If there’s no space for a garden or orchard, you can still grow fruit and vegetables by mixing the plants with ornamentals in your yard. Listen to learn more about how to make an incredible edible landscape.
This segment of The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Musings podcast series was written by George and Becky Lohmiller and is read by Heidi Stonehill, an Almanac editor.
More and more gardeners are dining out these days — in their own backyards! You don’t need to set aside an orchard, or even a garden for your fruits and vegetables: Just incorporate them right into your landscape.
Flowering cherries and crab apples brighten the spring skies with fragrant pink and white blossoms, but so do “real” fruit trees such as cherry, apple, pear, and plum. The latter usually cost less than the ornamentals, and produce fruit for pies and fresh eating. Maple, ash, and locust trees provide shade on a hot summer afternoon, but so do Chinese chestnut and Carpathian walnut — fast growers that will yield pounds of nuts in only a few years.
One of the easiest small fruits for landscaping is the highbush blueberry. This plant has it all: spring flowers, delicious berries in summer, and flaming fall foliage. Blueberries combine well with other ornamental shrubs and can create an attractive hedge.
Another “delicious” hedge is a row of tightly planted red raspberries. Eat all you can, make some jam, and freeze the rest for a winter’s supply of slumps, grunts, buckles, and pandowdies.
The Nanking bush cherry is a handsome shrub with clouds of white to pink flowers in early May and plump red cherries in June. Use these treasures fresh, cooked into jam, or pressed into juice. Plant two bushes for cross-pollination.
Strawberries top the list of edible ground covers as a quick, inexpensive, and delicious crop. They also perform well in planters and the rock garden. Other low growers such as lowbush blueberry, cranberry, and checkerberry (wintergreen) will add a variety of tastes to your table.
If you grow perennials, mix in some culinary herbs such as chive, thyme, and oregano. They all have beautiful flowers and spicy aromas, and can be used fresh in the kitchen.
Vegetables may be slipped into the flower beds and borders among the annuals, perennials, and shrubs. Green and red lettuce, ruby Swiss chard, onions, and carrots all add “off-beet” interest.