Growing an edible verge garden
How do I grow an edible verge garden?
First up, look at the factsheet ‘Designing an edible verge garden’ so you know what you have to do before you start choosing plants. After that, the best way to start is with a site analysis of your nature strip – the same as you would for any garden.
Pedestrians will most likely need access to your verge – there are rules about how much, and where, but it’s worth keeping in mind when you’re choosing plants (for example, avoid spiky berries that will trail onto the footpath!).
The size of your plot will also determine what you can grow. If you have a small area and want to grow vegetables that can take up a lot of space, look at ways to grow upwards. Try dwarf varieties that won’t take up so much room. Try ‘bush’ varieties of climbing plants that won’t require any structures to support them. Train vines along the space you have rather than letting them grow outside it.
Vegetables like sun, but too much can burn some plants. If your verge is completely shaded, go for herbs (mint, parsley) or other shade-tolerant plants (lettuce, spinach, some berries). If your verge is facing full west with no shade, plant veggies that can cope with hot sun (corn, beans) or that have big, protective leaves (pumpkins, zucchini).
Plant taller, shadier plants in your bed to cover those that are susceptible to burning, or use bean tripods to cast a shadow over more vulnerable plants. Any structures that you use will need to be very well seured – think about the weight of the structure, plus the weight of the plants, including their fruit, on a very windy day, and make sure it will be able to withstand that.
Watering may need to be done by hand, and shouldn’t ever overflow onto the pathway or into drains. Think about how often you can water, and consider plants that require less watering or ways to protect more sensitive plants.
Regular pruning: Overhanging and protruding plants cause problems for passers-by on footpaths, especially the aged and people with prams or walking aids.
General care: Verge plants must not pose health hazards or cause a nuisance by spreading fruit, vegetable and other plant pests. Keep plants healthy with regular watering, mulching, and feeding with composting or other organic fertiliser. Look out for any signs of pests or plant disease, and treat these promptly.
Pay attention to aesthetics: If people think your verge garden looks bad or untidy they are likely to complain.
Start small, expand in small stages: This way, you will be able to see what is working (or not working) and adjust along the way.
Someone may think your seedlings/trees would look better in their own backyard. You can use a bike lock to attach small trees to something heavy (such as the side of a raised bed). If you have something everyone will want to eat, think about its placement in the garden. If you love raspberries, plant them just out of reach of passers-by if you want to get any for yourself!
Simple and delicious
Grow food that you like to eat! When you’re first starting, look for veggies that you already use and that are easy to maintain. When you get into the swing of it, you can start experimenting with more exotic and less hardy plants.
Verge growing is a chance to get creative with your gardening. With a little thought, you should be able to make most things work for you.
For further information on this topic contact
Canberra Environment and Sustainability Resource Centre
We to work directly with the community to ensure the best environmental outcomes for the ACT through targeted education, information and practical application. We recognise that a healthy and vibrant community is much more able to take care of itself and its environment than a fragmented one. Our projects support the community to nourish itself and the environment together, and to sustain themselves into the future. www.ecoaction.com.au