Episode-1942- Edible Ornamentals – Growing Food in Plain Site Even in an HOA

So today I stopped by the TSP Zello channel to say hello and ask for topic suggestions.  There were some great ones but most required me to spend a few days to put together, this one though I can get ready for in about an hour, so it is our topic of the day.

I also like this topic because this is a common problem I hear about from many people.  I want to grow food, I really think my front yard is best but I live in an HOA and the blue hairs will get me, etc.  Additionally growing food in a front yard even without an HOA may be something people want to keep a bit unadvertised for a variety of reasons.

Also while I will discuss some specific plants to grow today I will spend a lot of time on technique.  In general what people (okay idiots) object with front yard gardens isn’t the specific plants, because they don’t know know a beet plant from a hosta in the first place, they object to the pattern, people identify patterns.

In fact the entire sickness of the HOA mentality is an obsession with uniformity of pattern.  A McMansion is supposed to look a certain way, cars should be in garages, grass should be mowed and edged, etc.  Drive up and down any HOA style neighborhood and you will see a modern Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood, 5 or six houses repeted over and over with some variances of color.  Mail boxes lined up a certain way, etc.  This sickness once understood becomes our weapon of choice.

Join Me Today To Discuss….

  • Understanding HPOS (HOA Pattern Obsession Syndrome)
  • Know the rules, percentage of grass, number of trees, height restrictions, etc.
  • Switch to an organic program for lawn maintenance -see links for this below
  • Measure your working area and deign in islands and edges within the rules
  • Install irrigation to all locations, drip is best if you can do so
  • Do use things like landscape fabric and mulches, (natural)
  • Look at what your neighbors do, mimic the patterns
  • Plant non edibles with your edibles
  • Use dwarf or semi dwarf trees, shrubs and bushes
  • Definitely grow annuals though out the season with succession planting
  • Give away some easy to grow “pretty plants” like Rainbow Chard
  • Build retaining walls for deeper fills of soil
  • Utilize edges, as this is expected by people with HPOS
  • Utilize large containers
    • Some Great Annuals to Grow in this System
      • Herbs especially purple basil
      • Rainbow Chard
      • Red Beets – for the tops
      • Sweet Potato – as a ground cover
      • Calendula
      • Nasturtium
      • Ornamental Hot Peppers
      • Various lettuces
      • Scarlet Runner Beans
      • Kale
    • Perennials
      • Dwarf Pomegranite
      • Dwarf Peach
      • Blueberries
      • Feijoa
      • Figs
      • Chives
      • Day Lilies
      • Roses
      • Nanking or Hanson’s Cherry
      • Dwarf Mulberry – keep it pruned below bird usage
  • Remember in the end, the key is stay in the rules and stay in the pattern
  • Oh, get the hell out of that HOA ASAP

Resources for today’s show…

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11 Responses to Episode-1942- Edible Ornamentals – Growing Food in Plain Site Even in an HOA

  1. Thanks for stopping by the TSP Zello channel today Jack. Its always a treat!
    http://zello.com/tsp

  2. Hey Jack,
    this was a very interesting podcast today. It got me thinking on how to expand our market garden using the same types of principles. We have 10 acres in an agriculture subdivision of 24 large lots. we raise beef cattle, chickens for eggs and have a going concern of pastured meat poultry. We also have a large market garden filled with perennials and annuals. There is an HOA, but its really only there to collect for funding the maintenance and care of our roads. We are a private subdivision and are responsible for our own upkeep and repairs. We plan to expand our edible gardens and landscape this year. It is important to be good neighbors in our minds, so you brought up some great ideas regarding design and patterns. We are the only working farm in the community but we do have one neighbor who also raises cattle. Everyone keeps their properties neat and well maintained. This was a well timed podcast. We wanted to do an expansion into the front bottom of our property and i have been giving thought of the best way to proceed and still maintain an attractive entrance. This will sure help solidify some ideas! Cheers LavendarLou

  3. I haven’t listened to this quite yet, but I can’t wait! I moved from the suburbs to 5 acres a bit over a year ago, but I listened to Jack for 5+ years before that. On my suburban home I replaced all of my hostas with comfrey, all of my pine shrubs with Blueberries, let the clover and natural stuff grow in my back yard, planted a stand of strawberries, and I grew a garden… And I involved my neighbors in the garden. I made sure to ask them what they liked, and I grew LOTS of it… One neighbor liked tomatoes and the other lettuce and carrots. I made sure every time I saw them I would say, “hey, let me go grab some tomatoes for you.” Sometimes I would leave produce on their porch.

