42 Delicious Edibles to Sneak into Your Landscape in Zone 3 or higher
Review: Gardening like a Ninja, A Guide to Sneaking Delicious Edibles into Your Landscape by Angela England. (Hobble Creek Press: Springville, Utah, 2016)
Gardening like a Ninja is about transforming your boring, ornamental landscape into a vibrant food forest with medicinal herbs, superfoods, and colourful vegetables. Ninja gardeners do it in an attractive, ornamental way, so that the neighbors aren’t even cognizant of the real role of your landscaping.
I have to admit, as I thumbed through the pages of this latest book by my friend, homesteader, blogger, and author Angela England, that I was envious of the beautiful clay planters, the lemon trees loaded with fruit, and her zone 7b hardiness. In fact, as I was reading I wished I’d had her book 20 years ago when I was gardening in Mission, BC in a zone 7b. I would have put in dwarf pomegranates, hardy figs, and almonds. Now in zone 3, am I limited to boring edible landscapes and envy? Not according to Gardening like a Ninja. First let me tell you about this book full of garden porn, then I’ll tell you about what you can add to an edible landscape plan, if you live in zone 3, like I do.
Gardening like a Ninja is in 3 parts. The first part tells you why you need to sneak food into your landscape, how to incorporate edible landscape design elements into your plan, and how to get started gardening if you’ve only ever mowed a lawn before. Part 2 shows you real life examples of edible landscape designs that you can imitate in your own garden planning, before you order plants this year. Part 3 shows you which cultivars are the best choices for different areas of your garden, whether you are working with partial shade or full sun, lots of space or a little. Section 3 covers half the book.
The photography is pure eye candy. Vibrant colours, sharp focus, and glowing portraits of each plant are the rule. This is a book you’ll reference each winter, as you plan each section of your edible landscape transformation.
This book is for those who need tips to move from lawn maintenance to edible abundance. You’ll find a crash course in garden design that will help you work out a plan for your specific circumstance, climate, hardiness zone, and eye sore areas that need help. For instance, Angela advises not growing food in the ‘Hell Strip’. But don’t worry. She doesn’t leave you with an eye sore. Instead you can transform that area with nectar and pollen rich plants for the wild bees. Genius! That will help your food forest be more productive and improve the curb appeal.
Is this just for home owners? Angela also gives some suggestions for container gardens that can transform your patio, deck, or apartment balcony. And if you have more land, you can grow all the food you need with the ideas in this book.
What this book doesn’t do
This book isn’t for those with raised bed boxes, outlined in perfect rectangles in your backyard for intensive square foot vegetable gardening. This is for those who want to go beyond just a vegetable garden and create a park-like setting, that stimulates every sense. Imagine a garden buzzing with bees and hummingbirds, that children love to walk through and pick its low hanging fruit. You can create that garden with Gardening Like a Ninja.
42 plants for your zone 3 ‘Ninja Garden’?
I know many of my readers struggle with short growing seasons and challenging climates. So many gardening books are great if you live in zone 5 to 9. But if you live on the extreme end of the hardiness zone map you feel cheated by the cultivars available to you. Fear not, dear reader. I personally thumbed through the pages of Gardening Like a Ninja, notebook and pen in hand, to find the idea edibles for your climate challenges.
Here are 42 edible plants that you can begin your edible landscape planning with, while you are waiting for your book to arrive from Amazon. This is not a complete list. The usual garden vegetables have been omitted, such as carrots, potatoes, and beets. But you can include them in your plans, if you like.
Top Story Trees:
- Apples – pick varieties that are hardy and grafted on hardy root stock
- Crab Apples
- Sweet Cherry Pie™ Cherry (self pollinating)
- American Elderberries
- Quince, Common
- Black Walnut (bonus. This one’s not in the book)
- Blueberry, Low Bush
- Gogi Berries
- Grapes, Fox (Vitis labrusca)
- Haskaps (Honeyberry)
- Seabuckthorn (nitrogen fixer)
- Super Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta)
Perennial Herbs and Vegetables
- Onions, Egyptian Walking
Annual Vegetables for short season growers
- Brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, radishes, etc.
- Cucumbers and squash
- Egg Plant
- Peppers in containers
- Swiss chard
If you are looking for inspiration to renovate your landscape into an edible garden sanctuary, Gardening Like a Ninja will give it to you. Thanks, Angela for the beautiful addition to the gardening library. Your book will help gardeners grow food without sacrificing beauty, fragrance, and delight.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from Cedar Fort Publishing.