Kate Copsey is a freelance garden writer specializing in garden topics, education and parenting from Northwest Ohio. She also co-hosts an Internet radio show on growing vegetables called America’s Home Grown Veggie Show on americaswebradio.com every Saturday morning at 10am. Visit katecopsey.com.

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Veggies Front & Center
by Kate Copsey    

Many gardeners would like to grow fruits and vegetables but do not have a sunny backyard. Why not use the sunny front yard? It is possible to raise edibles in the front garden and still keep your curb appeal.

These peppers are pretty enough for the front yard.

A tomato plant grown on a twig tuteur.

Variegated thyme

Espalier pear

Malabar spinach

Citrus flower

Espalier apple

Roman chamomile

With the current trend towards growing your own edibles, many people would like to grow their own vegetables but do not have a sunny back garden to use. They are also reluctant to turn the front garden into a vegetable plot with raised beds and cauliflower in straight rows. What they can do, however, is to combine their herbs and vegetables with flowers and flowering trees in such a way as to make the garden look attractive while also being productive.

The basis for a productive, aesthetic and socially acceptable front landscape, is to look at each plant choice as being either productive, purely attractive or both. For instance, all cherry trees (Prunus spp.) produce a lovely blossom, but some produce fruit for your summer pies and some are ornamental. Both will serve the same function in the landscape and picking the fruiting tree will not change the overall design.

The same decisions can be made with border shrubs, perennials and annuals, as well as container plants. Mixing the pretty summer annuals with edible basils and herbs will make an attractive design that is acceptable to your neighbors, as well as useful for your kitchen. Putting citrus in your container instead of patio hibiscus will produce lemons and limes as well as flowers, and both can be trimmed into standard trees or ornamental shapes.

To maximize the growing space that you have in the front, which for most people is quite small, we have used the vertical element where possible in the design. Apple and pear are usually regarded as large trees in the garden, but young trees can be trained to grow at angles in a single plane. Formal espalier techniques can be used, but simple trimming trains the side limbs along a wire rather than upward and outward. This allows two or even three trees to be grown alongside a driveway.

So try a few basil and edibles in the front garden, mix a few flowers in and you will find yourself the envy of the neighborhood when you start harvesting fresh, colorful and nutritious food from your landscape.


Design Plan:

1. Espaliered Apple*  (Malus domestica ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Jonagold’)

2. Espalier Pear* (Pyrus communis  ‘Seckel’ or ‘Bartlett’)

3. 3 Tiger Lily (Lilium lancifolium)

4. 6 French Marigolds (Tagetes patula)

5. 3 Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

6. 6 Malabar Spinach (Basella rubra)

7.  Pots with Citrus Lemon (Citrus limonun) and/or Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) and Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)

8. White Iris (Iris germanica ‘Immortal’)

9. 3 Lavender  (Lavendula angustifolia ‘Munstead’)

10. 2 Holly: Female (Ilex merserveae  ‘Blue Princess’)

11. Mint (in container) Spearmint (Menthe spicata) or Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

12. 3 French Marigold (Tagetes patula)

13. 3 Curly Parsley (Petrolselinum crispum  ‘Double Curled’)

14. 3 Green Basil (Ocimum basilicum  ‘Green Ruffles’)

15. 3 Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia ‘Munstead’)

16. 3 Purple Basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Purple Ruffles’)

17. Conifer (Thuja occidentalis)

18. Summer Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

19. Pepper Hot Cayenne (Capsicum annuum ‘Chines Five Color’)

20. Pepper : Red (Capiscum annuum ‘Lipstick’)

21. Pepper: Green (Capsicum annuum  ‘Charleston Belle’)

22. Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

23. Chive (Allium tuberosum)

24. Thyme (Thymus vulgare)

25. Sage (Salvia officinalis)

26. Sunflower (Helianthus annuus  ‘Teddy Bear’)

27. 6-8 Tomato Plants (Solanum Lycopersicum var.)

28. Greek Oregano (Oreganum ‘Herocleoticum’)

29. Lettuce/Mesclun (Lactuca sativa var.)

30. Tall Sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Cherry Rose’ or ‘Italian White’)

31. Red/Black Current (Ribes nigrum  or Ribes rubrum)

32. Male Holly (Ilex merserveae  ‘Blue Prince’)

33. Blueberry Bushes (Vaccinium corymbosum)

* Many varieties of apples and pears require a pollinator, and some are bred for mild winters. When making a decision on the fruit, we used cold-hardy, late-blooming varieties that are self pollinating. Better crops may be obtained with two compatible varieties of apples or pears rather than one of each.


(From State-by-State Gardening March/April 2011.  Photography By Kate Copsey)


Posted: 07/05/11   RSS | Print


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TheWriteGardener - 07/13/2011

Is it not true that some municipalities have restrictions regarding vegetable gardens in front yards?

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