Food for the taking
Have you ever eaten a pine tree? Many parts are edible. Those supposedly were the famous words of world-renowned food forager, Euell Gibbons, on a grape-nuts commercial in the ’70s. Not many of us would be interested in eating a pine tree, but it may remind us that many plants, which we may not have considered food, are edible. Euell had reportedly been a hobo in his younger years and had found the forest abundant with food; something he had learned from his mother as a boy in New Mexico. He later wrote books about foraging wild plants, but he is most famous for television commercials.
Bringing it home
Your yard, like the forest, could be abundant with food. Learning what plants are edible is the beginning of your journey. Imagine stepping out your back door and collecting your supper. Traditional vegetables can be part of this landscape but many perennial plants that don’t need to be replanted every season could also. Fruit trees can provide shade as well as food. The pioneers understood this and planted these trees close to their front or back door and close to the kitchen. This is likely where the term dooryard fruit trees came from.
Feeding the Family
The average Florida lawn is about seven thousand square feet. Depending on your information source, you might expect to need about four thousand square feet to grow enough food to feed a person for a year. Of course, no one expects the average person to try to achieve such an endeavor. Also, this number would depend on the type of food and the amounts that you consume. Your yard may not feed a family of four, but you might lessen your grocery bill with some planning.
Think big, start small
Finally, not many people would be expected to have their whole yard planted in edibles. More likely they would start to incorporate these types of plants. Adding planting beds and filling gaps with edibles. Although you may choose to, there is no reason to pull up your landscaping and do a complete makeover. Plant some things you enjoy eating and don’t forget the flowering plant. The pollinators will thank you.
Learn from the folks at UF/IFAS
If you want to learn more, The University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has just what you are looking for. Highlands County Master Gardener Volunteers are offering a class on May 21st called Incredible Edible Landscapes. To register, click here, or call the extension office at (863) 402-6540. You can also find my Facebook page, Hometown Gardener, find, and click on the link that takes you to Eventbrite to register. That’s what’s new from the Hometown Gardener and UF/IFAS Extension.
Keep in Touch with UF/IFAS Extension, Highlands County
In Highlands County, our office is at 4509 W George Blvd., Sebring. The Master Gardener Help Desk is open Monday – Friday from 9 AM to 3:30 PM.
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Sign up for our Highlands County Master Gardener Volunteer, “Putting Down Root” Newsletter Here.