Higher food prices at the grocery store and a growing demand for fresh, local, affordable fruits and vegetables are inspiring millions of Americans to take matters into their own hands by growing their own food. This "eat-your-yard" movement, also called edible landscaping or gardening with a purpose, is taking root and sprawling all over the United States.
Phillip Nicklay, owner of Viola Nursery and Greenhouse just outside of Rochester, says he's seen evidence of the growing trend here in southeastern Minnesota, too.
"It's definitely been increasing ever year," he says. "And even more so with the price of vegetables going up at the grocery store."
Nicklay says the biggest increase he's seen has been from people wanting to add larger edibles to their yard that can continue to produce food year after year.
"We've noticed the largest increase in people looking to plant fruit trees and bushes in their yards," he says. "Raspberries, blueberries and other things like that that fit into and complement the existing landscape."
But Nicklay says he's also seeing more people who simply want to add a few things like herbs, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and other seasonal vegetables to their existing flower beds.
"It's not hard to convince someone that they can plant a tomato or pepper plant, or maybe some herbs, in the corner of their existing flower garden, and it's still going to look just as nice and not take away from the overall look of the garden," he says.
Perennials such as blueberries, raspberries and fruit trees, however, require a little more thought and planning.
"Perennial bushes and trees come back year after year, so you're really going to have to think about those a lot harder and really decide where you want to plant that new apple tree or new row of blueberries or raspberries because they're going to be a much more permanent part of your landscape," Nicklay says.
Regardless of what you choose to plant, Nicklay says it's important to remember that there are essentially two growing seasons for many vegetables in our area.
"What a lot of people don't realize is that you can actually replant your vegetables during the end of July or the first part of August and get a fall crop out of them," he says. "Peas, lettuce, cauliflower — a lot of the cooler crops like that."