Did you know that flower beds can be incorporated in your diet? They can be when edible landscaping becomes your goal during plant selection. Louisiana's long growing season provides a variety of opportunities for incorporating fruits and vegetables into everyday home and public landscaping spaces.
Plant selection and planning are important whether you are starting an edible landscape from scratch or adding elements to an existing garden. The National Garden Association's "Design Your Edible Landscape" guides gardeners through tree, shrub, annual, and perennial plant selection. The NGA also encourages gardeners to "be adventurous" so that landscape spaces can also be food spaces.
According to Chrissy Mogren and Kristen Healy of the LSU AgCenter, visual interest can be added to the garden by using edible landscaping. Shrubs such as rabbiteye blueberries can provide foundation and shape to the garden while citrus varieties can be shade tree selections. Their article "Conserving Pollinators with Edible Landscaping" details how carefully planned landscapes encourage pollinators, which, in turn, creates more bountiful harvests. A list of edible landscaping plants that benefit native pollinators can be found online at the National Wildlife Foundation.
The use of edible landscaping materials also helps to increase the supply of food in the local food system. "Public food landscaping" is the concept of using community gardens as a catalyst for edible landscaping. The Delta Initiative has community gardens in both Winnsboro and St. Joseph, Louisiana, where patrons can adopt a box and grow a mini garden. These gardens help to beautify the towns, give a recreation option to the residents, and add fresh produce to the diets of local residents.
It is not too late to add a few edible plants into your summer garden or fall gardening plans. Eating local might just become as easy as walking out your front door.
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The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture