A kitchen garden represented by any kind of edible landscaping replaces some turf grass with produce. Carefully designed and maintained, it can be as attractive as any other garden space. “According to GardenResearch.com, 30 million U.S. households, about 25 percent, participated in vegetable gardening in 2015,” reports Dave Whitinger, executive director of the National Gardening Association, owned by Dash Works in Jacksonville, Texas.
“To integrate edibles into a landscape, first assess the locations of sunny and shady spots,” says Charlie Nardozzi. “Then, identify plants suited to the growing conditions that will fit in those areas. Mix in edibles with flowers, shrubs and groundcovers to keep the yard beautiful.” For urban areas, he recommends raised beds and containers as a good way to integrate edibles, bringing in clean soil and moving containers to the sunniest spots in the yard.
“We have 3,000 raised beds in Milwaukee,” says Gretchen Mead, executive director of the Victory Garden Initiative, which helps install edible landscapes. “We went from about 35 new kitchen gardens eight years ago to more than 500 each year now.”
The easy-to-build raised beds go on top of or in place of turf lawns. For Midwestern residents, Mead recommends beginning with six crops that can be started as transplants, like tomatoes or broccoli, and then growing a couple of plants from seed, like zucchini or green beans.