Shelves: challenge When the author first wrote about edible gardening, it was apparently a rare idea for people who were interested in gardening to think about eating what one grew. I must admit that while I am no master gardener myself, I grew up in a farming family and the thought of food was never far from our mind when it came to what we grew, even if we were feeding cows and other animals. I have no way of knowing how common it is for people to think about their food supply when it comes to their gardening, but I suspect it is not uncommon. This particular book is about pages long or so and contains plenty of pictures, but more text than one might expect for a book of this kind. After acknowledgments and an introduction, the author discusses the change of landscaping over time 1 as well as how one lays the groundwork for a good garden 2. The author then spends a great deal of time, more than pages in fact, providing an encyclopedia of edibles from almond to wheat, including a wide variety of plants within that, herbs, fruits, as well as vegetables.

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My children and I made our weekly trek to the local library to dodge the hot arrows of a fierce Oklahoma sun. Our rule was to each select one book that was new to us. Nathan, age 4, selected Where the Wild Things Are. He picked out Goodnight Moon for his sister Ellen, who at 2 was still a little young to choose on her own.

Then it was my turn. Lunchtime approached and I knew I had to act quickly. I thought for a moment. Most of what I knew about gardening came from Grandmother.

She handed down her books on roses and perennials to me, her preferred garden genre in her later years. Though she knew a great deal about vegetable gardening, an edible garden reminded her of the dusty years of the Great Depression.

Not only had her family fed themselves from their family farm, they had fed migrant workers and other neighbors. She made new memories with Tropicana roses and lush lavender plants and taught me as we walked and watered in my childhood summers.

She led me to a row of books and pulled from the stack a slim blue volume called The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy. A quick glance told me that it was small enough to lug around with toddlers, yet meaty enough to keep me occupied. I added it to our book pile. My grandmother and I, like other gardeners, identified edible gardens in the traditional way: rows of corn, peppers and tomatoes kept in the back yard, far from the splashy and stylish flower gardens.

Her ideas of using edibles throughout a landscape, even in a front yard, were a radical new approach. Instead of relegating edibles to the usual long rows or brown raised beds, she incorporated her edibles throughout her designs. The results were a stunning array of color, design and function. Rosalind has always been ahead of her time. Each time I began a new phase, started a new garden or just needed inspiration, I consulted Rosalind in one of her many books.

My children are now 24 and 26 and they have been a part of all my gardens. They have even started their own. So the conversation continues. While I have had successes I have also had my disappointments. At each opportunity to seek advice from her books, I found her ideas creative, her style straightforward and her advice approachable.

This inspires her students to believe in themselves. She gives encouragement where others might give lectures. Gardening is a dance with nature and often I trip over myself with questions. Birth and death, killing and nurturing, even intrigue and cunning are all part of the complex community of life waiting to be discovered—and sometimes struggled with—in your garden. Sierra Club, Such insight reminds me that gardens often teach us more in our failures than they do in our successes, a lesson that helped me not only to garden well, but to live well.

Rosalind began gardening at the age of 5 when the gardening tasks were delegated to her by her father, who traveled on business a good part of the time. She spends three to four months a year on the road, giving presentations, doing research, taking photographs and visiting folks passionate about homegrown edibles—especially gardeners who cook and cooks who garden. Her ideas have not always been well received. When the horticulture communities scoffed, she decided to show, not tell. She removed the sod from her front yard and set about designing a front lawn edible landscape complete with chickens.

Rosalind contends that design must take a starring role in the creation of edible gardens. You use skill. Edibles used in a front yard challenge even the most skilled gardeners. Her response? In person or on the page, a conversation with Rosalind always brings me inspiration and new questions. What could happen if the lawns of today were reconsidered to be places of community and shared food?

What other mother might find a way to nurture her own children—even herself—as the conversation continues? Container gardening is a great way to try new ideas. Here is an excerpt from her book Edible Landscaping on how to grow a strawberry barrel. A wine barrel, painted a vivid color can be a great start to enjoying beautiful and edible gardens.

Then drill nine 2-inch holes nine inches up from base of barrel, spaced nine inches apart. Drill another row of nine holes nine inches up from first row, staggered between holes in lower row.

Measure length of emitter tubing long enough to go around inside of barrel at least six times; connect it to solid distribution tubing. Thread unattached end of emitter line through one of lower holes, and bring it up out of barrel. Following package directions, sprinkle one-third of recommended amount of fertilizer along with compose, worm castings or other bacterially active material, and mix it in. Lay ring of emitter tubing around plant roots and secure it with irrigation stakes.

Bring emitter tubing up through soil and circle it around roots. Plant remaining strawberries six inches apart and firm into place. Turn on irrigation system; flush out any debris in line. Once line runs clear, plug end of emitter tubing with goof plug. Use gentle spray nozzle to softly wet soil; repeat at least three times to completely saturate entire barrel.

For next few weeks—until plants start to put out new growth—keep soil lightly moist but not soggy. Once plants are growing well, use new irrigation system. This weekend project will provide enough fruit to top your cereal all summer long. Source: Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy. San Francisco: Sierra Club,


Edible Landscaping

My children and I made our weekly trek to the local library to dodge the hot arrows of a fierce Oklahoma sun. Our rule was to each select one book that was new to us. Nathan, age 4, selected Where the Wild Things Are. He picked out Goodnight Moon for his sister Ellen, who at 2 was still a little young to choose on her own. Then it was my turn. Lunchtime approached and I knew I had to act quickly.


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Something went wrong. Please try your request again later. OK Follow to get new release updates and improved recommendations About Rosalind Creasy Rosalind Creasy is an award-winning garden and food writer, photographer, and landscape designer with a passion for beautiful vegetables and fruits combined with the strong conviction that gardening should be an ecologically positive endeavor. Her first book, the bestselling "The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping," written in , stood as the seminal book on the subject for more than 25 years. It was one of the first American landscaping books to advocate organic methods, encourage recycling, and provide alternatives to resource-wasting gardening techniques.

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