Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Edible Suburban Landscaping

With restrictive Home Owners Associations, many suburbanites are loath to embark on the edible landscaping journey for fear of bringing down the wrath of the powers that be on their fearpeaceful homes. While I make fun of HOA restrictions and talk about flouting the law, I do so kind of tongue-in-cheek, because I don't have to worry about any retribution for planting a blueberry bush in my front yard.

I also realize that, for (too) many people there is a real concern over losing their homes if they step outside that well-defined box. There have been cases where people have actually been fined tens of thousands of dollars by their HOAs for planting too many rose bushes (and to be clear, I don't know about the particular variety of rose bushes this homeowner planted, but if roses behave like other brambles, they are really difficult to "control", and once they're established, getting rid of them is a nightmare fit for Elm Street).

Personally, I wouldn't want to live in neighborhood like that, but when I purchased my house I wasn't worrying about things like HOAs (although I do recall that being able to plant a garden was on the list of requirements for any place we chose to live). If we could have afforded to buy a house in a more posh neighborhood, we might have. I guess in this instance being not-so well-off worked in our favor ;).

While I haven't ever been limited by rules against planting one thing or another, Deus Ex Machina has always forbiddenstrongly discouraged the growing of anything that wasn't edible or medicinal. I got away with planting things like irises and lilies, because they were given to me by his mom (thanks, Gar! The purple irises are thriving and blooming right now ... and they look gorgeous!).

In addition, the layout of my land (and my own ignorance) has hindered my choices of what could be planted. Specifically, a significant part of my yard is shaded through most of the summer. When I start looking for edible perennial plants that could survive in the sun-starved parts of my yard, I'm left with very few choices.

A comment by a fellow permaculturist in my local area led me on an Internet search, where I found a great deal of information (mostly anecdotal, but what the hell!) to confirm what this person said: apparently, hostas are edible.

You could just blow me away with a straw!

The best part about this news is that hostas are easy to find and widely available in my area. Everyone has hostas. Every garden center. Every yard. Until now, I always thought it was a bit short-sighted to devote so much garden space to a plant that had little value above being beautiful (and a healthy hosta is very beautiful).

Now, that I know I can eat them, Hostas will take a more prominent place in my garden ... and even if I don't eat them, I know (through bitter experience) that the ducks can ... and do - right down to the ground!

And if the ducks can eat them, perhaps, the rabbits can eat them, too ... and if I grow a huge patch of hostas and use them to feed the rabbits and ducks, then, I'm one step closer to being self-sufficient ;).


  1. Wow, so if tshtf around here, I won't go hungry after all! ;) Hostas are VERY popular in this area.

  2. Very interesting, I never knew hostas were edible. Now if I could just keep the slugs off of them...

  3. Farmgal - I'll bet there are a lot of things growing around your neighborhood that you could eat ;).

    Janet - I know you're not likely to consider slugs food (they're probably too close to meat for your tastes :), but if you were so inclined, you could eat the slugs :).

  4. Slugs are good with salt right? ;-)

    Whodathunk you could eat hostas? I personally don't really enjoy the look of them...but hey!

  5. I do like the look of Hostas as they are in the flower part of my garden...but tell me more about how you would eat them??? Salad?? or cooked for greens???? Or just for animals to eat?? Very curious........

  6. I had to look up hostas. They don't grow here, well, except maybe inside. Glad you can justify growing them. Enjoy!

    The problem I have with most ornamentals that flower is that I really don't like floral fragrances. The smell of roses make me nauseous, lavender is equally awful, and I struggle through citrus blooming season. Yeah, not a normal girl at all...

    PS: I can't stand diamonds either. Talk about a cheap date!

  7. Wow, I didnt know you could eat Hostas either! Would they be fixed in a salad or cooked like a collard green I wonder.

    Very enjoyable post. Thanks for sharing.