From Neglected Wasteland to Edible Landscape: A Suburban Yard Transformation

Sometimes I think of our edible landscape as nature's version of the scene in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, where you can eat nearly everything around you.

I delight in taking children, including our own, on a stroll through our suburban garden. We taste our way through the sweet raspberries and candy-flavored alpine strawberries. We nibble on the tart lemonyness of French sorrel and breathe in the perfume of lavender blossoms. The kids delight in eating a selection of flowers: peppery nasturtiums, blue borage, white snap pea blossoms, and colorful pansies. My favorite part is stopping at the chocolate cosmos and having them identify the fragrance.

"They really do smell like chocolate!"

Giggly enthusiasm ensues.

We watch and listen to the pair of juncos that have made a nest in our strawberry plants. The small, mother bird chirping at us in warning to keep our distance from her tiny, speckled eggs.

We collect chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves for a tea party, laying a blanket on the clover lawn, from where we watch as hundreds of bees visit the borage, lavender, and calendula flowers, the pollen sacks on their hind legs filled to the brim with the golden dust.

I cherish this piece of heaven on earth. This piece that we have given back to nature, and nature, in turn, has gladly occupied once again.

The side

It wasn't always this way, though.

When we moved into our home seven years ago it was a much different picture. The home itself was in serious disrepair and needed everything replaced down to the outlets.

For the first four years, as our kids grew out of diapers and into bicycles, we remodeled tirelessly to make the space comfortable. In the meantime, I began transforming our yard, with the dream of growing food for our family right outside our door.

At this point, we have transformed about 75% of our yard into gardens. What was once a neglected house and barren wasteland of weeds and grass has become our own little haven. In the springtime the poppies grow up tall and red, the raspberries put out fresh leaves, and by the end of June our yard is bursting with juicy, red strawberries.

I like to imagine what our neighborhoods would look like if we all grew gardens again. If we became producers rather than consumers and reclaimed all of these barren wastelands. There would certainly be less hunger, more contentment, and

greater health - both physically and mentally.

As you can see, things have changed quite a bit around here. In our garden you will find raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Our fruit trees are small but eventually will produce ample Desert King figs and Fuyu persimmons. Perennial herbs include thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, and winter savory, and peppermint. During the growing season you'll find lettuces, kale, tomatoes, and a trellis full of sugar snap peas. Tender green beans wind their way up poles and zucchini plants produce more than enough.

Learning to grow food has presented its challenges for me. This will be our fourth growing season and each year produces ample learning opportunities. I learn as I go, from my mistakes as well as my successes, and I am gaining knowledge all the time.

I promise you this - If I can grow a garden, so can you!

In future blog posts I'll describe so much more about our suburban landscape - including the design, gardening methods used, and planning throughout the seasons.

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#garden #zerowaste #healthyfood

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