WE ALL KNOW we should incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our diets. But what about incorporating them into our landscaping? Well, there's a Kirkland company that will help you accomplish that.
Kent Kollmorgen of Harvest Moon Garden Design makes it simple and beautiful to add edible plants to a new or existing garden. A Nebraska transplant, Kollmorgen finds it second nature to plant a vegetable garden. He has owned his own Kirkland-based landscaping business for more than two decades. However, it wasn’t until this year that he added edible landscaping to his list of services.
“It was my son’s idea, really,” Kent says of his son Sean Kollmorgen, a chef at Woodinville's Barking Frog restaurant.
Sean returned from several years in Portland, where he attended Western Culinary Institute. When he and his girlfriend Marcella Petrucci (also a chef) moved to Kirkland earlier this year, they brought the pervasively popular edible landscape idea with them.
“He’s the green thumb,” says Petrucci of Sean. A quick sweep of the Kollmorgen’s backyard reveals a greenhouse full of herb starts, with many unusual varieties of tomato starts leaning against the wall, begging to be planted.
Kent Kollmorgen’s front yard is a perfect example of how edible plants can beautify a space and fit in nicely with the neighborhood. Two cleanly constructed raised beds contain salad gardens -- lettuce, carrots and greens. A lemonade-variety blueberry bush is complemented by two smaller huckleberry shrubs.
“We still want to make the yard presentable and pretty,” he says.
One of the coolest features is an herb spiral -- small logs set vertically outline this ramp of earth. A mixture of perennial and annual herbs march up the spiral. The herbs requiring the most sun and drainage -- rosemary, thyme -- are near the top. Parsley, dill and tarragon are near the bottom.
Kent thinks that blueberry bushes are one of the best plants to start with because they provide summer berries and then fall color. Dwarf fruit trees, particularly combo trees with several varieties grafted in, make beautiful blossoms and then tasty fruits.
The idea is to have a yard that fits into a synergistic permaculture, where each plant is placed for a reason and works in harmony with those around it. Flowers and flowering fruits and vegetables both attract pollinators like honeybees. So, why not plant them together and multiply the attraction?
KENT LIKES to make a plant serve multiple functions. For example, he grows hops. The perennial vines climb strategically placed strings, providing shade for his deck, and the aromatic qualities make a pleasant atmosphere in which to relax. Hops also provide a third benefit -- Kent brews his own beer and sells some of the hops to in Kirkland.
Harvest Moon Garden Design meets clients where they’re at. If you like the idea of a garden, but don’t want to put in the effort, Kent’s team will maintain it for you. If you want to rip out all of your grass and start an urban farm, they can get you started.
Kent likes to promote self-sustaining spaces. He has a 550-gallon rainwater cistern under his deck. When it overflows, it is connected to a little pond and surrounding water garden. If that overflows, it continues down to his chicken coop providing water for the birds. The manure-streaked hay from the coop gets laid in the aisles between the vegetable rows, slowly nourishing the plants with nitrogen.
Edible landscaping can also foster relationships. When the fence between Kollmorgen’s and the neighbor’s house gave up the ghost, they decided not to rebuild it. Instead, they planted raspberry vines as a sort of natural property line delineation. The neighbors come together, sharing both the weed-pulling detail and the raspberry harvest.
Kent believes in organic soils and natural fertilizers. Harvest Moon Garden Design does not use pesticides or herbicides and relies mainly on hand-pulling of weeds. He recommends leaving the native soil alone. Tilling it leads to erosion and stirs up loads of new weeds (trust me, I know first-hand). Covering the soil with cardboard or other biodegradable smothering material is best, along with a good heap of organic topsoil added on top (Kent likes DeYoung’s).
If your yard or garden needs a facelift, resist the boring heather or juniper shrub -- try an Evergreen Huckleberry bush. Why have a purely ornamental cherry tree when you could have a real cherry, pear or apple tree? Plant hops and clematis, roses and peas.
Then sit back and enjoy the harvest.