Edible Landscaping

More than a mere article, this is a mini-manual that carefully lays out the functional and aesthetic factors contributing to successful edible landscaping and landscape design.

| May/June 1985

It started innocuously enough, when a small promotional brochure announcing something called Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape — Naturally quietly wormed its way, through mounds of unread material, to the top of an unorganized staffer's desk. "Gee," that unsuspecting staffer said, "somebody's doing a book on edible landscaping. I think I'll drop this Robert Kourik a line, just to see if he knows what he's talking about."

We soon received reams of computer-printed manuscript and learned that Mr. Kourik was taking two years off from his regular job to write what could turn out to be the most comprehensive guide in existence to growing vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs for both ornamental and culinary purposes. Reading the draft quickly convinced us that Robert did know his subject, and quite well, in fact. And how did he gain such hard-to-find knowledge? Why, from seven years at that job he was taking a leave from — namely, creating professionally designed edible landscapes for homeowners!

When we finished Kourik's manuscript, we couldn't wait for him to get his book into print — we wanted to share it with you right away. So we hereby present some highlights from that not yet published volume, Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape — Naturally. If you've ever wanted some good advice on how to grow foods that are tasty and ornamental at the same time, you'll find it in the following excerpt. — ED

Why Edible Landscaping?

Roll back part of your lawn and renew the age-old tradition of surrounding a home with a productive landscape. Edible landscaping is a way to grow vegetables, berries, herbs, fruits, nuts, and ornamental plants in attractive and harmonious groupings, without the use of dangerous chemicals. As you nurture your edible landscape, it will sustain you and your family with benefits that go far beyond good food.

Pleasure: Many otherwise useful gardening books forget that you, the gardener, are the most important living thing in the garden. Often, they focus only on the plants, omitting the ways you can garden with pleasure in a busy life. If gardening isn't fun, why bother? Most of us aren't growing food for survival. It shouldn't be a chore. Find pleasure in your landscape; play with the plants. Experiment. Break some of the rules. With each passing season, you will find more beautiful and more fruitful ways for you and your landscape to grow .

Beauty: I started experimenting early on with unusual gardening and landscaping techniques, colorful vegetables, and exotic food plants. My work — and the work of other edible landscape designers — has begun to prove that landscapes can be ornamental and tasty, colorful and useful.

When my landscape maintenance business first began, I took care of completely ornamental landscapes. Over time, more and more clients wanted vegetable gardens, but I noticed that too often the vegetable garden was treated like a second-class landscape, hidden away behind the dog pen or garage.

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