Edible landscape gardens are incredibly trendy in Alberta. Whether you have a large section of unused lawn or simply a strip of space along the driveway, there are many garden design options to choose from. Edible landscaping is a great way to produce food for your family while adding bursts of colour to your landscaping. If you are new to edible gardens, here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Choosing the Spot for Your Edible Landscape Garden
If you aren’t used to vegetable gardening, it’s best to start small, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Although it’s traditional to plan your garden design in the backyard, close to the kitchen, the new themes are to plant in the front yard, focal points near your flower gardens and even along a paved driveway. It’s essential to keep in mind that all vegetables require different growing needs, but you can group vegetables with similar preferences together. If you group different vegetables together, be sure to research how much sunlight and water are needed for each type of plant. The site you choose should be level, get at least six hours of sunlight a day and either be close enough to a water faucet or where it won’t be too challenging to get watering too. A few of the unexpected places to plant your edible landscape garden may include:
- Vertical garden-If you’re short on space but have your heart set on a garden, consider using the vertical space of outside walls. For example, rosemary and other herbs can be easily planted near the wall closest to the kitchen, allowing you a never-ending supply of fragrant and flavorful rosemary and other vertical growing herbs. If you want vegetables, consider leaning a trellis against the wall to support vine plants, such as tomatoes or beans.
- Cement blocks-Line a walkway or driveway with cement blocks and plant colourful flowers, herbs and vegetables in the center of the blocks. If you do your research, you’ll be able to find a wide variety of edible plants that will grow well in small compact places, such as the inside of concrete blocks.
- Containers-Instead of throwing out those 5-gallon buckets, use them to create a fantastic container garden for your patio or deck. Planters and containers make great homes for a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, and they can be used in small spaces. Some of the best things to grow in containers include tomatoes, peppers, basil and thyme.
Edible landscaping and companion planting are perfect for Alberta gardens. There is a vast array of flowers and vegetables that work great together. For instance, marigolds are an excellent way to add a colourful source of pest control to vegetable plants, and lavender produces aromatic, pretty flowers that can be used in edible landscape gardens and companion planting. Other ways to utilize companion planting may include:
- Marjoram and peppers-Using dense ground coverings such as marjoram will be beneficial for maintaining high levels of humidity around the pepper plants and if there is a significant amount of sun in the spot where the peppers are planted, consider planting tall, leafy plants in the same area to help shade the pepper plants.
- Tomatoes and basil-Not only do these taste great together, but they also make good growing companions. Basil is a natural pest repellent, so it will help keep tomato plants pest-free, and the basil improves the flavour of the tomatoes.
- Sunflowers and beans-Tall plants, such as sunflowers and corn, are excellent sources for sprouting beans and cucumbers. Instead of using a trellis, you can place vining plants near the tall plants, and they will naturally curl around the tall plant, so you will have an attractive array of colour and save on space.
Edible Flowering Plants
One of the best things about edible flowering plants is that you can have a colourful garden of flowers, but they can also be a part of your menu. For instance, chives and rose petals are both beautiful flowering plants, both are edible, and when they are planted together, you can create a stunning garden of blooming flowers. Chives also make a great companion plant for roses, because they are pest preventatives while attracting beneficial insects, such as bees.
When planning your garden design, remember to avoid overcrowding plants. If plants are too crowded, it will lead to nutrient-deprived edibles, which in turn may significantly reduce your crop. When choosing vegetables and herbs for planting, only select those that you know your family eats. Keep in mind that starting small will allow you more opportunity to learn how to properly feed and care for the plants, so that each year upcoming, you’ll have the experience to add more and more edible plants to your landscaping.
Looking for inspiration to create your own edible garden? Click here to view our gallery of gardens and backyard layouts from our previous projects.