The Sunday Mail
FOODSCAPING! Yes, that is the latest trend in gardening — this is when you grow both food crops and ornamental plants.
Your whole garden becomes a place where you continuously harvest produce as opposed to being a decorative back portion of your estate. That is the original design of nature. A garden should be a place where you can walk freely plucking off a berry here and there as you enjoy the scenery.
It is a good thing that this is by no means a new concept in our African context as most people’s gardens are just big enough to plant a mango or an orange tree together with a vegetable garden. But I dare to challenge you to redo your garden, incorporating your favourite food plants right from the entrance of your yard.
Choose a design style and using the different textures of your plants, which ever they are; come up with a unique versatile landscape.
Run away from the ordinary concept of a small rectangle patch of kale plants, but take it further putting different plants such as herbs, fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. It will look grand with your neat cut lawn and meandering pebble clad pathways.
On fruit tree selection, choose those trees which will not overly mess your lawn. Go for grafted specimens as opposed to those raised from seed as they don’t grow too large, so that you will still have a balanced display.
Foodscaping is so cool in that you do not have to walk all the way to the the back of your yard just to get a few leaves of your herbs or vegetables for cooking purposes.
For instance, the Pawpaw tree makes an interesting addition to your border particularly before the tree becomes too large a specimen. Amongst fruits try granadillas, grapes, strawberry, pomegranate, loquat, macadamia, banana, tree tomato and litchi.
Trees like the mulberry or the Mexican apple tree will become too messy and are strictly for the backyard. Herbs like lemon grass, lavender, globe artichoke, rosemary, mint, fennel, bay leaf, pineapple sage and Thyme will make excellent landscaping subjects.
With the myriad of vegetables available — the sky is the limit. Your bean plants will gladly climb a fence and make it easy to harvest them.
Plant your carrots, cucumber, eggplant, pepper, celery, cabbage, spinach, tomato, cauliflower, peas, onion, beetroot, cassava, potatoes and pumpkin.
The inclusion of indigenous vegetables cannot be ruled out.
Amaranth (bonongwe), okra (derere, idelele), cat’s whiskers (nyevhe, ulude), cowpea (nyemba), mustard rape (tsunga), black jack (tsine, ucucuza), cassava (mufarinya) and lambsquarter (mubvunzandadya) are some of the indigenous veggies to incorporate into your design.
The art of foodscaping will require that you keep your own gene bank or seed store. Preserving some seed for future use saves you lots of money. Enjoy the scenery as well as feed your stomach. Happy gardening.
Andrew is a horticulturist by profession and can be reached by email at [email protected]