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.

Eco-News: Cool Roofs and Shiny Plants

Well we are finally back in business! It seemed to take months to fix the virus that had infiltrated our website. In the meantime, Ros had a barrage of email questions about a wide variety of topics. Here’s a recent one about the reflective properties of white and its impact on the earth.

–Jean Ann

Hi Rosalind,

For awhile now I’ve been fascinated with the notion of “cool roofs”. I’ve read (though this has been disputed) that much like Cool Roof glaciers it could reflect sunlight back into space and lowering the impact of sunrays. I also read this crazy article about Peruvians painting rocks. Now maybe my idea has already been tested and shot down. I have no idea. I’m a huge fan of yours so I thought I would start my research with you.

My idea is this, given that the US has vast acres of pastures for cattle and corn, is there a white plant that could take their place? Maybe food for live stock? What are the white plants and grains available to us? I know people may not be interested converting their lawns but I do wonder if some would. There are also acres of landfill that could grow something white. Again maybe this is all crazy but I have to look into it.

Any information would be greatly appreciated, again I’m a huge fan of all of your wonderful work!

Thanks,
J.

Ros responds:

Hi J.,

It great to think outside of the box but I think there is a problem with your premise. Plants need chlorophyll in their leaves to convert sunlight into to energy and thus live, and of course, chlorophyll is green. “White” plants are few and far between, mostly limited to desert areas. They are white because white absorbs less heat as you stated. If memory serves me, I believe these plants are also not efficient at converting sunlight to energy. Inefficient conversion is not a problem in desert areas because of the intense and constant sunlight. I can think of no white food or grain plants and I’m guessing that white versions wouldn’t be productive in areas with frequent clouds or cooler weather. However, some folks interested in this subject have suggested we breed more reflective shiny-leaved plants. What do you think of that idea?

Thanks for making me think and why don’t you ask a few other folks and see what they say. Let me know if you make much progress in your research, it’s certainly an interesting premise.

Best, Ros Creasy

Picture via http://www.energysavers.gov

Ordering Seeds for Your Edible Landscape

Three week old seedlings almost ready to plant in the garden

January is the perfect time to plan your spring and summer gardens. While there are many wonderful local nurseries around the country that offer a few racks of seeds and a limited number of edibles as transplants, I find the largest selection of ornamental edibles are available from mail-order and on-line seed companies. And when you order in January the companies are seldom sold out of some of the most popular choices.

I personally prefer to start the garden planning process by perusing paper catalogs. I put sticky notes on select pages to mark possible candidates, including varieties of seeds of both edibles and strictly ornamental flowers. In addition to the paper catalogs, I go on-line and check for transplant choices at chileplants.com, naturalgardening.com, and tastefulgarden.com. After I have limited my choices, always a painful process, I then go on line and order directly. I find on-line faster than ordering by mail and further, I can tell if the company is sold out and make adjustments to my final plan.

Baby red boc choi, chartreuse lettuces, and peacock feathered mustards are specialty vegetables started in my seed box

Most seed companies offer some varieties for the whole country but many specialize and choose the best varieties for a specific climate. I recommend that gardeners order from their closest seed companies when possible. Southerners from Southern seeds companies, West Coast gardeners from their region, and so on. The drop down “Other Useful Websites” under the Features section of this website contains is a very long list of seed companies and their links. In my book Edible Landscaping there is much information about these companies and many more, including their physical addresses, phone numbers, etc.

Golden zucchini from Renee's Garden Seeds is the star of my front border. In back are the burgundy leaves of purple orach, an heirloom variety from the Seed Savers Exchange.

I specifically recommend:

  • Generally, for cool and/or short climates in the Northeast and Northwest try Bountiful Gardens, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Nichols Garden Nursery, Pinetree Garden Seeds, and the Territorial Seed Company
  • For Southwestern gardens look to Native Seed Search, Plants of the Southwest, and Redwood City Seed Company
  • For Southeastern gardens try Southern Seed Exchange and Whillhite Seed Company.
  • For seed companies that are generalists with many great varieties look to Burpee’s, Cook’s Garden, and Renee’s Garden Seeds
  • And finally check the website list for specialists like companies that carry mostly tomatoes, or heirlooms, and herbs specialists to round out your choices.

My containers are filled with special varieties of vegetables. In the large barrel there are plants of bush 'Henderson' lima beans climbing among the black-eyed-susan-vine, and a 'Super Bush' tomato overflows its container.

December 31, 2010 - 5:26 am

jill - Thankyou for sharing your amazing garden photo’s and your love of gardening with us. You are an inspiration to gardeners everywhere!

