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Smart Thoughts

Your Own Garden of Eatin’: Building an Edible Landscape in Five Easy Steps

Shrubs, trees, and turf. Throw in an ornamental garden, and you’ve got the typical American yard. There’s no denying the beauty of flowering roses surrounded by emerald grass. But what if you could turn your landscape into a cornucopia of free, mouthwatering food? That’s the idea behind edible landscaping. Let’s look at some garden design ideas that deliver fresh, delicious produce for you and your loved ones. In five simple steps, you’ll be growing crops of your very own!

1. Scout Before You Sprout

Prior to planting, carefully observe your yard. What areas receive the greatest sun exposure? Where are your irrigation lines, water hoses or other sources of moisture? Are you working with trellises, a patio, greenhouse or raised vegetable garden? Make a rough sketch of your space and develop a vision of how it will look when it’s finished. “Planning before planting” is a great rule of thumb for any gardener.

2. Plan Your Plate

Now that you have a vision and a sketch, it’s time to match edible crops with the strengths of your landscape. If you’re working with a trellis or pergola, vine crops are an excellent choice. Grapes, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas will turn your scaffolding into a source of delicious flavor and nutrition. In extra-sunny areas, tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggplant will be right at home. And for your partially shaded patio? Broccoli, onions, leeks and cabbage are perfect. Looking for patio design ideas? Try fabric pots. They radiate heat, keeping your crops nice and cool in the hot summer sun.

3. Add Some Eye Candy

Growing an edible garden doesn’t mean giving up flowers. Plenty of varieties are equally appealing to the eyes… and taste buds! Depending upon the cultivar, carnations can be sweet or peppery. Hibiscus delivers notes of cranberry — perfect for your cup of tea. And lavender exudes a perfumed essence that compliments both sweet and savory recipes. REMEMBER: Many plants are poisonous to humans. Carefully research edible flowers in your garden before putting them on your plate. Never consume flowers picked in public spaces, including parks. These flowers may have been treated with toxic herbicides. And it goes without saying: Don’t use toxic herbicides or pesticides in your edible landscape.

4. Keep Pests Suppressed

Since you’ll be dining on the fruits of your labor, it’s important to use organic pest control. Keep rabbits, raccoons and squirrels at bay with hot pepper spray. Puree a few cups of very hot peppers and mix it in a spray bottle with soap and water. Spray your edible garden a couple of times a week, and your furry friends will lose their appetites. Creepy crawlies plaguing your crops? Diatomaceous earth kills snails, slugs, ants, aphids, mites, earwigs, and cockroaches. Essential oils are another effective solution. Rosemary repels fleas, flies and mosquitoes, while peppermint drives away squash bugs, spiders and beetles.

5. Get Creative!

Once you’re hauling in bountiful bushels, it’s time to have some fun in the kitchen. Zucchini and squash make delicious vegetable spaghetti. For a fresh take on melon, try some watermelon ice cubes or infused water. Or kick your cucumber game up a notch with a cucumber sandwich or Asian cucumber salad. Partaking in the fruits of your hard work is the crowning experience of edible landscaping. So go all out. Whip up a wildly tantalizing recipe… And dig in!Shrubs, trees, and turf. Throw in an ornamental garden, and you’ve got the typical American yard. There’s no denying the beauty of flowering roses surrounded by emerald grass. But what if you could turn your landscape into a cornucopia of free, mouthwatering food? That’s the idea behind edible landscaping. Let’s look at some garden design ideas that deliver fresh, delicious produce for you and your loved ones. In five simple steps, you’ll be growing crops of your very own!

1. Scout Before You Sprout

Prior to planting, carefully observe your yard. What areas receive the greatest sun exposure? Where are your irrigation lines, water hoses or other sources of moisture? Are you working with trellises, a patio, greenhouse or raised vegetable garden? Make a rough sketch of your space and develop a vision of how it will look when it’s finished. “Planning before planting” is a great rule of thumb for any gardener.

2. Plan Your Plate

Now that you have a vision and a sketch, it’s time to match edible crops with the strengths of your landscape. If you’re working with a trellis or pergola, vine crops are an excellent choice. Grapes, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas will turn your scaffolding into a source of delicious flavor and nutrition. In extra-sunny areas, tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggplant will be right at home. And for your partially shaded patio? Broccoli, onions, leeks and cabbage are perfect. Looking for patio design ideas? Try fabric pots. They radiate heat, keeping your crops nice and cool in the hot summer sun.

3. Add Some Eye Candy

Growing an edible garden doesn’t mean giving up flowers. Plenty of varieties are equally appealing to the eyes… and taste buds! Depending upon the cultivar, carnations can be sweet or peppery. Hibiscus delivers notes of cranberry — perfect for your cup of tea. And lavender exudes a perfumed essence that compliments both sweet and savory recipes. REMEMBER: Many plants are poisonous to humans. Carefully research edible flowers in your garden before putting them on your plate. Never consume flowers picked in public spaces, including parks. These flowers may have been treated with toxic herbicides. And it goes without saying: Don’t use toxic herbicides or pesticides in your edible landscape.

4. Keep Pests Suppressed

Since you’ll be dining on the fruits of your labor, it’s important to use organic pest control. Keep rabbits, raccoons and squirrels at bay with hot pepper spray. Puree a few cups of very hot peppers and mix it in a spray bottle with soap and water. Spray your edible garden a couple of times a week, and your furry friends will lose their appetites. Creepy crawlies plaguing your crops? Diatomaceous earth kills snails, slugs, ants, aphids, mites, earwigs, and cockroaches. Essential oils are another effective solution. Rosemary repels fleas, flies and mosquitoes, while peppermint drives away squash bugs, spiders and beetles.

5. Get Creative!

Once you’re hauling in bountiful bushels, it’s time to have some fun in the kitchen. Zucchini and squash make delicious vegetable spaghetti. For a fresh take on melon, try some watermelon ice cubes or infused water. Or kick your cucumber game up a notch with a cucumber sandwich or Asian cucumber salad. Partaking in the fruits of your hard work is the crowning experience of edible landscaping. So go all out. Whip up a wildly tantalizing recipe… And dig in!

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