Edible Landscaping: Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet!

Americans would realize astonishing savings on their grocery bill if they set aside a small amount of land for edible landscaping instead of growing so much grass.

| December 2009/January 2010

  • Garden Harvest
    The total value of the fresh vegetables author Rosalind Creasy grew in her 100-square-foot garden in 2008 was $683.43!
    SAXON HOLT & ROSALIND CREASY
  • edible landscaping - After Garden
    In a successful test of the edible landscaping concept, the author’s 2008 garden was integrated beautifully into her yard.
    PHOTO: ROSALIND CREASY
  • Garden Supplies
    Even after factoring in the expense of some plants and fertilizer, a small garden can still save you big bucks on groceries.
    ROSALIND CREASY
  • Before Garden
    In her 2009 garden, the author grew (from left) ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes on the green trellis; two basil plants in front; ‘Raven’ zucchini with three chard plants behind it; ‘Musica’ string beans on a tipi; an arbor with ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes; two collard plants; and two ‘Blushing Beauty’ bell peppers.
    ROSALIND CREASY
  • Summer Harvest
    Luscious homegrown tomatoes, spicy basil and always-prolific zucchini were all harvested from the author’s 100-square-foot garden bed in the summer of 2008.
    ROSALIND CREASY
  • Mr. X Rooster
    The author’s pet rooster, 15-year-old Mr. X, checks out the cool veggie garden.
    ROSALIND CREASY
  • Salad Greens
    Within a month, just 18 plants yielded 230 individual servings of salad!
    ROSALIND CREASY
  • Ros Creasy
    Author Ros Creasy in her northern California trial garden in 2008.
    ROSALIND CREASY

  • Garden Harvest
  • edible landscaping - After Garden
  • Garden Supplies
  • Before Garden
  • Summer Harvest
  • Mr. X Rooster
  • Salad Greens
  • Ros Creasy

In 2007, I began to get lots of questions about growing food to help save money. Then, while working on my new book, Edible Landscaping, I had an aha! moment. As I was assembling statistics to show the wastefulness of the American obsession with turf, I wondered what the productivity of just a small part of American lawns would be if they were planted with edibles instead of grass.

I wanted to pull together some figures to share with everyone, but calls to seed companies and online searches didn’t turn up any data for home harvest amounts — only figures for commercial agriculture. From experience, I knew those commercial numbers were much too low compared with what home gardeners can get. For example, home gardeners don’t toss out misshapen cucumbers and sunburned tomatoes. They pick greens by the leaf rather than the head, and harvests aren’t limited to two or three times a season.

For years, I’ve known that my California garden produces a lot. By late summer, my kitchen table overflows with tomatoes, peppers and squash; in spring and fall, it’s broccoli, lettuces and beets. But I’d never thought to quantify it. So I decided to grow a trial garden and tally up the harvests to get a rough idea of what some popular vegetables can produce.

The Objective

I took a 5-by-20-foot section of garden bed by my tiny lawn to see how much I could grow in just that 100 square feet. I wanted to produce a lot of food, and because it was part of my edible landscape, it had to look good, too.



The Plants

I wanted to make this garden simple — something anyone in the United States could grow. I didn’t include fancy vegetable varieties; I chose those available at my local nursery as transplants. I also selected vegetables that are expensive to buy at the supermarket, as well as varieties that my experience has told me produce high yields.

The first season (spring/summer 2008), I grew the following:

Lauren Mattice
9/3/2018 8:13:38 AM

What an incredible article! I’ve been wanting to replicate this in my 25’ x 75’ garden. I’m growing heirloom varieties of sorghum, squash, cotton, greens, ground cherries EVERYTHING! You can check out my garden and weekly updates over on Youtube search: Lauren Mattice garden tour


Elvis
1/5/2018 1:40:10 PM

I have a fresh juice shop and have started a garden on my terraces I have about 1000 sq ft of space and am planning on growing upwards also.. I want to produce as much as a can for the juice shop.. I have mango, avacado and pineapple started which will take me some years still to produce.. but what I am really excited about is the stuff I can produce now. I have cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric, parsley, coriander, mint, red bell pepper, strawberrys, celery, collards, broccoli, all started so far I have been using the plastic fruit trays that my fruit supplier delivers the produce to the shop in last summer I just threw them away cause he never wanted them back and I thought there must be some use for these. So yeah the idea was born. I have a utube channel "organic roof top farming algarve if anyone want to check out the progress so far. The shop is kind of slow now all the tourists are gone so I have time to build this amazing dream and hopefully drive my profits at the juice bar right up


Elvis
1/5/2018 1:40:08 PM

I have a fresh juice shop and have started a garden on my terraces I have about 1000 sq ft of space and am planning on growing upwards also.. I want to produce as much as a can for the juice shop.. I have mango, avacado and pineapple started which will take me some years still to produce.. but what I am really excited about is the stuff I can produce now. I have cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric, parsley, coriander, mint, red bell pepper, strawberrys, celery, collards, broccoli, all started so far I have been using the plastic fruit trays that my fruit supplier delivers the produce to the shop in last summer I just threw them away cause he never wanted them back and I thought there must be some use for these. So yeah the idea was born. I have a utube channel "organic roof top farming algarve if anyone want to check out the progress so far. The shop is kind of slow now all the tourists are gone so I have time to build this amazing dream and hopefully drive my profits at the juice bar right up







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