Growing up on a farm just outside Kansas City, MO, I have had some experience with gardening. I have raised hundreds of tomato plants, acres of sweet corn and just about anything you can think of in the sprawling acreage I grew up on.
Edible Landscaping in Suburbia
When my daughter was born, my wife wanted to move to town to get into a better school district. We did. It has been my suburban experience combined with my landscaping and farming experience that has raised my interest edible landscaping. I have successfully raised okra, tomatoes, corn, onion, herbs, beans and more in just a few hundred square feet in my back yard.
As time has passed; our food supply has changed and the economy has weakened, my opinion on backyard farming or edible landscaping has changed. Rather than a hobby, I now believe that everyone should learn how to grow vegetables in their backyard.
Self sufficiency is more important than ever. You can be successful raising a backyard garden, Everyone should know how to feed themselves. Here is an example of what can be done:
I kept it simple, choosing vegetables that I could buy as transplants at my local nursery; those that in my experience are either super productive or the vegetables themselves are expensive to buy:
- 2 tomato plants (‘Better Boy’ and ‘Early Girl)
- 6 bell peppers (2 ‘California Wonder’, 2 ‘Golden Bell’, 1 ‘Orange Bell’, and 1 ‘Big Red Beauty’)
- 4 zucchini (2 green ‘Raven’ and 2 ‘Golden Dawn’) – started from seeds
- 4 sweet basils
- 18 lettuce plants (6 ‘Crisp Mint’ romaine, 6 ‘Winter Density’ romaine, and 6 ‘Sylvestra’ butterhead) – interplanted among the tomatoes and peppers
After decades of gardening I’m probably a bit blasé, but even I was amazed that it all happened so quickly—within a few weeks we were picking outer lettuce leaves—as many as we needed. Would you believe that a little over a month later, when we harvested the last of it, and got the final tally, we had grown enough for 230 individual servings of salad? And by that time the tomatoes, zucchini, and pepper plants had nearly filled the bed.
We created spreadsheets (see accompanying spreadsheet) for each type of plant and recorded each time we harvested—the amount (pounds and ounces, as well as number of fruits [for each cultivar of tomato, zucchini, and peppers] or handsful [for lettuces and basil]). Everyone pitched in, noting their harvests in a three-ring binder—neighbors, friends, and my crew. From April to September, this little organic garden yielded:
Tomatoes 77.5 pounds
Ripe bell peppers 15.5 pounds
Lettuce 14.3 pounds
Basil 2.5 pounds
Zucchini 126 pounds
After reviewing this site, I find it to be a good starting point for a beginner. In a world of GMO food and GMO seed, now is the time to start planning for your edible landscape. Good luck and have fun.
All the best,