Edible Plants for your landscape
Edible landscaping involves growing edibles in the landscape but not necessarily in the traditional sense where they are planted in a garden spot. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs including some less familiar types can contribute to an attractive landscape and also provide sources of food. Edible plants can be used as groundcovers, shrubs, trees, perennials, annuals, vines. Some edibles can successfully be grown as houseplants. This is especially nice if you live in a climate where such plants will not survive outdoors.
Why do you want to grow edibles? Self Sufficiency, Save space, Variety, Economic, Environmental, Adventure
Some thing so keep in mind when growing edibles:
Start with what you know you will eat.
Just because something is edible that does not mean it is tasty to you.
Want to try something new? See if you can find it at a farmer’s market or grocery store first so you can try it.
Some edibles will not produce much per plant – Saffron for example
Be sure to accurately identify all plants before eating whether in your landscape or in the wild. Some edibles look very similar to toxic plants. Label plants when you plant them.
How much effort do you want to go to? Blueberries require extra work in alkaline soils. Is it worth it?
Research what will grow in your area. All plants below can and do grow in my zone 5/6 Utah area. Those listed under Indoors grow indoors in winter and most can spend the summer outdoors.
Edibles in parking strips or along driveways may pick up toxins from automobiles. Plant as far away from the street as possible.
Avoid areas with pressure treated wood or railroad ties due to chemicals in the wood which may stunt growth and/or be taken up by the plant. Use food safe pest control, weed control, and fertilizers around edibles (and ideally the rest of your yard)
Make sure it is a fruiting variety (i.e. pear – not flowering pear)
Plant multiple fruit trees in one spot. Plant them at a slight angle away from each other – 3 apples, 3 to 4 peaches. If different varieties are planted with different ripening times that will extend the harvest.
Espalier – fruit trees or currants. More fruit can be grown in a smaller space.
Plant plants as an understory to other plants. Strawberries under raspberries, low growing herbs or greens under fruit trees.
Indoors – Why not have edible houseplants? Dwarf varieties (see resources below) Citrus including lemons and limes, Pixie grape, pomegranate, avocado, papaya. Also, scented geraniums, lemon verbena, lemongrass, pineapple sage, bay, sprouts, microgreens
Trees – elderberries, juniper, mulberry, crabapple, mountain ash, hackberry, plums, chokecherry, almonds, walnut, hazelnut, cornelian cherry, and of course, apricots, peaches, pears, cherries, asian pear, apple, plums,– Before you plant think about where any fruit may fall.
Shrubs – quince, currants, sand cherries, bush cherries, serviceberry, elderberries, gooseberries, oregon grape, aronia (chokeberry), rosehips, high bush cranberries (viburnum), blue honeysuckle, herbs – sage, thyme, lavender, oregano
Groundcovers – Strawberries, nagoonberry, herbs, lettuce, thyme, mint, miners lettuce, violets, Kinnickinnick, some vines can be used as groundcovers
Grassy leaves – Saffron, camas, onions, society garlic, wheat, oats, corn, chives, leeks
Vines – Passionfruit, sweet potato, kiwi, akebia, squash, grapes, melons, cucumber, wolfberry, hops, Schisandra, peas, runner beans, climbing nasturtiums, climbing rose, New Zealand spinach, mouse melon.
Ferny – ferns, asparagus, plants in the parsley family including dill and fennel.
Leaves – Rhubarb (don’t eat the leaves!), spinach, sorrel, kale, cabbage, lettuce, mustard, parsley, Swiss chard, basils, Quinoa, amaranth, arugula, many herbs
Cactus – prickly pear
Flowers – some flowers are edible – Nasturtium, violets, pansies, artichokes (let a few flower), calendula, daylilies, sunflowers, sunchokes, roses, chives. Others such as sego lily, camas, and saffron have other edible parts. Check reliable books for other edible flowers.
Peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, okra – attractive fruit, some varieties have colorful leaves
Weeds – lambs quarters, dandelion, pigweed, chickweed, sorrel, miner’s lettuce, amaranth, milkweed, purslane, dock, stinging nettle (won’t sting when dried or cooked), catnip. Be sure of correct identification.
See also edible landscaping books by Beuna Tomalino (find on GardenInspire.com), Rosalind Creasy, Joy Bossi, Robert Kourik
Join me at https://archive.gardeninspire.com
See my new book: Herbs to Know 2: Wild Medicinal & Edible Plants – available at my booth, on my website, and locations for purchase listed on my website.
2015 by Beuna Tomalino GardenInspire.com