Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Incredible, Edible Landscape

I live on an old homestead, surrounded by what once had been an edible landscape. Apple, persimmon, fig, cherry and plum trees, along with grape vines and numerous nut trees are within easy reach. I am sure there was once a very large garden close by also. The fig tree is the only one which still produces decent fruit. This was the way of life for so many families in the area; grow what you need.

I have grown up in the age of convenience; microwave cooking, frozen dinners or eating out is the norm. But as budgets tighten along with belt lines, due to some of the unhealthy, easy food available, people are once again looking to gardens to supplement the grocery budget and supply healthy food for the family. After a winter of eating tasteless tomatoes which have been shipped green from one coast to the next, than gassed to make them bright red for the grocery store bins, is it any wonder we crave the taste of a fresh, homegrown tomato. Many of us do not have the space or the yard design to grow a garden, but that should not stop you. Many plants can be incorporated into your yard to create an edible landscape.

One of the best and easiest plants to grow in your landscaping is the blueberry bush. This plant can easily fit in with other perennials in a sunny location. Keep in mind they like an acidic soil and while many self pollinate, having two different varieties will ensure a good fruit production. What could be better then picking fresh blueberries in the morning for your muffins or pancakes?

A bush or patio tomato can be grown in a planter on a back deck and a cherry tomato can be grown in a window box or hanging basket. A pepper plant is also very attractive in a planter. Herbs can be grown in small pots on a sunny front step or as ground cover in perennial beds. Nasturtiums are an annual flower which come in a range of colors and the flowers can be added to salads.

Start out with a few favorites and before long you will be hooked, by the convenience and ease of having an edible estate. Just be prepared to compete with the rabbits and neighbors who may come by for a snack.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Room With A View

It was really cold last week.  I mean 18 degree cold, so I curled up in a favorite spot and looked through some garden magazines, wishing for all that summer color.  I looked out the window, seeing nothing of interest, returned to the glossy pictures.  That thought, made me put down the magazine and turn my thoughts to the fact that there was nothing of interest outside my window.  Sure, we often plant our landscape and gardens for the outside world, but what about our own view from a spot on the sofa or our kitchen window or what we see when we open our eyes in the morning.  We all need a room with a view.  There are plenty of cold mornings or rainy days or days when you just don’t feel good, so have something interesting to look at. 
When you are outside deciding where to plant that rose bush or flowering tree, consider walking in the house and see if you should move it over a little bit so it can be seen from inside.  Plant a favorite color or something very fragrant which can be enjoyed as you lay in bed on a lazy weekend morning.  Plant something outside your kitchen window which attracts butterflies to make dishwashing a little more pleasant.  Plant something evergreen outside the living room window, so those bleak winter days don’t seem quite so gray.   That enjoyable view doesn’t need to be of just plants; a statue, bench or fountain can be enjoyed inside too.

Our yards are not meant to be just enjoyed by our neighbors or when we are outside, but from within also.   Besides, when the garden is beautiful from inside the house, it just naturally draws you outside to get up-close and personal with it.  It’s a win, win situation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ode To A Winter's Day

            Henry David Thoreau said; “Live each season as it passes, breath the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

          I have a hard time resigning myself to the winter season; the cold, the long nights, the frost; did I mention cold?   I love the spring!  Green shoots pushing up through the dirt, buds ready to burst, a green tinge appearing on tree limbs….so much anticipation.  I love summer!  Plants filling in everywhere; so much color, sounds and smells.  I love fall!  Cool mornings, cool evenings, and amazing fall colors.  Winter, not so much! 
             While I pine away for those long daylight hours of summer, these shorter hours actually trigger plants to prepare for the cold months ahead by becoming cold-hardy or ‘hardening-off’.  While I am putting on an extra pair of socks to warm my feet, the plants roots are busy taking in nutrients and growing throughout the winter.  While I am curled up on the couch watching old movies, eating popcorn and counting down till spring, my plants are getting ready to burst forth in spring glory at the right time. 

As spring explodes around us, I resign myself to the fact that I really should have spent my winter getting my garden ready for spring.  So this winter, I am not going to hibernate my time away, I am going to be ahead of the game and have everything ready for spring….just as soon as it warms up a little.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Resolutions, Smesolutions

     My favorite New Year’s toast is:  ‘May all your worries this year last as long as your New Year’s resolutions’, but this year I’m hoping to make some garden resolutions to have a lasting effect throughout the year.  So here are my resolutions:
·        Learn – I have learned that I can still learn.  Winter is a great time to curl up with several good gardening magazines, or take a course through your local agricultural extension.

·        Right plant, right place – I promise to try hard to bypass that amazing shade plant and not try to convince myself that a couple hours of morning shade equals deep shade.

·        Weed in winter – Forget the gym, bend and stretch those muscles as you pull those winter weeds.  You will feel the pain the next morning but reap the benefits in spring.

·        Prune and pinch with a vengeance – Remember that overgrown plant that was a mess this summer?  Come winter and the loss of foliage, it doesn’t look so bad now, but next summer you’ll regret it, so PRUNE.

 ·        Get the kids involved – They need to get some fresh air and away from the TV, plus many hands make for less work.  Raise some future gardeners.
·         Is there a plant you have been coveting?  Go ahead and treat yourself and your garden to something special (just remember right plant, right place)
·        Stop and smell the roses – We are all so busy with work, kids and activities that we forget to stop and appreciate what is around us.  Even with gardening, I so often focus on a plant or have my head down pulling weeds or digging that I forget to stop, look and enjoy.
     So with this New Year, I hope your worries are few and your garden glorious.