Edible landscaping, as Kevin would say, has “entered the national lexicon.” Magazines feature regular articles on the subject; gardeners’ blogs attract loyal followers; experts’ books grace library shelves; and gardening clubs offer how-to seminars.
We, ourselves, have already given two well received talks about our undertaking during Master Gardener workshops. We may be far from experts, but the story of why we embarked on this journey and how rewarding it’s been seems to strike a chord with fellow diggers-in-the-dirt.
For a variety of reasons, more Americans are growing food on their properties — in traditional vegetable gardens, in raised beds, in containers, and, yes, even in front yards:
• To improve taste and nutrition — fresh-picked fruits and vegetables can be eaten within minutes of being harvested, when flavor and nutrients are at their peak.
• To ensure food is free of harmful chemical residues by controlling what’s been applied.
• To save money — one packet of lettuce seeds can be cheaper than a single serving of store-bought greens.
• To interest children in fruits and vegetables — they’re more inclined to eat what they’ve planted and picked themselves.
• To prevent harmful lawn chemicals from contaminating the water supply.
• To preserve heirloom varieties that are no longer grown commercially.
• To reconnect with our agricultural heritage — it’s inherently satisfying to eat what we grow.
• To foster exercise and improve quality of life.
• To reduce reliance on fossil fuels — some supermarket fruits and vegetables have traveled thousands of miles before they grace a plate.
For us, all these reasons play a role. But, what’s been fascinating about this venture is how deeply we enjoy growing our own food.
It has become our life: Food is what we do.
From start to finish, each aspect is gratifying:
• Pouring over seed catalogs, comparing descriptions of hardiness, taste, history, preservation quality and ease of production.
• Observing swelling spring buds and hovering pollinators.
• Receiving shipments of trees and shrubs, then settling them into their new homes.
• Planting seeds — indoors and out.
• Tending delicate seedlings and tracking their growth.
• Transplanting annual vegetables.
• Harvesting, harvesting, harvesting.
• Testing recipes; perfecting dishes.
• Preserving, preserving, preserving.
• Teaching ourselves to can, dehydrate, juice, blanch, pickle and make jam.
• Sharing meals of food we grew, harvested, preserved and cooked.
• Trading stories of what works, what doesn’t, how to make it work.
All of it makes us happy and content.
Left to our own devices, when life doesn’t get in the way, we go to bed tired, but with our bellies full and our souls nourished.
And, that’s reason enough for us.
Let the season begin!