When we still owned our farm we not only had an amazing garden and livestock but an abundance of wild edible plants growing on the land. Since my spinal cord injury the idea of wrestling a 130 lb. lamb makes me cringe but I still want to use the land we have to expand the sources of food I grow. And edible landscaping can be very attractive. While the chickens and rabbits are great for eggs and food and my garden provides so many vegetables I want to turn the rest of the property into productive space. So I’m working on creating edible landscaping everywhere I can.
According to Oregon State University, Edible landscaping is the use of food-producing plants in the residential landscape. It combines fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, and other ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs. The simple definition is using plants you can eat along with or instead of traditional landscaping.
In addition to providing a variety of foods for my family and friends, our local food pantry accepts donations of fruits, berries, and vegetables. The extras I produce can help out a large number of people I will probably never even meet.
Additionally, edible landscaping attracts bees which are critical to successful gardening everywhere on the property. And the butterflies are a welcome sight. I know I’ll end up sharing with our deer, rabbits, foxes, and birds for some of the produce but I plan to grow enough that a midnight snack for some hungry critter won’t be a problem.
I’m starting over when it comes to edible landscaping. I kind of shot myself in the foot when we first moved here. There were wild blackberries growing in several places on the property. These thorny vines can quickly take over so our sons worked diligently on getting rid of them. Now I’m going to re-introduce them in a specific area and work, not on eradicating them completely, but keeping them where I want them. We also had several patches of wild asparagus but one grew next to our septic field and I located our pet cemetery on the edge of another so we can’t use them.
Creating my edible landscape is going to take patience which is good for me. I tend to pray, “God, please give me patience….now.” I have to plan which trees and plants I will actually use and then find the ideal location for sun and soil for each one.
So far I have decided on:
- Blueberry bushes
- Apple trees
- Pear trees
- Strawberries (I currently have some growing but I can definitely use more & have a spot they’ll thrive)
- Herbs (I grow many herbs in my vegetable garden to deter certain pests but there are a couple that should be on their own)
- Garlic (I want to devote a large area to garlic but don’t want to use the space in my vegetable garden)
- Edible & medicinal flowers like coneflower (Echinacea), lavender, and nasturtiums will help make the landscape more beautiful
- Clovers (Which many consider to be a weed but are actually edible and the bees they attract are great for pollinating all my plants and for making clover honey)
Our youngest son, who does tree work, is going to cut down a large area of “junk trees” to make room for some of my edible landscape. The trees there currently are ugly and prone to disease. Instead that entire area will, eventually, be full of fruit trees, blueberry bushes, herbs, and other edibles.
I also want to line the walk from our parking area to the porch with pots filled with edibles. The space that is now just grass and stone will become a lovely, fruitful path.
Do you have an edible landscape? What kinds of plants do you grow? Tell me in the comments!