Cultivation of edibles does not have to be inconspicuous in a landscape simply because of its primary food function unless, of course, your city ordinance demands that it be. In fact, certain vegetables, fruits and herbs are well-suited to grow in the front yard, where they will add to the aesthetics as well as contribute to tasty meals. Showcase food-producing plants that have attractive flowers and colorful fruit by mingling them with decorative flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees. Aim for variety in plant size, color and foliage.
This onion family member features attractive and edible lavender flowers, shaped in small balls atop slender stems, that begin blooming in late spring and early summer. The bright green leaves resemble grass and have a mild flavor, making them suitable for use in dishes such as chip dips and salads. Chives tolerate light shade, but do best in areas that receive full sun. Plant them in the spring after all danger of frost has passed in beds with rich, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. Prolong plant production by snipping flower stalks at the soil line when the flowers have stopped blooming.
Purple Pod Pole Beans
According to Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organization based in Decorah, Iowa, that saves and exchanges heirloom seeds, purple pod pole beans were discovered by Henry Fields in an Ozark garden in the 1930s. Like their more traditional green-podded brethren, this variety is a prolific producer, climbing up to 6 feet tall. When blanched, the stringless pods turn green, but on the vine they are a vibrant reddish-purple. Plant these around a front porch to add vertical height and for easy picking. Provide them with full sun and well-drained soil. Provide a trellis, arch or porch post for them to climb on.
Basil’s fresh scent may prompt more frequent hunger pains, but its lush, bright green foliage enhances any landscape. A member of the mint family, this herb grows as an annual in all but tropical climates. The leaves are eaten fresh or easily dried for consumption all year long. Grow basil in well-drained soil and in full sun. Most varieties need about 2 feet of vertical and horizontal growing space. Prolong its growth and prevent the plant from becoming too woody by pinching off its tiny white flower clusters when they appear. Snip off individual leaves or whole stems just above leaf pairs.
For the front yard, grow tomato plants that produce smaller fruit with vibrant colors, such as Tiny Tim and Yellow Pear. Relegate larger varieties, such as Brandywine heirlooms that can grow fruit that weighs up to 2 pounds, to the traditional vegetable garden. Grow tomato plants in rich soil and in a spot that receives at least six hours of sun daily. Dig a hole and cover the stems with soil that reaches just below the first set of leaves. Place cages over them or stakes near them after they are planted. Soak the soil 6 to 7 inches deep at seven-day intervals, particularly as they are developing fruit.