Add edible plants to landscape

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By Dennis Morgeson



A nice landscape of a few trees and shrubs, some flowers and well-tended turf has value. Our landscapes help define our outdoor living space, provide shade and help screen unwanted views.
A well-maintained landscape may add as much as 5 to 10 percent to the value of our property.
But landscapes can provide another resource that we don’t often consider--food. What if it were possible to introduce edible plants to your landscape?
Growing your own food has some obvious benefits such as fresh and flavorful fruits and vegetables. Many food-producing plants can fill the roles that we usually assign to other plants in our landscape.  
Trellised blackberries, for example, make a great hedge or screen.  Using thorny types can also provide some measure of security. Many retain some of their leaves throughout the winter to provide some screening.  
Trellising the blackberries will help define the planting and promote more upright growth. The time needed to prune and thin blackberries is comparable to many other hedge-type plantings. Also, blackberries have relatively few problem insects or diseases.
In flower beds, you can plant fancy-leafed lettuce in early spring. Lettuce is finished by mid-May, just around the time you are adding annual flowers.
In summer, try a few rainbow chard plants, colored peppers and purple or variegated basil. All are relatively pest free and are a good contrast to flowering annuals and perennials.
Also, consider containers.  Cherry tomatoes grow well in hanging baskets where vines are allowed to droop over the edge of the pot.  Several herbs are well suited to containers and provide savory flavoring for your salads and meals.
The next time you are looking to add plants to your landscape, don’t overlook herbs and food producing plants. Some may provide what you need and more.
Since we are on the subject of edible landscapes let me take a moment to remind you that registration for the Gardener’s Wheelbarrow Series is ongoing and the August class topic is about introducing edible plants into your landscape!  For more information on the Wheelbarrow Series call the Washington County Extension Service at (859) 336-7741, visit our website at http://ces.ca.uky.edu/washington-files/wheelbarrow_series_2011.pdf , or visit us on Facebook under Washington County Horticulture.  If you visit us on facebook be sure to hit the like button and all of our information will automatically post to your facebook when we make updates and send reminders!
Happy gardening!