One of the most common issues for people who want to grow food at home is that they worry the neighbors will complain. Many neighborhoods have policies that restrict residents from putting vegetable plots on their own property. While that might seem ridiculous to many of us, it is most definitely the case. Luckily, for the clever gardener, there are ways around the rules, ways to both cultivate some food and keep the complaint department at bay.
Many plants often used as ornamentals are, in fact, edible. This list includes plenty of favorites for flower bed junkies, some of which might already be present without the grower knowing the plants are also food. Instead of getting too caught up on rows of tomatoes and green beans, it’s possible to put in beautiful garden beds that still provide sustenance without causing problems with the Home Owner’s Association.
When things are planted in a mix, with a whirl of color and flowers in bloom, it’s difficult to distinguish what’s for looks and what’s for dinner. There are lots of plants that serve both purposes.
This is a popular perennial that grows throughout the entirety of the contiguous United States. In the spring, it puts out lovely, lush leaves that quickly take up some square footage. Then, beautiful blooms appear in the summer and continue on into the fall. But, what many don’t know is that hosta is actually a member of the asparagus family and is a common vegetable in Japan. The young, furled leaves can be eaten raw in salads or steamed as if asparagus. Older leaves work well for stews, soups, and green juices. The flowers are also edible.
These are the best-selling plants in summertime nurseries. They are actually members of the violet family, many of which are edible. The leaves can be added to salads and smoothies, as well as soups and stews. The flowers, which come in a myriad of colors, can be used to beautify dishes. These are annuals that will need to be planted anew each year.
This plant is actually sometimes considered a weed, but that’s crazy. It has stunning blue, star-shaped flowers, and bees absolutely love them. They are also edible and have a flavor not unlike cucumber. Typically, people like to eat the younger leaves, before they get too hairy, though the hairy leaves are edible as well. The flowers make delicate decorations for salads and such also.
4. Day Lily
Also considered a weed in some regions, day lilies are striking flowers that fit seamlessly into gardens. Amazingly, the whole plant is edible. Early day lily leaves, which should only be eaten in small quantities, have a flavor that resembles onion. The opened flowers can be used in salads, soups, and that whole list. Or, they can be stuffed, as with squash blossoms. The flower buds, however, are the prize. They can be used in a stir fry or just prepared alone. Even the roots and seeds are edible.
Known as a tough plant that doesn’t want much attention, nasturtiums like to spread out and send up an array of flowers throughout the season. They are actually popular for vegetable gardens because they distract bugs from the other plants. They are also delicious. The leaves and flowers have a pleasing pepper flavor. The seeds can be pickled and used in place of capers. Nasturtiums are also good self-seeders that will often regrow year after year.
Typically referred to as “mums”, these popular flowers are also food. In fact, they are commonly called upon in Chinese medicine. The flowers can be steeped for tea or thrown into salads. The leaves do well in a stir fry, as well as the ubiquitous list of soups, stews, and smoothies. And, there is a huge variety to choose from so that something, big or small, perennial or annual, early or late blooming, is available.
Redbud trees are one of the firsts to bloom in the spring, and though the flowers are actually not red but magenta, they are stunners. They are also absolutely delicious and full of vitamin C. These are great understory trees that can deal with a bit of shade and tolerate different weather and soil conditions. For the avid forager, these trees have been used for leaves, buds, pods, and even inner bark. After the flowers bloom, the tree is very attractive, with full, heart-shaped leaves.
So, it’s totally possible to fill the yard with flowers while filling our stomachs with nutrition. These plants will provide unique flavors for dinner, some of which will wow guests. And, it is just a unique way to cultivate food at home, without getting into trouble, no less!
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