Portland Edible Gardens
Some yards can be real "me monsters". Your landscape takes Portland's rain, plus your irrigation water, and some fertilizer, and time for pruning, time for weeding, time for leaf pickup.... you get the picture. And for all that they give you what?
Hopefully your landscape is beautiful and brings you joy. Wouldn't it be nice if it also brought you food?
Even with our relatively short growing period there are many ways to integrate edible landscape elements into your yard and reap (literally) the rewards all year.
Here are 6 great ways to make your landscape more edible:
1- Raised Beds. Installing raised beds designates an areas specifically for gardening. You can fill them with good soil, which makes it much easier to work with. Raised beds are gentle on the knees and back, and if done well, they even look good empty. They can be rustic, out of cedar or (even better) juniper. Or they can be refined, crafted out of steel or stone.
2- Use Fruit Bearing Plants Liberally. Let's play a word association game... ready? "Shrub". Did you think "azalea" or "rhododendron"? Did you think blueberry? Or huckleberry? Probably not. And when we think of a vine we picture wisteria or clematis, not grapes or hops. Fig and persimmon are certainly not the first trees we think of. But all of these are great selections that deliver both traditional "landscape" and edible garden benefits. Use them!
3- Plant Herbs As Perennials. Maybe you don't have room for blueberries or a persimmon tree. Then add some accents that you can use on the kitchen. Rosemary, mint, germander, thyme, and sage all do well here. I even have a client in Hillsboro who grows and harvests saffron crocuses.
4- Utilize Shady Areas. If your yard is mostly shady you may be thinking you are out of luck. Don't despair, there are a number of vegetables that can be grown successfully in shade. See the picture (thanks to "Vegan Homesteading") for a great list to get you started.
5- Utilize Small Spaces With Pots. Turn your porch, patio, deck, or balcony into a garden by filling your pots with edibles. Chosen wisely, perhaps with some flowering annuals worked in, these can be just as ornamental as a typical container planting. I am partial to corten myself, and am happy to help you locate them locally if you leave a comment below.
6- Think Like A Forager. The PNW is a forager's dream. The forests are scoured and the bounty is brought to Portland homes and restaurants. Why not grow some of the forager's targets in your backyard? Fiddlehead ferns, mushrooms, and blackberry can all be grown in your own landscape.
As you start working edible plants into your landscape I have one word of caution: don't feel bad if you don't eat it all. Growing plants that bloom and fruit support bees, birds, squirrels, and other wildlife. So even if you can't get all of into your kitchen you can feel good about having a more edible yard.