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Edible Cafe Gardens - more than a token parsley.

Edible gardens in cafes are becoming increasingly popular. But not all cafe gardens are created equal. Some are incredible resources to the chefs of the establishment, providing fresh, seasonal produce to light up each dish on the menu. Some are the crispy remains of a once eager employee's basil efforts - a sad planter box with more cigarette butts emerging than nutritious edibles.

So how do you set yourself up for a win?

Know your (micro)climate and season

To begin, what is the climate where you plan to plant the garden? Bunnings would have you believe you can grow sunflowers in a temperate winter. You cannot. Ask yourself these questions. A. What is the climate? B. What direction does the garden face? C. What season is it? D. What herbs and greens do we use a lot of?

Find out what grows well in the season and climate you're working with. If your garden gets a lot of sun in the afternoon, it faces West and you'll have a bit of a Mediterranean micro-climate going on - think rosemary, perennial basil, lavender, an olive tree - hardy plants which can take the afternoon blast of hot sun.

Avoid grouping unlike plants together

Plants which like similar amounts of sun and water should be grouped together. A most blatant example is something like succulents and a herb like mint. Maybe in a past life these guys were friends but not in this one. Mint wants a cool moist space - in a tub so it doesn't take over - succulents like it dryer, they'll rot if over watered. If planted together with the same irrigation regiment, one will fail.

Enable your garden to be easily changed over to suit the season

There are various options for easily changeable gardens - planter boxes with removable inserts, vertical gardens with loops for pots to slotted in and out of, easy to access, raised planter beds. You don't want the shrivelled remains of last seasons crop to be hanging around killing the vibe.

OR plant perennials

If you don't want to be bothered replanting every single item in the garden, every single season - plant more perennials (plants that come back year after year) in place of annuals (a one time show). You should at least consider this for the harder to access areas like the top of the vertical garden.

Don't set yourself up for failure. Learn what will grow well in the space you've got. Design for minimal upkeep and maintenance, and grow what you know you will use.

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