After you have a good list of the elements your edible landscape needs and you have pieced together a solid "To Grow" list you need to evaluate what you already have in your garden. Some people might put this step first and that's OK but if you do your evaluation after you decide what you want to grow you can see more easily how to put those elements together.
List Your Edibles
Create a good list of any edibles you already have growing in the garden. Include their location, how many you have, and how productive they are. If plants are unproductive it doesn't make any sense to keep them growing in the same way. Unproductive plants should be moved or replaced. In some cases the plants may have depleted the soil they are growing in and need amended with compost or fertilizer. Sometimes plants are planted near small trees that eventually grow to be large trees and create shade. The changes in the amount of light can greatly effect a plant's growth pattern. Your list should include all of your trees, shrubs, and perennial edible plants so that you can make your plan around what you already have growing.
Evaluate Your Growing Zones
Growing zones are simply small garden spots in your landscape. The amount of sunlight can vary greatly between spots in the same garden so notate the approximate light of these growing zones. Full sun locations are great for sun loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, and beans but that doesn't mean you can't grow edibles in the shade. Many greens can be grown in the shade and their growth cycle can be continued in hot weather because of the shaded locations.
Growing Zone Evaluation
The soil in your growing zones may be vastly different which will effect what can grow where and how much you need to amend your garden. In our landscape the are near the street has extremely poor soil with a mixture of clay and gravel from construction. Our backyard is vastly different. It sits in a low area and has many years of topsoil erosion that settled there from when our property used to be grazing farmland. We can grow a lot in the backyard that doesn't work near the street.
What structures do you have already in your garden? Do you have a fence or a shed? Do you have a trellis, pergola, or arbor? All of these structures can be used to grow vine plants like beans, cucumbers, or even grapes. It would be an easy thing to attach a few wires to the posts on a privacy fence and create a trellis structure. An arbor is a beautiful structure for growing all kinds of things. If you have no structure, that is also important to note since you might want to add one later! Do you have a patio, deck, or driveway? These structures can become heat sinks to help protect more tender plants. They may allow you to cheat the USDA hardiness zones on occasion!
Evaluate your the utilities! You've probably heard this a hundred times but it's very important: know where your utility lines are! You really don't want to slice through and electrical line while double digging your vegetable garden. Electric, sewer, gas, and water lines all should be identified. You also should take note of where the septic system is if you have one.
After you have put all the hard work into evaluating you future edible landscape you can get ready to actually make that plan!
Look here to read the previous posts in this planning an edible landscape series!
Labels: edible gardening, edible landscaping