Edible Landscaping book recommendations?
I have for the first time an opportunity to grow a garden. The space available is our front yard so I would feel odd having a typical row garden there. I would love to try edible landscaping to get the best of both worlds gardenwise. My library does not have any books on the subject so no help there. Since I have a small budget I'll likely only be able to purchase one reference. What would be your best recommendation for edible landscaping either in zone 7/6b or just in general?
I recommend alpine strawberries if your space is limited. They don't throw runners so they won't take over, come in red and white varieties, and make a great ground cover. Figs are a great landscape plant for your area and will take severe prunings to keep them in bounds. Violetta artichokes will also grow in your zone (we're growing them in 6b). They're perennial with a 4-6 year life span. Start from seed in January and transplant out after the frost. You may not get chokes the first year but you will the second. They grow about 4 ' tall and 3' around.
Your library should be able to get many of the books recommended here for you through interlibrary loan. Order up a few to check out before making your purchase(s).
Great Garden Companions is not specifically an edible landscape book, but she does talk a lot about combinding flowers with veggies. I think there's also a plan for a front-yard salad garden in there:
2nd the rec for beans frown on a trellis or teepee. Look for "runner beans" that have showy flowers and tasty beans, too.
I have a few blueberry bushes and they are lovely, not just for the fruit. The foliage turns a vibrant red in the fall. They need acidic soil so if yours is not, incorporate a lot of peat moss when you plant them and (ideally) mulch them with pine needles. Their roots are shollow so they do like mulch; try to put them in a moister area of the garden so they don't dry out.
I was actually thinking of doing blueberry bushes, but I have conflicting reports about how moist they want it. We have an area of the yard that occasionally gets a bit squishy under heavy rainfall because it is slightly lower, would they work there you think or is that to wet?
And a front-yard salad garden is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. I'll have to check that out. I'm very visual so ideally any book I'd get would have a lot of picture suggestions of various layouts so that I can piece them together into what I want.
Re: squishiness, I think it depends on how long it stays that way - you don't want the plants to "drown." So if it stays squishy for more than a day, i'd guess, you could get around the problem by adding a little topsoil to mound up the area before you plant the bushes. I remember reading somewhere that blueberry's roots only grow in the top few inches of soil. I also remember that you're supposed to keep the area around the bush weed-free, up to a 3-foot circle. FWIW, I didn't know about the moisture requirement when I planted mine and one of them sits up on a little rise. I just make sure to water it a few times a week during a dry spell and it's been fine (I don't bother to water deeply b/c of the shallow roots).
I was thinking about your garden some more last night - do you like eggplant? The Japanese varieties are beautiful plants, with purple-veined leaves and lovely lavendar blossoms. They'd look pretty panted with purple perilla, which is an herb that self-sows. I also had a purple variety of basil one year from a garden center - I don't remeber it's name but it had gorgeous spikes of blue flowers all summer long.
I like to grow some flowers along with the veggies but I generally stick to yellows, reds and oranges since they go well with the veggie foliage & the veggie blossoms are often yellow (or white). Nasturtiums are pretty and come ina variety of colors.
I don't know of a good reference book, but have some suggestions...
Beans and snowpeas have lovely flowers. Train them up an attractive trellis to make the most of your vertical space.
Sweet potatoes have pretty flowers that look like morning glories and attractive foliage. The ornamental sweet potato varieties are edible, but not nearly as tasty as varieties that were bred for food.
There are all kinds of greens that will do well in landscaping. Lots of beautiful varieites of kale; ornamental varities are edible. Swiss chard "bright lights" is gorgeous with red, orange, and yellow foliage, very easy to grow, very tasty. Beet greens and lettuces can be very attractive.
Herbs are fantastic in an edible landscape. Just to name a few, chives can be used for a grassy border and have beautiful blooms, and you can get basil in different foliage colors like bronze and black, dill and fennel have pretty wispy foliage and attract butterflies. All sorts of choices with herbs.
Whatever you grow, you can increase the aesthetic of the garden with layout and set-up. You don't have to do rows, plants can be arranged in a circular or cross pattern (think knot garden). Border your beds with some attractive rock, choose trellises or support systems for the vines for how they look instead of just functionality.