Edible Landscaping with Rosalind Creasy bio picture
  • Rosalind Creasy – Edible Landscaping

    Gardening can be easy, healthy, inexpensive, and best of all, in can be done just about anywhere. As far back as 1970, Rosalind Creasy was a pioneer in the field of Edible Landscaping.Her work has since revolutionized the way that many of us think about gardening. Cooking from the garden, eating organic, and eating fresh are all possible and not as hard as you might think.

    In this website, you can see some of Rosalind's best tips on making the most of your home garden, along with various recipes and advice. 

    Rosalind's new book, Edible Landscaping, was published in November of 2010 and is now in its third printing.

Landscaping with Strawberries

Strawberry closeupI thought my days as a temptress were long gone not realizing that when I filled the front border of my streetside raised boxes with strawberries I would be back in business. Years ago I attracted the boys at the school dance, today it’s just about everybody. I know because I watch my delivery folks and joggers from behind my front curtain as they debate, “Should I or shouldn’t I snag a berry?”

I want you to know I had pure motives when I chose this perfect spot; as strawberries grow best in full sun, in fast draining soil, and the cascading berries would be safe from slugs and various rots.

Twenty years ago before I created edible landscapes I grew them discreetly in a backyard vegetable garden. Early one spring I had chosen a sunny patch about 10’ by 10,’ enough for our family of four, and added lots of aged manure and compost, plus soil sulfur to create a slightly acidic soil. (Gardeners with very acidic soils add limestone instead.) I added stepping stones to make weeding and harvesting easier. As I live in an arid climate I also installed a drip irrigation system. Two strawberry varieties were perfect for our area: ‘Sequoia,’ a June bearing variety and ‘Quinalt,’ an everbearing one. I placed bare-root plants a foot apart and spread out their roots. To prevent rot I placed the crown at soil level and covered the roots lightly with soil, tamped them down, and watered them well. When the soil warmed up I added two inches of clean straw to prevent weeds. To boost productivity, I pinched off all the June flowers and the constant crop of summer runners and kept the slugs at bay by hand picking. That fall the ‘Quinalt’ plants gave a small harvest, the next spring both varieties were spectacular. With only a spring fertilizing, mulching, and runner trimming the next summer crop was great too. At the end of the season I allowed runners to develop, and used them when I planted a brand new patch. I harvested from the old bed until the new one was producing and then turned under the old one. For eight years I had great harvests of berries for the kids to pick, pies, and extra for freezing and jam.

There are fewer diseases and pest problems when strawberries are grown in containers

As the years went by I needed fewer strawberries and had less time. Fortunately, I then discovered Alpine strawberries. These perennials produce all summer, have no runners, produce fruits on top of the plant out of reach of slugs, take light shade, and reseed themselves. With little maintenance we could harvest great berries for cereal, or even a smoothie, from June through October. Ten years later I still have small patches of Alpine strawberries but lately I had a longing for a bigger harvest and that’s when I discovered the new day neutral strawberries–and thus became such a garden temptress. I found the plants produce mostly berries, not runners, so are easier to control in containers and garden beds and for six months at that, so only a few dozen plants were needed. I had room in the front of my planter boxes and last spring, with only some added compost, planted the day neutral ‘Tristar’ berries. They didn’t need the flowers and runners removed and they started producing in late May–then ooh la la. Those perfect lipstick-red perfumed berries were tempting all but the most steely individuals. The neighborhood children help themselves on the way to school, I offered them to visitors who couldn’t get over how much better they taste than the ones from the store. I still have plenty for myself. Lots of berries to savor, and lots more to share, what fun!

Strawberries in Your Edible Landscape

Strawberry leaves in the fall
Strawberries in your edible landscape

Even in the most formal garden, you can fit strawberries into your edible landscape.

Strawberries and flowers

Accent your fruit color with red flowers and accoutrement

Strawberry Types and Recommended Varieties:

There are four types of strawberries: June bearing, everbearing, day neutral, and Alpine strawberries.

June bearing: June bearers are day length and temperature sensitive and produce only one big June crop. Perfect for eating fresh, and for preserving, are generally planted in large patches and the beds are replanted every few years.

‘Allstar’: large sweet berries, plants are June bearing and have good disease resistance; best in Northeast, Midwest, and eastern Canada.

‘Honeoye’: great flavor. Plants are June bearing, for Northeast and Midwest.

‘Sequoia’: produces in June and July, bred for the West but adaptable throughout zones 5 – 8, disease resistant.

Everbearing: plants are similar to the June bearing but less sensitive to day length. They produce a big crop of berries in June and small crop in fall.

‘Ozark Beauty’: classic old-timer with wedge-shaped large berries. Good for Midwest and Northeast.

‘Quinault’: flavorful berries, plants are very disease resistant and best for the Northwest.

Day neutral: these plants form flower buds regardless of day length and produce from spring through fall; the berries are small, but of high quality. Plants are less prone to diseases but produce poorly in hot climates.

‘Tribute’: medium-size berries. The plants are vigorous and very disease resistant.

