Edible Landscaping: How Does Thy Garden Grow?

BlogHer Original Post

"If Johnny Appleseed were to visit present-day suburbia, he would weep. In most yards, he would be likely to find not a fruit-laden apple tree, but a flowering crabapple, cherry, plum, or peach tree —- none bearing fruit." (Rosalind Creasy, 2008) Edible landscaping is the practice of growing food in aesthetically pleasing ways whether in suburbia, dense urban environments or wide open country spaces.

But edible landscaping is more than keeping a kitchen garden, usually a sunny plot with tomatoes, salad greens, a few vegetables and fresh herbs. Edible landscaping replaces messless shrubs and showy flowers with beautiful plants, shrubs and trees that bear edible fruit and nuts and leaves. It also returns unproductive land -- our yards -- to producing food.

The grande dame of edible landscaping is Rosalind Creasy, author of the 1982 tome The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping which is out of print and sells, used, for $60 and up. Luckily for those of us who live online, Ros is writing for OrganicToBe.org, where her posts are long and detailed.

Excerpt: "I cannot overemphasize the potential for beauty that landscaping with edibles holds, since many people still have difficulty accepting this notion. I came to understand this potential by experimenting in my own yard, in the process relearning the joys of eating fresh-picked peas, vine-ripened tomatoes, and sun-warmed apricots. I purchased dozens of different varieties of vegetables to plant in my food garden but also to interplant in my flower garden. Red cabbage with its colorful foliage, string beans with purple flowers, the many varieties of lettuce with their interesting leaf patterns, artichokes with their gray-green, fernlike foliage and magnificent blue thistles, and the heavenly purple globes of the eggplant were extremely effective in my standard flower bed." ~ read Creating Bountiful Yards with Organic Edible Landscaping

Excerpt: "I’ve seen it happen time and time again. People who are on a tight budget think they cannot afford to spend a lot of money on the landscaping; so they go to the nursery, buy a package of grass seed, and turn most of their yard into a large lawn. There are few things you can do, particularly in the West, that will cost you more over the long run. A lawn will nickel and dime you to death. Lawn mower, gas for the mower, lawn-mower maintenance, edger, water, sprinkler repairs, fertilizer, herbicides, fungicides, vacation maintenance: all for just a humdrum lawn. And a show-place lawn can cost you many hundreds of dollars a year. A well-maintained lawn needs to be aerated, thatched, reseeded, and top dressed every year. All of those expenses are just the tip of the iceberg. They don’t even take into account that the lawn area could be covered with money-saving plants that would provide food for the table." ~ read More Food, Less Lawn: Save Money with an Edible Landscaping Plan

What about we bloggers, are we using edible landscapes yet?

"When we bought our house, the back forty (feet, that is) was absolutely disgusting: a flea-infested dirt-pit and dog-toilet, dominated by a sterile avocado tree, a junk fruit tree, a bottlebrush tree, and a badly overgrown magnolia. The avocado was as tall as the house and leaning dangerously, the “fruit” tree produced small cherry-like things that tasted awful, and the bottlebrush was also as tall as the house and sported a canopy at least 20 feet wide." ~ When Anita and Cameron moved into a new home in the Bay Area, the back yard was a big mess and a top priority. Read about their edible landscaping experiement in Summer in the Garden from Married with Dinner

"Gardening is a great way to help your food budget as well as give you a little exercise in return. My husband has decided to do more edible landscaping and as such, you won't see very many flowers in my yard or gardening areas. I love them but he wants them to be edible." ~ Read Garden Pics from Laura Williams' Musings

BlogHer food editor Alanna Kellogg tries to collect plums from a backyard plum tree for Dimply Plum Cake. Who gets there first?

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