Tag Archives: backyard gardener

Edible Landscaping: Beautiful Vegetables for Your Front Yard

I’m a firm believer that all plants are beautiful in their own way. I’ll spend just as much time admiring cabbages as roses. However if you live somewhere with a lot of restrictions whether they’re from the town or home owner’s association it can be devastating to read rules about what your yard must look like. Growing your own food is hard enough without trying to keep up with the neighbors.

This list of beautiful vegetable varieties can help you get food production out of an ornamental bed. We also have a list of edible and medicinal flower varieties that can help you get double duty out of any flower beds! You can find that here.

Rainbow Swiss Chard 

Many greens are pretty but few have the stunning color and hardy, upright nature of rainbow chard. They’ll easily fit into an ornamental or flower bed and can be selectively trimmed to keep the garden looking full and still provide harvests throughout the season.


From spicy bush basil to dark opal basil, it comes in a wide range of styles that can be added to any garden.


Red Sails Looseleaf Lettuce

Their are many gorgeous lettuce varieties that can easily be snuck into the border of a flower garden. Some ideas include: Yugoslavian red butterhead bibb, Mayan jaguar lettuce, or red sails looseleaf.


While chives aren’t quite as big as some ornamental alliums they still offer beautiful blooms. They also stay good looking and can be harvested all summer long making them a great easy maintenance choice.


During the spring harvest period asparagus is small and rather inconspicuous. However later in the summer it grows into large showy fronds. They’re truly gorgeous and most non-vegetable gardeners won’t recognize them as asparagus at all.


Creeping Thyme

This herb is useful, fragrant, and a wonderful sprawling ground cover.


Amaranth is often used as an ornamental but it can also be used as an edible green like spinach when young and tender and produces grain when it’s fully mature.


Chinese Five-Color Hot Pepper

Depending on how strict your area is not all peppers may be acceptable. However there are several varieties like the ornamental Chinese five-color hot pepper pictured above that are still edible but offer a lot of beauty.


Curled parsley like moss curled or forest green varieties can be used to add a lot of texture to the garden.


Peas have lovely flowers and leaves brining their beauty to the landscape early in the year. CF Landscaping had done a good enough job on redesigning and giving the garden an orientation. Also because they grow on a trellis they’re perfect for adding height to a garden or squeezing in some edibles crops when you have limited space.

Scarlet Runner Beans

Like peas, scarlet runner beans add dimension and beauty to the garden. They’re also very heat tolerant.

Bicolored Tomatoes

All tomatoes are pretty but there’s a few varieties that offer a unique touch to the garden. Try bicolored varieties like green zebra, big rainbow, or striped roman for an unusual touch.

Additional Tips

  • Plan your garden well. Lettuces and other greens planted in a design or among other ornamentals will fit in with flower gardens much better than traditional rows will.
  • Keep your garden well maintained. A weedy or poorly watered won’t be appreciated in your neighborhood no matter what varieties you planted.
  • Give your garden variety. Adding plants to your garden with different heights, colors, and textures will add a lot of interest.

Edible landscaping can be beautiful! Even if your neighborhood has strict regulations regarding vegetable gardens, chances are you can still squeeze in some edible plants. These are just a few ideas of edible plants that will fit into any ornamental garden.

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Southern Exposure’s Holiday Gift Guide

Everyone wants to find presents that make their friends and family feel understood, appreciated, and loved. Thankfully for anyone who like gardening or wants to learn there’s plenty of easy, affordable, and sustainable gift ideas to excite any gardener this holiday season.

Many of these ideas are also great whole family gift ideas for those with kids. Gardening focused gifts can help children get excited and involved in the outdoors with their family.

Popcorn Sheller and Popcorn

Check out some of SESE’s awesome popcorn varieties like the rainbow Cherokee Long Ear Small Popcorn (pictured above) or  Pennsylvania Butter-Flavored Popcorn for a truly gardener twist on the classic “movie night” basket. For the ulimate experience check in during harvest time and bring over your favorite gardening documentary.

Mushroom Spawn

Know a gardener or budding permaculturalist looking to branch out? You can order mushroom spawn from Sharondale Farm through SESE. It’s an excellent gift for those looking to add productivity to shady areas of a property.

DIY Insect Hotel, Bird, or Bat House

Handmade gifts can be especially meaningful. Making an insect hotel, bird, or bat house will help you show off your DIY skills, improve your loved one’s garden, and give some deserving species a helping hand.

CobraHead ‘Steel Fingernail’ Weeder and Cultivator

This is one of Southern Exposure’s favorite tools for small gardens. National Garden Club testers were really impressed with it as well. Plus it’s made in the USA.

Educational Materials

SESE is known for selling seeds but we also offer some great DVDs and books for any gardener to expand their knowledge and gather more inspirational project ideas. Some of our favorites include:

Be sure to visit the website for more great options!

Seed Mix

Make up a basket of your favorite varieties to share or select one of SESE’s mixes like the Virginia Heritage Seed Collection, Welcom-to-the-Garden Pollinator Collection, or the Three Sisters Garden Package. This is a great idea for the adventurous gardener who loves to try new things.

Seed Saving Basket

Heirloom loving gardeners will love a seed saving gift basket. Pick out some of your favorite heirloom and open pollinated seed varieties and a few of SESE’s seed saving supplies. Things like self-sealing seed packets or seed vials and seed cleaning screens may not seem exciting to everyone but will make a big difference in the life of your favorite seed saver.


