Driving through any city or town in the country, you notice acres and acres of land devoted to lawns. In fact, lawns occupy more land than any single crop grown by our nation’s farmers. In some areas of the country, up to 60% of the municipal water is used for lawn watering!
While a nice yard is pretty to look at, my thoughts are: Why not raise food on at least part of that land? But, I’ve been told that in some areas there are Homeowners Associations that frown on gardens in yards because they look tacky!
OK, well maybe there is a way around that little problem by growing your salad in the flower bed. This idea is for those of you who like fresh lettuce, a tomato or two, and a few cucumbers and radishes for munching, but don’t have the time or enjoy laboring for hours over a big garden.
You simply plant a few radish seeds in among the petunias. The garden produce will be eaten long before the plants spread to cover the bed completely anyway. A tomato plant or two at the back of the marigold or zinnia patch will give you all the tomatoes you want to eat fresh and some to share with friends and coworkers, or even to freeze if that’s your choice.
A cucumber vine twined in among the morning glories on the trellis won’t be really noticeable and the cucumbers fresh from the vine are wonderful (my kids ate them peel and all right in the garden). Pepper plants are beautiful to grow and since they now have peppers in many colors besides the green ones; they are great to have for snacks and in salads.
Lettuce plants can grow among the flowers adding a touch of green color and can be harvested as they reach ‘eating size’. They taste so much better than the store variety that has been in storage for a couple of weeks or longer.
Most of the ‘older generation’ that taught me about gardening always had a row or two of flowers in their gardens ‘just for pretty’, and the flowers attracted the bees that pollinate the garden plants.
When you are thinking about landscaping your yard and adding trees, why not plant apple, peach or pear trees? Depending on your part of the country and climate, you may even be able to grow nut trees as well. We get to -30° here at times and the only ‘food trees’ I’ve been able to grow are apple trees.
If you need to plant some kind of a hedge between you and the neighbors, consider fruit bushes. Garden catalogs are packed with all sorts of berry bushes from blueberries to Nanking cherries and many other types. (I did get one of the cherry bushes to grow and we have enjoyed the fruit for many years, and, the birds like them as well.
Salad in a flower bed: Just a thought from this old country gal!
Till next time,
Paula Vogelgesang, the author of the monthly column "Pennywise", is a monthly contributor to the Farm And Livestock Directory. Email her at [email protected]. Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.