Edible Landscaping as a Gray Man Defense

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 - 9:04pm

Arctic kiwi vine

The Gray Man concept started out as a self-defense tactic. But it applies to not standing out in other ways. In general, unless you really know and trust your neighbors, one should not expect a kitchen garden to go unmolested in a severe crisis. But they will probably leave your decorative plants alone.

I consider edible landscaping to be a Gray Man defense. Your best bets are perennials, or things that have annual seeds you can save easily and will fit into a flower garden. In a collapse,

  • Looters might strip your rows of green beans,. but not the "decorative" scarlet runner beans.
  • Looters might take all of your rows of cabbages and yet totally overlook your "flower garden's" decorative kale, sea kale, or decorative cabbage. I also like dragon a.k.a. dinosaur kale as a green vertical flower-garden accent.
  • Your apple tree or other fruit tree might be stripped overnight, but those decorative arctic kiwi vines with the variegated leaves covering the fruit will likely be undisturbed.
  • Depending on your climate blue-flowering rosemary bushes, white flowering cilantro (easy seeds), perennial oregano, thyme, and culinary lavender--and other pretty spices--can be mixed into your landscaping.
  • A grape arbor is a decorative feature that can provide grapes and edible leaves. Even if fruit gets stripped the vine will be there next year.
  • Strawberries make a great ground cover. So does mint. 

The blossoms on a food-producing fruit trees look just like ornamental ones, so they will be left alone unless they are fruiting. High-yielding, fast-growing mulberry trees are scruffy-looking and will be similarly ignored The same goes for blueberries, nut trees, beautiful silver-gray artichoke bushes, an oak log with shitake mushroom plugs, fiddlehead ferns, blackberry canes.

One plant at a time, you can transform your property into a quietly productive space.


1 Comment

Yoxa's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 306
Arctic Kiwi

Some info on Arctic Kiwi from Cornell University:


I wish they were tough enough for where I live!

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