    There was 0% chance they didn’t love me having my gardens. I would also chat with them about why I replaced my hostas with comfrey. I showed them when we had an early frost how I chopped my comfrey and covered my garlic seeds to save them, then the next year gave them a few heads of organic garlic. I was never preachy or even suggested that they should do any of this themselves. I just told them why I was doing what I did.

    In the end, both neighbors ended up making small gardens and having a few small fruit trees of their own. Although I didn’t have an HOA where I lived, it was the most stereotypical suburb you could imagine. However, by just doing my thing and making sure they benefited greatly, they didn’t bother me, and I’d like to think in some small way I actually moved them a tiny bit more toward self sufficiency because they did start gardens of their own and the one replaced a bush with a pear tree. She purposefully chose a fruiting variety over an ornamental variety, even though she never expressed any interest in growing her own food she said she did it because of all the “cool stuff” I was doing.

    I totally understand that not everyone can move from the suburbs. So I think this topic is SO important. Grow a tiny bit of your own food, and share with your neighbors. I’m not some sort of motivational person, but in my tiny niche of the world I changed at least three households to do this.

    One super easy thing to do is grow cherry tomatoes and lemon balm. Then, if you like fish, grab about ten tomatoes and a handful of lemon balm. Chop both up and put them over the fish. Make a tin foil pouch with the fish, tomatoes, and lemon balm in them and grill over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. This will make an incredibly easy and amazingly delicious main course! In my case, I love swiss chard, so I would steam some swiss chard as a side dish. This combo has wowed SO many people, and they love to hear that everything but the fish came from my (then) 1/5th of an acre. It really opens a lot of minds to the idea of growing food in your own back yard, even if you only have a small area. I’m on almost 6 acres, but my garden this year will be 1,000 square feet. That’s 33ft x 33ft, I guarantee you can find that much space. At my suburban house, I grew in two raised beds that were 12’x6′, or just 144 square feet. Even giving away a lot of my stuff, I could never eat that many tomatoes, squash, or lettuce.

    I’m just rambling now, but please do something, I’ve only been a gardener for three years; almost exclusively due to Jack. Get out there and make a small garden. Grow something! It will seriously change your life and your neighbors. Even if you are an apartment dweller. I helped my colleague grow two tomato plants and 6 lettuce plants on his balcony using a hydroponic deep water culture system. He did not add water or nutrients after the very first time, and with the rain refilling the container he ended up with dozens of tomatoes and a few dozen salads. It’s so easy, and so fun. Do it!

  4. Just to add a little about the Pineapple Guava, They are very hearty and easy to grow from seed. There are a few good youtube videos on how to grow from seed. Aside from the fruit that ripens in late fall, the pink flower petals can be carefully removed and eaten without affecting the fruit set. The petals have a delicate light sweet flavor and can fetch good money if grow in bulk. The plant is very cold tolerant but the fruit will go bad after first frost.

  5. No peppers on the list?

  6. Awesome show! I don’t have an HOA but my wife doesn’t care for the look of our regular raised bed garden in the backyard. This gives me lots of ideas for elsewhere in the backyard and the front yard too!

  7. Do you have any tips on doing this in a Desert HOA that doesn’t allow plants unless they are listed as drought tolerant?
    Specifically, I am in San Tan Valley, Arizona.
    Thanks!

    • Silvia Messmer

      Look up desert foraging and plant what’s edible. Mesquite, palo verde and ironwood are desert trees that all produce edible pods/beans. Native “wolf berries” are actually a type of goji berry that grow wild EVERYWHERE here in the desert. Jojoba seeds are edible, I used to eat them off the bushes when I was a kid. Moringa trees thrive here, tolerate drought, produce better in poor soil and are a super food! The plus is they grow super fast in the heat so you can have a ten foot tree the first summer from seed. Pretty much all cactus have edible fruits, saguaros are super delicious and full of antioxidants. Peruvian apple cactus taste better than expensive dragon fruit (that have to be imported) and are everywhere in the Phoenix metro area (taste some fruit from the mother plant before getting a cutting as some taste better than others). You just have to get in the mind set that you cannot grow what people in other areas of the country can grow. Also, find out if they have restrictions on container plants. You can grow a lot in large pots that are intensively planted to keep the pots cooler in summer and position them to get afternoon shade.

    • . You can do prickly pear, and purslane probably at least. check out the plant list and http://www.agriscaping.com is right nearby you in gilbert. check out the plant list and see whats allowed. There is probably something on there that is edible. Palo verde elephant food and carob also come to mind. Many succulents have edible properties..

  8. Check out http://www.agriscaping.com elegant. Edible. Landscaping:A company dedicated to designing, educating, maintaining and harvesting edible landscapes.

  9. We have azaleas and blueberry growing together. The azaleas are evergreen and blueberry leaves are a nice red in the fall.