May 212013
 
Edible landscaping

by Avis Licht

Bamboo poles for climbing plants

For a front yard, make sure your structures are ornamental as well as useful.

 

Edible landscaping has become more popular than I ever thought it would or could. Every day we hear about some new project in cities all over the world. We’re seeing gardens that are both beautiful and have delicious, healthy produce. I mean, it only makes sense.

In Marin County the municipal water district has been encouraging people to conserve water by planting low water use plants as well as food gardens.  In May they have a tour of the best gardens that use principals that they call “Bay Friendly”:  organic, drought resistant, permeable surfaces, habitat friendly for beneficial birds and insects, and lovely to look at.

On the tour last weekend I took some photos from a few of the gardens that incorporated some good edible landscaping ideas.  See if anything inspires you for your garden. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Artichoke, plum, alstroemaria

Raised vegetable box

Raised vegetable boxes define an area and let you put good growing soil into a small area. It’s also easy to maintain.

California native plants

These California native plants look good, are low maintenance, provide flowers and habitat. They go beautifully in an edible landscape.

Native California plants

Another view of the same yard. This shows that the native plants create a small patio area and the vegetables are at the far end of the yard near the fence.

To read more about designing your edible landscape, read this post. 

 

Be sure to leave a comment or shoot me a question by going to the Ask Avis page.

Container Gardening

This suburban backyard is all raised beds and container plantings. Easy to maintain and very productive.

Chicken coop

This tiny chicken coop in an unused side yard provides fresh eggs for the owners.

Fruit trees in containers

I’ve never seen this many fruit trees in containers. Lots of varieties but also a smaller harvest from the containers. When growing in pots, be sure to give plenty of water and nutrients. It is easier to find the right growing conditions when you can move the pots to the right micro climate. Since they will be dwarf simply by being in pots you can grow more trees in a smaller area.

 

To find out more about growing in containers read my post on self watering planters.

Cauliflower

This huge cauliflower was in a raised planter. You can get huge results when you have the best soil and perfect growing conditions.

 

 

tower of strawberries

This tower of strawberry pots is fun to look at and certainly easier to harvest the strawberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To find out more about growing strawberries read this post.

 

 

 

 

 

Back yard garden

Path, flowers and bird bath highlight the backyard garden. This yard has many fruits and vegetables, yet is entirely enchanting. At least I think so.

 

 

 

 

The Entry Patio

Entering the garden, you are led by a curving path, under fruit trees, by flowers, herbs and native plants.

Vegetable Garden

I love that this vegetable garden looks like a garden garden. It’s not just utilitarian.

 

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May 032013
 
lettuce

Mixed lettuce varieties

by Avis Licht

I’m starting a new feature on my blog as a result of popular demand. Whatever your reason, it’s going to be easy to send me your gardening questions and get a quick answer.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll direct you to a good source.

ASK TODAY!

Honey bee in borage

Honey bee in the borage.

Here’s chance for all of you far flung fans to ask me questions about gardening. No question is too simple. Gardening is a wonderful, yet perplexing activity.  Why something works once and then the next time it’s a total bust can be frustrating.

Nature will have her way, but there are methods that work to ensure  success in the garden.  After 40 years with my hands in the dirt, I’ve probably made as many mistakes as you could imagine, but trust me, I haven’t given up yet.  And you can be the beneficiary of my experience.

Ask a question in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you pronto.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours in the joy of gardening,

Avis

I love answering your questions, and you can help me to keep doing it when you buy your tools, books and garden stuff through my site. Thanks! Great Gardening Tools

May 162012
 
edible landscape
edible landscape

A peek at the edible front yard

by Avis Licht – Saturday, May 19th, 2012 is a day to tour beautiful Bay friendly Gardens in Marin County, California. The host gardens represent diverse microclimates and demonstrate the many different styles of Bay-Friendly gardens. You will find urban homesteads with orchards, chickens and bees, greywater installations and drought tolerant replacements for water thirsty lawns. Touring existing gardens is a great way to get new ideas for your own garden.

