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Desert Gardening: Stealthy Edibles

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

If you don’t have room for a traditional veggie garden, you may want to try Scott Calhoun’s idea for adding edibles to your front yard landscape.

Pick a chiltepin pepper from your front yard border!
Pack lettuce greens, herbs and cool-weather annuals such as pansies into a container. Pretty���and tasty!

In fact, edibles can hide in plain sight, adding beauty and bounty to your garden so stealthily, your neighbors might not even notice. Below are a few of my favorite tricks with edibles for the Southwest.

Peppers and Perennials
Hot peppers mix nicely with perennials. In the photo above, our native chiltepin pepper (Capsicum annuum) is planted with chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata) at the edge of a garden bed. The chiltepin, also known as the bird pepper, thrives under the filtered shade of desert trees such as mesquites. The colorful red and green peppers are handsome and popular with birds. Try combining the chiltepin or other pepper plants with perennials such as blanketflower (Gaillardia sp.) and Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera).

Secret Salad Bowls
Lettuces and other mustard family greens, such as arugula, are easy to grow during the cool months in the Southwest. The same can be said for pansies and snapdragons. When you combine your annual flowers with greens, the results are handsome and tasty. Annual flowers and salad greens also have similar water requirements, which makes them good companions for container culture. In the photo, red-leaf lettuces combine with purple pansies, sage, fennel and alyssum for a color bowl with interest and flavor.

Native prickly pear cactus produces magenta fruit for lemonades or margaritas.

Super Stealth Prickly Treats
For those less ambitious (myself included) in food-growing pursuits, our native prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii) is easily wedged into most landscapes in the region. Its wonderful magenta fruit (usually juiced for lemonade or margaritas) grows on rainfall alone and can be harvested come August. In the photo above it is mixed with Mexican blue sage (Salvia chamaedryoides) and autumn amber sumac (Rhus trilobata 'Autumn Amber'). Do you add stealthy edibles to your garden? If so, which ones?