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confounding the neighbors

 
William Hiers
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Hi guys!
I saw that recent post about camouflaging your forest gardens and I thought it would be interesting to hear how some people hide their permaculture deviations from their neighbors. I keep telling them that I am planning on mowing my yard but I never do!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
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duck forest garden hugelkultur
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It really depends, I think, on the environment in which you're trying to camouflage. If you live in suburbia, you probably want pretty edibles that look like landscaping plants, like: decorative kale, pansies, nasturtiums, blueberry bushes, rose bushes (rose hips have lots of vitamin C!), dogwoods, cherry trees with pretty flowers.

If you live in a more "redneck" rural area, you want to match your environment. Let your blackberries grow tall. Companion plant in hugels that are full of edible weeds like dandelion. Use old cars as trellises for berries. Let the lawn go to more wildflowers and let it get tall. Intersperse it with low growing edibles, like strawberries and sorrel. I look around at my property and most people probably wouldn't think my hugel mounds were anything more than heaps of dirt with weeds growing in them. They'd also likely think my blackberries were just growing there from negect, not because I'm cultivating them for food.

If you're in a more upscale rural, you probably want to do something more like the decorative food plants growing neatly in wood mulch. Use fruit trees as landscaping elements, surrounding them with nicely mulched edible perennials and annuals. Make a large beautiful water feature, full of arrowhead plants, taro, watercress, cattails, etc, and stock it with an edible fish like carp or sunfish or tilapia.

Those are the ideas that come to mind for me right now. I haven't read Rick Austin's "Secret Garden of Survival," but I'm sure he has a lot more better ideas!
 
Nicole Alderman
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duck forest garden hugelkultur
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Oh! Another architectural idea for camouflaging in the more upperclass areas would be a nicely done herb spiral. It's the only thing on my property that actually looks nice. People see it and just think that it's a pretty, fancy flower bed. (Here's my herb spiral http://permies.com/t/44289/projects/Herbal-Hugel-Spiral-Randomness). And, mine isn't even as nice as some peoples!



Here's another, fancier spiral:



Another idea would be to make/use pretty metal or wood elements, and then grow beans up them. You could do the same with bird feeders (though you might get quite a lot of bird poo on your beans...). By sculptures, I mean something like this:


or:

or:
 
William Hiers
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Those are some good ideas!I have also been emailing with Dmitry Orlov about having a sailboat. I would really like to have aquaponics in the boat but he said the more likely situation would be to plant small gardens on unused plots and island hop. This topic of camouflage is giving me some interesting ideas on how to have a hidden gardens on islands through out the world!
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Why do you ant to hide from the neighbours?
It look as if in the States, growing food is less legal than growing flowers!!!

Here my only concern is that people do not come for harvesting....
So the best is to grow uncommon things that they do not think is food!
 
leila hamaya
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move to the mountains =)
have no neighbors, or just a few.

at least this was my solution, just move out to the middle of nowhere. =)

most of my neighbors also grow food trees/plants

it takes getting used to, but theres a lot of freedom in it. nobody cares in the rural areas if you mow your lawn, or anything outside of extreme weirdness/trashiness.....

i also really like fedges / food hedges / living fences for privacy.
 
Heather Ward
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Xisco, your point about the "illegality" of growing veggies is very well taken. I do my standard veggie gardening in the front yard, shamelessly, and get some surprising hostility from passers-by, as well as some appreciation. Fortunately my immediate neighbors are very sympathetic, and I take care to keep them supplied with vegetables and eggs. But my city actually has an ordinance containing a list of plants that may be grown in your front yard, and all plants not on the list are illegal. No kidding. None of my vegetables are on the list, needless to say. No trouble so far, but I have thought about how to start a media campaign if the city comes around demanding that my vegetables be removed.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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That is crazy!
I had begun to understand this, which is not a point in Europe.
How can it be illigal to grow veggies?
What are their arguments about this?

I would understand about "smoke plants".... but veggies!
Heather, how do they express hostility about this? What sort of things do you listen to?

Leila, I do live in the mountain and only with grower-neighbours...
...and this is not so idealistic.
People who are "in the wild" can be very upseting because they have this "romantic" idea about wild nature. Everybody says "I am here to be quiet", but all have a different idea of quietmess!
Most people have money and do not rely really on their garden for a living.
This is just a plus, a luxury, more or less accroding to the persons.
 
Heather Ward
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Xisca, I live in a high-desert part of the Southwest and water use is a very political issue here, and some passers-by have been mildly to very hostile toward me over the issue of water use and how much they imagine that my garden must use. In fact I use less than the residential average; should probably post a laminated water bill on the front fence! And nearly everything that I water is edible.
A couple of people have commented very unfavorably on having vegetables in the front yard at all, but there are some crazies everywhere.
I also have people want to tour the garden, and they are fascinated by the uses of the plants that I grow, and that's always nice.
But the United States, despite its pioneer origin, has some very conformist thinking, and many people would rather see a xeriscaped front yard that produces absolutely nothing useful than have to look at my flourishing vegetable garden. Go figure.
 
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