Thursday, February 12, 2009

USING EDIBLE PLANTS IN YOUR LANDSCAPE

The best way to have a sustainable landscape is to use both natives and edibles. Natives require little water thus significantly reducing your water bill, while edibles provide "non chemically treated" fruits and vegetables thus reducing your grocery bill. Your edibles should be planted in the landscape (mixed with the natives) and not separate from it. Make the edibles a part of the design and plant them for year round crops. For example citrus in the winter, blueberries in the spring, grapes in the summer and passion fruit in the fall. This way you have something to eat for each season thus creating a bountiful harvest year round. A great design technique is to use native shrubs and groundcovers with edible trees like avocado or varieties of citrus. You may even be able to grow some edibles in your kitchen like herbs. Below are some good edibles to grow if you live in Orange County, CA or surrounding areas.

Trees: Apricot, Bay Laurel, Citrus, Fig, Loquat, Olive and Pomegranate.
Shrubs: Artichoke, Caper, Citrus, Guava and Loquat.
Vines: Dragon fruit, Grape, Passion fruit.
You can also grow various other fruits and vegetables and herbs depending on what you desire.

Now that you have determined what you want to grow follow these tips to ensure a bountiful harvest.
  1. Do your homework - once you have decided what kind of edibles you want to plant, do your homework and determine the correct growing conditions for your edibles. Do not plant randomly. Having a design on paper will make the planting process easier and more cost effective.
  2. Use starter pots - if you are planting from a seed you may want to use a starter pot and then when the seedlings are large enough you can transplant them in the ground.
  3. Keep seeds moist - germinating seeds need constant moisture. Frequent, light gentle sprinklings are best.
  4. Feed the soil - prepare the soil by adding organic matter. A great place to get organic matter is from the compost pile. If you do not compost I bet you know someone that does.
  5. Plant in cycles - try planting a few seeds every two weeks and not all at once. This will ensure a longer crop, since the plants will mature at different times.
  6. Plant for each season - plant things that will grow at different seasons so that each season you have something to eat and share with your loved ones.

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