Flowering bushes and gardens are most definitely atheistically pleasing. I have flower gardens plenty but edible landscaping is a joy that is unique in and of itself.
Just about everything in my backyard is edible. Going to my backyard is like going to a farmers’ market on my property. There are lots of options when it comes to landscaping.
In this post, I will reveal how I use plants to landscape my backyard into an edible mini paradise.
There are lots of ways to add edible landscaping to your property. Blueberry bushes are not only producers of wonderful deep blue berries but have beautiful spring green leaves. When planted in a row, they create a hedge of greenery and goodness. In the fall, their leaves turn to a beautiful red that is stunning in the fall landscape.
As the blueberries ripen throughout the season, they add a lot of beauty to the yard. They turn from green to deep blue or purple depending on the variety.
When planting blueberry bushes, plant at least 6 of 2 or 3 different varieties. Doing this will ensure adequate cross-pollination and a large yield. Blueberries need a few different varieties nearby to cross-pollinate well. If too few are planted, the harvest will be reduced as they will not be as prolific.
Arona Berry Bushes:
Arona Berry bushes are another great way to add edible landscaping to your property. Topping out at about 8-10 ft tall and a spread of 5 to 6 ft wide, these bushes are showstoppers.
In the Spring they are filled with white delicate blooms that turn into dark purple berries around mid-summer. They have a sweet/tart taste, somewhere between a cranberry and a cherry. They are dense little berries that are great to add to smoothies or other berry dishes. My chickens love the Arona Berries. They will readily pick all the berries they can near the bottom, luckily these bushes are tall so there is plenty to go around.
Unlike blueberries, Arona Berry bushes do not need another bush to cross-pollinate. Given their size, 1 or 2 will be enough. I have two of these bushes in my backyard, both are beautiful and produce a lot of berries come mid-summer.
Black Berry Bushes:
Another beautiful trailing berry bush to add to an edible landscape are Blackberries. Unlike Blueberries or the Arona Berries, Blackberries do best on a trellis. While they can grow independently of a trellis, they do better if they have support to keep the branches off the ground. If too low to the ground the berries tend to rot before they can be picked.
If you have tasted Blackberry jam or Blackberry pie, then you know exactly what to do with these prolific little berry producers. Blackberries are great in many things from smoothies to jams to pies. If the bushes produce an abundance, then frozen berries are a treat in the winter months when all the bushes are dormant.
The possibilities are limitless with what one can do with a bushel of Blackberries. I have my Blackberry bushes near the Grape Arbor. They climb the trellis along with the grapes as they grow taller. Instead of keeping them pruned to a smaller size, I allow them to grow long and attach them to the Arbor as they need more support.
If you are granted the room, grapes are another great plant to add to your edible landscape. Grapes are very versatile, they can grow on fence posts, poles, trellis, or even chain link fences. As long as whatever they are growing on can support the weight of the vines, grapes are a possibility. Uncultivated, grapes vines will grow up trees and other vertical shrubs that can support the weight of the vines.
A Grape Arbor is not necessary to grow grapes just the method that I chose. But if you are interested in building a Grape Arbor, a Pergola Arbor is a great asset as it can double as a place to hang a Hammock swing, porch swing, or even a hammock. If you are interested in how we built our Grape Arbor I will link that post here.
Unlike Blueberries and other berries, grapes need something to trellis on. To have a successful grape harvest, the vines must be kept off the ground. Grapes also need lots of pruning. I prune my grapes every January, cutting off the dead vines and securing the previous season’s growth to the trellis. Come March/April when the grape vines come out of dormancy, they will grow from the dormant vine and continue their journey up the trellis.
You will need to spray your grape vines to keep insects at bay. I use an organic gardening spray that works well at keeping the bugs off and will not harm the chickens or other wildlife in my backyard (just the bugs). It can be found at Tractor Supply or other farm/feed stores.
Neem oil is also a good option but will need to be sprayed more often. I spray my grape vines 3-4 times a year. Once as the grape vines start to bud, then again after they leaf out, again in the mid-season (June-July), and a month or so before harvest. This spray schedule keeps the bugs from eating the leaves and stripping my vines throughout the growing season. Make sure to spray early in the morning or late evening to keep from burning the leaves.
