Monday, July 4, 2011

Edible Landscaping class

I just love our local Farmers' Market. This month, they are offering FREE classes every Saturday. This week's topic was Edible Landscaping.

It had quite a turnout, even in the rain (we eventually had to move inside):

Are you familiar with edible landscaping? The concept reminds me of WWII victory gardens.
Victory gardens were not only found in people's yards, but in public spaces. Here is a modern version in San Francisco (click photo for link to article):
How cool is that?

Really, the idea of planting pretty plants that you can also eat makes so much sense, don't you think? It just seems a more efficient use of space and resources.

Below is a description of edible landscaping from our Ag Extension office (IFAS) at the University of Florida:

Edible landscaping, simply put, replaces plants that are strictly ornamental with plants that produce food. Edible landscaping will allow you to create a multi-functional landscape that provides returns (fruits, vegetables, etc.) on your investment of water, fertilizer, and time. An edible landscape can be just as attractive as a traditional one; in fact, the colorful fruits and foliage of many edibles are quite beautiful. 

The IFAS website also lists these benefits:
  • Improved Taste and Nutrition of Food: Nutrient content and flavor in most plants is highest immediately after harvest. The edible landscape provides fresh foods which can be eaten minutes, rather than days or weeks, after harvest. In addition, many exceptional and flavorful varieties not found at food markets are available to growers of edible landscapes.
  • Increased Food Security: An edible landscape reduces your dependence on foreign food sources which have unknown production systems.
  • Reduced Food Costs: Certain edibles are highly productive and are more economical to grow at home than to purchase.
  • Convenience: Having fruits and vegetables right outside your home may help you add fresher, healthier foods to your diet and makes meal preparation easier.
  • Fun and Exercise: Growing your own crops can be rewarding and fun; the exercise you get in the process can help you stay fit.
  • Sustainability: Consuming locally grown produce can be an important part of reducing energy inputs and protecting our environment.
  • More edible landscape information from IFAS at this link

If, when conceptualizing growing your own food, you can only picture long rows of crops and raised garden beds, check out Rosalind Creasy's website- she shares beautiful photos of edible landscaping in her own yard.

She also has a how-to book:

More books on edible landscaping:

Check your local library for books specific to your growing region. Also try your local Agriculture Extension office, local gardening clubs or hobby grower groups, and your Farmers' markets. Local nurseries will also know what will grow well in your region, and for your specific needs and wants.

Joan and I would both like to do some edible landscaping in the yard here. Of course, it's her yard, so ultimately it's her call- but I'm totally on board with an edible yard! One thing we learned in class is that an edible yard takes planning, just like any other type of landscaping. You have to plan for aesthetics, soil, irrigation, and yield. We will need to sketch out a map, consider where we have sun, shade, and rain and list which types of plants we would like to grow and eat. We learned in class that blueberries will grow in our area if they are in pots, so blueberries are on the list of "wants". We've already gotten started on an herb garden (see thisthis and this post to follow the garden). Joan got a free fennel plant from Saturday's class, so now we have fennel for the garden. Personally, I'd like to grow lychee, and miracle fruit. I think we'd both like to grow some lettuces. Joan has a tomato plant. She also already has aloe plants in the yard, which I have used when I burned myself in the kitchen. So, we're on our way to having a very useful and edible yard. It just takes time. The vision: No grass to feed, water, and maintain; and lots of food!

We do have Meyer lemon:
And a baby macadamia tree, from the macadamia farm:
I am emotionally attached to this little tree :)

We are fortunate in that we can grow a LOT of things here. And we can grow a lot of tropical fruits and nuts, which is exciting. Now we just have to plan. And then plant.

Suggestions are welcome... have you done any edible landscaping? What has worked well, and what hasn't? Do you have tips or tricks we should keep in mind?

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