Posts Tagged vegetables

Planting Somethings Beautiful and Delicious

Usually this is the time of year when many start thinking about the shape of our yard and how they want it changed.  It’s always nice when plants serve a dual purpose and when you think about the shape you want your yard to take, consider planting something both pretty and edible.

“Kitchen gardens” and other terms often make one think of a traditional English garden or some kind of a garden patch, but that doesn’t need to be the case.  Check out these techniques for planting food that both look and taste great:

1. Use edibles for a border. Plants like cabbage, kale, chard, strawberries, mint, sage, or lavender all make a gorgeous edible border.

2. There is something romantic about a vine growing up a wall or around a fence.  Coax some edible vines up your garden wall.  There are plenty of great food plants that look nice and grow on a vine.  These include: eggplants, cucumbers, grapes, peppers, tomatoes, zucchinis and peas. Bright Veggie Garden

3. Enjoy something yummy and some shade from a fruit tree.  Great trees are: lemon, lime, orange, peach, apple, and many others.  There are many other trees with edible flowers or seed pods like redbud or bottlebrush.

4. Plant a ground cover of food plants or herbs.  Instead of growing grass around pavers, try something edible like strawberries, lingonberries, cranberries, wintergreen, thyme, mint, and prostrate rosemary.

5. Line your walk with edible bushes.  Plants like blueberries, Barbados cherry, loquat, elderberry, and hazelnut are all delicious and beautiful additions to a yard.

These are just a few of the ways you can rearrange your yard this year.  Here’s to a gorgeous and delicious front or backyard.

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Putting Your Vegetables to Bed

I realize in my last post I discussed planting anything you have that you’d like to get into the ground.  However, this doesn’t really apply to vegetables.  It’s the time of year when we normally eat any vegetables which are good, and toss anything that isn’t going to overwinter in your yard.

Here are some ideas of what to do with common vegetables:

Tomatoes: Pick anything that is ripe.  If you have green tomatoes, you have a few options.

The first option is to pull your plant up by the roots and hang it upside down in a dry, cool place.  This can cause some of your green tomatoes to ripen.

The second option is to cut the roots of the plant to get them to concentrate on funneling any additional fuel into your tomatoes, causing them to ripen faster.

The third option is to pick the green tomatoes, fry them up or cook them with one of the many green tomato recipes around and eat them!

Another thing to note is that if you planted tomatoes in a bed or pot one year, you should note which one so that the next year you can rotate another crop into that area.  That keeps down pests and allows the soil to recover from the nitrogen sucking tomatoes do.

Peppers: These plants can overwinter inside your home.  The idea is to pot them (don’t chop up the roots too much, get big plastic pots), and put them in a bright, warm space over the wintertime.

A few things to note about any plant you take from your yard and put into your home or other space for the winter are:

1. Make sure to rinse the plant well before putting it inside.  You are trying to get rid of any insects that may overwinter with the plant.

2. It’s best to re-pot or move plants in the evening, not in the heat of the day.

3. Don’t forget to water the plants.

Herbs: These can also be brought inside for wintertime.  Some herbs like parsley can be left outside over the winter as they are cool weather plants.  Be sure to see which herbs do best in what weather.  I would bring basil and rosemary inside, and leave parsley and lavender outside.

Garlic and Shallots: You can go ahead and plant these now.  Just remember where you plant your garlic as they take a long time to grow and will be ready to eat in early summer.

If you don’t have a vegetable garden, and you’d like to set one up, talk to your local landscaper.  There are lots of beautiful options and now is a great time to get them installed – so you can go ahead and plant as soon as Spring arrives!

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Making your Landscape Work for you

“Urban Farming” is the new big thing.  You can certainly try this yourself.  Here are some fun ideas you can incorporate into your own yard.

For small yards: If you have a small yard, you can place various colored pots in sunny spots containing fruits and veggies (like strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, snap peas, and more) and place fun pots in partial shade for cool weather veggies (spinach, broccoli, etc), as well as herbs (like parsley, cilantro, mint, lavender, basil, etc).  You can also put up small trellises for things like peas, tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, and more.  Don’t forget to include some pretty flowers in your pots to attract bees!

For mediums sized yards: If you have a pretty medium-sized yard with sunny wall space, you can plant grapes along your wall, while adding raised beds to the sunniest spots for your fruits and veggies.  Also, you can include a small lime tree or other size-regulated citrus tree.  With trees, one fun thing to do is plant shade veggies or flowers at the dripline of your tree.  This keeps the plants watered, and provides the shade they need.

