Debbie Arrington

These gardens look good enough to eat

Golden cherry tomatoes look pretty and taste great. They’re just one of many examples of edible plants that do double duty as ornamental landscaping during the East Sacramento Edible Gardens tour on Sept. 9.
Golden cherry tomatoes look pretty and taste great. They’re just one of many examples of edible plants that do double duty as ornamental landscaping during the East Sacramento Edible Gardens tour on Sept. 9.

Who grows food in the Farm-to-Fork Capital? Just about anyone with a square foot of sun and soil.

Farming is in our Sacramento genes. We nurture herbs within steps of our kitchen. Our shade trees double as nut or fruit factories. If we don’t grow our own tomatoes and zucchini, we know a neighbor who does.

Food flourishes all around us – and not just in the fields outside of city limits.

That’s the message behind the sixth annual East Sacramento Edible Gardens tour, hosted by the Soroptimist of Sacramento. Set for Sept. 9, this self-guided tour has quickly become a staple of Sacramento’s monthlong September celebration of food and where it comes from. Tickets ($20 in advance, $25 tour day) are available online at www.ediblegardensac.org.

This year’s six featured gardens again illustrate how easy it is to squeeze in a few (or many) edible plants into city-size spaces. The makings of this tour are not only delicious, but inspirational.

No room for melons? Try training cantaloupes on a ladder trellis with the developing melons resting on steps. Only space with enough sun sits in the front yard? With a little creativity, growing food can be beautiful in any neighborhood.

East Sacramento’s edible gardens serve as living examples. In the front yard of a 1923 bungalow, black-eyed Susans and morning glories mix with golden cherry tomatoes and dark purple eggplant. Grown underneath fig and pomegranate trees, sweet alyssum scents the air. Stately black walnut trees offer abundant shade and a cool spot to relax.

Besides providing food, such gardens also become little havens for wildlife such as blue-bellied lizards and songbirds. These edible gardens don’t just feed people. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees appreciate the extra nectar and pollen, too.

Some of these gardens grew out of nothing but asphalt and concrete. At another stop, Rhonda and Tony Gruska, owners of East SMF restaurant on J Street, used horse troughs as planter boxes for sunflowers, fig trees, grapevines and herbs to frame their restaurant’s patio.

Quite a bit of food can be produced in these small spaces. In their backyard, Dawnie Andrak and Tim Bailey grow fig, cherry and nectarines. They harvested more than 200 pounds of summer fruit. Besides pollinating their fruit trees, their beehives produce more than 100 pounds of honey a year.

During the tour, Sacramento County master gardeners will answer questions and offer advice on how to incorporate these ideas into otherwise ornamental landscapes. What better way to celebrate Farm-to-Fork Month than to grow more edible gardens?

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