Another beautiful plant to add to an edible landscape is raspberry bushes. Newly planted this year, I have the raspberry bushes planted at the back of the arbor. As they grow (like the blackberries, raspberries need a trellis) I will attach them to the grape arbor and let them trellis up the arbor along with the grapes and the blackberries. I have one raspberry bush that survived our cold winter, the rest sadly perished. This year I bought a hardier variety that is cold hardy down to -20. Hopefully, with these new varieties, I will not suffer any more losses of my raspberry bushes.
Although not edible (by humans anyway), butterfly bushes are a great plant to add to an edible landscape. Not only are they beautiful, but a stately butterfly bush will attract pollinators to your yard. Everything from butterflies, hummingbirds, bumble bees, honeybees, and hummingbird moths will flock to the butterfly bushes to feed off the nectar of the large blooms.
In mid-summer when the bushes are in full bloom, there is a frenzy of activity around the butterfly bushes. Near the berry row, many of these valuable pollinators visit the neighboring berry bushes and continue to pollinate creating a high yield.
Spices and Herbs:
Another way to add edible plants to your property is that of herbs. Most herbs are flowering plants that have beautiful blooms that attract bees, butterflies, and other important pollinators.
I grow just about all the herbs and spices that I use in cooking and for incense making. I rarely have to buy herbs because I harvest and dry the herbs from my property. Everything from Basil to lavender I grow in my gardens.
In the fall, I harvest the spices and herbs and use them in cooking, teas, baking, and incense. At the end of this post, I will share one of my favorite dried herb incense recipes that I have to fragrance my home.
Veggie gardens need no introduction, these gardens no matter the size is a great way to add edible landscaping to your property. I have several veggie gardens. One functions as a kitchen garden, and the other I grow corn, pumpkins, sunflowers, and other fall/winter goodies.
The girls patrol all my veggie gardens, eating bugs off the plants and tilling the soil in search of worms. My girls are a great asset in organic gardening, their natural talents reduce my need for any bug-eliminating regimen. I may lose a tomato or two to a curious chicken, but I plant enough for everyone to get a fair share.
Although not edible (by humans) I do have an abundance of flower gardens that surround my home and property. These gardens provide food for necessary pollinators such as butterflies and bees which in turn assist me in increasing a high yield from my edible landscaping. It is through these beneficial insects that we can feed our families and put food on the table.
In an attempt to aid the bee populations, I do not spay any insecticide near my home. Many of my gardens contain herbs and spices which naturally deter many pest insects that would otherwise enter my home.
Given that this is a blog that is primarily focused on raising backyard chickens, how do my girls factor into edible landscaping?
The simple answer is composting. The girls create a very nutritious compost in their coops through their digestive processes. Due to the presence of a gizzard in their digestive system, chickens process everything they consume. When added to the gardens, litter from the coops is the best plant food that money can buy. Because my girls are fed an organic diet, their compost is also chemical free.
Every spring I spread the compost the girls have made in their coops throughout the winter. Chicken coop shaving and poo are high in nitrogen and other minerals, beneficial to plants. Due to the compost from the coops, my gardens are lush and produce high yields.
Many visitors to my farm ask me what I feed my gardens to produce such beautiful blooms and large vegetables. My answer is chicken poo. My homestead is powered by my girls. They are the secret to my success.
As promised, I leave my recipe for natural incense that I created using spices and herbs from my garden. This recipe is very versatile and can be tweaked given aromatic preferences.
The Kuntry Klucker’s Home Herb Insence
For this recipe, you will need an electric wax warmer or a wax warmer that is warmed by a tea light or other source of heat.
1/8 to 1/4 tsp olive oil
1-2 TBS dried rosemary
1-2 TBS dried sage
1-2 TBS Dried lavender
1 TBS Basil
Other things that can be added: Tree resins such as frankincense, dragons’ blood, myrrh, copal, or benzoin. Drops of essential oils can also be added.
In the wax warmer, place a small amount of olive oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the wax warmer. Mix all the dried spices in a small bowl and add to the wax warmer on top of the oil. Turn on the wax burner or light tea light under the warmer. After a few minutes of heating, a spicy yet calming aroma will be released by the herbs simmering in the oil. You can add other aromas as well, such as essential oils or resins to bring the aroma to your liking. This is an all-natural way to fragrance your home without releasing harmful substances in the air such as chemicals that are often added to candles and other wax or oil fragrances.
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If you have any questions about raising chickens or edible landscaping, feel free to post them in the comments or drop me an email. Kuntryklucker@gmail.com.