Book Review Edible Estates

Grow Your Own with Edible Estates l Radical Urban Gardening l A book review l Homestead Lady (.com)Have you been thinking about switching out your lawn for an edible garden instead?  Let Edible Estates help you learn to grow your own food.  You don’t need lots of space, just lots of inspiration and information.

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Edible Landscaping on Edible Estates

This idea of edible landscaping is not new.  Founding Father Thomas Jefferson was a fan, although his gardens were still primarily confined to the backyard.  The idea of growing your own food on your own land is getting some modern traction with books like Edible Estates.

There are even whole websites dedicated to the idea like Food not Lawns and  Grow Food, Not Lawns.

What Edible Estates Promises to Do

Edible Estates, by Fritz Haeg, will inspire you get serious with your local food addiction.  This book will teach you how to take ordinary, water-sucking lawns and turn it into useful and beautiful gardens.

Let’s just be clear, I’m not against all grass.  Grass serves many useful and even beautiful purposes.  However, if the only time your or I walk on our grass is to mow it, chances are we could be doing something a little more useful with the land on which it sits.  Just sayin’.

Growing Food in the Front Yard

This book starts out with several articles written on the various subject surrounding publicly growing food in the front yard.  To be honest, I found Haeg’s own words a bit pedantic.  His writing is a tad condescending of anyone with a different viewpoint and a little heavy handed.  It’s not even that I disagreed with his points, but his caustic tone was just annoying.

I much preferred reading Michael Pollan’s article “Why Mow?’ and Rosalind Creasy’s article “My House in the Garden”.  Both articles are in the book.

Your Land is More Than a Grass Carpet

Those few articles encourage you to think about your land being more than the carpet your house sits on.  After that, you’re introduced to eight Edible Estates prototype gardens.  Edible Estates is taken from Haeg’s garden group bearing the same name.

Haeg goes around recruiting local volunteers to dig up a selected front yard in a given city.  They replant it with edibles and select ornamentals.  The goal is to make the land produce food for the homeowners, who in turn, typically share with their community.

Most homeowners end up answering lots of questions about the changes they’ve made once the Edible Estates groups have everything planted.  Across the board, they commented on how nice it was to meet their neighbors and members of their community just because of their gardens.

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Houses and Apartments

Some of the gardens put in were at single family homes, some were at multi-unit dwellings.  There was one installation that was even done at a demonstration garden in California.  At the very end, there’s a section that goes zone by planting zone, with stories from each area.  This allows people who’ve revamped their yards on their own to write in and talk about their experience Those little stories are neat.

I liked the idea of this book.  What an awesome life’s work!  Honestly, I wasn’t really blown away by the designs of most of the yards.  That’s just me, though.  I was constantly thinking you could pack in a few more things here and do this over there…but, to each his own.

I think one of my favorite featured Edible Estates gardens was Clarence Ridgley’s after it had grown up a bit.  Be sure to check it out in the book.

Our version of Edible Estates

We plowed up our grass and laid out and edible/herb garden.  So, we identified with the experiences in these books quite a bit.

We, too, had the cranky neighbor down the street.  That guy who called city hall on us so often that we got to know the code lady by her first name.  We even had our city councilman out to check on what we were doing.  No, nothing we did was illegal, but people get very nervous when you do anything to the grass.  The grass is sacred.  Don’t tread on the grass.

Our immediate neighbors, though, and every other person we meet walking by our garden has been interested and complimentary.  We’ve derived great pleasure out of having our medicine cabinet in our front yard.  It’s so nice not to have to buy every herb we use!

It’s a lot of work as the garden gets established.  Weeds appear, wood chips decompose and need to be replaced, water systems need tweaking.  And will the ground covers ever cover?!  Each year, though, the herbs fills in more,  The flowers re-seed and the ground covers do spread.

Bottom line, if these guys can do it, you can do it.

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