Edible Landscaping: Greening the Outdoors

March 22, 2009

Edible landscaping is the best way to eat locally. We save the fossil fuels used to transport produce thousands of miles from farmers’ fields to the grocer. When grown organically, produce requires far less energy than conventional agriculture. We also save the chemical inputs needed to maintain a lawn.

Imagine harvesting fresh fruit and vegetables just steps from your door. Harvested at the peak of ripeness, homegrown produce is more flavorful and nutritious. Many of the best fruits are too delicate for transport and storage. They are only available to home gardeners.

Late spring apricots and cherries are best early in the day, kissed by morning dew. Afternoon sun warms summer’s peaches and nectarines to perfection. Crisp fall weather compliments juicy apples and the heady aroma of pears. Figs and persimmons rival jam for sweetness. Citrus fruits welcome the holiday season for those of us in temperate climates.

Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries delight in an area with morning sun. Kiwi and grapevines revel in summer warmth, making excellent cover for shade trellises. Mulberries and pomegranates grow on heat-loving trees and shrubs that thrive on the sunny side of the house. Shading the house with mulberry trees and grapevines can lower indoor temperatures and reduce air conditioning needs.

Vegetables, woven into the edible landscape tapestry, are the epitome of eating locally. Harvested just before preparing a meal, homegrown vegetables are the most flavorful and nutritious. I often stroll through the garden, wicker basket over my arm, in search of ingredients for dinner.

Rosalind Creasy enlivens gardens with multicolor lettuces, chard, squash, and peppers. She encourages mixing flowers with vegetables, making the garden a delight for all the senses. A few nasturtium or violet blossoms transform are a perfect addition to a salad.

Robert Kourick favors perennials when possible. Asparagus is a lacey backdrop for a vegetable garden. Purple asparagus is more flavorful and a stunning addition the garden. Homegrown artichokes surpass those from a grocer, but they need a lot of water in warm climates. Robert Kourick and Art Ludwig explain how to build grey water systems.

Photo from Flikr Common License.


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