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{Lifestyle} Planting an Edible Garden

Joy Bossi and Karen Bastow - May 03, 2012

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Whether you have two acres or two containers, it is possible to harvest crops nearly year round in your own little slice of garden heaven.

“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the veggies is?”

Planting an edible landscape gives room for all the veggies and fruits any family would love. In many areas, spring planting may start as early as March—or even February in warmer climates. Here in the Intermountain West, we are pushing the freezing envelope if any warm season crops are planted before the middle of May. Okay, okay . . . it’s even better if we wait until around Memorial Day.

Whether you have two acres or two containers, it is possible to harvest crops nearly year round in your own little slice of garden heaven. The downsizing of home lots can cause some concern about available space.

Instead of just choosing plants that provide ornamental delight, try planting some yummy edible substitutes that are beautiful in their own right. Lawn has its place and important function, but if the only sunny area in your yard is now lawn, maybe that is the space you should be aiming at for food production. Gardens can be planted in rather unconventional ways that add interest and surprises throughout the entire yard.

In our book, The Incredible, Edible Landscape, we help gardeners explore new ways to produce food in the most local place of all—their own yards! There are many reasons we feel this is an important part of provident living, and here are a few:

-Serious counsel has been given to grow our own food.
-Commercial food supplies sometimes become contaminated with E. coli, salmonella, etc.
-Pesticide residue on our fresh foods poses increasing health risks.
-Nutrients begin to be lost the moment crops are harvested. 
-Perhaps most importantly: no one should miss out on the taste of a freshly picked ripe peach or a sun-warmed, homegrown tomato.

As President Benson once said, “The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.”
 
One of the early titles of our book was “Provident Gardening.” That title ended up on the editing room floor, but the message behind that title is still addressed in every chapter. So, just what is gardening providently? It’s carefully preparing for future needs by focusing on growing edibles—and not only in the future but, deliciously, in the here and now! Knowing how to grow veggies under a variety of conditions can certainly supplement and enhance basic food storage. We strongly believe that NOW is the time to learn and practice gardening skills. There is no better place or time to hone these skills than when choosing your next gardening project. Try some of these edible substitutions for a start:

TREES –                 FOR -
   
Almond trees Flowering Cherries
2 varieties of Filbert Clump River Birch
Sour Cherry trees Lilac, Forsythia
Dwarf Peach tree (not in deep shade) Japanese Maple

SHRUBS –
Gooseberry Pyracantha, Barberry
Raspberry Privet, Juniper
Grape vine Virginia Creeper
Dwarf peach, plum, or apple Mugho pine

ANNUALS –

Opal basil Ageratum, Lobelia
Eggplant Tall Zinnia
Bright Lights Chard   Medium Marigold
Sun Sugar tomato   Black-eyed Susan vine

PERENNIALS –

Asparagus Ornamental Grass
Golden Sage Moonbeam Coreopsis
Chives Blue Fescue Grass
Oregano Ajuga

Here are some more ideas for incorporating edible plants into your garden:

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Rhubard chard with edible Pansies.

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Can you spot strawberries, nasturtiums, peppers, marigolds, melons, peaches, and ornamental sweet potatoes?

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Condominium containers = edible landscape

Here’s a personal survey to help you determine your progress towards provident gardening:

1. Do you know how to grow plants from seeds?
2. Can you gather seeds from the produce you grew?
3. Have you stored those seeds?
4. Are there spare tools, parts, fertilizer, etc. in your storage?
5. Can you protect your little plants from cold, heat, insects, wind, and animals?
6. Do you know how to properly plant a leggy tomato start?
7. Can you freeze, dry, bottle, preserve and store your produce?
8. Would you like to know how to grow a Chocolate Cookie Bush?

Our book addresses these and other important gardening questions, but for all of the ideas in our book, the most important message we share is this: spiritual and emotional comfort and healing can come from being in a garden—especially when that garden is an incredible, edible landscape!

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To learn more or order The Incredible, Edible Landscape, please visit joyinthegarden.com.

© LDS Living, 2012.
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