How to Grow an Edible Landscape

Do you think you just don’t have the space or time for a vegetable garden? Is the idea of vegetables in neatly spaced rows the only way you can imagine growing them? Think again.

There are vegetables that are so beautiful that they are right at home in any garden bed. Some kinds of flowers taste marvelous in a salad or served up with melted butter along with the vegetables. Grow a cucumber vine on that arbor for the delicate yellow flowers, interesting tendrils and of course cucumbers for your salad. A row of raspberry or blueberry bushes can make a lovely, and tasty hedge. A vegetable garden does not need to be hidden in the back yard. Plant these lovely edible plants in plain sight and create an edible landscape.

6 Plants for a great edible landscape

Rhubarb makes an outstanding plant for low maintenance borders and herb gardens as well as a dramatic landscape element planted singly or in groups. Choose a brightly colored variety that grows well in your part of the country. Both red and green stalk varieties are available but the red plants will be much more attractive in your beds. Rhubarb grows best in cool climates, in the cold winter regions of the country. Full sun is best, although in the warmer parts of it’s range it will benefit by partial shade in the afternoon. Be sure to mulch well to keep the soil as cool and moist as possible.

Learn more about Growing Rhubarb

Chives, with their spiky grass like foliage arrive early in the spring. The hollow stems can be snipped to use in salads, dressings, sprinkled on top of soups and of course on a sour cream topped baked potato for extra color and flavor. But the show really starts when the chive flowers emerge. Soft lavender spheres atop slender green stems are just lovely. Use the flowers to flavor vinegar and in fresh salads. Chives will reseed itself readily in most loamy garden soil.

Sage is a tough garden herb that thrives in dry conditions and poor soil. It can sprawl over stone walls and makes beautiful mounds of gray green foliage in the landscape. In the early summer you will be rewarded with sprays of purple flowers that last for weeks. Great as a single specimen or planted as an edible border or to cover a difficult bank, sage is a top choice. It will need some water in extremely dry conditions and can reseed and spread if conditions are favorable. Use in poultry stuffings and sausage.

Thyme is another great edible landscape herb. Plant creeping thyme between stepping stones to release it’s pleasant scent when stepped on. It grows well along the dry edges of driveways and paths. Lemon thyme is another great variety that can add interest to your landscaping beds. Consider incorporating other herbs in your flower beds as well.

Chard is another colorful multi use plant. It looks great in beds with it’s rainbow hued stems and richly veined leaves. Plant a seed mix that included red, orange and yellow stemmed varieties. Use chard in soups, stews and casseroles. It can be used in the early spring as a spinach substitute for great flavor and added nutrition.

Huge heads of red cabbage surrounded by pads of large flat leaves are dramatic and beautiful. The related kale plants come in fantastic color combinations and leaf types. Suitable for cooler temperatures, try growing these members of the cabbage family in the early spring or set out in the fall for winter interest.

Even common garden plants can be interesting and lovely in your edible landscape. A huge pot of cherry tomatoes near the front door will catch everyone’s eye, and you will surprise your guests with a mouthful of sun warmed sweet tomatoes almost every time! Colorful hot peppers mixed with your bedding plants, glistening purple eggplants and a sweet potato vine ground cover are additional ideas for a landscape that does double duty.

Spicy nasturtiums and dainty violets can be used in salads. Day lily buds can be served just like green beans. Roses and the rose hips that form on the plants after the flowers fall are high in vitamin C!

An edible landscape is a great way to supplement your grocery bill with delicious and nutritious home grown produce.