It sounds super wierd but anything that will make a garden more productive will make your gardener happier. Gift your friend a homemade compost tea kit, cover crop seeds from SESE, or a garden amendment like work castings or liquid kelp.

Gift Certificates

If you’ve got a particulary picky friend or just can’t decide what to get consider an SESE gift certificate. You can purchase paper gift certificates or digital ones and leave the tough decisions up to them.

Cold Frame

If you’re into handmade gifts, a coldframe is a simple project for those with basic carpentry skills. For the best effect pair it with some cold hardy seeds or a helpful book like Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Harvest.

Your Seed Collections

Part of Southern Exposure’s mission is to keep varieties alive, so we love seeing others share seeds. If you’re a seed saver consider packaging and gifting some of your own seed collections. This is an especially budget friendly gift idea as well, but another gardener will know just how much you care.

Your Time

Not everyone can go on a shopping spree for their favorite gardener. If your budget is tight consider giving a handmade redeemable coupon for your time. Maybe you could offer 1 hour of weeding or help with springtime planting. There isn’t a gardener in the world that’s not going to be excited about getting some free help!

Whatever your budget you can find a great gift for any of the gardeners, seed savers, permaculturalists, or homesteaders in your life.


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How to Make Money From Your Backyard Garden

Thankfully gardening is a relatively cheap hobby. In fact it can save you money, hello free produce, flowers, and herbs! Plus there’s no need to pay for a gym membership when you’ve got loads of weeding to do, am I right? That being said it’s absolutely a big commitment of time and effort. If you want your garden to do more for you can learn to market some of your backyard garden products.

This is not a guide to starting a farm and earning a full-time income. That, is way more involved than one post could ever hope to be. However using a couple of these ideas you can earn a little extra cash. Maybe you can use to buy seeds next year or that wheel hoe you’ve always wanted.

Start extra seeds.

If you start your own plants from seed during the spring try starting a few extra to offer for sale to local gardeners. Plant starts are really expensive even at the big box stores and unless you have a big greenhouse in your area it’s often hard to find much variety. If you have the best heirloom tomato starts in town let people know! Talk to friends and neighbors or post a few flyers.

Small co-ops/health food stores.

While your backyard garden may never be big enough to sell wholesale to your local grocery store you may find a nearby health food store or food co-op that will take some produce off your hands. These stores generally require a less consistent product and supply and may be willing to work with your restrictions. It never hurts to ask.

Set up a roadside stand.

Roadside stands can be as simple as a table and some baskets. If you’ve got kids this may be a great opportunity in lieu of a lemonade stand. If you’re not on a road with a high volume of traffic you may want to set up elsewhere. Some businesses allow people to set up a table with produce in their parking lot, just ask around.

For both options it’s good to check on things like zoning laws and local “peddler’s laws” before setting up shop.

Rent a booth at your local farmer’s market.

Farmer’s markets can be one of the best places to sell produce and other garden products because that’s what people are going there to buy. However there’s several things worth noting about farmer’s markets before you count on them to increase your payday. First most farmer’s markets have a fee and many now require sellers to carry liability insurance, a cost your gardening side business may not be able to afford. On top of that you need to consider the cost of fuel to get you to and from the market.

Second at larger farmer’s markets you’ll be competing with growers who spend their lives doing this. Customers are more likely to spend their dollars at booths with beautiful displays and loads of produce. At larger markets you’ll need something special to stand out. Check out your local farmer’s market before renting a booth for the season.

Third because farmer’s markets are better for everyone involved if there’s reliable vendors, markets generally require commitment for the entire season. You’ll have to dedicate a lot of time to the market itself plus set-up and tear-down, travel, and market prep.

Attend local sales.

If farmer’s markets don’t work out you may find some local sale events that will work well for your products. You may find some church, craft, or local artisan sales that will accept your products and are easier to handle than committing to a farmer’s market.

Try opening an Etsy shop.

Blue Clarage Dent Corn

While you may not be able to sell fresh produce online there’s plenty of garden products you can. Think about things that keep well like seeds, popcorn or flint/dent corn, potatoes, onions, garlic, dried herbs or flours. Herbs especially can be grown and dried for teas or you can grow plants like Dyer’s Coreopsis which can be sold to fiber artists.

If you’re not a fan of Etsy you could try your hand at making your own website or using a site like Facebook’s sale groups, Ebay, or Craigslist.

Sell garden amendments.

If you’ve been an avid gardener for years chances are you know how to make a few of your own garden amendments. Whether it’s compost tea kits, worm castings from your awesome vermicompost set up, bio-char, or bags of compost try selling some of your homemade garden improvements.

**Additional Tips**

  • Wherever and whatever you decide to sell be sure to check on any regulations before offering your product. Things like local food laws, zoning regulations, and organic standards are all important to look into.
  • Build a network. Especially for a small producer the best way to make sales is to get to know your neighbors. You may find people that have always wanted a place to buy really hot peppers or realize you have a neighbor that loves kohlrabi. People won’t buy from you if they don’t know you’re selling!
  • Keep it fun. Unless you intend become a full-time farmer this side gig isn’t meant to be stressful. If it takes all the joy out of gardening it may be wise to scale back.

For most people gardening is either a hobby or a profession but there’s no rule that says your backyard garden can’t make you money. If it’s something you love and are working hard at anyway selling your garden products can be a great way to bring in extra cash.

How do you make money, or “para kazanmak” in Swedish, from your garden? Did we miss any great ideas? Let us know.