Imagine strolling through your yard, stopping to pick a few alpine strawberries here and some fresh chocolate mint there. Around you every growing thing provides food including sturdy vines climbing up trellises, fruit and nut trees, plantings of vegetables and herbs, even the flowers. Sounds like paradise.
I have no illusions about fully achieving this ideal, still I’m slowly working toward a more edible landscape. I don’t plan to pull out my mother’s roses or cut down beautiful shade trees. But we have vowed that every new thing we plant on our property will be edible. Last year we put in pear trees and aronia bushes (Aronia melanocarpa) as well as asparagus crowns, hops, and a variety of silver kale (Crambe maritime). Although we’re accustomed to using the produce from our large vegetable gardens I also made an effort to use edible flowers. It’s wonderfully appealing to sprinkle nasturtium and violet petals on a salad, to make truffles from lavender, and to use dandelions in stews.
Right now we’re digging out from the latest winter storm so I’m in that wonderful stage of gardening called planning. I’ve been indulging in all sorts of garden-y delight courtesy of books.
Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn encourages us to turn our front yards into gardens. It showcases projects across the U.S., transforming city lots and suburban lawns into food-growing areas. It’s a quirky book with journal entries, sketches, photos, and more.
Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taros It does a great deal less violence to the soil (and all that goes on beyond our sight under the soil) when we leave it alone. No rototilling, no digging, no scraping it bare between harvests. That’s part of the beauty of perennial plants. This is a fun volume featuring quite a few unusual plants, including, I have to admit, some that don’t seem worth the trouble of planting as food crops. But its pages are filled with possibilities and that’s what gardeners adore.
Eat Your Yard: Edible Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Herbs, and Flowers For Your Landscape offers ideas for plantings best suited to fill our yards as well as our tables. You’ll find recipes, growing hints and some folksy advice in this attractive book.
Edible Landscaping by venerable expert Rosalind Creasy is a 384 page volume packed with information and photos to illustrate her ideas.
The Edible Flower Garden, also by Creasy, has beautifully photographed pages plus anecdotes about famous chefs and recipes for treats like rose sorbet.
Gaia’s Garden: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture is a wonderful introduction to permaculture, a critically important way to garden with nature. This book is an essential manual of useful knowledge from soil fertility to harvest. You’ll consult its tables over and over again, absorbing more wisdom each time.
Some day I’d like to see more of our grassy areas available for the cows. And more of the rest made into edible landscape. Less mowing and more chewing!
A standard gas-powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars each driven 12,000 miles.