‘Tristar’: fairly small berries, great flavor, vigorous; resists red stele and verticillium wilt.

Alpine: selected from wild European strawberries, they are started from seeds or plants. The berries are small and intense. The plants set no runners and prefer cool conditions and some shade.

‘Alexandria’ – The most common red Alpine strawberry, small mounding plants.

‘Rugen Improved’ – small mounding plants, fruits larger than most Alpines.

alpine strawberries

Alpine strawberries do not produce runners and tolerate light shade, making them perfect for a woodland path.

Strawberry Recipe:

Strawberry French Toast

This makes a very special brunch (it’s lovely with champagne) and takes full advantage of your gardens’ first spring flush of berries.

Filling:

  • 1/4 lb. natural cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons strawberry yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup sliced ripe strawberries

Prepare filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, yogurt, and powdered sugar until smooth and light.  Slowly add the milk until the mixture is of spreading consistency.  Gently fold in sliced strawberries.  Cover bowl; set aside.

Toast:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 8 slices hearty Italian bread, slightly stale
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Garnish: whole strawberries

In a large bowl whisk eggs, milk, sugar, and nutmeg until blended.  Soak the bread slices in the mixture for a few minutes.  In a nonstick frying pan, or griddle, over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add 1 tablespoon oil and stir to blend.  Drain off excess milk mixture from the bread slices as you remove them from the bowl and arrange them in one layer in the frying pan, or on griddle, and cook each until golden brown.  Turning them occasionally for even browning.  If you need to cook the toast in separate batches add more oil and butter for each batch and repeat the process, keeping the finished pieces warm in the oven.

Spread equal amounts of cream cheese onto 4 French toast slices and cover each piece with another slice.  Place each serving on its own plate, cut in half, dust each with powdered sugar, and garnish plates with whole strawberries.

Serves 4.

Strawberry french toast

July 8, 2010 - 12:50 am

Rayne - Fabulous article! Makes me want to have French toast.. strawberry style. Great photos, Ros!

July 22, 2010 - 6:07 am

donna lee - Love your concepts, and colour combinations.Will be looking to purchase your book.

August 24, 2010 - 9:05 pm

Mandie - Oh my goodness, this looks like heaven! Yummy and fresh, mmmm

December 17, 2010 - 6:24 am

j. mclendon - this is a great sandwich. I would make this for the special guests in the holidays.

April 2, 2011 - 6:38 pm

Teri Sutton - Love this page. I started a page on Facebook called “growing strawberries”. I would love it if you joined or added the page so we can hear about your strawberry experiences.

Greens for Your Edible Landscape

Many types of salad greens grow right off the kitchen patio.

Growing Salad Greens

Spring is a great time for growing salad greens, the weather is cool and damp, just what they love. Plant edible flowers along with the greens so you can enjoy them in the garden as well as in your salad. Greens fit into your landscape, be they baby greens or grown to mature heads.

The easiest way to start to grow your salad greens is to grow baby greens, which will be ready to harvest in about 6 weeks.

- Order seeds for baby salad greens under the name mesclun mix or make your own mix by purchasing individual packages of

seeds of 3 or 4 types of lettuces and a few types of greens such as: spinach, chard, mustard, rocket, or finely curled endive.

- A garden bed about 10′ by 4’ provides a generous amount of baby salad greens for 3 or 4 people.

- Harvest your baby greens by taking kitchen shears and cutting across the bed about an inch above the crowns of the plants.  Cut only the amount you want at each harvest.

- If the weather is cool, in the 40 to 70 degree range, if you lightly fertilize with a balanced fertilizer like fish emulsion and keep the bed moist the greens will regrow and you can harvest baby greens again in a few weeks.

Mesclun

Mesclun is a French Provencal term for a salad that combines many flavors and textures of greens and herbs. The object is to create a concert for your mouth by including sweet greens, slightly bitter leaves, and peppery greens like arugula or mustard. Greens like crispy romaine and velvety bibb lettuces give textural excitement contrast.

Recipe for a classic French mesclun salad.

The Salad:

Pick enough salad greens to serve 6. Six large handfuls is usually a good measure. Use a seasonal selection from your garden of many varieties of lettuces; add young leaves of greens such as spinach, mizuna, arugula, mache, radicchio, sorrel, and frisees; and a few leaves of herbs such as Italian parsley, chervil, or mint. While its not very traditional, when in the garden you could pick a few blossoms of edible flowers such as nasturtiums, calendulas, and Johnny-jump-ups for a garnish too.

Vinaigrette:

2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic or wine vinegar

1 clove of garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

5 to 6 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Optional: 6 or 8 edible flowers for garnish

Wash greens and dry in a salad spinner. Refrigerate until serving time. In a small container, mix the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper and blend in oil to taste. Just before serving, toss the dressing gently with the salad, garnish and serve. Serves 6


May 9, 2010 - 4:30 am

Cathy Wilkinson Barash - got an alert on this already – on edible landscsaping, not rot Ros Creasy. Can’t figure out where first picture was taken. ‘
xoxo

October 6, 2010 - 8:00 am

Joey Whittle - Wow. I saw Rosalind and her garden in a gardening magazine and I must say that she is an inspiration with her garden and her ideals to everyone. I own a company in Arizona called Edible Landscapes, and this certainly does elaborate on a few good ideas and credible research to reinforce to my customers why they should be going back to nature in the first place. THANKS ROSALIND!

