Story by Lisa Burns & Photos by Dave Burns, Contributing Writers
Edible landscaping has been around as long as gardening itself and is growing in popularity. It’s no longer your grandma’s garden, with row after row of the same vegetable in a square plot. And no longer do you have to keep your fruits separate from your vegetables.
These days, creating an edible landscape means combining fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers (both edible and ornamental). Your landscape can be beautiful and sustainable.
There are many factors to consider when planting an edible landscape: what, when and where to plant; access to the garden; and maintenance schedule. The rule of thumb for most edibles is to plant in well-drained soil and in direct sunlight. Many smaller fruit trees, like blueberry or elderberry, can be planted as hedges, while raspberries and tomatoes can be trained to cover your fence or arbor.
Consider companion planting vegetables and herbs both for pest control and ease of maintenance. Edible flowers including roses and marigolds will add aroma, color and flavor to your landscape. Always be sure to properly identify and research before eating any flower.
In Florida you can plant all year, but check with your local extension office to learn when to plant specific edibles.
Edible landscapes traditionally are planted right in the ground, but there are other options, including raised beds or container gardens for small spaces and vertical gardens for added privacy. Hydroponics can be incorporated into your landscape through a water garden using floating planters.
Accessing your garden should combine functionality with style. Using herbs, such as thyme, as ground cover between stepping stones or adding a paver path intertwined in the landscape will make it easier to harvest your edibles while creating an inviting look. Remember that all plants require maintenance. But creating a Florida-friendly landscape, which is based on the principle of the “right plant in the right place,” reduces the need for watering and fertilizing. Choosing edibles and ornamentals that are suited to your yard condition and planting zone will save you time and money. Your garden is a living work of art. Be creative and enjoy your edible landscape.
For their garden, Lisa and Dave selected veggies, fruits and flowers that are drought tolerant or require little watering and well-drained soil. The garden is 16 by 30 feet and cost $150. Time to bloom was two weeks.
Many edibles look like other, non-edible plants. If in doubt, contact a garden center.
To repel insects, marigold, garlic, onions, chives, catnip, horehound, basil, pansy, mint
To attract predatory insects (ie; lady bugs and bees), that eat pests, dandelions, dill, parsley, carrots, coriander or parsnip
To deter fruit borers, plant garlic around fruit trees
To repel pests, pair tomatoes and basil
To improve growth, pair tomatoes and bee balm
Sources: University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’s Gardening Solutions (GardeningSolutions.ifas.ufl.edu)
and Be a Floridian campaign (BeFloridian.org)
Lisa and Dave Burns are founders of Backyard Getaway, a landscaping company in Myakka City. Their website is BackyardGetaway.net.
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