The first house we lived in on the west coast – just north of Portland – was a little place on a quarter of an acre. The sweet older woman that we bought it from had planted everything on that property and most of it was EDIBLE!! There was a huge sprawling English walnut tree that the kids and friends used to climb and hang out in, along with a big filbert, cherry trees, apples, prunes, plums and so many bramble berries that we had to hack our way into the back yard with a machete when we first moved there. They had sort of gotten out of hand… Daffodils came up in the lawn the first spring and it seemed like everything on that quarter acre bloomed! I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I know that that place was where my joy in growing edibles was born – and the realization that you don’t need to give up beauty to grow food!
Even the smallest garden has room for edibles. I have had very tiny gardens and still managed to fill them with food in fun and lovely ways. A hedge can be made up of blueberries, huckleberries, raspberries, filberts or any number of food bearing shrubs. A patio can be shaded with a grape or kiwi vine on an arbor and instead of a flowering tree or a shade tree you could have one that grows fruit or nuts! Instead of a border of just flowers you could have a border of Alpine strawberries (which don’t spread) or lettuce and instead of one of the usual groundcovers you could have wild strawberries or thyme or wintergreen. Instead of the usual decidious bushes scattered here and there, you could have blueberry bushes which flower, fruit and turn lovely fall colors or pink flowered currants or honeyberry! On trellises against your house or along a fence you could grow Sungold cherry tomatoes or beans, and tuck swiss chard and kale – both are beautiful decorative plants that last more than one season often – in amongst flowers and herbs. You’d be amazed at how much food a tiny backyard can grow – or a skinny side yard that is usually wasted space.