A lush garden filled with beautiful plants is really a feast for the eyes – and when those plants are edible, it’s a feast for your belly, too!
People have been growing edible plants since the dawn of time, but over time, society has kind of drifted away from growing their own food, thanks, in large, to the shift in mass-produced food. However, in recent years, many people are turning back to their roots and have taken a serious interest in planting edible gardens again; in fact, it’s become homegrown food has become so widely popular again that the process of growing edible plants has been given a trendy name: “foodscaping”!
It’s really quite clever, actually, as it perfectly describes exactly what it is – landscaping that is centered on plants that aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, but that are edible, too!
If you are interested in starting your own foodscape and you’re just starting to gather information, you’ve come to the right place! Doing your due diligence and researching before you just grab a bunch of seeds, toss them into the ground, and hope for the best, is certainly wise. In this guide, you’ll find an overview of some of the best plants for foodscaping; that is, plants that are aesthetically pleasing, delicious, and nutritious!
What is Foodscaping?
The term “foodscaping” or “Edible Landscaping” is just what it sounds like: incorporating edible plants into your landscaping. However, unlike a traditional fruit and veggie gardens, foodscaping combines both ornamental and edible plants into one space, such as a flower bed or a raised garden.
Just like traditional landscaping, there aren’t any limitations when it comes to foodscaping. You can grow gardens in an shape, size, and style, and you can incorporate any and all types of plants that you see fit, so long as you’re combining both edible and ornamental plants in the space. You don’t need a lot of room to grow a fabulous foodscape, either, and you don’t need to start a new garden bed (unless, of course, you want to); you can simply transform your existing gardens into foodscapes.
What are the Benefits of Foodscaping?
So, what are the benefits of foodscaping? We’re glad you asked! There are actually several benefits, and here are just a few:
- Growing your own food is truly rewarding. There’s nothing better than going out to your garden, grabbing a few fruits, veggies, and herbs, and enjoying their delightful taste and wholesome goodness; and the best part is, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you grew that deliciousness!
- In a world where things are so crazy and times are so uncertain (if you’ve been paying attention even just a little, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard about the impending food shortages that have been predicted around the world), knowing that you will have easy access to food that can feed yourself and your family is very reassuring.
- Homegrown food is a whole lot healthier than store-bought. Mass-produced, processed foods are loaded with dye, chemicals, allergens, and ingredients that you can’t pronounce (just look at the back of the box!). Even if you stick to the organic food section, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. What, with Big Ag (agriculture) producing genetically-modified foods that are treated with toxic pesticides and fertilizers (glyphosate, anyone?), eating store-bought food can be pretty disconcerting. When you grow your edible plants, you’ll have peace of mind knowing exactly where your food came from, how it was grown, how it was harvested, and how it was prepared. Nothing is more important than your health, and good health starts with what you eat.
- It’s more cost-effective. There’s no doubt you’ve noticed that the price of food is increasing at a rapid rate. Each time you go to the grocery store, your bill is bigger and bigger, even though you aren’t buying any more or anything out of the ordinary; in fact, you may be getting less than you normally do! Growing your own food can save translate to pretty significant savings. Sure, you need to purchase the seeds and supplies, but when you compare the overall cost, it’s much more cost-effective than a trip to the food store.
- It’s just fun and exciting! Foodscaping adds unexpected interest to your gardens. Not only does it enhance your home’s curb appeal, but the addition of edible plants add an unexpected dimension that just adds to the fun and makes gardening a lot more exciting.
So, now that you know some of the benefits of foodscaping (those are just some of the advantages; there are a whole lot more!), you’re really excited and you can’t wait to get your hands into the ground – and even more, you can’t wait to sink your teeth into the delectable goodies that you’ve grown in your own garden!
Before you get started, however, here some handy tips to keep in mind that will help to make the experience more enjoyable – and more successful.
Make a Plan
First thing’s first: you need to make a plan. Take some time to do some research and to visualize your goals. Choose an area for your foodscaped garden to figure out how much space you have to work with, what you’ll be able to fit into the space, and examine what kind of lighting the space receives. It may be helpful to sketch out a draft of a garden, complete with measurements. Doing so will make it easier to visualize your foodscaped garden.
