There are scores of productive plants that thrive in the Bay Area’s climate—from summer plums to winter chard. These trees, vines, shrubs and greens are well-adapted to existing landscapes. To yield abundantly, however, their cultural requirements suggest a new “Nanofarm” aesthetic that differs from traditional border and lawn gardens, or even ‘edible’ landscaping.

The Nanofarm starts with a palette of five cultural zones.

Orchard zones are underplanted with herbaceous perennials and annuals that can be periodically stripped to remove old leaves and fruit, and should have a dedicated watering system to provide semi-monthly soil drenching. Once established, many fruit trees require no summer water. Rustic paths around the trees provide easy access, while fore-plantings screen areas with exposed soil.

Fruiting vines and berries are widely adapted, and, because they tolerate light shade, are great candidates for narrow side yards, or under existing trees. They usually require a trellis or support, and, with the exception of grapes and kiwis, thrive on frequent water. Both beautiful and productive, fruit trees and fruiting vines & berries form a natural foundation for any size residential or commercial landscape.

Vegetables are most successfully grown in a dedicated area, where the soil can be carefully groomed, and new seedlings protected from pets, birds and soccer balls. Ideally, a vegetable patch is tucked into a sunny, inconspicuous area of the landscape, since there are always intervals when the soil is left bare.

Cool season vegetables are planted twice a year, and require frequent watering. They also need protection from intense summer sun. Properly maintained, they present a tidy, farm feel all year round.

Warm season veggies, in contrast require lots of space, infrequent, deep watering and, towards the end of their season, are rarely ready for a close-up.

Perennial herbs are blended throughout the landscape, in pots, perennial borders, or as edging in the nanofarm. Wherever possible, they should be planted close to the kitchen door.