Home > Books > Edible Gardening

Edible Gardening: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Edible Gardening: A Complete Guide for Beginners

No matter how long you have been gardening, this book will help you create a productive and beautiful garden.

In this book you’ll learn how to start a new garden bed, what container gardening is and how to do it, the basic requirements of plant growth and how to help your plants thrive as well as the sorts of plants you could grow in your garden be it in the ground, on a balcony or on a windowsill. This book will explain strange gardening terms such as heavy feeder, perennial and companion plant. The reasons for mulching, composting and worm farming will all be demystified. The handy growing guide at the end of the book also provides a useful reference for a variety of commonly grown edible plants.

No matter where you live and what kind of garden you want to grow, Edible Gardening: A Complete Guide for Beginners will get you growing straight away - you’ll have a ‘green thumb’ in no time!

If you have an iPad or similar device you can purchase it from:


or if you have a nook you can purchase it from:

Barnes and Noble

or if you have a kindle you can purchase it from:


Also avaliable from:


Google Play

Edible Gardening: A Complete Guide for Beginners

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Background
    • Plant Names
      • Common Names
      • Botanical Names
      • Plant Anatomy
        • Roots
        • Stem
          • Bulbs, Corms and Rhizomes
        • Leaves
        • Nodes
        • Runners
      • Other Terminology
    • Plant Requirements
      • Sun
      • Water
        • How to Water
      • Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide
      • Nutrients
        • Crop Rotation
        • Companion Planting
        • Nutrient Usage
        • Heavy Feeders
        • Moderate Feeders
        • Light Feeders
      • Preparing Your Soil
      • Soil Types
        • Clay
        • Sandy
        • Loam
        • Acidic
        • Basic/Alkaline
      • Weather and the Seasons
        • Growing Zones
        • Chilling Requirement
  • Chapter 2: Traditional Gardens vs. Container Gardens
    • Types of Garden Beds
      • In-ground garden beds
      • Raised Garden Beds
      • Sunken Garden Beds
      • Other Garden Beds
    • Garden Bed Size
    • Garden Bed Shape
    • Pots
      • Plastic
      • Self-Watering Pots
      • Terracotta Pots
      • Glazed Pots
      • Concrete Pots
      • Other Pots
    • Filling Pots
      • Specialty Potting Mixes
      • Recycling Used Potting Mix
  • Chapter 3: Organic Matter, Fertilisers and Soil Amendments
    • Mulch
      • Organic Mulch
      • Inorganic Mulch
      • Mulch Texture
      • Types of Mulch
        • Fine Organic
        • Coarse Organic
        • Fine Inorganic
        • Coarse Inorganic
        • Living Mulch
      • Other Things you Should Know about Mulch
    • Compost
      • Brown Material
      • Green Material
      • Composting Procedure
        • Compost Tea
        • Trench Composting
        • H端gelkultur
        • Bokashi Buckets
    • Worm Farming
      • Worm Farm Setup
      • What if I go Away?
    • Fertilisers and Other Soil Amendments
      • Commercial and Home-Made Fertilisers
        • Solid
        • Liquid
      • Specialist Soil Amendements
        • Lime
        • Gypsum
        • Rock Dust
      • Green Manures
  • Chapter 4: Growing From Seed
    • Seed Sowing
      • The Direct Method
      • The Indirect Method
    • Understanding Seed Packets
      • Planting Depth
      • Spacing
      • Days to Germination
      • Days to Maturity
      • Days to Flowering
      • Seed Sowing Maps
      • Use by Date
  • Chapter 5: Planting Seedlings, Mature Planting Stock and Trees
    • Bare Rooted Plants and Other Dormant Plants
    • All Other Plants
  • Chapter 6: Garden Planning and Design
    • Planning Your Garden
      • Starting Out in Garden Beds
      • What to Plant in Garden Beds
    • Monitoring Your First Garden
    • Year Two Onwards
    • A Note on Hedges