For hillside yards: Hillside yards have the unique opportunity to be shaped into the perfect garden.  You can get a stairway installed through your hillside, and you can get your planters positioned for easy access.  In the planters you can literally plant anything – depending on the season.  In fact, you could probably start your own vineyard.

For beach property: You can totally plant delicious foods by the beach – either in planters (if your soil is too sandy) or directly into the ground.  Some veggies that work well at the beach are root veggies like radishes, carrots, and beets – other veggies that do well by the beach are lettuce and asparagus.  You can certainly try other plants.  Strawberries do well in some areas, as well as blueberries.

Finally, another thing to consider in your “urban farming”: we’re talking about your yard – not a real farm.  You don’t have to plant things in rows if that doesn’t work for your space.  You can plant exactly in the way that suits your available space, in a way that will also allow your plants to do well.

Here’s to delicious, home-grown, and sun-warmed fruits and veggies!

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Using Seeds in your Yard

A cheap way of getting your landscape up to par is to buy seeds and plant them out in your yard.

This sounds like an easy solution – you may ask “Why doesn’t everyone use seeds if it’s so cheap and easy?”  That’s because it’s not actually very easy.

Here is some info that may help you use seeds in a more effective manner: 

1.  Overseed your lawn.  It’s pretty easy to buy extra seeds, rent a spreader, and go to town overseeding your existing lawn.  However, if your lawn is extremely uneven, you don’t like the slope, or it’s just plain ugly, try consulting with a landscaper to get the whole thing overhauled.  It may save you a lot in water money in the long run.

2. Start seeds indoors if the weather is particularly finicky.  It’s easy to start seeds inside, just put them in between two sides of a lightly dampened paper towel and put them in a plastic bag until the seeds begin to germinate.  At this point, plant the seeds in the soil at the recommended depth.  Be careful with the roots and ensure the soil all around and beneath the planted seed is loose and crumbly.

If you are worried about your soil quality, consult with your local landscaper to see what you can do to improve it, and how extensively you need improve it.  If you are only planning a vegetable garden, you may only need to improve the top 6 inches or so – and it may be a better idea to install planter boxes.

3. Plant seeds directly in a pot that you like.  Make sure too keep the soil loose and not too damp.  If you water the seeds, just mist them and keep the soil only partially damp.  Once they sprout, you can put them indoors, outdoors, or hang them.

4. Plant some bulbs around your yard.  I posted an article all about that last week.

5. Plant your vine plants in heavy-duty pots, or directly in the ground, set up a trellis and watch them grow.  Some great (and popular) options for this are: tomatoes, sweet peas, cucumber, zucchini, squash, bush beans, and more.  If you don’t want veggies, try passion flowers, bougainvillea, morning-glory, honey suckle, clematis, black-eyed susan, and more.  Just make sure, if you happen to plant direct into the ground, protect the seed with cover until it begins to sprout.  Then, remove the cover.

If this sounds like too much work – that’s fine!  You can always buy something pre-sprouted.

Here’s to a year of perfect weather and great gardening!

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New Years Resolutions

Each year, all around the US, we make home improvement resolutions.  This coming year, here are some fun landscaping ideas:

– Create a natural habitat for local butterflies and/or birds.  Add bushes, bright and nice-smelling flowers, bird baths, trees, and bird houses.

– Add natural plants to your landscape.  If you aren’t too attached to you lawn, try out some natural landscaping with local plants.  You’ll be surprised what beautiful birds and insects you will attract.

Install landscape lighting.  Some ideas for this are track lighting along your walk ways, LED lights in the trees, lamps, etc.

– Try out a vegetable garden.  A vegetable garden certainly does not have to be traditional.  You can do a traditional English herb garden, or even plant fruit trees and shrubs.

– Install a sprinkler system.  This is a great way to conserve your water useage.

– Add a waterscape.  You don’t have to install a full-fledged pool to enjoy the cool sound of running water in your yard.   You can install a pond, waterfall, foutain, or a non-traditional waterscape.

– Get inspired. Throughout the year, visit local parks and gardens and see what they do in the off-season to keep their spaces looking gorgeous.

Here’s to a very happy holiday – and a wonderful New Year!

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