What Should a Beginner Gardener Grow?

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Growing your own food is part of living a permaculture lifestyle. It provides you with better nutrition, and empowers you to bring change in your life.

Growing your own food helps the environment, gives you some food security, and enables you to contribute a local solution to global problems.

What you grow depends on how much space you have,  what you like, and what type of food you like and eat. 

The first question you should ask is what you eat and what is your personality for gardening.

You also need to go on a journey of discovery to see what your garden personality type is. A high-energy person might prefer a lot of annual gardening to keep them busy. Whereas for someone who wants to take it easy and only do a few hours a week, a food forest or perennial garden system is more suitable. 

All of us are somewhere in between these two “extremes”, and depending on your space you need to figure out where you are on that spectrum. 


Read more about the Permaculture Lifestyle:  https://vinepermaculture.com/what-is-a-permaculture-lifestyle/


1. Calories and Nutrients


First, we will consider calories and nutrients. Calorie crops include potatoes, beans and corn. These are used to meet your calorific needs of around 2000 per day. High-calorie storage crops such as potatoes and turnips should be considered if you want to be as self-sufficient as possible through the winter months. 

The high-calorie crops alone will not provide you with the full range of nutrition you need so we also need to consider nutritional crops. Nutritional crops such as lettuce, radish, and microgreens.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this. Again you have to figure out what your requirements are and plan your garden accordingly. Regardless of property size, a mixture of calorie crops and nutritional crops is advised. If you are serious about getting self-sufficient calories and you live in a Northern climate, animals such as rabbits are a great way of getting your intake of calories fat, and protein over the winter months. This can be supplemented with nutritional crops to give you a good diet through the winter months.


How to plant no-dig potatoes, from Edible Acres: https://youtu.be/I8xNUO_K85M.


2. Annuals and Perennials


Next, we need to consider the balance of annual and perennial crops.

Annual Crops

Annual crops must be seeded every year and you can get a lot of annual crops in a small space if you use high rotation methods. This is having seedlings ready to go on the ground. As soon as one harvest is finished another crop is started in the same space.  This requires a lot of effort and planning and may not suit your garden personality.  Your annual garden will need to be replanted every year. 


Read more about Annual gardening: https://vinepermaculture.com/what-is-annual-gardening/


The next type of gardening is a perennial garden. Perennials are the likes of fruit trees which once planted in established, will continue to give you a harvest every year. They only need minimal maintenance such as pruning and mulching. Once planted they give you a harvest every year, and provide other ecological functions as well.

Berry bushes are perennial crops and can give you a harvest in the first year and a good place to start with perennial crops

Fruit trees take a couple of years to bear fruit and a good second edition. You may have to wait for between 3 and 5 years before you get a harvest.

Nut Trees take along a lot longer again maybe 7 – 8 years but once they reach maturity they can give you a harvest of high-fat high-protein crap and will continue to produce every year.


Read more about Food Forests:  https://vinepermaculture.com/what-is-a-food-forest


3. Support species  


You also need to consider support species for your plants. Support species can attract pollinators, can be bio-accumulative, and also pest repellents. In permaculture gardening, we like to plant in guilds. A guild is a number of plants planted together that have various different functions which support the other plants.


Read more about Guilds:



Finding the right balance can be a tricky task but with patience and adjustments over the years, you can find the right balance. If you would like help in finding this balance, we provide 1-hour consultations to help you figure out what you want to grow. We also provide a full design service tailored for your property and personality, which includes a map of where to put your plants, what you want to grow, and a manual on how to maintain your Edible Garden.


Continue Reading: The 12 Permaculture Principles https://vinepermaculture.com/what-are-the-12-permaculture-principles/

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