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NEWS: Foodscaping with Brie Arthur

By Lynn Langley.

On Monday evening members and guests were treated to a sprightly presentation from horticulturalist and author, Brie Arthur, about including edible plants in the garden landscape.The passion and dedication Brie has for her subject was clearly apparent.

“Foodscaping,” as she calls it, is the integration of edibles in traditional ornamental landscapes and containers. Edibles don’t have to be planted in rows, as on a farm, but can be tucked into available spaces in the ornamental garden. Californian Rosalind Creasy, author of the gardening classic “The Edible Landscape” (Counterpoint Press), has inspired Brie’s career focus and her book “The Foodscape Revolution” (St. Lynn’s Press), which was available for purchase and signing after she spoke.

Advice on Edibles for our Gardens and Soil Preparation

Brie discussed plants and gardens unique to our area since she wanted to address the challenges Southern California gardeners face, like drought conditions and smaller spaces to work with. She suggested the AAS (All-American Selection) regional winners list, available on the AAS winners’ page as a resource for choosing edible plants.

And, since Brie prefers the flexibility of planting in containers, she noted the need to use top quality potting soil with a monthly feeding of fish emulsion. Her preferred organic fertilizers, from ‘Espoma Organics’ and ‘Jobes Organics’, are available at our sponsoring nurseries.

Expert Tips on Planting your "Foodscape"

Brie advised us to begin building a “Foodscape” from the outer edges and using plants such as arugula, garlic, onions or potatoes to discourage unwelcome grazing from animals. These edibles and certain herbs can protect the more tempting edibles placed in the center.

Container and Vertical Gardening Ideas

She noted the pros and cons of using terra cotta pots in our drought prone gardens and shared that her containers of choice are the ‘Crescent Garden’ brand. Adding hanging baskets (good for herbs), integrated window boxes or growing vertical with a living wall or screen can be used to add interest.

Why a ‘Foodscape Revolution’?

In Brie’s opinion, good space management involves eliminating open mulch space, reducing the need for herbicides, and crop rotation for maximum soil health. With over 180 million acres of development in the United States, space for growing and gardening is always being challenged.

In conclusion, growing our own food increases the nutritional value of the foods we eat. For Brie it is especially important to reach and expose young children to gardens and growing food, through community, school, or home gardens. Once exposed to the positive effects of growing food, they are more apt to garden as adults with their own children.

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