Edible Landscaping Is Food Self-Reliance
With a sudden pandemic, supplies emptied from store shelves, and the stock market crashing to levels not seen since the eighties, you might be thinking like a prepper these days. The folks who’ve been stockpiling food, water, and ammunition could have been right to prepare. But what steps can you take to become more resilient to the ever-mutating coronavirus if you’re starting now? From an ecological perspective, edible landscaping is one of the smartest investments you can make.
It’s Spring, and despite the quarantine and isolation directive we’re all under, the birdsong stands in sharp contrast to the dire warnings of the media and government. Since we’ll all be spending more time alone, now is the right time to start or get back into gardening. Food self-reliance is a good feeling, and it could become an important way to keep your loved ones healthy during this international crisis.
Many of my clients think of gardening as occurring in raised planter beds where soil has been brought in. They don’t trust the dirt around their homes to grow anything. But the earth is ready to spring back to life with the smallest bit of nurturing. Usually, soil has been degenerated into dirt due to mismanagement. This may have been the prior caretaker or the developer who built the home. Your efforts at regenerating your landscape can repay you in abundant food you can pick from your own yard. The truth is, the land will support plants with the right restoration techniques.
Getting your soil back into a healthy state, you’ll then need to plant in it. My strategy is to cover the soil surface with desirable plants. This replaces weeds, which are really only plants that people don’t prefer. Instead of building raised planter beds, I recommend focusing on edible plantings as landscaping around your home. This
approach is a beautiful way to maximize food production for you and your family. Instead of having to drive to the grocery store, hope they have what you’d like to eat, wait in line, and risk exposure to the virus, you could walk outside and pick food for dinner from your own yard.
Depending on where you live, you can grow a variety of trees, shrubs, perennial flowering plants, ground covers, and vines that produce edible fruits, seeds, leaves, nuts, and/or flowers. Not only is the food you grow at home untainted by agriculture chemicals, but it tastes incredible. Many of the foods we find in stores is actually harvested in a green state and “ripened” on a truck in transit. The taste reveals this more often than I would like. The nutrients in food are lost in such handling and storage, too.
I recently created an outdoor kitchen in Redondo Beach, and as a backdrop I trellised Chilean Bellflower, Madagascar Jasmine, and Maypop with Spearmint as a ground cover in a bounded, narrow bed behind the work area. This allowed my client to make fresh Mojitos to serve to guests while the grill did its thing.
Nearby, I planted three Kumquat trees and a row of Blueberry bushes in a swale. This is an example of the wonderful functionality you can get out of a well-planned and executed landscape. Not only can clients who work with me harvest a diversity of edible plants from their yards, but I create outdoor living spaces that foster fun experiences as well.
To survive during scary times like this is one thing, but to thrive expands the possibilities using the permaculture principles to deliver abundance no matter what is happening in the world.