Archive for ‘Edible Landscaping’

May 5, 2011

Community Garden and such

I know, I’m sure after my last post you thought that I had a terrible run-in with the raccoons and that was the end of Walnuts and Pears.  You can relax, the raccoons have not gotten the best of me, yet.

A while back a friend and neighbor asked me to help her get a Community Garden started at her church and pre-school.  How could I refuse?!?!  So I took a little hiatus from blogging (perhaps you noticed) and dedicated my energy to drawing up a plan.  The plan actually consists of more than the veggie beds for the Community Garden.  Since this is for a church and pre-school, there are elements for the children and the young at heart.  The church was built in the 1950s and an addition was added years later.  Since then, there really hasn’t been much in the way of landscaping on the site and what once was there, is now gone.  So, other than the new fence and some existing retaining walls it was pretty much a blank slate.  There were also requests for flowers, minimizing maintenance around the fence and even addressing some water issues.  The goal is to make a hands-on learning space that is both bountiful and beautiful. The plan includes 4 raised planting beds, including one seating-height bed, a number of pots and planters and tee-pees for the children to grow gourds and ornamental vines on as well as play in.  There will also be a butterfly garden and edible landscaping incorporated throughout the rest of the site.

Even though our growing season in Minnesota is off to a bit of a slow start, they have a pretty aggressive schedule.  The goal was to have everything installed by April 30th so cool crops could get planted.  Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly cooperate so the digging didn’t start until May 1st, but things are progressing nicely now.  They should be able to start planting by the end of the week and since the weather is still pretty cool, the crops should do just fine.  Check out the Bethany Gardens blog to see their progress and keep tabs on the gardens throughout the season:

In the mean time, I’ve yet to get my cool crops in yet either, so hopefully this weekend I’ll be digging in too.

As a side note, the metal containers from my front steps have given themselves back to Mother Earth (rusted out) so I’m looking to buy or make some new planters/pots for my front steps.  If anyone has suggestions, please let me know!


April 12, 2011

Spring containers with culinary appeal

The snow is finally gone, the grass is just beginning to green up, but color is still lacking from our landscape in Minnesota.

All of our front entry spaces would love a little pop of color.  Many people put pots or planters on or near their entry in the summer, but I really enjoy changing them out seasonally.  Believe it or not, it’s not too early to plant some spring flowers.  Although there isn’t a huge selection yet, Pansies, contrary to their name, are cold tolerant and able to handle the last little blasts of cold we might get.   I know, Pansies are nothing out of the ordinary, it seems you either really like them, or really dislike them.  I like them.  They make me smile, partially because they look like little monkey faces and monkeys make me laugh.

Anyway, I’m typically not fond of using just one type of plant in a container so I’m always looking for ways to “jazz up” my containers by adding color, or texture, or something a little fun or out of the ordinary.  If you’re partial to flowers, you can use Pansies, Tulips, Daffodils (whose faces follow the sun which can either be fun or frustrating depending on your personality), moss, ferns (perennial, not indoor varieties) branches such as Pussy Willow, Curly Willow or Birch.  If you can find Ornamental Cabbage or Kale, it always adds nice texture too.  If you’re looking for an alternative, another nice option is to use lettuce. If you plant a variety of them, such as green leaf, red leaf, oak leaf, etc., it can really be quite pretty. Add Pansies to the pot for a cheerful salad on the steps!

IMPORTANT: Pansy flowers are edible and make for great color on salads, but make absolutely sure they have not been treated with herbicides or pesticides before you even consider eating them! The plants most nurseries and big box retailers carry will most likely have been treated.  Make sure to look for “edible pansies” from an organic grower or grow your own from (organic) seeds.  Just remember – don’t use conventional fertilizer on them after you plant them!

If you don’t have any luck finding edible pansies but want to surprise your Easter guests with them in a salad, most coops or natural food stores will carry edible pansies near the fresh herbs.



April 1, 2011

Think outside the box – look to your landscaping!

Many of us grew up knowing veggie gardens as a box.  Either a box in the ground without sides or a box on the ground with sides, also known as a raised garden.

Believe it or not there are many other methods and shapes out there.  But assuming you’re not doing a complete overhaul this spring and either have very little space for a traditional garden or you would just like to add a couple more things to the mix, look to your landscaping*.  Yep, the area right around your house.  You can quickly change ho-hum landscaping into something fun and edible (a.k.a. edible landscaping).  Replace some of the spaces you usually fill with pansies and petunias with tomatoes, herbs or lettuce and your landscaping will start appealing to more than just the sense of sight.  Just imagine grabbing a few leaves of basil and a tomato on your way in the front door, add a little fresh mozzarella and you’ve got a Caprese Salad waiting at your front door!

*IMPORTANT: If you currently fertilize your lawn and landscape in or within 10 feet of this area, give it a rest.  Seriously.  Organic standards call for 3 years.  Trust me, you DON”T want to be eating what you’re “feeding” to your lawn and landscape. (Don’t forget to ditch the conventional fertilizer attachment to your hose too!)

Here’s to thinking outside the box.  Buon Appetito!