The Edible Front Yard (Book Review)

front path photo

Photo: The Edible Front Yard

Warning: this book sounds dull but it could be the start of a front yard revolution. Planting vegetables in the front garden...what will the neighbours think? In fancy Oak Park, Michigan we know their views: a woman may go to jail for doing just that.

Although we all have an attachment to the traditional format: flowers in front, vegetables behind, this book will explain how to integrate the two and still look beautiful.

fence growth photo

Photo: The Edible Front Yard

The author lives in California, so we are reading about a very specific and regional kind of gardening and plants. However there is still lots of room for experimentation and modification of her ideas.

She recognizes that most people can't go full blast into front yard vegetable gardens. Not all neighbourhoods will be tolerant to the idea and having an attractive house front is important to many people (and property values).

This recognition tempers the book which is good. Her rules for front yard edibles set the tone: the plant must have a pleasing form, its leaves must hold up for the entire growing season (thus avoiding that awful mildew look) and make sure there is good foundation planting to support it.

raised beds photo

Photo: The Edible Front Yard

The style of one's house is important too. Traditional houses usually have a more formal garden, contemporary homes often have bigger and wilder plantings.

The "super models" are the plants that look the most ornamental, as well as edible. They are: artichokes, basil, beans, chard, corn, eggplants, kale, lettuce, peppers and safe. The book lists dozens of others, along with descriptions and how to use it and grow it tips.

path detail photo

Photo: The Edible Front Yard

This very traditional path is bordered by colourful and aromatic herbs which look nice and orderly and can be eaten non-stop.

The section on garden design is, interestingly, similar to many books on the subject. It's just that the discussion revolves around vegetables! The key issues remain the same: repetition, importance of structure, form and texture. There is big section on garden design, inspired by various gardens that she has seen. And a how to do it section as well.

If you are ready to take the plunge, here's the way to do it.

More on Vegetable Gardening
Victory Gardens : War on Waste
The Leopoldo Urban Vegetable Garden
Queen Elizabeth Grows a Royal Vegetable Garden

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