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 Garden Club of Taos

Edible Landscapes


This is a copy of the handout on edible landscaping provided by Kristen Davenport-Katz at her May 2012 presentation.


Resources/BOOKS Rosalind Creasy "Edible Landscaping" and "Edible Herb Garden"

COMPANIES: Nourse Farms, New Mexico State Forestry tree program,Tooley's Trees

10 ldeas for an Edible Landscape

1. Asparagus

The fun thing about asparagus is that it gives you food every spring and ferny foliage all summer. The short spears we buy in the grocery store are just the tops of stalks as they emerge in spring, and which eventually grow as tall as six feet; also the foliage complements flower and herb beds. But be sure to place your asparagus bed somewhere it won't block your view. Asparagus also makes lovely fall foliage, as it turns bright yellow after the first hard frost.

2. Egyptian Walking Onion

A delicious and unusual addition to any garden, and an eye-catching conversation piece, the Egyptian Walking Onion not only grows a tasty bulb in spring and early summer that has a fresh, somewhat mild flavor, it also creates little top-setting bulblets that, when planted, become next season's full green onions.

3. Fruit Bushes/Hedges

Why have a fence when you can have a fruit-bearing hedge? Any kind of bush or tree that produces fruit can be used as a border between different areas of your yard, or between yourself and the railroad tracks. Good ideas include currant or raspberry bushes, wild plums, chokecherry, elderberries, even blackberries. Use thorny varieties to keep out unwanted visitors (like neighborhood children). Nanking cherry is nice, too.

4. Greens

Every kitchen garden should include a bed for greens. They're hardy and nutritious, and there's really no comparison between grocery-store lettuce and your own sweet butterhead. Other good greens ideas are spinach, bok choy, and other Asian family greens, as well as salad celtic chickweed, mache and sorrel, a tart perennial. Chard and kale are both absolutely lovely in the landscape, and l'm a real fan of DOCK -curly dock and patience dock in particular, a perennial green and close relative to sorrel (rumex).

5. Herbs

lf you grow only one type of garden, make it an herb garden. Most herbs are perennials-you need plant them only once. They're lovely, have gorgeous flowers, and can turn a boring kitchen into an exclting one. Oregano, lovage, sage, thyme, and true French tarragon are all great ideas. Parsley is mandatory. Chervil (an annual) adds a great anise flavor to salads, as does anise hyssop. Try marjoram, hyssop, winter savory fennel, and dill, too. Don't forget medicinal herbs: Comfrey is gorgeous in the garden, and so is calendula, and chamomile reseeds itself beautifully in the Taos area. And mint? I don't even care that mint takes over - it's so good, and there are many flowering varieties your bees will love too.

6. Grapevines

Grapevines are useful in an edible landscape because they can create beautiful shade while covering ugly things.  Be sure to pick a variety hardy to your area. (Ask the seller or your county extension office.)

7. Rhubarb

This luscious plant, which strangely looks as if it belongs in the tropics, actually grows well in the high desert of New Mexico. A long-lived perennial, rhubarb is lovely to look at, even if you never put the stalks in strawberry rhubarb pie.

8. Edible Flowers

The ultimate blend of the useful and the beautiful, edible flowers can include puffy purple chive blossoms; spicy orange nasturtiums; or those incredibly cute (and sweet) little violets called Johnny Jump Ups. The sky-blue borage flower tastes a little bit like cucumber. The magnificent scarlet runner bean can create a whole hedge when it is at its summer peak-the hummingbirds love it, the flowers are delicious and in the end you've got a nice dry bean (which matures even in Taos).

9. Sunchokes

lf you want a "subsistence" crop but don't want to grow potatoes or wheat, sunchokes are a good choice. Also known as Jerusalern artichokes, these potatolike tubers are from the sunflower family, which can over winter in the ground in even the coldest climates. ln late summer, sunchoke tubers send up stalks up to eight feet high, with little sunflower-type blooms. Not unlike the New Mexico sunflower, which is commonly grown throughout the state, sunchokes can feed your whole family.

10. Roses

Yes, roses can feed you. When picking roses, though, look for varieties with big hips-the red berries that persist after the roses have dropped their petals. Rosehip jelly is some of the best stuff around, and dried rosehip tea is higher in vitamin C than citrus fruit. This beautiful plant can sustain you through the fall and winter.



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