If you’re a seasoned gardener, you know that a handkerchief of blueberries, a pocketful of blackberries, and even a plucked fig or two make visits into your yard a delicious endeavor. There are so many reasons to put edible plants into your landscape, and the flavor rush is just the finishing touch.
For folks who need a briefing on why edibles are more than just A-OK in your home landscape, consider this: Growing vegetables and fruits makes the most of your outdoor space, and makes for a terrific at-home summer-school session for your kids, helping them learn the science of plants and pollinators as well the ecology of our edible world.
The greatest gift of edible gardens may just be the sense of accomplishment at harvest time. Your hands and hard work nurtured these crops. And whether or not you cook your haul yourself or donate it to a soup kitchen, you know you’re providing a meal and a memory.
What Will Your Edible Garden Look Like?
Containers, porch pots, raised beds, in-ground plantings—all of these are superb options for edible gardening. Your particular garden may contain elements of all of these. Let’s turn to the creative contributors to Pinterest for some edible garden design inspiration.
Room to Roam (See the pin!)
You may daydream of an in-ground vegetable garden bursts with both beauty and bounty; orderly rows of edibles are kept tidy within a fenced garden … Wide-open designs such as these allow the gardener to easily assess the tasks at hand: Do I need to weed or trim? Do the plants need staking? Along the fence we see a magnificent archway entrance. While such a grand, sweeping arch may not be possible for all spaces, the small-statured (3-4 ft. tall) fruit-bearing Pineapple Guava DownHome Harvest® Bambina™ makes a statement on either side of a gate, as would a pair of blueberry bushes like Hello Darlin® Blueberry with its dark red fall foliage or the heavy-producing DownHome Harvest® Takes the Cake®.
Small City Squares (See the pin!)
No rambling acreage? No problem. This small urban front yard replaces a postage stamp-size lawn with an abundant harvest in neat beds. For a tad more privacy, plant a few DownHome Harvest® blueberry varieties like Bless Your Heart® and For Heaven’s Sake®, which grow up to 4- and 5-ft. tall.
Raising Your Game (See the Pin!)
Raised beds perform two very important tasks: Raising the growing area higher off the ground, lessening the need for kneeling and bending, and allowing you to create growing space in spots where the native soil is “iffy” (high content of metals or former construction zones, for example) or the soil is missing entirely (e.g. you can create a garden in a driveway!). Plus, raised beds can elevate fruits and vegetables above the soil, keeping “low hanging fruits” out of the range of splashing dirt and grit. Planting ‘Osage’, ‘Navaho’ and Prime-Ark ‘Freedom’ thornless blackberries in raised beds keeps the bountiful blackberry harvest off the ground and clean for the eating.
Photo-Perfect Potager (See the pin!)
Steal a smart technique from the elegant English garden and the humble potager: using evergreen borders keeps a neat and orderly appearance as other plants cycle through seasons. Self-taught garden designer, lifestyle influencer and author Linda Vater created this lovely potager garden in a 30×30 plot on her city lot. The evergreen shrubs draw formal lines around beds that can be filled with whatever you wish each season: from pollinator-friendly perennials to salad bowl lettuces; vegetables to herbs. Here, Linda planted boxwood borders but you could also sow a low edible hedge of Chef’s Choice® Culinary Rosemary, selected for its higher oil content and spicy flavor. (You can see more of her ideas in her new book!)
Seeking the Sunny Spot (See the pin!)
Sometimes all we have is a balcony, a porch or a sunny square foot of space. What could we possibly grow that’s good? Porch pots, old buckets or a broken firepit to the rescue! Take this ‘Little Miss Figgy’ nestled into a ceramic pot or an old watering can as an example. A cold-hardy dwarf fig, it’ll grow just 4 ft. high, have plenty of soil for root growth and produce two harvests of large, plump figs each year. And since it’s in a pot, you can move it should an unexpectedly cold winter come along.
With new options and know-how, what will your edible growing game be for the upcoming season? Online communities can be creative, informative spaces for finding our growing groove. Follow us on Pinterest for more daily gardening inspiration! And share your successes with us by tagging #SLPlants on Facebook or Instagram!