I realize it's sacrilege in certain parts of the gardening community, but I've never been much of a food gardener. It seems that in recent years, when you identify yourself as a gardener, other gardeners immediately want to know what heirloom tomatoes you're starting from seed this year. The grow-your-own movement has taken a life of its own as the recession coincides with a general distrust of the increasingly corporate control of the food system.
But despite my general agreement with the grow-your-own philosophy, I've never gotten over what is essentially a problem of garden vanity. Garden aesthetics are extremely important to me, and -- to my eye -- most food crops are ugly. So for the 11 years that we've lived in our home, food production has been relegated to growing tomatoes, peas and peppers in raised beds I built in a 16'x24' back corner of the yard. I tend to tolerate this area as a less-than-attractive necessity in order to have some fresh veggies during the summer.
As my ornamental garden has evolved over the rest of the property, this little rectangle of a home farm has become more problematic in the overall design of the landscape. So I've started to think of ways to incorporate edible crops directly into the ornamental garden, with the goal of someday removing the separation completely. I've seen great examples like Shawna Coronado's front-yard vegetable garden, but I'm not quite ready to jump into this edibles as ornamentals foray headfirst and blindfolded.
I was afraid I'd be wanting to put the blueberry a back corner away from view by now, but it's been quite the opposite experience. Now when I walk through the garden center, I can almost hear the other food crops whispering to me, "Don't hate me because I'm edible."
What other food crops would you recommend for someone like me who is concerned as much with appearance as actual food production?