In Memorium – Mr. X

Mr. X in his prime

Mr. X in his prime

Our noble rooster Mr. X passed away on November 14th. We almost lost him the week before Christmas last year so the past ten months were a gift. Arthritis was his major problem. His last year or so was a quiet one compared to his previous 14 years of traveling around the country visiting nursing homes, garlic festivals, friend’s homes, and fourth grade classes. His last public appearance was at a local garden club where he nobly sat in the crook of my arm for a half hour as I lobbied for the 2008 California Proposition 2 to free millions of chickens from their inhumane cages. I wanted the audience to experience chickens as sentient beings that we should not abuse. In that short time the members got to know and love him as we did. He even nodded when I told them that he didn’t like cold French fries, only hot ones, and that he’d never met a dog he couldn’t dominate.

As I walked through the audience with him he patiently let them touch his glorious feathers and to feel how warm he was. And of course, he didn’t poop on me, much to their surprise. But then he never did poop when you held him unless you didn’t pay attention to his squirming-I-want-to-get-down warning.

Mr. X in his final days

Mr. X in his final days with Cathy

The house feels empty now. I still listen for his faint crow I would hear from the garage every morning. I miss him waddling up the walk after me. His walk through the house to go to his dog carrier in the garage every night, and his constant excitement and clucking when I offered him a handful of cantaloupe seeds or some lettuce leaves from the garden. And of course, the neighborhood children miss his cock-a-doodle-do when they would come to visit and feed him. This gorgeous chicken has left an indelible mark on his part of the world and will be remembered in all our minds for decades to come.

December 27, 2009 - 11:52 pm

Amy winslow - Such a touching membrance.

December 29, 2009 - 1:44 am

John & Lynn - We are new to gardening and to Mother Earth News. After reading your article and now going on your site and reading about Mr. X, we both, as animal lovers and adopters can relate with you and offer our sympathy.

January 4, 2010 - 9:18 pm

Carri - So sorry to hear about Mr. X :( I’ve enjoyed your stories about him via your blog and speaking engagements.

January 23, 2010 - 12:55 am

Anna/Flowergardengirl™ - What a dear soul that sweet little guy was. I’m sad and happy for you. I cried when I read this cause it’s so priceless and I love you for being so genuine about it. Big hugs to ya.

January 27, 2010 - 7:48 pm

Margaret Mather - I’m sorry for your loss. Hope you will find comfort in all the memories of joy Mr. X brought to you.
M

February 19, 2010 - 7:44 pm

Mary Biber - The memorium to Mr. X brought tears to my eyes. What an a “special” life Mr. X had with you and you with him.

March 11, 2010 - 5:52 pm

Debbie Tschanz - I loved hearing the stories about Mr. X. I know how much that “ROOSTER” meant to you and all who meant him. Can’t wait to see his book!

March 11, 2010 - 6:15 pm

Debbie Tschanz - Where was spell check when I needed it!

March 13, 2010 - 11:13 pm

Gail - Priscilla F Peahen, adpted and lived in my garden for the last 4 months~She didn’t pass away, but has been relocated to a luxurious country home where she is happy and surrounded with a bevy of peafowl. …As I read your touching story of Mr X, I felt those heart strings tug away~I miss that peahen after knowing her only 4 months, I know you must keenly miss your good pet friend. gail

March 17, 2010 - 3:20 pm

Kathy Siddons - As a dog (black poodles, specifically) and chicken lover, your pictures captured my heart!

April 13, 2010 - 5:07 pm

Diane Gibeau - Dear Rosalind, you are sweet! I believe like you all life has value, especially in the garden. I have worked at a garden center for almost 15 years, the last 4 years I refuse to sell any chemicals. I have grown my garden using organic methods and as you would know I have no pest problems, sure a snail,slug and some aphids. I explain to the public we must keep a balance and by using the chemical killer way you upset the balance. I must say, each year more and more people are listening. The movement is on and we can thank people like you that started and keep up the fight. I saw you speak at the garden show in San Mateo, it was great!!! Thanks again for getting the word out. Also, I enjoy growing veggies in with the garden ornamentals, it’s a beautiful mix.
ps I am looking forward to purchasing your new book and showing others what is possible in their garden!!! (suggesting they buy it also) Thanks, Diane

April 19, 2010 - 10:46 pm

Warren R. Christianson - Thanks for sharing about Mr. X. After reading that, I have decided never to eat another chicken. I’ll stick with the plant foods. That rooster had real personality, didn’t he?

January 10, 2011 - 12:36 pm

technician jobs - Do you people have a facebook fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!

April 2, 2011 - 9:54 pm

Jennifer - That was touching! Sorry for your lost. He was a gorgeous bird!