Choose Your Plants
Check out the hardiness zone in your area. Once you know that, you can then select plants to include in your garden. Don’t just choose edible plants that are visually appealing; make sure that you choose plants that you’ll actually eat! After all, that’s the entire point of growing your own edible plants!
To help you determine which plants do include into your garden, think about the foods that you eat on a regular basis. Write down a list of your favorite types of fruits, veggies, and herbs. After you’ve formulated your list, take the time to research each of the plants so that you can determine which ones will work best in your garden. Choose varieties that will thrive in your area, otherwise, your efforts will be for naught; for instance, if you love artichokes, but you live in a the Pacific Northwest, where the climate is really wet and humid, they aren’t going to thrive.
We strongly recommend getting a little adventurous. Incorporate one or two fruits or veggies that you don’t eat on a regular basis and that will thrive in your location; you might be more inclined to try those foods again – and to really enjoy them – when you’ve grown those plants yourself!
Prep Your Soil
In order to have a successful foodscape, you need to have healthy soil. Invest the time in prepping your soil to ensure that it’s healthy and ready to accept, support, and nourish your plantings. Spend some time researching the soil and nutritional requirements for the plants that you’re going to be incorporating into your garden, and make any necessary amendments (always opt for GMO-free and natural options when you’re amending your soil).
The Best Edible Plants
Now that we’ve reviewed some important tidbits of information, let’s get to the good part: a list of some of the best edible plants. While there are so many different types of fruits, veggies, and herbs that would be a wonderful addition to a foodscape, the following are just some of our favorites.
If you’re a lover of artichokes or you’ve always wanted to try them, consider incorporating them in your foodscape. Artichokes aren’t just healthful and delicious; they’re simply stunning! The grow vertically, and can reach as high as 6 feet tall! Large flower buds appear on their thick stems, and it’s these buds that you eat. The buds have large, thick leaves, and they have a purplish, greenish color. If you don’t harvest them, they’ll turn into stunning purple flowers; however, we strongly recommend picking at least some to consume!
Thyme is a versatile aromatic and flavorful herb that adds wonderful taste to so many dishes. Creeping thyme is also quite stunning, making it a great choice for your foodscape. It grows low to the ground, creating dense clumps of ground cover that produces purplish, pinkish, and whitish flowers that will completely cover the soil. Pick the leaves and dry them out to use as seasoning in your foods, or to create your own home-grown herbal tea!
Unfortunately, dandelions have been treated rather harshly, and that treatment has been really unfair – and unnecessary! These sunny yellow flowers are said to be weeds, but in reality, they’re edible and they offer a wealth of health benefits. It’s jam-packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, as well as soluble fiber, and it really can do wonders for your overall health and well-being. Plus, dandelion has a delightful taste earthy flavor; it’s delightful in a salad, it can be ground up into a pesto, or the leaves can be dried and turned into tea.
Eggplants are a delightful veggie. They’re hardy, fairly easy to grow, backed with healthy goodness, and are super delicious. Their dark purple color and unique shape will lend unique beauty to your garden, too. There are different varieties of eggplants, and they all look wonderful when paired with several different types of ornamental flowers and shrubs.
From sweet to spicy – and even four-alarm fire – there are so many different types of peppers that would make wonderful additions to your foodscape. The fruits can vary in shape, size, and color, and depend on the variety that you’re planting; some are bright red, others are sunny yellow, and there are even stunning purple and pink varieties! NuMex Centennial, Medusa, Chilly Chili, Poblano, Tangerine Dream – and of course, the good old Bell Pepper; there really is no shortage of options to choose!
If we could only use one word to describe summer squash, it would be “prolific”. While it’s true that they can take up a good bit of room, a single summer squash will provide you with a sizable harvest that will not only feed your family, but that you can share with friends and neighbors, too. The yellow and green veggies that they produce will a fresh and unique look to your garden; what’s more, they are so versatile in the kitchen and can be used in a wide array of dishes. Stuffed, baked, and even turned into noodles, there’s no doubt that you’ll love having summer squash in your garden!