I’ll be giving a talk on Edible Landscaping Made Easy at 11 am in Larkspur at one of the gardens we’ve transformed from ornamental to beautifully edible. I’ll talk about design ideas, existing conditions, setting priorities and answering questions.

If you’re in the area be sure to come by. The garden tour is $10 for all the gardens.  To find out more visit http://bayfriendlycoalition.org/GardenTour.shtml.

 

Just getting started on the spring garden

Set out beds and paths and start planting!

 

edible landscape

A small front yard turning into and edible landscape

Dec 222011
 
winter savory - Satureja montana

winter savory - Satureja montana

Introduction:

As the title of my blog suggests, I like to do things the easy way whenever possible. Winter Savory is one of those herbs that rank right up there in the easy column. It grows with little care, has no pests, requires little fertilizer or water – what more could you ask of a plant? Winter savory is a perennial herb that grows in all zones.   It has a tangy flavor similar to thyme but is a gentle herb when used in cooking.

Climate:

As far as I can tell, Winter Savory is hardy to -20 deg F.  That’s pretty darn cold.  It comes from the temperate regions of the Mediterranean, but survives in much colder climes. Since it is a perennial it will die back in the winter to the ground. So I’m  not sure why they call it winter savory, since it doesn’t have any green leaves in winter.  Oh well.

Care:

Like other Mediterranean herbs it likes a simple, well drained soil.  Remember, not too rich – no manure or heavy fertilizer. It makes the plant lose it’s aromatic oils which produce the flavor and qualities of the herb. It is a very drought tolerant plant.  I’ve put in places where it got almost no water and it thrived.  I’ve also put it in areas with regular water and it did fine there as well.  Don’t over water, or let it sit in damp places.

In winter I cut it back to the ground.  In  very cold climates you should wait until spring to cut back the plant.  The dead growth on top will help protect the plant.

Winter savory in winter

The top of the plant dies back in winter

Winter savory cut back to the ground

Cut all the dead growth down to the ground

Close up of new growth at the base of the plant

These new shoots will overwinter and begin to grow in Spring

Harvesting and Uses:

You can harvest the leaves and the flowers from this plant. Use the leaves fresh in savory dishes like chicken, fish and pork.  It is renowned for it’s work with beans (by this I mean reducing the flatulental qualities).

You can also make a gentle tea from the leaves which some say helps with sore throats. It couldn’t hurt.

In the edible landscape I use winter savory as an edging plant along paths.  I have a lot of rocks in my garden, that I use to edge paths.  I plant the savory next to the rocks and they do a lovely job of edging and growing over the rocks.

Books About Herbs:

Encyclopedia of herbsRodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs is an excellent source of information on herbs.

 

 

 

 

Sunset Western Garden book of EdiblesSunset Western Garden book of Edibles has a very detailed section on growing common herbs.

 

 

Oct 062011
 

The Edible Landscape

Edible landscaping is the type of garden design I’ve been doing for 35 years.   With landscaping ideas based on the principals of organic, sustainable and beautiful, I will pass on my hard earned lessons to those who are ready for the edible journey. Scroll down the page for all the entries, or go to Click on a topic on the right and choose a category to read. I write about landscape design, ornamental and edible plants, tools, gardening books, critter control and more.

To get an update when I write a new post be sure to subscribe by filling in the subscription widget in the right hand column.

Be sure to comment and ask questions.  I’ll be glad to get back to you.

Yours in the joy of gardening,

Avis

Aug 292011
 

What are your favorite gardening books? Inspirational,  How- to or Reference? I’ve got books in each category that I consider top of the line.

Reference Books and How-to:

Informational and interesting book on edible landscaping

Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally by Robert Kourik was first written in 1986 and is still absolutely essential for anyone wanting to have an edible landscape at home. Robert has done his homework and you will find everything from designing parameters to edible plants, planting zones and organic solutions in his book.  I’ve been using it myself for 25 years. This book is neither out of date nor out of print. Get it today!

