Edible Landscaping for Preppers
Part 1- Planning the Edible Landscape
18 May 2004
Why consider Edible Landscaping? Storage foods are the back-bone of preparation. Short term disruptions can be handled with trips to the Prepper Pantry. But sustainability for the long term SHTF scenario will most likely include the need to produce "Produce". You may have already planned and practiced for a serious subsistence garden. Home grown edibles will also make the preps last longer and are potential barter items. Fresh food will help defeat appetite fatigue and is a vital source of easily assimilated vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Adequate nutrition is crucial to maintaining the health and endurance needed to face the challenges of a crisis.
Gardening styles and guidebooks proliferate for folks at every level of gardening skill and experience. There are very limited resources for those who may consider Edible Landscaping. Some years back I fortunately stumbled on a book by that name. As I learned more about the concept, the Prepper in me began to appreciate something the book never mentioned. Edible Landscaping might be called "Stealth Gardening". It has the potential to produce edibles that are not likely to be pilfered by others in the event of a crisis. A Stealth Garden can add variety and extra food to your sustainability plan. Another Prepper insurance policy!
You can easily alter your landscaping to yield food as well as beauty. Some plants in the edible landscape the average person would recognize in their normal setting but are likely to pass by when they are mixed in with ornamentals. They are "hidden in plain sight". Other varieties are unusual, and not readily recognized as food sources by even the enthusiastic backyard gardener.
The suggestions Iíll share will not produce enough food by itself to sustain an individual in crisis times-but can be a significant adjunct to any sustainability plan. In good times, Edible Landscaping can produce significant savings on your food budget with little effort, in addition to freeing prepared garden space for other crops. For those with limited space it can be a great way to add more variety to what they produce in good times or in bad. Edible Landscaping adds one more layer of comfort to the well thought out and prepared home or retreat. Besides, its just plain fun to have a Stealth Garden!
How To Start
No need to rip out your already existing greenery. It doesnít take much effort or money to begin the Edible Landscape. As with any prep, some planning and research are the first step.
If youíve decided to give it a try, first take a good look at your current residence and the things growing there. Use "new eyes"! Most have us have become so inured to the common appearance of our homes we donít really notice the details any more. A couple of digital photos of your existing landscaping might help you see it better. Walk around your home and current landscaping and draw a rough scale diagram of the existing structures and plantings. One overhead birdís eye view and a quick and dirty sketch of each side of the structure will give you something to work with.
Now the research comes in- first youíll need to know your gardening "Hardiness Zone". Zones are geographic areas classified by climate and temperature range for the purpose of determining which plants will succeed or fail within a given region. Most commonly used are those published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which are classified by average low temperature. Enter the zip code of any property in the website http://www.garden.org/b2b/zipzone/index.asp to determine the Hardiness Zone.
Choosing a plant known as hardy in your zone isnít completely predictive of success for that plant. There are other factors at play such as water and light requirements. Some plants need frequent watering to survive, especially on the edges of their zone. Others arenít very thirsty. If your climate is extremely wet or dry consider water requirements when choosing your consumable candidates.
Shade! Lots of traditional landscaping is done to produce it. Youíll most likely have pockets of shade under eaves and larger bushes or trees. There are a few edibles that thrive in partial shade. Many plants can adapt and produce if they can get 4-6 hrs of morning or evening sun. Most edibles require at least 6 and preferably 8 hours of daily sun to produce well.
Deciding What To Plant
Once youíve perused your current landscape to determine your hardiness requirements, water needs and light patterns, its time for the next step. Consider the following list of potential candidates for your Stealth Garden. Take another look at a seed catalog, garden store or online source for whatís available in your area and add the ones that appeal to you to the list. Think creatively, what other edible plants would look good tucked into your current landscape? Cross out all the candidates that are not hardy in your zone. Nix the choices that have water or light requirements incompatible with the area youíre going to redesign. The remaining plants are the palette for your new and improved landscape a.
What to plant? In Part II, weíll review many of the plants that have been proven Edible Landscape winners. Before we get to that, thereís one last preparation to accomplish. Look at your sketches. Take a highlighter and mark the shady areas- maybe two colors, one for partial shade and the other for deep shade. Now take a dark marker and draw an X on the spots youíd like to tuck a stealth edible. Pencil in anything special right next to the mark- how tall the plant should (or shouldnít) be, preferred color, or other special consideration. Total up how many plants of each type youíre ready to start with. Now the fun comes- choosing the plants for your Stealth Garden!
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