My mom was a trendy gardener before her time. A vegetable from a can never crossed my lips my entire childhood. I was shocked early in my marriage to find canned peas were a strange shade of green, loaded with salt and “mushy”! Seriously, who would eat this stuff? Turns out, almost everyone does.
Today’s homeowner wants more from their landscape than just a foundation planting and a shade tree. Edible landscaping integrates food plants into your new or existing ornamental gardens, providing you with beautiful plants, as well as, a sustainable food source.
My mom grew up on a farm so she had skills most of us just don’t have, but she she managed to raise six kids on a half acre in the suburbs and feed us well
and you can too. You won’t have to till up the lawn and spend all weekend weeding to add some fresh homegrown food to your meal.
Small formal gardens with brick or gravel paths and symmetrical planting beds will fit into most landscapes and add a lot of charm. This layout is a good choice if you are looking for a garden dedicated to growing food. These gardens can be fenced easily if deer and rabbits are an issue and a lot of delicious food can been produced in a fairly small footprint by rotating early and late crops, as well as, using trellises to grow vertically.
For the novice gardener, I would recommend beginning by mixing a few food plants into your existing landscaping. Herbs can be intermingled with your perennials; purple basil, variegated sage and chives add color and texture with the added bonus of flavoring your favorite dishes. Colorful lettuce, kale and edible flowers like nasturtiums and pansies look great as a garden border. A large container on your patio can grow a tomato plant, a pepper plant and all the herbs to make salsa.
Don’t forget that trees, shrubs and vines can produce food, provide privacy, shade and structure to your garden. There are lots of new varieties of dwarf apple and pear trees that will fit into smaller yards. Currants and blueberries can be used as small shrubs and grapes will cover an arbor quickly.
Growing edibles in your landscape is a great way to ensure that the food you are eating is pesticide free, fresh and inexpensive. You can try heirloom tomatoes, brand new varieties and trendy vegetables that are rarely available in the grocery store. Make the most out of your landscape by adding edible plants that will be lovely and bountiful.