    • Starting Out in Container Gardening
      • Selecting Containers
      • What to Plant in Containers
    • Colour in the Garden
    • Garden Styles
      • Cottage
      • Romantic
      • Woodland
      • Native
      • Indigenous
      • Formal
      • Renaissance
      • Greek
      • Italian
      • Spanish
      • English
      • Modern American
      • Japanese
      • Chinese
      • Zen
      • Arid
      • Rain
      • Sensory
      • Allergy and Asthma Friendly
      • Potager
  • Chapter 7: Types of Gardening
    • Organic Gardening
    • Permaculture
    • Biodynamic Gardening
    • Moon Gardening
  • Chapter 8: Maximising Garden Space
    • Espalier
    • Companion Planting
    • Multigrafted Trees
    • Duo Planting
    • Increasing the Harvest
      • Succession Planting
      • Companion Planting
      • Duo Planting
  • Chapter 9: Lawns
    • Lawn Alternatives
  • Chapter 10: Garden Miscreants
    • Weeds
    • Pests
      • Camouflage
      • Deterrents
      • Attracting Pest Controllers
      • Plant Health
    • Diseases
  • Chapter 11: Garden Tools
  • Chapter 12: The Plants
    • Ideal Climate
    • Heirloom Edibles
    • Choosing Edibles to Grow in Your Garden
    • Trees
    • Making the Most of the Seasons
    • Planting Times
      • Cool Season Crops
      • Warm Season Crops
      • Intermediate Season Crops
      • Other
    • Perennial Crops
    • Vegetables A-Z
      • Amaranth
      • Artichokes - Globe
      • Artichokes - Jerusalem
      • Asian Greens
      • Asparagus
      • Beans - Climbing and Bush Varieties
      • Beans - Broad and Borlotti Varieites
      • Beetroot
      • Broccoli
      • Brussels Sprouts
      • Cabbage
      • Carrots
      • Cauliflower
      • Celeriac
      • Celery
      • Chicory/Witlof/Radicchio
      • Choko/Chayote
      • Corn
      • Cresses
      • Cucumber
      • Eggplant
      • Endive
      • Fennel
      • Kohlrabi
      • Leeks
      • Lettuce
      • Okra
      • Olives
      • Parsnips
      • Peanuts/Goobers
      • Peas (Snow, Sugar Snap and Podding)
      • Peppers, Chillies, Capsicums
      • Potatoes
      • Pumpkins
      • Radishes
      • Rhubarb
      • Shallots
      • Silver Beet/Swiss Chard
      • Spinach
      • Spring Onions
      • Swedes
      • Sweet Potato/Kumera
      • Tomatoes
      • Turnips
      • Zucchini
    • Fruits
      • Apples
      • Apricots
      • Avocados
      • Bananas
      • Blackberries
      • Blueberries
      • Cape Gooseberry
      • Cherries
      • Cranberries
      • Cumquat
      • Currants
      • Elderberries
      • Figs
      • Grapefruit
      • Grapes
      • Guava
      • Kiwifruit
      • Lemons
      • Limes
      • Litchi/Lychee
      • Mandarin
      • Mangoes
      • Melons (including watermelon and rock melon etc.)
      • Mulberry
      • Nectarines
      • Oranges
      • Passionfruit
      • Pawpaw
      • Peaches
      • Pears
      • Persimmons
      • Pineapple
      • Plums
      • Quinces
      • Raspberries
      • Strawberries
    • Herbs
      • Angelica
      • Basil
      • Bay
      • Chamomile
      • Chervil
      • Chives - Onion and Garlic Varieties
      • Coriander/Cilantro
      • Dill
      • Fennel
      • Garlic
      • Horseradish
      • Lemon or Lime Balm
      • Lemon or Lime Verbena
      • Lovage
      • Marjoram
      • Mint
      • Nasturtium
      • Onions
      • Oregano
      • Parsley
      • Rocket/Roquette/Arugula/Italian Cress
      • Rosemary
      • Sage
      • Savoury
      • Sorrel
      • Tarragon
      • Thyme
    • Nuts
      • Almonds
      • Hazelnut
      • Macadamia
      • Pecan
      • Pistachio
      • Walnut
    • Other
      • Mushrooms
    • Planting Times for Tropical Areas
      • Wet Season
      • Dry Season

Edible Gardening: A Complete Guide for Beginners


This book is designed to be a complete gardening guide for beginners wishing to grow edible plants. Whether you’ve never gardened before at all, or if you’ve had a crack at it but need more guidance, this book will give you all the basics you need to start gardening.

