Create a landscape you can eat

Landscaping provides so many benefits from increasing privacy and creating shady areas to preventing soil erosion and, of course, adding eye-appeal. Here's another benefit that's hard to resist: landscaping you can eat!
In most cases, this means you're actually eating the fruit of the plants, rather than getting down on your hands and knees to graze on the green stuff. Fruiting plants and fruit trees can be an excellent addition to your landscape. You can literally enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing and your mouth watering.
Strawberries Strawberries are a welcome addition to any home garden. Even for relatively inexperienced gardeners, they are quite easy to grow, do not require much space and virtually no chemicals are needed.

berry yield in excess of 50 pounds or so one year after planting, depending upon the variety. You will want to select a site that is open to direct sunlight most of the day and you should avoid very low- lying areas prone to spring frosts.
I strongly recommend that you also invest in some spun-bonded row covers to help protect open strawberry blossoms from spring frosts and freezes. The row covers work by allowing light and moisture to penetrate while trapping the heat inside. Temperatures under the cover can be 8 degrees higher than on the outside. Agricultural Extension studies have shown that using covers can accelerate flowering by up to two weeks and increase the fruit yield. When flowers appear, remove the covers during the day to allow pollination.
There are a number of strawberry varieties you can choose from, each with different characteristics.
Ozark Beauty: This is one of the hardiest varieties as well as being a heavy producer of fruit that will be showing up from early summer to first frost.
Honeoye: This strangely-named variety has been around since its introduction in 1979. It produces large fruit with a distinctly tart flavor, starting in early June. Honeoye is also an attractive groundcover.
Sweet Charlie: If you prefer a really sweet strawberry, look for this early season variety. Vigorous and disease-resistant, too.
Raspberries Raspberries require a good soil with slight acidity and adequate drainage. New plants should be planted in the spring before they start to grow. Raspberries also require one to three inches of water a week. More water is required as the berries get close to harvest.
For easiest harvest and to reduce the risk of fungal disease, provide some types of support for the canes. A simple wire trellis set between posts is often adequate. Cut spent canes to the ground after they finish fruiting.
Domestic raspberries are either summer-bearing plants, which produce fruit in June, or fall-bearing plants, which produce fruit in the late summer and fall. Summer-bearing plants like the Red Latham, flower and bear fruit on canes that grew the previous year. Once they fruit, those canes won't produce a crop again and should be removed.
Red Latham: A reliable favorite producing fruit that is cold-hardy and disease-resistant with a remarkable bright red color and sweet flavor. A good choice if you enjoy home-made jams and jellies.
Caroline Raspberry: This is the fall-bearing standard of raspberries, producing large berries with a strong flavor. Because they are susceptible to verticillium wilt, so do not plant where potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant or peppers have grown in the past 3 to 4 years.
Heritage: An ever-bearing variety producing a crop in June and a larger crop from September through fall. It has a good holding ability on the vine, meaning the fruit is somewhat forgiving if you wait a day or two longer when it has reached its prime harvesting point.
Strawberries and raspberries. Just two of the many edible landscaping options. You are welcome to contact me via e-mail if you have specific questions. In future columns I'll take a look at some of those other options.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit
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