Eat Your Landscape: Central Texas/Austin

Turk’s cap, asparagus, chile pequin…fruit trees. Instead of planting the usual suspects in your yard (I’m looking at you, Bradford Pear!), why not try adding plants which provide food?

I’m not talking about turning your front yard into an obvious vegetable garden which would take hours of tending. Instead, let’s focus on the inconspicuous use of edible plants in your landscape.

Over the years, I have written blog posts about dishes you can make with native and adapted plants. On this page, I have collected the recipes and growing advice for these plants. This will always be a work in progress because every season brings new challenges.

A few things first:

  1. I use xeric methods in my landscaping projects, so your water usage should not go up once you’ve established your perennials.
  2. I also limit my use of pesticides, but I will resort to them when there is an intractable infestation. Like when I had those hideous leaf-footed bugs on my pomegranates.
  3. I try to keep my garden as effort-free as possible by ensuring proper placement of all perennials and planting annuals in the seasons they require the least amount of care.
  4. I use a lot of mulch. So much mulch.

Recipes:

Hot sauce from the native Chile Pequin.

Austin Tea Blend from native landscaping. (Turk’s cap, Mexican Tarragon, and Bee Balm)

Turk’s cap and Mexican Tarragon Meringue Cookies

Homemade Black Spanish Grape Jelly in Pork Wellington

Eggplant does well in the Texas heat and heavy clay soil. It also takes well to Japanese pickling methods (tsukemono) I still hate it.

Black Spanish grape jelly. Need I say more? Native grapes in your yard free for the eating.

PEACHES: Steal some Texas peaches from your neighbor’s tree and make a jam.

AMERICAN BEAUTYBERRY: Did you know you can eat the berries of the American beautyberry bush? It’s shade loving and tolerates xeric conditions. I’ve seen it in east Texas, too. It’s best use is in jelly.

Garden tips:

Pomegranate friends, foes, and sunburn

Leaf-footed bugs are gross and ruin pomegranates

Plant a chile pequin bush or two. Native, tasty, and loves the clay soil.

Turk’s cap is one of my favorite shade/part-shade xeric plants. And you can eat the flowers and berries. I promise! I’ve done it a bunch of times.

Sheet mulching works wonders to smother noxious weeds and can help establish your garden without resorting to Round Up.

Certain kinds of grapes do very well here. Zinfandel and Black Spanish are two good picks. The zinfandel is better for table eating, if you are so inclined.