 

 

Sunset Western Garden Book by the Editors of Sunset books and Sunset Magazine, is the must have reference books for plants and plant selection for the Western United States. It has climate zones, plants selection by theme, and difficult landscaping situations, a western plant encyclopedia and a resource directory. I really couldn’t live without it.

The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy, first written in 1982 and updated in 2010 is also full of excellent information.

Inspirational

Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi.  First published  in 1981, this masterpiece has now been updated as part of the Modern Library Gardening Series. Perényi’s lively and engaging essays address topics of infinite interest to gardeners (azaleas, onions, mulch, and pests among them) and offer a timeless glimpse of the exhilarating, opinionated world of gardening.  I really love this book.

Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, by Wendy Johnson. For more than thirty years, Wendy Johnson has been gardening and meditating at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in northern California. She has a wealth of practical and thoughtful information on gardening, both the garden in the soil and the garden of the soul. This book is destined to be a classic in the tradition of nature writing. She is a wonderful evocative writer, and has no lack of humor.

 

 

Aug 262011
 

Nasturtiums cascading over wall (click to enlarge)

There are some beautiful, easy to grow and fun to use herbs for the edible landscape. In the photo above, you see the Nasturtium (Traepolum sp.) hanging over a concrete retaining wall. This is one of the multi- purpose edibles that everyone should know about.  It is pretty, it grows easily and different part of the plant can be used. Leaves of nasturtiums are tangy and great in salads. The flowers have a spicy flavor and you can use them to decorate many dishes and also eat them. In mild climates they last through the winter, and in cold climates you should treat them as an annual.

Close up of Nasturtiums

Mixed herbs in the landcape

In the photo above, you will find thyme, sage, basil, both green and purple, parsley and tarragon. You should place these herbs close to the house where you can come out of the kitchen while you’re cooking and harvest them right as you need them. Fresh herbs are SO much better than dried herbs.

They make a nice edging along the deck and are easy to reach.

Purple and Green Basil

This is a close up of purple Basil.  It has a dramatic color in the leaf, but tastes the same as traditional Basil.  Green Basil can be seen in the background starting to flower.  Like Nasturtiums, Basil does not overwinter in cold climates. If you plant enough, you can make a great Pesto sauce and freeze it for a wonderful winter Pasta dinner.

Follow this simple recipe: so easy and so good!

1/3 cup basil leaves, chopped

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated

3 tablespoons walnuts, chopped

1 clove garlic, sliced

Salt

Put the basil in the blender with the olive oil, cheese, walnuts, and garlic.  Blend until smooth: then season with salt.

This pesto can also be used to garnish pizza, soups or vegetable dishes.

More great herbs to follow,  check back soon.

 

Jul 122011
 
mulched garden

 

The Edible Backyard

The Edible Landscape

Edible landscaping is the type of garden design I’ve been doing for 35 years.  I’ve been gardening and designing gardens for all those years.  And boy do I have stories.  With landscaping ideas based on the principals of organic, sustainable and beautiful, I will pass on my hard earned lessons to those who are ready for the edible journey.

I will share garden tips, favorite plants, and how to easily and simply design and implement your own bountiful garden.

Some of you may be wondering “What in the world IS edible landscaping?” It is combining the best of both worlds of gardening and landscape design.  It is a way for you to get deep satisfaction out of growing healthy, tasty foods for you and your family AND make your yard look beautiful.

Bright and Beautiful- the Sunflower

I take the elements of good landscape design and infiltrate them with plants that we can harvest year round. The trick is putting the right plant in the right place.  Of course, we know that not all plants are created equal and some are more beautiful than others and some are just too darn good not to plant.  I will teach you how to skillfully incorporate those plants that look good with those that provide great food, but are too homely to be seen front and center.

A healthy plant is a beautiful plant.  We’ll be talking about how to keep all your plants healthy and productive, using simple organic methods.  But it’s still good to remember to always plant a little extra for the birds and others that come to the table to taste.

Who can resist a ripe strawberry?

What I will do with this blog is set out in a straight forward and simple way, how to help you move forward with your plans to turn your own yard into a beautiful and productive paradise.

 

 

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