Water-wise Plants for an Abundant Garden
There’s no better place to start localizing the food system, saving water, and building community than in the landscape right outside your door! The following Daily Acts’ favorites are Sonoma County adapted plants that can help transform your landscape into a luscious, edible playground while saving thousands of gallons of water per year as compared to conventional landscapes.
Favored since ancient times, figs thrive in drought and produce luscious fruit with a distinctly delightful texture. Some varieties can produce two crops per year. These low maintenance trees add majestic structure to a winter time garden-scape and can be propagated from cuttings.
You have probably seen this evergreen shrub, but may not have realized it is a drought tolerant edible. Also known as feijoa, it produces incredible showy flowers and strange, juicy, delicious fruit that ripens in autumn. Growingin a 3-20′ mounding form, it can be shaped and pruned into a good sized hedge if desired.
Persimmon trees display splendidly colorful fall foliage and then drip with brilliant orange fruit like Christmas ornaments on bare branches in the winter. There are two main types: astringent varieties such as ‘Hachiya’ which are meant to be eaten gushy ripe but will dry the mouth if eaten too soon; and non-astringent varieties such as ‘Fuyu’ which can be eaten crunchy as an apple. Drying the unripe astringent fruit eliminates the mouth-puckering effect.
This cascading shrub brings the fun factor to the garden. Kids love them! Orange fruits are cloaked in a paper lantern and burst with tangy sweetness when ripe in early summer to late fall. Drought tolerant and moderately frost sensitive, this plant can also be trained up as a vine.
A relatively unknown shrub, Chilean Guavas have small, glossy, evergreen leaves and produce tiny fruit high in fiber and vitamins that can be eaten whole. This is a great edible substitute for common box hedges and an ideal grazing food for children. It can tolerate salty maritime air but prefers shelter from the wind. While it is drought tolerant it produces best with regular light watering and thick mulch to hold moisture.
This common evergreen herb is one of the most useful, low-maintenance plants in the garden. Bees and other beneficial pollinators love the year-round flowers, it is extremely low-water use, and it has many culinary and aromatic uses.
This drought tolerant evergreen tree produces fruit with the look and texture of an apricot and the taste of a cantaloupe-cherry cross drizzled with lime. With flowers in fall or early winter, fruits come as a welcome addition to a late winter diet. For those who are space limited, this typically small tree (~10′) can also be planted in large containers.
Did you know there is a perennial kale? It’s true! Tree collards grow 3-9′ tall and produce heavily throughout the winter, though they can be harvested year round. This plant is also very high in Calcium, B vitamins, and minerals, making a great addition to any healthy body or garden. It grows primarily from cuttings, so be sure to share some with your friends and neighbors!
This charismatic CA native, is drought tolerant but doesn’t mind having its feet wet. The berries can be eaten raw in small quantities (can cause stomach upset), but are delicious and medicinal when cooked into syrup, wine, jam, or tincture. While this plant contains many medicinal qualities, the leaves, green fruits and stems are toxic when eaten. This is also a great wildlife plant, attracting pollinators and birds to its 10-15’ tall, shrubby upright form.