Growing Food Under the Radar

We’ve talked about guerrilla gardening before. The basic idea is to grow crops in locations or using methods that keep them relatively hidden from casual observers. For example, rather than an actual garden plot in the backyard, growing tomatoes in a couple of large planters on your patio. Or perhaps making use of the vacant lot down the street and planting asparagus where it won’t be noticed.

A couple of comments posted in a group I occasionally visit online brought up a related topic, that being to pay attention to not just where you’re planting but what you’re planting. If you are concerned about having your crops eventually discovered by someone and thus being stolen from you, give thought as to what you can grow in your area that won’t be obvious as food plants.

Potatoes are a great example. A potato plant looks like a whole bunch of nothing above ground, while all the goodies are hidden from view. Just a few potato plants can grow a mess of food. Try different varieties, too, and see what grows best in your area. Personally, I like Yukon Golds, especially for making mashed taters.

Sweet potatoes are another great choice. They are loaded with nutrients, such as beta-carotene, and taste pretty good, too. In fact, most of the in-ground veggies are great options, including carrots, turnips, and radishes. Garlic has tremendous medicinal properties and is ridiculously easy to grow. It isn’t a quick crop, though, so you do need to plan ahead. Most gardeners plant garlic in the fall for a mid to late summer harvest the following year.

The idea here is to plant things that most folks won’t recognize as being food plants. Let’s face it, even the most hardcore city dweller can probably recognize a corn stalk, right? If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could walk right by carrots growing just off the trail and never even notice them.

Give thought to how you can disguise your crops, too. For example, plant some flowers in the same container as you’re growing potatoes. The average person, hell even many experienced gardeners, aren’t going to give that a second look. If you’re careful about placement and camouflage, you might be able to get away with pole beans and other climbers. Plant them so they’ll grow up the side of a fence where you are also growing a decorative creeping vine.

Keep in mind that almost anything will look like food if it is planted in a garden bed in nice, even rows. Any ghetto rat will just assume that stuff is good to eat, whether they have a clue what it is or not. Edible landscaping allows you to increase the amount of food you can grow while also keeping it rather low key. Salad greens are a great choice in this regard. Many people won’t even recognize romaine lettuce growing alongside some flowers in a front or back bed alongside the house.

As you plan your gardens for this year, think about how you might go about disguising some of your food crops, just in case that becomes important at some point down the road. Incidentally, while I would never encourage one to break the law or commit other wrongdoings, many of these tips could work to the benefit of someone trying to get around rules and covenants in an area ruled by a homeowners association. Just sayin’….

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