Creating outdoor spaces that look (and taste) great
Senga Lindsay’s spacious North Vancouver yard is very tastefully designed.
An award-winning landscape architect with a background in horticulture, she has a flair for creating beautiful, colourful and stylish outdoor spaces that can also be harvested and plated — edible landscaping.
“Try these,” she says, standing inside the kitchen of her post-and-beam home, “they are kale chips.”
The kale is from her winter garden.
Kale, she notes, is the ultimate “bomb-proof edible” in this climate.
The crunchy chips are healthy and easy to prepare, she explains. She used a dash of chilli powder, sea salt and olive oil and then put the kale in the oven on a sheet of tinfoil (see recipe below).
A big proponent of healthy eating, much of the food Lindsay eats is grown in her own garden.
In the summer, her yard boasts climbing vines replete with kiwis and grapes, Columnar apple trees, fruit-bearing shrubs, pots filled with herbs, eggplants, zucchinis, assorted lettuces, tomatoes and more.
Today for lunch she’s serving ratatouille, a delicious traditional French stewed vegetable dish. It will be served on a bed of quinoa — “the only plant that is a complete protein,” she says.
Forget about the 100-mile diet. This is the 10-foot diet.
In the warm season, Lindsay can just walk out to her garden and pick all the ingredients she needs for this dish right from her own edible landscape.
Now, she’s sharing her 25 years of experience in landscape design and horticulture and helping others transform their outdoor spaces with her new book Edible Landscaping: Urban Food Gardens that Look Great.
“It’s a design book to inspire and [it] gives technical information,” Lindsay says.
With chapters that range from the Edible Rooftop and Herb Garden to the Community Garden, Gourmet Garden Kitchen and the Edible Wall, to name a few, she offers a plethora of different garden-style ideas for all sorts of spaces, from backyards to balconies.
Best of all, it also offers straightforward design specs, lots of pictures and valuable tips on choosing and growing veggies and fruits.
Thinking about growing lettuce? “A good choice for a shady garden, Swiss chard is a designer’s, horticulturalist’s and chef’s dream. In terms of pests and diseases, very little can go wrong with this vigorous ‘cut-and-come-again’ plant,” she writes. “Vibrant white, red, yellow and even purple stalks have been bred into a variety of cultivates that you can use to accent your ornamental containers, flower border or that special culinary dish.”
Before you start planting your edible landscape, she has this advice:
“The biggest thing is to start small.”
She always suggests starting with a four-foot by four-foot area “and then you can expand.”
If you’ve got kids, she offers tons of fun ideas in the book.
“Rule of thumb is to give them some space and let them do what they want,” Lindsay says.
One idea is to create a “pizza garden” in the shape of pie that’s divided into individual slices that each offer separate growing zones for different toppings, like Margherita tomatoes, peppers and basil, for instance.
With youngsters, she notes, it helps to give them instant growing gratification with veggies like radishes or carrots that they can crunch on right away.
“They get the connection that if you plant it you can eat it.”
—Senga Lindsay will present “Seven Edible Garden Ideas to Inspire” at the BC Home & Garden Show at BC Place this Sunday (Feb. 24) starting at 1 p.m. After, she will signing copies of her book and answering questions.
Roasted Kale Chips
Makes 4 cups
2 Bunches of Kale
2 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TSP Chili Powder
1 TSP Himalayan Sea Salt
6 TBSP Finely Grated Parmigianino/Roman/Asiago (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
Trim tough stems from kale leaf and compost; cut large leaves into 2” pieces (leave small leaves whole). Place in a large bowl and drizzle with oil and toss to coat leaves well. Add chili powder and salt and toss to coat leaves well.
Place leaves 1 layer deep on aluminum foil sheet and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes or when leaves are crispy and starting to brown at the edges. If leaves are still slightly soggy, fluff leaves slightly on foil sheet and continue to heat for additional 1-2 minutes.
Optional: Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes and place in a bowl and toss with grated cheese to coat leaves.
TIP: Use aluminum foil sheet as opposed to baking sheet and put on second to lowest rack of oven. This helps to evenly dry out and chips up the kale. Once chips are done and if you are not going to eat at once, leave in warm oven to continuing drying at a slow pace.
STORE: In an open container to keep dry and crisp.