Frances Wright once said “The knowledge of one generation is the ignorance of the next.” This quote greatly applies to gardening also. The trend of vegetable gardening that began with the older generation got lost somewhere with the coming of elite gardening ideas like kitchen gardens, terrace gardens, balcony gardens and much more. Although a lot of landscape architects have now started realizing the importance of foodscaping or edible landscape. The best part about it is that anyone can grow food without having to tear out the lawn or have a big backyard garden to do it. The edible plants do not always have to be grown in the kitchen only; a landscape garden can be a pretty great planting area too and also you can grow food in your balcony by creating balcony kitchen garden. Balcony kitchen garden saves your money and makes you healthier and happy.
Foodscaping is the hottest trend right now as it not only focuses on farming but landscaping too. Often, it’s called a hybrid of these two where conventional ornamental plants take a backseat for being the most important garden feature. Diane Blazek, an executive director of All-America Selections which field tests plants for garden performance states that we don’t need a lot of space for edible landscaping because plant breeders have developed more compact edibles that can thrive in small spaces and containers without sacrificing taste and yield. This is great news for those who are looking for vegetable gardening ideas so they can spice up theirBalcony gardens. Some of these ideas include:
- Use leafy vegetable seeds– it’s better to sow leafy vegetable seeds as they grow faster instead of using a lawn or a ground cover. For instance, seeds of mustard and fenugreek can be used.
- Plant flowering vegetables– these kind of flowering vegetables can be planted in bunches for a beautiful landscape design. For instance, blooming groups of okra, maize and sugarcane can be used.
- Cruciferous plants– these cruciferous head forming plants can be planted in an open landscape, containers or ornamental pots. For instance, cabbage and cauliflowers can add a beautiful colour to your foodscape.
- Medicinal plants– such plants deserve their own garden patch as they are the most useful plants a person can grow. For instance, tulsi, aloe-vera, lemongrass and asparagus can be grown which not only will act as a medical aid but will also add to the attractiveness.
- Growing herbs– where there are medicinal plants there will always be herbs. Herbs can be used for garnishing, for their aroma and even for their attractiveness. For instance, thyme, basil, rosemary, fennel and chives can be grown.
- Use local materials– locally available material such as wooden chips, sand stones, river rocks and much more can be used for the decoration of your edible landscape and would also somewhere benefit the local markets.
Anne Marie O’ Phelan reinforced the practice of edible landscaping by stating “instead of just planting shrubs, trees, vines, grasses and ground covers, foodscaping involves adding edible plants that add interest, colour, texture and, of course, taste.” What could be better than mixing up of beauty and utility? Our grandparents weren’t wrong to tuck a tomato plant or a row of beans whenever they could because they knew it wasn’t enough to be “just pretty” from outside. The end goal might be to make your garden look aesthetically pleasing but that in no way should defeat the importance of growing useful plants like:
- Peppers- these are a good choice for those who are always short on space. They can easily grow even in the containers and requires consistent yet moderate watering all throughout the season. Some of the peppers that anyone can opt for are bright-orange red peppers called Tangerine Dream, a sweet-tasting pepper called Mad Hatter and lastly a sweet Italian frying pepper with a yellow fruit called Cornito Giallo.
- Eggplant– newer varieties of eggplant lack thorns and are of compact size so they can fit in containers too. This makes them easier to harvest but make sure to wait until the temperature is really high before you plant them. Some of the eggplants to opt for are Fairytale- a compact plant that yields tender eggplants, Patio Baby- a compact plant that yields purple-black fruit and Rosa Bianca- an Italian variety that grows best in warm climate.
- Berries– these are pricey fruits and are not available in the market for too long. Hence, they are best to grow yourself. Moreover, berry bushes are great for border planting and barrier hedge. They are of compact shape and can also be grown in decorative plants. Some berries to opt for are dwarf, thorn-less blackberries called Baby Cakes, thorn less raspberry called Raspberry Shortcake and Delizz Strawberry that produce super sweet berries all season long.
- Beans- it’s advisable to sow them right into the planting beds or containers as they can make the most beautiful vertical accents in your garden. Beans are the most prolific veggies to grow and can be trained up a decorative trellis or tower. Some varieties of beans to opt for are Mascotte- a compact bush bean that grows well in containers and Scarlet Runner- a bean variety with gorgeous red flowers.
- Tomatoes– nothing compares to eating a warm tangy tomato on a summer afternoon. There are varying kinds of tomatoes to grow that can suit your taste buds. However, it’s important to make sure that you place them at a distance as the mature tomato vines can become huge. One can opt for growing Patio Choice- yellow coloured cherry type tomatoes and Cherokee Purple which is rich, sweet tasting tomato.
A lot of times, people behave stereotypically when it comes to vegetable gardens as they often believe it won’t look pretty enough or would be too time consuming. Nevertheless, this complaint seems worthless because foodscaping in other terms means using your yard’s space to its full potential. You can’t ever go wrong when it comes to raising something fresh and healthy even if it doesn’t always look “beautiful”. Brie Arthur, a gardening author and consultant sums it up by saying “Don’t just think about growing plants in a box in the backyard. Grow in a way that introduces more biological diversity. Plant and then stand back and let it grow.”