It's planting time and I'm always thinking ahead and looking for a new adventure. Add to that a new piece of property and the creative juices are flowing. There may be an opportunity for me to plant for future needs by creating a landscape that is not only beautiful but is full of good things to eat.
Not only are there landscape plants that can be used for food, but some garden herbs make wonderful additions to a perennial bed or landscape, and they can be as close as your front door for fresh daily harvest. Trees, shrubs and even your lawn can be sources of nutritious, good tasting food for your table.
Start with your lawn. If you don't use herbicides or live next to someone who does, whereby toxic ground water will contaminate anything close by; there are any number of salad items that you might find there. If you let sections of your lawn grow wild or limit cutting to a month or two at a time so the grass can grow longer, you will find such things as, spring violas, plantain, chickweed, dandelion greens, yellow dock. I have lovage (which is a herbal celery leaf), calendula, parsley (which I love to use as green background to make my flowers stand out), lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme mixed in with my perennials. They also serve to keep insect pests away because of their fragrance.
Foraging can be as productive as a cultivated garden, local trees, parks, fields and forests; with permission of course AND be sure that sources are at least 20 feet away from toxic roadsides or other places where chemicals and fertilizers may be used.
Then again, you can create your own forested, or low growing shrubbery that can create privacy hedges or are useful in wet areas that are not conducive to foot traffic, that provide berries, nuts, and leaves for the edible asking. Domestic fruit trees and berries like raspberries and blueberries are common; but look for the wilder things for a new adventure. Trees like linden, walnuts, mulberry and shrubs like elderberry, hawthorne, hazelnut, wild cranberry, gooseberries and numerous others, depending on your growing region. The strategy is to start with a few at a time, learning their habitat and companion plants that help shade, or nurture one another as in a forest layer.
There is even a method of landscaping small and medium parcels of land, called Permaculture, that uses buildings, animals, water sources and plants to create a total self sustaining network for year round accessibility.
Two books that are great informational sources of information are Forest Gardening, Cultivating an Edible Landscape, by Robert Hart and Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison.
Needless to say, all these great sources of food that are around us or can be brought in closer to us can be frozen, dried and cold cellared for winter keeping.
Over 40 years of Herbal and nutritional experience.