January 5, 2011 - 5:42 am

laboratory technician - Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

January 12, 2011 - 9:58 pm

beth benjamin - Roz, what gorgeous pictures these are!!!
Beth

January 12, 2011 - 10:44 pm

Renee - Thanks for recommending Renee’s Garden in your gardening resources, general seed companies category.I also take great pride in specifically having seeds for the short season areas of the country. That’s why we maintain the full trial garden in the coldest part of Vermont, in addition to having our main trial garden in northern California and smaller trials in Florida and Washington. This way, we make sure our seeds will grow well all over the country before offering them. Would you also consider recommending us in that short season niche as well?
Warm regards,
Renee Shepherd
Renee’s Garden
http://www.Reneesgarden.com

January 16, 2011 - 6:37 pm

Jacqueline - This is the best inspiration I’ve seen for getting my garden planning in order. Recently moved from Zone 5 to 7b, so it should be a whole new adventure this year!

January 20, 2011 - 9:54 pm

laboratory technician - Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

April 22, 2011 - 4:48 am

Cristina - You’re photos are amazing and I read about you in “Mother Earth Magaizine”. It is what initially led me to google you. I am by no means a gardener or experienced in any way. I’m new to it and and am learning an awful lot of information at once. My fiancee’ just bought a gorgeous five bedroom house on a whopping 12 acres in Athens, Georgia and we are clearing the land and making way for plant life. I know nothing about what I am doing and am kind of picking it up and learning as I go. I am a fast learner and thank the lord for the internet. We have put so much sweat and blood into the little we have already done. I have planted zinnias, watermelons, tomatoes, peppers, peas, morning glorys, nasturtiums, sunflowers, snapdragons, moss rose, digitaris apricots, elephant ears, and so much more. I have strawberries, rasberries, blueberries, and plan to buy black berries. We have Japanese maples, and Hibiscus, Jasmine, beets, onions, and parsley, cucumber, et cetera. As far as what goes where, I have no idea how to map it out and kind of form a basic structure for my garden. I have rows planted with tomatoes and watermelons and peppers but after reading about your gardens and oggling over your photos. I’m dying to learn more about what you do. Where do I begin. I know not to expect my garden to be as magnificent as your own but might you offer me some suggestions as to what edible plants I could plant in the late season. The weather is just now starting to warm up. Our best days are in the 80′s and our nights are chilly. Also I’m kind of planting on a hill, how will that affect my planting? And I want water or some sort of channel running through and then waterfalling into a coy pond or water hole. Will the water affect the plants negatively? I have this beautiful idea because the front porch has a bridge with stairs leading down into a pasture filled with open space and beautiful growing area. Any suggestions you can offer however large or minute would be greatly appreciated!!

Edible Gardening Questions: Low Water Edibles

Ros frequently receives emails from her readers. In the new Edible Gardening Questions posts, she will publish some of her answers so that we can all benefit from her experience!

Question

Hi,  I live in San Diego where water is in limited supply.  My hubby and I took out our front lawn and planted low- water, drought tolerant plants.  I would like to add some edibles to my front yard.  I have rosemary, lavender and artichoke.  Can you recommend some other low-water edibles suitable to coastal San Diego? -Loc

Answer: 

       I’m so glad you want to grow a few more edibles!  As far as drought tolerant edibles are concerned, there are a number of aspects to be considered. The fact is, every time you grow an edible plant and harvest from it, you are saving water. The home gardener uses far less water than the farmer does. It’s not obvious to the average gardener, but I actually occasionally lecture for the Denver Water Company and the State of New Mexico concerning ways to save water in the global sense, not just at the end of your own hose. When you harvest lettuce from your garden you save 3 or 4 times the amount of water that the farmer and the grocery store would use to grow, water, harvest, wash, and keep fresh that head of lettuce.
       You stated that you grow rosemary, lavender, and artichokes, which is great, the rosemary and lavender are drought tolerant, but to grow tender artichokes it actually takes a fair amount of water. You didn’t state how close you are to the ocean, but as you are in USDA Zone 10, if you are more than 10 miles away and not in a cool fog pocket, you could grow the drought tolerant plants: figs; pomegranates; pineapple guava; and the Mediterranean herbs, oregano, fennel, sage, sweet bay, and thyme. Another way to save water is to grow super productive edibles like: lemons, strawberries, tomatoes, summer squash/zucchini, chard, peppers, collards, lettuce, and kale, and basil in the summer and cilantro in the winter. Just think of all the trips to the grocery store those would eliminate. These plants give you a large harvest for the water used.

 

*posted by Jean Ann Van Krevelen

August 15, 2011 - 6:10 pm

Dale - With proper design and elements, even desert areas can grow edibles that don’t need to be drought tolerant.

Greening the Desert with Geoff Lawton
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzTHjlueqFI

February 2, 2012 - 9:06 am

Belgard Pavers - Rosalind thank you so much for shared gardening experiences with us, i love your posts