Edible landscaping is a term made famous especially by the writings of Rosalind Creasy in her book, Edible Landscaping. She starts from the premise that we can have a beautifully landscaped yard that also provides food. In other words, we don’t have to limit ourselves to grass, roses and the like for our yard. Vegetable plants, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers are just as beautiful and have the added benefit of providing deliciousness.
Our new house came in the “classically” 1950s landscaped grassy front yard with a wall of roses around the perimeter. Don’t get me wrong, the roses are beautiful, and a couple of them actually smell divine as well, but I want a yard that is both beautiful and bountiful, so I’ve become a follower of the edible landscaping movement, the no-front-lawn revolution. While we still have a front lawn, getting rid of it a post for another day, we are slowly making progress on parts of our yard.
First of all, after being abandoned for several years, the yard was completely overrun, wild, a suburban jungle. We’ve been working on clearing the neglected yard, and this weekend, I worked on clearing out a front flowerbed to prepare a space for 3 blueberry bushes.
The bed contained iris plants that had developed a bulbous root system where each plant that I dug out had an underground body of bulbs connected to each other. The hoe proved useless, the plants’ rhizome root systems were the size of my face, sometimes larger, so I got out a shovel and worked on finding the elusive bottom of these monstrosities.
Some older bulbs had been completely eviscerated, leaving a crumbling, leathery carcass full of holes, attached to the newer leech-like bulbs. As beautiful as these flowers are, their rhizome-bulb-root system is a hydra, expanding exponentially, sucking the guts out of the previous year’s growth, growing 3 or 4 new plants from each one. A little research helped me to understand that the irises must have been attacked by iris borers, worm-like voracious insects that eat away at the rhizome (the bulb/root system). Left naked, marked up with dozens of small holes, the rhizome rotted and the plant died, but not before it let out one last attempt at prolonging its DNA, in the form of several bulbs connected to the disintegrated one. These plants are hearty and have a will of steal.
However, they were no match for my shovel, and my own will of landscape transformation. So, bed cleared of old irises, a few cyclamens also, I added an acidic soil preparation, since that’s what blueberry plants prefer. Two bags worth of soil helped put back what I’d taken out via the irises. Then, randomly out of nowhere, the sunny sky starts to rain on me. A light sprinkle at first, and looking at the half sunny sky, I thought the rain would pass in a few minutes. Ten minutes later, my sweatshirt soaked, the sky ambushed by rain clouds, my attempts at planting the blueberries were thwarted. I place the three containers in their respective spots above ground for the sake of imagination, clean up, and go back inside for a late lunch.
My first foray into edible landscaping has been postponed for now, but the area is ready, the soil prepped, all that’s missing is putting in the plants, oh, and three years of waiting for the plants to heartily produce.