I recently had the opportunity to visit a fellow urban gardener’s home and share her experiences with growing her own food.
East Nashville Edible Garden
I met with Susan Enan, a Nashville singer/songwriter, who is successfully growing a variety of edible plants in her yard. Her home is nestled in East Nashville, right outside the city, not far off the busy street of Gallatin. When first coming upon the house, I was surprised by the size of the lot. Quite similar to my own, it was your average urban/suburban plot of land, with a little back yard and some landscaping in front. However, creeping out from the side of the house was a lush garden space filled with edibles from chard to strawberries.
Incorporating Edible Landscaping
It was inspiring to see the way that Susan had seemlesy incorporated edibles into her landscape, all while maintaining the aesthetic of the neighborhood. She had several grafted fruit trees in the front yard, strawberries, blackberries, elderberries and raspberries growing in her front yard. She is currently working on an edible front yard fence project.
In order to maintain the visual appeal in her front yard, she constructed barriers from wood and conduit piping for the berry bushes. These structures had an industrial feel and were pretty as well as functional. They successfully reigned in the wild blackberry bushes and made them suitable for a front yard space.
Along the side of the house Susan has used an espalier technique. She has more information about this method and how she achieved this on her blog. She grows currents and gooseberries, both popular fruits in her native England.
All landscaping in the front yard was edible. Edible landscaping can be done in a variety of ways and is an effective method of utilizing small spaces in urban environments.
Susan uses a deep mulch method throughout her garden. She has 4 inches of mulch in all the beds. This method helps retain moisture and prevent weeds from sprouting. In her experience this method has saved her significant time and energy by reducing weeding.
In order to maximize her space, Susan has also removed quite a bit of her lawn. She gives more information about how she does this on her website.
Connecting with Fellow Gardeners
Although East Nashville Edible Garden is located in TN and I am based out of St. Louis there are many valuable things I took away from my visit. I am hoping to employ some of Susan’s techniques in my own garden next year. Connecting with fellow gardeners in your community is a wonderful way to expand your skill set and knowledge on a variety of topics. It’s also a great way to establish a trade system for plants, animals and information.
We need to return to the source of our food and reconnect with the plants and the process that sustains us. However we also need to connect to each other and help others on their journey. I am grateful for my ability to meet with Susan and share her experiences and I encourage all urban gardeners to get out there and get to know your neighbors!