You may have a reason you want to grow food without everyone knowing about it. Perhaps you live in a Housing Association that takes what you grow, and more importantly, how it looks, seriously. Maybe you just want to keep your business to yourself.
Or perhaps you just want to incorporate edibles into your landscape for a little more return on your investment.
Whatever your reason, there are a number of foods you can grow pretty much in disguise.
1. Sweet potatoes are related to morning glories and look pretty much like ground cover. They have a lush vine like top growth of edible beautiful leaves. Yes, those leaves are tasty and healthy, just cook like you would spinach. The tubers themselves store well, can be used to replant, and are highly nutritious. Sweet potatoes are not only a good source of vitamin A, they also have a lot of vitamin C.
2. Dry beans most often have a pole growth habit. On a pole they may be obvious, but on a trellis or arbor, much less so. Their gorgeous flowers also help hide the fact that they are producing a high protein food source. Of course save some to replant.
3. Flax is a lovely flowering plant grown for its seed, which is high in fiber and can be used as a substitute for oil and eggs in many recipes. It would blend in well in the landscape and not be seen as a food source by most people. Can it get any better? Yep, bees love them.
4. Quinoa, a relative of spinach, is grown for its high protein grains. It stores well, can be added to almost any recipe, and you can replant the seeds.
5. Unless you are a gardener, you probably wouldn’t recognize a potato growing if you saw one. The russet varieties store the best, and you can replant the following season. What we really like about potatoes besides their ability to store is the versatility of use. May as well keep things interesting.
6. Garlic is said to have some antibiotic properties, can be replanted not long after harvest, and stores well. It takes up very little room yet can make a world of difference in your food.
7. Amaranth, like the gorgeous red Love Lies Bleeding or the green Emerald Tassels are most often listed as flowers. They have gorgeous tall stems with cascading blooms. And guess what, those flowers go to seed and become a very nutritious and quite tasty addition to your diet.
8. Okra is an easy edible to incorporate into a landscape. You can cook it a variety of ways, plus you can dehydrate it to grind and use as a food thickening agent. Be sure to let 1 or 2 pods grow big to save the seeds. Many ornamental gardeners grow okra purely for its aesthetic appeal.
9. Walking onions grow as a perennial scallion type onion with an increased harvest each year. Dry the tops to use throughout the winter months.
10. Hot peppers are a good idea even if you don’t eat them. They can be used to make a pepper spray which works well as a pest deterrent. Many ornamental varieties, like 5 Color Chinese are both pretty to look at, edible, and useful.
11. Tomatoes would be hard to hide, except that you can actually grow them, as well as other edibles, indoors. Stagger a few plantings of heirloom varieties to have a fresh vitamin C source year round. Lightly brush the flowering plants with your hands or use a tuning fork to help promote pollination.
12. I’ll just group all Herbs together, as there are far too many to mention. For starts, consider chives, mints inc. oregano, and basil. These can be grown outdoors or in. Just be careful of the mint family as they can become invasive. They do well in containers. Basil can be started outdoors, then potted up and brought inside for fresh basil all winter.
13. Lettuce and many other fresh greens are easy enough to grow in the house, or to blend into your landscape. Consider smaller varieties, like Tom Thumb lettuce, in hanging baskets.
Well, there you have it. Hopefully growing your own food incognito never becomes an absolute necessity. Even if you don’t consider yourself a survivalist, it never hurts to have the information, just in case.
If nothing else, it’s fun. And that’s a good thing.