The first chapter gives you all the background information you need for growing plants such as what they need to live and how to find the plants you’re looking for. Chapter 2 explains the differences between gardening in garden beds and pots and chapter 3 describes methods and tools used to grow healthy plants. Chapters 4 and 5 explain how to grow plants from seed, seedlings and mature plants whilst chapter 6 details how to plan your garden. Chapter 7 describes different types of gardening methods and chapter 8 explains some useful ways for maximising the number of plants you can grow in and produce you can harvest from your garden. Chapter 9 gives information about lawns and alternatives, while chapter 10 describes methods for dealing withpests, diseases and weeds. Chapter 11 describes tools that may be useful for gardeners of all experience levels and the final chapter details growing requirements for a wide range of edible plants.

A note about measurement conversion: the metric system is used for measurements in this book but imperial conversions are given in brackets. Except where the exact measurement is important, converted units are rounded to whole numbers.

Chapter 1: Background (excerpt only)

Growing Zones

Many countries have categorised areas into different zones based on their lowest temperatures. The USDA zoning system is a good example of this. As a result, you can often find information about a plant’s ‘hardiness zone’ on the internet, in gardening books/catalogues etc. and sometimes even on plant labels. In essence, the hardiness zone tells you that a given plant will survive the average coolest temperatures experienced in the specified zone - so if you live in an area rated as being in that zone or a warmer zone, then you should be able to grow that particular plant.

There are a number of problems with this system though. It doesn’t take into account local microclimates that might result in cooler temperatures. It also doesn’t take into account the fact that you might experience cooler than average temperatures in some years and this might result in plant death. Furthermore, this system ignores the average warmest temperatures. Some plants may tolerate relatively cool temperatures but also require warm weather in order to fruit or flower properly. Planting zones rarely give such information. Similarly, some plants might struggle in warm summers and most plant zone systems don’t give this information either.

As a result of this, my advice is to monitor the weather and temperature in your area and research the requirements of plants you wish to buy. By matching the resulting two sets of information, you will be much more likely to select plants that will thrive in your area. This doesn’t mean you can’t use growing zone information, just be cautious in your use of it.

Growing zone information is usually more useful when growing annuals. This is because you can use the cold zone rating to determine how early or late you need to plant. Be aware though that the hardiness zone does not affect what annuals you can grow in your area. The length of your warm weather seasons is the weather factor that most determines what annuals you can grow. Pumpkins for example need a long period of warm weather to produce flowers and fruit that ripen before cold weather hits. If you only have a very short warm weather season, you’ll be unlikely to harvest ripe pumpkins.

Chilling Requirement

Some plants, particularly fruit trees, require a certain amount of cold weather in order to flower and produce fruit. This length of time is referred to as ‘chilling hours’ and in most areas, chilling hours are in most areas, chilling hours are defined as hours when the temperature is below 7 °C (44.6 F). If you want to grow these types of fruit, you need to work out how many chilling hours your area gets in winter. You then need to find out the chill requirements for the plants you wish to grow and determine whether you get enough cold weather to grow that plant. If you live in an area with a low number of chill hours, look for varieties that have been bred to have ‘low chill’ requirements.

Chapter 2: Traditional Gardens vs. Container Gardens (excerpt only)

Filling Pots

Regardless of the type of pots you use, never use ordinary garden soil in them. As it dries, it shrinks and can crush very small plant roots. Worse, it expels air resulting in root suffocation. Always use potting mix (you can make your own if you like). Many potting mixes contain fertilisers and water holding crystals. If you buy cheap potting mix it may not contain these though so you will need to amend it. You can do this by adding fertiliser of your choice. This gives you an opportunity to use organic fertilisers if you so choose. You don’t need to add anything to improve water retention but if you do want to, you can purchase water storage crystals or you can add compost.

Tip: The price of a bag of potting mix doesn’t always indicate the quality of the contents. If you find a commercial potting mix that you like, it’s often worth sticking to it. If you find one you don’t like, keep trying different brands until you find a good one and make a note of those that are ‘ok’ and those that are bad so that you’ll remember what you’ve tried.

If you’re using potting mix that contains pine bark, try not to let it dry out as this material can become water repellent if it gets too dry. If this happens you can try soaking the whole pot in a bucket of water but if this doesn’t help, you’ll need to buy a soil wetting agent.

