Yes, it might be the middle of winter in some places, but maybe you feel it – it’s creeping, creeping every so slowly toward spring. This is the time when minds turn to gardening, and when homesteaders’ minds turn to making the garden useful. Why grow grass when you can grow plants that could feed your family?
However, if you’re homesteading in the suburbs or in an urban area, growing food in your front garden can be a tough balance. Can your neighbors handle seeing sheet mulch in the front yard? You can certainly try to bring them on board, but if that doesn’t work, it is perfectly fine to be sneaky as well. Your landscaping can be both beautiful and edible, and no one needs to know that what looks like a pretty shrub is actually fodder for your next salad.
Last year, Grandma Prepares created a great list of berries and flowers that you can eat, including hibiscus, violets, currants, and blueberries. This post extends this list to include greens as well. How can you hide greens in the garden?
The Deck Planter or Hanging Basket
If you’re adding spring color to the garden, the deck planter often looks like a little decorative planter or a hanging basket. This is the perfect place to hide some delicious greens and some flowers as well! Try to grow plants that are edible so that you don’t accidentally mix up the leaves of edible and inedible plants. Grow the delicious flowers of nasturtiums, calendula, violets, and pansies, then tuck in a small lettuce or mizuna plant into the mix as background as well. The more decorative the leaves, the less people will know it’s edible. As with all hanging baskets or small planters, make sure that you water it well, and use your flowers to provide the greens with a little shade – they wilt in the heat.
If you’re going the planter route, creating a planter full of small herbs is lovely. However, if you’d like decorative shrubbery, larger herbs are also an option.
- Depending on your climate, you may be able to grow rosemary over the winter – a fragrant and beautiful shrub.
- Thyme makes an excellent groundcover, although you probably want to avoid eating the parts that you use as a pathway.
- The bay laurel is a source of bay leaf seasoning for soups.
- Plants like lemon balm, mint and fennel are pretty and fragrant and are lovely mid-size plants to place into the landscaping. Just plant the mint in a pot under the ground so you don’t see it all over the yard!
Eat Your Lawn
If you do have a small lawn and there are places that you don’t stand on much, you might have the perfect place for cultivating a few edible weeds. Dandelion leaves are edible and are particularly tender in the spring time. Plantain (Plantago major) is a relatively common lawn weed that’s great for squishing and putting on wounds, and it’s edible as well. The young leaves of clover and sorrel are also edible. In fact, a lawn full of weeds is quite a good source of food!
Garden or Lawn: Decorative yet Edible Shrubbery!
Creating a lawn-garden full of tasty and decorative shrubbery is not all that difficult. Many traditional garden plants like pansies are actually edible, and even some weeds are nutritious. As with any edible plant, make sure you identify the plant correctly before eating it and teach your children what plants are good to eat. If you do that, you might happen upon them munching on dandelion flowers or greens one day – yum!