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Tag Archive | "edible garden"

Add tasty edible plants to your landscape

(ARA) Window boxes overflowing with blooms, decorative pots lining the driveway with striking colors, and even a flowering vine climbing up the mailbox. The growing season has arrived, and it is time to decorate the landscape.

The latest gardening trend is growing your own produce, so incorporate edible plants as a beautiful compliment to the typical annuals and perennials. This year, spice up the landscaping decor with some tasty options.

Edible plants—whether herbs, vegetables, fruits or flowers—add a creative variety of interest to your landscape, and also produce a delicious bounty for your dinner table come harvest time.

Here are some ideas to help incorporate edible plants into your landscaping:

Decorate an arbor in the garden, along a walkway or near the house with grape vines. These vines can help shade an area and also can produce grapes good for eating, juicing, making into jams or jellies, or even wine. Different grapes thrive in different areas of the country, so research your region first before attempting to start some vines.

Switch to edible flowers like nasturtium, violets, chamomile, dandelion, hollyhock, honeysuckle, and pansies in your window boxes and decorative pots.  Do not eat flowers grown for ornamental purposes, instead, start edible flowers as seeds and grow them yourself. These flowers work great in salads, teas, summery drinks like sweetened tea, mocktails, and lemonade, and also can be crystallized to decorate cakes. To crystallize flowers, separate the flowers from the stem, and wash and dry the bloom. Heat up equal parts of water and sugar until the sugar dissolves, and the liquid becomes an amber color. Let the syrup cool. Take flower blooms and quickly dip the pedals into the liquid mixture, turn back over and let dry blossom face up. Stronger petals with form and shape work well.

Mix an herb or two into container gardens. Lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano and lemon grass are just a few that grow extremely well in containers, and mix attractively with other blooming flowers. Not only are the herbs edible, but also emit delicious scents when picked or touched, making a great choice for window boxes or path plantings.

Pot a tomato plant right in the front yard. Or, the backyard. Tomatoes grow well in full sunlight, and are decorative when the vines drape along a trellis or arbor. Tomatoes also work well as a natural screen along a porch or patio. Also good for use on an arbor or trellis are cucumbers, smaller melons and squash, beans and peas. Inter-plant vines with containers or landscaping, and your small vegetable garden will get a pop of interest to make it stand out – and provide a great harvest for your family.

Create a hedge with berries. Try blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and even gooseberries to make a unique hedge along the edge of your property. Just remember, your family will not be the only samplers of the fruits. Consider covering the hedge with netting to help keep birds from stealing all the berries. Combining beautiful landscaping with delicious foods to serve at dinner is sure to create many compliments – both from visitors enjoying the front and backyard views, and from dinner guests enjoying the produce harvest. Follow these tips and this year your garden will look good enough to eat.

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Succession in the Garden

(Family Features) Spring in the garden is a dangerous time. The temptation is to go out on those warm, sunny days and plant ‘til you drop. Not only is that strenuous on your body and mind, it can also lead to the proverbial glut of food in a few months.
A better solution is to plan out your annual edible garden so crops mature in a more orderly fashion. Succession planting requires a little knowledge of the type of plants you’re growing, a little planning to have room for them to grow, and the patience to plant each crop in turn. Also, other gardening techniques, such as crop rotation and interplanting, can help maximize growing space and help your plants avoid many soil-borne diseases and insects.

Planting for Success

Succession planting is a simple concept: Plant small rows or beds of plants periodically during the growing season. As one planting’s harvest begins to fade, the next planting’s harvest will be ready. The key is knowing what vegetables can be planted in succession, and the best time of year to do it.

Photo courtesy of Family Features

To succession plant, start in spring with cool-season crops that can be planted early, such as lettuce, spinach, peas, broccoli, greens, pak choi, carrots, radishes, and beets. For example, instead of planting one long row or bed of lettuce, consider planting a short, 2-foot-long row or bed. Two weeks later, sow another 2-foot-long row, and so on until the weather gets too warm for lettuce. Since the plants mature in one to two months you’ll get a continuous harvest of lettuce.
For warm weather crops, such as bush beans, summer squash, or cucumbers, follow the same planting pattern. Plant one bed after the last frost date, and another three or four weeks later. Since these crops take at least 60 days to mature, in regions with short growing seasons you may have time for just two successive crops before the weather gets too cold.
As late summer weather cools, you can start planting lettuce again for a fall or winter crop, depending on your location. Because the amount of daylight decreases in autumn, plants grow more slowly in fall than in spring, so allow more time for them to mature.
The other key to succession planting is leaving room to plant. The temptation is to plant everything all at once and fill the garden. It’s important to plan for subsequent plantings. Cover unused beds with straw or other mulch to deter weeds.
Pull out old crops as soon as they finish producing. Don’t let those peas hang on just because there are a few fruits on the vine. Pull old lettuce and spinach plants as soon as they show signs of bolting. By being a little hard-hearted, you’ll create lots of room to grow a second and third crop. It takes a little planning in advance, but you’ll be amazed at where you can tuck in a few broccoli or pak choi plants or a small row of beans.
For more tips and garden information, visit www.garden.org.
Charlie Nardozzi, a nationally recognized garden writer, book author, speaker and radio and television personality, has appeared on HGTV, PBS and Discovery Channel television networks. He teaches and inspires home gardeners to grow the best vegetables, fruits, flowers, trees and shrubs in their yards.

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