking at the local granges, and they’re all out!

  12. says

    Your garden is so cute! Very inspiring.

    We have some wild blackberry bushes growing in our backyard. Last summer, I tried my hand at planting some herbs, but that didnt work out too well. We plan on building a raised garden in the backyard eventually. Hopefully by next summer it will be ready for some veggies!

  13. says

    We’re actually working on a compost bin right now. And although we’re not planting anything edible, we did plant a Carolina Jessmine vine in our backyard to lush things up, working on some stepping stones to our table & chairs area, and using our grass clippings in the yard to get a free application of fertilizer by the end of the year (all those grass clippings through the year add up to what one chemical fertilizer application would be). And with a 2 year old running about, we certainly don’t want any chemicals laying on the grass. :) Even if they do say that they are safe after a period of time being in the yard.

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