Thursday November 16 2017

Benefits of edible landscaping


By David S Mukooza

When most of us think about landscaping, our minds automatically think about gardens and beautiful works of architecture, yet, there is more to it.
Edible landscaping is the integration of food plants into your garden and compound. It enables you to eat from your yard or even earn from it depending on the size of the space, without losing the beauty of the compound.

According to Ethel a professional landscaper with Iconic Hedges, they help clients grow plants that can fuse beauty and health.
She adds that a sprawling assortment of herbs, fruits and spices in different colors and patterns this can be eye-catching, as well as put food on your table while saving you money in the process.

Some of the colourful plants and fruits one can plant include tomatoes, grapes, berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blue berries), mangoes, oranges, pomegranates, avocados, passion fruits, amongst others. These are rich in Vitamin C and can be sold during a high yield season to raise an income.

Berries and grapes are also climbing plants that can be planted in Terrill design, making beautiful mini fencing and garden arches. Plants such as tomatoes, passion fruits and nasturtium which are high climbers, and can look better especially if supported by poles. “We can build pergolas, metallic or wooden, to create a plant roof that you can eat from. Urban horticulture is made more possible with such plants since they take more vertical space than horizontal,” she adds.

Most of these plants can be planted in large flower pots and long troughs. These can be cut out of plastic, wood or concrete. Some fruit plants like berries and grapes grow better in temperate environments and good shades are key for their good and healthy growth.

Food as medicine
One can also grow herbs for food and natural medicine.
A number of herbs are essential for preventing some diseases and infections, generally improving your health out of your garden. These can include aloe vera, lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, thyme, parsley, Coriander, basil, catnip, amongst others. Many of these herbs are uncommon here in Uganda and this makes them expensive to buy. However, you don’t have to spend much if they are in the pots and troughs around your balcony or in your yard. Some like catnip, lavender and symphytum bloom beautifully which adds beauty to your home and space.

Go herbal
Among the best plants that should probably not miss in your compound are plant spices. These add taste to your food and drinks in ways one can hardly compare to processed spices. Turmeric is one of them and its particularly an all-round spice used in foods and home medicine. Ginger is a home spice that you should have in your garden. Garlic and onions can also be grown within your reach. Mint, sage, dill are spices you should not miss. Basil, coriander, thyme and catnip all double as spices too, giving nice aromas and tastes to your food, right from your yard.

Other greens to include in your garden are cabbage, spinach, egg plants, bananas, nakati, sukuma wiki, lettuce etc all are essential as supplements for your food garden and your plate.

Ethel encourages people with space to try and create these edible gardens. She adds that maintenance of edible gardens isn’t much work, as dedication should be at giving the plants enough shade and sunlight when appropriate. Providing enough water for the plants is also a fundamental necessity. For this case Ethel advises and recommends water drip irrigation. “This is practical for a small area, its money friendly and easily accessible,” says Ethel.

Ethel encourages people to hire a professional for perfect results. A beautiful garden that doubles as your little food basket is not as hard as you might think and comes with a lot more advantages.

Proper garden care
A healthy, productive garden requires proper care. Most plants thrive in similar garden conditions, requiring little more than proper watering and fertilization to grow well.
Planting healthy seedlings at the right time of year for specific varieties further ensures good growth and abundant crops. Some vegetable plants grow better with a support system. Cages and stakes work well for upright sprawling plants such as tomatoes, while climbing vines like beans require a trellis. Install supports before or immediately after planting.

Regular watering results in strong roots and healthy growth. Most plants need one inch of water from rain or irrigation a week, or enough so the top six inches of soil does not dry out completely. Water vegetables near the base of the plant. Watering once or twice weekly.