Monday, September 19, 2016

What I've Been Reading: "The Edible Front Yard" by Ivette Soler

When I was reviewing Groundbreaking Food Gardens on Amazon, I saw this book pop up on “Suggested titles.” I decided to check it out, and I’m so glad I did! The Edible Front Yard: the Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden is a book that took my dream of turning my lawn into a garden and showed me how to make it reality.

The book begins with a general introduction about the whys and hows of edible landscaping, followed by a chapter of edible plant listings, detailing the benefits and aesthetic of each plant. Every front-yard crop must be beautiful, multipurpose, and long-lasting, and Soler provides dozens of suggestions, both common (apples, basil, lettuce, corn, strawberries) and unusual (borage, amaranth, sorrel, bachelor’s buttons). Each listing has notes about the plant’s aesthetic, color, form, flowering/fruiting habits, growing needs, and uses, as well as stand-out cultivars and suggestions for how the plant could be integrated into the landscape. 

The following chapter is an even longer list of “the supporting cast:” non-veggie plants that add structure, beauty, and other benefits (medicinal leaves, pest control, pollinator attraction) to the edibles. Again, each listing is thorough and helpful, everything from elderberry and catmint to yarrow and St. John’s wort. 

The final chapters of the book discuss design theory, practical considerations, harvesting, and maintaining a front-yard garden that will keep the neighbors happy. Soler insists that organic gardening is the best choice, and provides some great practical organic solutions for for issues that might arise.

I wish the book contained a few more maps to show how people have used these elements to create front-yard paradises (again, the reason I love Jabbour’s book!), although the ample amount of photos helped me visualize what a finished garden might look like. I now have a huge list of plants I’m considering for my front yard, and using some of the exercises in the book to start conceptualizing the layout. Design does not come naturally to me, but this book gave me a lot of helpful tools to improve my skills.

In short, if you’re thinking of putting an edible garden in your front yard (even if you don’t tear up the whole lawn), you should read this book! It’s inspiring, beautiful, and chock-full of practical information.


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