So, on to the second part of this marathon about using your front garden to prep, while not shrieking from the garden gate that you’re a prepper.
You can buy from this sort of market stall, which helps you build local links too. I took this photo with permission, and the stallholder decided to duck out, she was very camera shy. But it’s a beautiful stall, with lots of useful plants:
Additional use of hardstanding
I can’t believe I forgot about this, but one excellent use of space at the front of the house is a water butt! From watering the plants to the first sluicing off of big cleaning jobs that you’re doing outside, to emergency water to flush the toilet if you’ve suddenly got no water supply for some reason. A water butt is a great prep!
Even if you have got a front garden, you may not have a hedge, but if you do, it can certainly be adapted to prepping use.
It can provide privacy, which is one of the main purposes of a hedge – when the houses where you live are quite close together, for example, a hedge will provide some privacy between you and your neighbour, and you can grow a hedge to front the pavement as well, to give you even more privacy.
A living hedge can also be a windbreak – generally much more effective than a solid wall, as the wind is slowed, not diverted, by plants.
What prepping plants are good for hedging, particularly in the front garden? I’d bet on roses, hawthorn, willows and mahonia – between them, they have flowers, berries, headache cures, leafy greens and a renewable fuel supply. Sort out which is which first, though … next year, I’ll be using my new dehydrator properly, and I’ll be posting specifically about each plant as I crop and forage. There may be useful hedging/prepping plants that are specific to your region: in the south of the UK, for instance, its perfectly possible to grow vines. Sometimes you might harvest some fruit (though I’d bet it would be scavenged before you picked it in really bad times!) but remember that the leaves can be used as wraps as well.
Well, the possibilities are endless. Lots of plants that appear regularly in borders all over the country are brilliant at providing some edible cropping: lavender, rosemary, nasturtiums, sage, sorrel, chives, sunflowers, fennel, alchemilla, marigolds, poppies and nigella, just for starters. Dependent on soil type, of course. I use to grow huge fennel plants in my chalky soil – they won’t grow at all in the clay soil I now have.
I’ve bought rooted chives at a market stall and split them into four, as below – a really easy way to increase your crops at very low cost.
Plenty of others can go in without much comment: salad burnet, rocket, wild garlic, lemon balm, some of the perennial onions, even a container of bay.
There are root crops that can be popped here and there in the borders too: radish, beetroot and onions in particular, or the new American crops coming in of yacon and oca.
Growing any plants in the rows that are normally found in back gardens or allotments is going to look out of place, but dotting them here and there should be fine.
Remember to include plants that bees like in the border planting, as well as in the lawn. They like plenty of the cropping plants already mentioned, of course, but there’s no harm in having more. Cotoneaster plants are very, very popular with bees, and insects in general.
You could also grow plants in the borders that are useful for your gardening as a whole: you could grow your own bamboo canes, for instance, if you get a clumping bamboo set up. You could grow your own comfrey, and make your own liquid fertiliser. The plant world is full of opportunities like this.
The other category of plants to include is the ones you actually like! I like scabious (bees do, as well) and Californian poppy (which apparently has sedative uses).
A border like this isn’t going to shout out anything particularly noticeable to your neighbours or to opportunist thieves, but it will provide you with pleasure, with food and with other resources too.