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How to Create an Edible Landscape

(7 votes, average 4.43 out of 5)
Written by Dena Bolton   

how to create an edible landscapeIntro:  We can save on our grocery bills by growing our own fruits, vegetables, and culinary herbs. However, not everyone has enough room in their yard to devote a sizable plot of land to use for just vegetables. You really do not need to separate your vegetables from the ornamental plants in your landscape. In fact, you can intermix your fruits, vegetables, and culinary herbs with your ornamentals. In this way, all of your plants can share resources and actually work together to attract beneficial insects and repel harmful insects, thereby eliminating the temptation to use harmful chemicals in your garden.  An edible landscape does not mean that you plant a row or two of corn along the front of your house or block off a square plot of land next to your daylilies for your tomatoes or culinary herbs. To create an edible landscape, you need to incorporate fruits, vegetables, and culinary herbs into your garden of perennials and annuals. They need to be an actual part of the landscape and not separate from it.

Step 1:  Culinary herbsare easily incorporated into your landscape. I like to plant parsley and lemon thyme at the front of borders as edging plants. I have a large rosemary bush growing at the edge of a patch of daylilies where it offers some nice textural contrast, as well as, releasing a fantastic scent into the air whenever I brush past it. A pineapple sage is growing next to one of our birdbaths along with some cinnamon basil. I have other types of basil - sweet, lemon, lime - planted among my perennials where you would normally plant flowering annuals. I have thyme, which my husband is constantly using when he grills, planted in my scent garden. I have a large bed of wildflowers, which also contains about ten different types of mints that I use for cooking and in teas and other drinks. Of course, garlic and chives can be found inter-planted with my roses. As I mentioned earlier, it is extremely easy to work herbs into your landscape. Their foliage can compliment your other perennials or offer interesting contrasts. The many herbal scents also tend to attract beneficial insects and confuse - thereby repelling - harmful insects. You are, therefore, able to go green by gardening organically through this type of companion planting.

Step 2:  You might think that incorporating vegetables into your landscape would be a bit more difficult; however, such is not the case. You just need to think in a different way about how you are designing your garden. Where you might normally plant perennials or annuals, you are now planting vegetables instead. For example, if you want something tall at the back of a border, you can plant some corn. Train cherry tomatoes to climb an arbor leading into a garden area and imagine popping a ripe tomato into your mouth as you go to check on how your perennials are blooming. Last year, I had yellow squash growing at the end of a garden path. You can have beans growing on a trellis where you might have had morning glories. I needed something in front of my cannas to add some balance to the overall look, so I planted some hot peppers. They did extremely well there last year and contrasted well with the cannas. If you would like a specimen plant in your garden, you can never go wrong with rhubarb.

Step 3:  Plant fruit and nut trees instead of a maple or Bradford pear. Some people living near us have grape vines growing on their decorative log fence in their front yard. I have blackberries growing along a section of my deck - conveniently close to my backdoor. You can plant blueberry bushes, too, instead of an ornamental shrub.


•You might decide to be like my daughter, who thinks that I should plant radishes everywhere because she likes their foliage and flowers.


•Plant vegetables where the conditions are right for them.  You do not, for instance, want to plant vegetables that demand a lot of sun in your shade garden.


Comments (1)add comment

ashlee84 said:

really great how-to!
February 17, 2010
Votes: +0

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