Is it time for you to plan a new edible garden? Have a sunny but scruffy patch of lawn you’d like to put to better use, or an unused strip of yard along your driveway? It is time to foodscape! Make part of your yard a clean, green, quiet and productive space by planting edibles! The joy of harvesting your organically grown lettuce, kale or herbs can’t be beat.
We are seeing more and more of our clients wanting outdoor kitchens and kitchen gardens. Mahoney Architects & Interiors can help you design the perfect space for an edible garden and outdoor dining space. Having young children motivates our clients to create sustainable vegetable gardens. I love to experiment with gardening; to me it is half the fun. Digging in the warm earth, having contact with the food we eat, and the ultimate reward of savoring a just picked tomato! Cooking and gardening are converging in backyards throughout the Bay Area where our temperate climate allows us to grow a great variety of veggies and fruit.
Swing by your local nursery to select your edibles or you may want to order seeds online. Most seed companies offer varieties for the whole country but you will want to choose the best variety for your locale. Check out the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company in Petaluma.
You might want to consider drought tolerant edibles. Every time you grow an edible plant you are saving water. The home gardener uses much less water than a farmer does. For example, if you grow your own lettuce you are using less water than the farmer and grocer would use to grow, harvest, wash, and to keep that head of lettuce fresh. Plus you are saving trips to the grocery store!
I like Sunset’s Western Garden Book of Edibles as a resource. Mediterranean plants do well in the Bay Area but look at your microclimate. Herbs such as oregano, fennel, sage, rosemary and thyme all grow well here. Lemons, strawberries, some tomatoes, squash, chard and kale, peppers, collards, lettuce and basil do well too.
Container gardening for small spaces and decks has become very popular especially for hillside homes where accessing your edible garden may not be so convenient. Irrigation here is the key. You don’t want to over water or you can create problems with your decking. Always be sure to set your pots up so that air can get under them to dry them out.
I am a big fan of local programs to share home grown food. You may become a DIY preserver or pickler, or you may want to join a local food swap program. Have too many Santa Rosa plums? An abundant crop of greens and you just can’t eat them all? Look for a local food swap or crop swap program. We have too many persimmons every Christmas and I want to share with folks who would really enjoy them, rather than the squirrels!
Check out a good article about edible gardens in the SF Chronicle Home & Garden issue Sunday March 11, 2012