Tip: Potting mix contains microorganisms and often fertilisers. These things can be harmful if you breathe them in or if they get into your bloodstream through cuts etc. It is thus wise to wear gloves when handling potting mixes and to keep your potting mix moist. You may also want to wear a dust mask as added protection. This is particularly useful for people who suffer from asthma or hay fever as microorganisms and fertiliser particles can irritate sensitive airways.

To make your own general purpose potting mix, combine the following ingredients (one part is any size you want - it could be one cup or one bucket for instance).

  • One part coir peat (always wet this before using it)
  • Two parts compost
  • A small amount of vermicast (worm poo - no more than 1 cup for every 40 L (42 quarts))

Specialty Potting Mixes

All plants vary in their growing requirements but some plant types and life stages differ enough that a special potting mix is useful in caring for them. Seeds need a light mix that holds water and is well drained but also has small particles that the new roots can easily navigate. Azaleas, camellias, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, rhododendrons and other plants that prefer acidic soil will benefit from potting mixes that are more acidic than normal. Succulents such as cacti (the plural of cactus), aloe vera and the salty ice plant really hate wet feet and can easily rot so they prefer potting mix that drains better than standard potting mixes.

Such specialty potting mixes are usually available at garden centres and DIY/hardware shops but it can be fun to make your own and as you become more experienced, you may even find that your own potting mixes are superior to commercially available ones. If you’d like to have a go at making your own potting mix, here are some recipes you could try. Make sure you mix each of these thoroughly before using them and feel free to experiment with these as a guide.

Seed Raising and Propagating Mix

  • One part perlite or vermiculite
  • One part coir fibre

Acidic Plants

  • Two parts pine bark, compost or commercial all-purpose potting mix
  • Two parts coarse sand or horticultural sand
  • Two parts coir peat (coconut fibre is a much better alternative and a particularly sustainable one if you live in an area where coconuts are grown) or shredded/mulched bracken - don’t use peat moss as it is not a renewable product and its extraction damages the environment
  • One part leaves (collect some in autumn from deciduous trees)
  • Aged manure - no more than one part but the exact amount is up to you - or you could add blood and bone or another fertiliser


  • One part compost or pine bark
  • One part coarse sand or horticultural sand
  • One part mushroom compost
  • One part coir peat or the alternatives mentioned for acidic plants
  • One part perlite or half a part vermiculite

Tropical Plants

  • One part compost or composted pine bark
  • One part coarse sand or horticultural sand
  • One part mushroom compost

Tip: When using perlite or vermiculite, make sure you keep it moist and/or use a dust mask as it can be harmful if it’s breathed in.

If you want to experiment with your own recipes, here’s what you need to know:

  • potting mix to hold more water, add more of this
  • Compost - also improves the water holding capacity of a mix and it additionally adds nutrients to your mix and helps it hold onto nutrients
  • Mushroom compost - improves water and nutrient holding capacity and supplies nutrients
  • Sand - improves drainage so if your plants hate wet feet, add more sand; use coarse sand or sand labelled as horticultural sand but don’t use fine sand as it impedes aeration of the potting mix
  • Perlite - improves aeration so your plant roots don’t rot and improves both nutrient holding capacity and water holding capacity to a small degree; it can hold onto fluoride if it’s in your water and this isn’t a problem for most plants but if you’re growing some indoor plants such as Dracaena or Chlorophytum then it can cause the tips of the leaves to burn so in such instances, vermiculite is a better alternative
  • Vermiculite - does the same job as perlite but it’s better at holding on to nutrients and water
  • Pine bark - provides some water and nutrient holding capacity as well as room for air but it’s mostly just used to give structure to potting mix and prolongs the lifetime of the mix (because it takes a long time to break down)

Tip: Adding home-made vermicast can boost the goodness of any home-made or commercial potting mix. Only use a small amount though - no more than 1 cup for every 40 L (42 quarts). Only add it to seed raising mix if the seedlings will be kept in the same container for a long period of time.

Do you want to grow your own food but are unsure where to start? Edible Gardening: A Complete Guide for Beginners will teach you what you need to know.

Think you can’t grow edibles because you live in an appartment? You can! Edible Gardening: A Complete Guide for Beginners can show you how.

This site works best with JavaScript Enabled.

© 2017 K. M. Wade | Contact: