When you think of an edible landscape what comes to mind? I admit that when I first heard the term I imagined trees that grew cookies or spaghetti hanging like Spanish moss reminiscent of the children's book "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs." Although apple pie won't grow in your backyard, its primary ingredient can. The same is true for the blueberries in your pancakes or lemons in your summertime drink.
Vegetables are nutritious and colorful additions for your landscape. Swiss chard comes in an array of colors ranging from red to blue to green and purple. As a bonus, it's also very easy to grow. Hot peppers add a punch of vibrant red and orange to your backyard. Looking for something out of the ordinary? Try Osaska purple mustard greens for great color and taste.
Pole bean leaves are a fun heart shape and will stand out from other foliage.
Consider containers. Imagine your window boxes overflowing with vibrant green and purple kale. Whiskey barrels filled with tall tomato plants add height and structure to your landscape.
Lettuce greens are great for edging a walkway or flower bed.
In my opinion, berries get a bad rap for being difficult to grow. I disagree, and I argue that they are a practical addition to your landscape. Use low growing plants such as strawberries or low bush blueberries for ground cover. For something a bit taller try elderberries for hedges or barriers.
A currant bush will offer vibrant red berries that you can't help but touch because of their smooth texture.
Both strawberries and blueberries can be grown in decorative containers and moved around your landscape as the seasons change.
3. Fruit trees
Apple, banana, and grapes, oh my! There are so many exciting options when it comes to choosing fruit trees. In northern climates apples and pears are good choices. Growers in balmier regions can try bananas, lemons, and peaches.
Some dwarf variety fruit trees can be grown in containers.
Remember that fruit trees require full sun. Also, carefully choose your variety as some require two trees of different varieties to produce fruit. Caution: Fruit drops from trees, so consider placing the trees away from your deck or other seating area.
4. Cactus and succulents
You may think that cactus plants are exclusive to arid areas, but growers throughout the country can grow edible succulents such as sedum and purslane.
The opuntia species of cactus has numerous edible varieties including nopales, nopalitos, cactus pear, and paddle cactus. Also consider saguaro cactus and barrel cactus fruit.
5. Nut trees
There's an old adage that comes to mind when I think of growing nut trees: The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best time to plant one is now. Yes, it will take a few years for a nut tree to mature and produce, but it's worth the wait.
Oak trees offer acorns that can be ground up and used in cooking. Walnut, chestnut, and hazelnut trees are also great options.
If you have a nut tree on your property it is worth investing in a nutcracker to make quick work of shelling your harvest.
What I love about herbs is not only the variety of flowers and textures that they bring to my landscape but also their evocative smells. A lavender plant growing near your front door offers guests a fragrant welcome to your home.
Use tall herbs such as chives where height is required in your landscape and lower growing herbs such as mint or creeping thyme for ground cover.
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