The Incredible Edible House, Lawn, Deck, Fence...

Why tear out your lawn when you can tear out the walls in your house and grow stuff on them. The WSJ challenged some folks to dream up some designs for the most energy efficient homes they could imagine.

The above pictured design was the one that caught my eye. It takes an imaginative leap regarding growing food that I think is important. Most of us intuitively think that food is and should be grown in traditional garden/farm plots in rural places. When we first started to entertain the idea of tearing out our lawn last year to grow vegetables it seemed like we were breaking sacred rules of respectable suburban living. At first it seemed like a ridiculous thing to do. For the month leading up to the excavation, Nancy kept asking, "You're not REALLY going to do that are you?"

I'll hold off on advocating replacing the walls of our homes with sheets of hydroponically grown green tea until I give that a shot myself. But I'm going to dedicate the blog this week to making the best argument I can that you should start to experiment with growing food in unlikely places. Whether it's your lawn, your fence, your driveway, your deck, your flower beds or even your mailbox. Just keep in mind that there are powerful instincts that will work against such efforts. It may at first seem ridiculous to grow lettuce with your flowers, but hang in there with me this week and let's see what happens. This is what happened to us last year and it was one the great joys of year.

The first step is to do a survey of your physical space. Identify every area of your property that get's at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. More sun is needed for tomatoes and peppers, but we can cover that later. Don't worry about soil yet, just sunlight. Vegetable plants are nature's version of solar panels that harvest the suns energy and package it for us in tasty morsels of consumable energy. To help you think about this sunlight issue, think about where you would put solar panels on your property. That will give you the right instincts for thinking about where to grow vegetables - south facing, maximum direct sun, etc. It might be helpful to draw a rough map of your property and identify those spaces that meet the above requirement.