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 “Minifarm” aesthetic that differs from traditional border and lawn gardens.

Most critical, perhaps, is the need for hygiene: spent fruit must be removed to prevent the spread of disease, and competing under story plants should be kept to a minimum. Water requirements are also crucial: trees need ample water and plenty of time to dry out in between. Finally, the areas around these plants must be accessible for harvest and maintenance.

Because of these practical needs, commercial agricultural landscapes are mostly mono-cultural, with exposed soil between the crops. Yet bare soil is hardly desirable in the home or commercial landscape.

The Minifarm resolves these conflicting demands by creating compatible cultural zones within a landscape. An orchard zone, for example, is underplanted with herbaceous perennials and annuals that can be periodically stripped to remove old leaves and fruit. These zones have a unique watering system that provides semi-weekly soil drenching. Rustic paths around the trees provide easy access, while fore-plantings screen areas with exposed soil.

Vegetables are most successfully grown in a dedicated area. The soil can then be carefully groomed, and new seedlings can be protected from pets, birds and soccer balls. Moreover, there will always be intervals when the soil is left bare. Ideally, a vegetable patch is tucked into a sunny, inconspicuous area of the landscape. Cool season vegetables are planted twice a year, and require frequent watering. 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.

When these varied cultural requirements are met, and plants are skillfully selected and located, a landscape of productive plants is both beautiful and fruitful. Fruit trees, fruiting vines & berries form a natural foundation for any size residential or commercial landscape.