Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Edible Landscapes: So Good You Could Eat Them Right Up

The latest trend in landscaping is to create landscapes that sustain us. Instead of buying all of our fruits and vegetables from a grocery, we are now being encouraged to grow our own food in our own backyards.  Growing your own food in times of war is not a new trend. The first wartime gardens were created in the 16th century.
"Carrets are good to be eaten with salt fish. Therefore sowe Carrets in your Gardens, and humbly praise God for them, as for a singular and great blessing; so thus much for the use and benefit had in the commonwealth by Carrets. Admiot if it should please God that any City or towne should be besieged with the Enemy, what better provision for the greatest number of people can bee, then every garden to be sufficiently planted with Carrets."
~ Richard Gardiner - 1597
During the 19th and 20th century in the United States, community gardens brought people together.  Victory gardens were a patriotic must during World War I and II. Even in urban cities, children and adults harvested everything from artichokes to zucchini year round from their yards.

How can you create your own edible landscape that will help put food on your table but is also attractive?

Assess your site for the correct gardening zone and growing conditions. Select a site that will get full sun, and good drainage. If you are creating an entire landscape for harvesting, an efficient irrigation system is required. Add soil amendments if your yard has sand or soils that don't percolate well.  Your local county extension office can help you determine what type of soil you have and if there is a need for additional amendments.

When deciding on what fruits and vegetables to grow, create multiple areas of interest with height, depth, and dimension.  Consider how tall and wide your shrubs and trees will get.  It will be important that your plant material does not have to compete with other plants for nutrition and water, so proper spacing is important. Select plants for every growing season throughout the year.  Remember, that some fruit trees and shrubs are deciduous during the winter, so you could plant evergreen shrubs, perennials, or fill in the area with annuals for color and a look of fullness.

I wrote an in-depth article on Edible Landscaping for Green Builder magazine on "Edible Landscaping 02" pages 31 - 37.

Spring budding and blooms.

African Blue Basil - pollinator.

'Anna' Apple blossom

More 'Anna' blossoms

'Sharp' Blueberries

Espaliered 'Sunraycer' Nectarines

First peach of the season.

Newly installed 'Tropic Beauty' peach tree.

'Tropic Beauty' peach blossoms

Espaliered 'Gulf Blaze' Plum
Cabbages and roses at neighboring yard.

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