Start a tradition – Eat your vegetables

With our busy lives, who can take the time to grow a traditional garden? Who has the space in their HOA mandated landscape to grow vegetables? While I passionately embrace gardening, I have never, ever embraced a love of hoeing, watering, or for that matter, straight rows!

I grew up in the 1960’s in rural America, the youngest of 4 girls whose father grew a huge garden. We planted rows of beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and potatoes. My father, being an equal rights man as he had no sons, taught his daughters to garden as he had been taught by his father, who had been taught by his father.

He was a stickler for details, such as his straight rows which made the garden beautiful every year. He would cut the potato pieces so each piece had exactly the same amount of eyes. He would hand us the bucket of uniform pieces and we would carefully place the eyes in those long rows. He would come behind us and adjust them to form regimented soldiers of potato pieces, then as gently as he tucked us in at night, he covered the potato eyes.

We hoed weeds for hours, suckered tomatoes, and hand watered until I thought my arms would fall off. It was HARD WORK! I didn’t realize until I was on my own, how good those fresh vegetables tasted. I also didn’t realize he had planted a love of gardening in me as tradition to be passed down to my own children.

I am excited to tell you there are methods of vegetable gardening that you CAN embrace while starting a tradition of love and appreciation of how vegetables grow. You can delight in your own home grown veggies and feel good about what you are eating while teaching your children how vegetables arrive on the dinner table.

Encourage your children to eat vegetables by involving them in the process of growing their own food. All you need is a bucket or two, or a bale of straw and some GOOD DIRT! You are going to be absolutely amazed at how much you can grow on your patio or outside your back door! Start a tradition with your own children or grandchildren; show them the amazing transition of one potato eye into baked potatoes on their plate!

Attend the seminar at the 15th Annual North Atlanta Home Show on “Secrets your granny didn’t share with you about growing vegetables”. On Saturday, February 11th at 5:00 pm, I will show you how to use that bale of straw or bucket of dirt to grow a wonderful garden!

Donna Dixon welcomes any questions you have on garden topics and can be contacted at Four Seasons Nursery and Landscaping, 770-932-3313.

Edible Landscaping

Article by Brandy Cowley-Gilbert from Just Fruits & Exotics Nursery.

Brandy Cowley-Gilbert and her husband, Ted, own Just Fruits & Exotics Nursery south of Crawfordville Florida They grow a wide selection of fruits for the north Florida and  south Georgia area. Visit their website to learn more about growing fruit


They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your house and yard have a simple way of telling people about your creative personality. If you’re the type of person who loves simple pleasures like picking tree-ripened fruit or gathering homegrown veggies to create the salad of your dreams, then the edible landscape gives you a chance to do both: create an unusual distinctive landscape while also providing a bounty of more flavorful and nutritious fruits and vegetables than is obtainable from the grocery store.

Edible landscaping is not a new concept. In fact, most of our landscapes that hale back in time are built around the beauty and functionality of edible plants. Fruits, herbs, and vegetable plants were the mainstay of the 1800’s cottage garden. These loose, cheerful gardens were full of fruiting pears, apples, and peaches, borders and hedgerows of blueberries and blackberries, and beds of herbs, vegetables, and old-fashioned flowers, all adding to the charm and uniqueness of a country garden.

Some of the added benefits of an edible landscape are the ability to create a more year-round look to your landscape. Most fruit trees do double duty, providing a spring blossom show as well as a fantastic summer show of ripe fruit, and they may even end the year with a brilliant fall leaf color.

The range of necessary functions that you need in the landscape (hedges, ground covers, shade trees, and evergreen screens) is easily found in the range of fruits that grow well in our area. Just check out the list of great possibilities below.

Need an evergreen screen to block an unsightly view? Loquat is a beautiful tree with broad tropical-looking leaves, and clusters of apricot-flavored fruits. This is a tree that is sure to give your landscape an “I’m in Key West enjoying the sunset” feel.


Strawberries make a rewarding and low-maintenance groundcover. And if you need a lovely summer vine, why not choose one of the many varieties of cherry tomatoes? These may continue to produce well into the late fall.

How about a good fast-growing shade tree to have a picnic under? Try a mulberry. The cultivated varieties are outrageous. Many have the distinctive flavor of boysenberry or raspberry, without the seeds! “ Illinois Ever Bearing” is a cold hardy selection that fruits through out the summer months! Nut trees are also a good choice, why not recreate an edible forest in your own back yard with, pecan, walnut and chestnut.

For low hedges try rosemary. Highly fragrant and tasty foliage is a treat to brush up against and get that fresh pungent scent. Tough as nails and evergreen to boot.

Blueberry, blackberry and boysenberry also make great low hedges with beautiful, bell-shaped and daisy-like white blooms. Their sun-ripened fruit is twice as good as store-bought fruit.

If you’re looking for a fantastic spring flower show, the best of the group are apples, peaches, nectarines, and quince for a showy cloud of pink blossom. On the other hand, pears, mayhaws, and plums produce beautiful clouds of pure white. Some of the best for lining avenues or driveways are pears and plums, which are very stately in form.

Hachiya Persimmon

The fall show of a persimmon is unsurpassed. Most color their fruit before leaf color changes, giving the tree a luscious look of jade green leaves covered with bright orange fruit. As cool weather approaches the leaves begin to take on fiery red, cherry pink, and brilliant yellow colors. Outstanding!

Consider groundcovers of fragrant herbs such as thyme or mint, and borders of dill, fennel, or basil.

For those of you who are apartment dwellers, many fruit trees are well adapted to growing in containers. Blueberry, kiwi, fig, pomegranate, and pineapple are especially well suited for containers. Be sure to add some herbs and colorful veggies like red chard, chili peppers, and cherry tomatoes for a show that’s sure to dazzle and bring good conversation to your patio.

Edibles can easily be incorporated into your current landscape by inter-planting with ornamentals. Your yard will acquire a uniquely beautiful flair and offer you a healthy return on your labors well spent!

Fruitful Hedges Come in All Shapes and Sizes!
Outstanding Flower and Fruit Shows: 

  • Pomegranate
  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry


Espalier Fruiting Hedges: 

  • Fig
  • Peach
  • Apple
  • Plum
  • Pear
  • Nectarine
  • Persimmon
Short Evergreen Screens: 

  • Bayleaf
  • Rosemary
Tall Evergreen Screens: 

  • Loquat