Does the idea of stepping out your back door and harvesting some greens for your salad, some scallions to snip on your stir-fry and a few strawberries for dessert send your heart racing?
But then, does your heart sink when you realize you lack a big garden plot with room for long rows of carrots and lettuce and berries?
Go ahead, take heart. Even without a big plot, there are many options for gardeners. That’s what this column is all about. You can call it “edible landscaping” or “foodscaping.”
No matter where you live, be it condo or single-family home, you probably can grow some food. We just need to think of gardening in a whole new way. Of course, there’s gardening in pots, which Master Gardeners has written about in this newspaper, but where and how might you grow some food for your family? And why should you?
We know growing your own ensures that you know how it was grown, lets you incorporate more fresh foods in your family’s diet, and gives you a chance to explore the wide variety of edible plants.
Let’s explore the possibilities.
Do you have flowerbeds? Take a cue from Phyllis, one of our Master Gardeners. She asks: Who decides which plants are beautiful and which are unattractive? Why are hostas and coleus considered beautiful, but kale and lettuce are not? Why not incorporate these edibles in your flower garden beds. And put a trellis at the back and grow some runner beans. Be sure to consider Painted Lady, which have red and white blooms; Scarlet Runner, with red blooms; and Sunset with peach/coral blooms. Phyllis says: “How lovely they will be and will feed your family as well.”
Another Master Gardener, Joan, plans to incorporate a colorful Swiss chard called Bright Lights into her garden beds this spring. It is so beautiful and when picked tender is an enjoyable way to get your “greens.”
The tops of carrots will match any other fern-type foliage, so be sure to include them in your flower bed, and chives, too, with their pink blooms or its cousin, garlic chives, which have beautiful white flowers. The chives are perennials and will come back year after year. What are you using for ground cover? There are nice sedums, but Diana uses strawberries. They provide food, are beautiful and keep the weeds down. Is there a fence along your property? That’s a great spot to grow some raspberries as they can be tied to the fence and it will make it easy to harvest them.
What is the law for using the parking strips in your town? Explore this. If it is allowed, what a spot to grow some sprawling pumpkins or squash, which will get you acquainted with your neighbors. Encourage them to join you in your gardening endeavor.
There are so many dwarf fruit trees that will fit into a small yard and provide beauty with their spring blooms and fruit for your table. Make this the spring you decide to plant some.
These books are available at our Yakima Valley Libraries: “Foodscaping” by Charlie Nardozzi, “Edible Landscaping” by Michael Judd and “The Foodscape Revolution” by Brie Arthur. All are easy reading with great photos. More information is available online. Simply keyword “edible landscaping” or “foodscaping.”
Lastly, from member Pat: “If it’s not edible, why bother?”
WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is an organization of trained volunteers dedicated to horticulture and community service. The Master Gardener Walk-In Diagnostic Clinic operates from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Direct questions about gardening, landscaping or this program to the Master Gardener Clinic at 509-574-1604, or leave samples for identification at the WSU Extension office. Leave a message with your name, phone number, email address and the nature of your problem or question. You can also email your questions to email@example.com and include pictures if you have them. A member of the Master Gardener Clinic team will check voicemails and emails, and reply as soon as possible. The WSU Extension office is at 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100, in Union Gap. Call 509-574-1600. New volunteers are welcome.