Save Money On Healthy Foods

The article  The Twenty Healthiest Foods for Under $1 from Divine Caroline has a list of healthy foods to help you eat healthy while saving money on your grocery budget.  Imagine how much you could save if you grew them yourself.  

Depending on the amount of land you have it may be difficult to grow enough oats for your use.  Purchasing in bulk for storage would save you even more.   If you are in an area that allows chickens you can produce your own eggs.  Potatoes, kale, apples, and broccoli should not be much of a problem for most people.  Apple trees can be purchased in a variety of sizes including columnar and dwarf to save space.  Be sure to get two for pollination or you may not get a crop.  Some variety of nuts can be grown in most climates. Depending on your climate you may or may not be able to grow bananas outdoors.   Bananas can be grown as a houseplant - be sure to purchase a plant that produces edible bananas and be willing to wait about 18 months to harvest.  Beans can also be grown in most climates and also store very well. Beans can also be sprouted for eating. 

Of course if you are growing your own food you can save money growing a much wider variety than this.  Add foods in a variety of colors to get the most range of nutrients - tomatoes, peppers, and berries are all colorful and fairly easy to grow.  And don't forget herbs which can add interest and nutrients. 

Gifts for Gardeners

Need ideas for gifts for gardeners (or for you)?

Some possibilities could be tools, indoor plants (what about a Vanilla vine?), seeds, seed starting supplies, catalogs, books, magazines or ezines, plant markers, books, or ebooks.

Not only gardening tools but what about tools for preserving, storing, or using the harvest?

Compile a list of resources as a gift including websites, forums, elists, and more. I hope you would include some of my resources in your list including Garden Inspire, EatYourLandscape, and HerbLinks

For more ideas check this article and this site

What are your ideas?

Think It Is Too Early To Plan Your Landscape?

Now is a great time to think about your landscape and garden for next year.  What vegetable, herbs, and fruits do you and your family consume? Which of these grow in your area and could be used in place of trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals in your landscape?

Time to plan for 2012’s harvest


It’s almost the time of year when many of us are harvesting the last of our homegrown produce for 2011.

Here it is the middle of September already, and it’s time to start planning next year’s garden. More and more gardeners in northwest Ohio are considering edible landscaping which incorporates fruits, vegetables, and nuts into typical landscaping plans.

Edible landscaping offers an alternative to conventional residential landscapes that are designed solely for ornamental purposes. The edible versions can be just as attractive, yet produce fruits and vegetables for home use.

There are many reasons to incorporate edible plants into the residential landscape, including:

•The freshness and flavor of home-grown, fully ripened fruits and vegetables.
•Controlling the quantity and kind of pesticides and herbicides used on the foods you consume.
•Increasing the food security of your household.
•To save on grocery bills.
•Growing unusual varieties not available in stores
•To get outside, interact with the natural world, and have fun.

Edible landscaping is as old as gardening itself and has undergone a recent revival. Ancient Persian gardens combined edible and ornamental plants. Medieval monastic gardens included fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicinal herbs. Plans for 19th century English suburban yards, which modeled themselves after country estates, often included fruits, and berries.

The edible components of residential landscapes largely were lost in this country to shade trees, lawns, and foundation plantings. In the past two decades, however, there has been a revival of interest in edible landscaping.

Like all plants used in the landscape, edible plants grow best in certain conditions. Many (but not all) fruits and vegetables do best where they receive at least six hours of full sunlight a day. Most also like well-drained soil. Parts of your yard that satisfy these conditions are good places to start an edible landscape.

To start simply, consider a one-for-one substitution. Where you might have planted a shade tree, plant a fruit tree. Where you need a deciduous shrub, plant a currant or hazelnut. Where you have always had chrysanthemums, plant bachelor’s buttons—you can eat them.

Edible plants come in nearly all shapes and sizes and can perform the same landscape functions as ornamental plants.

Many common ornamental plants can survive with minimal care. Most edible plants, however, require a certain amount of attention to produce well. They might require a little extra watering, pruning, fertilizing, or pest management. The time required, however, need not be exorbitant.

To care for a fruit tree, for instance, might take only a few hours a year, while the yield could be enormous. It is best to treat edible landscaping as a hobby and not a chore. You might find yourself checking on your plants more than required, just because you want to see how they’re doing. If you are concerned about being overwhelmed, just start small.

The possibilities for edible landscaping are endless. By incorporating just one—or many—edible plants into a home landscape, you can develop a new relationship with your yard and the food you eat.

Why Do You Garden?

A survey by the National Gardening Association came up with several reasons why people garden.  Is the reason you garden on this list or do you have another reason?

To grow better tasting food
To save money on food bills
To grow better quality food
To grow food I know is safe
To feel more productive
To spend more time outdoors
To get back to basics
To have food to share with others
To live more locally
To have a family activity
To teach my kids about gardening


This new canning funnel, invented by a friend of mine, makes canning safer and easier. 
  • Fits securely on the rim of jars preventing tipping and reducing spilling. 
  • Fits 1/2 pint, pint, and quart jars whether wide mouth or regular size.  
  • Keeps the rim clean - reducing cleanup time. 
Made in the U.S.A.
BPA free
Top rack dishwasher safe

Writing A Book About Herbs

I have been writing a book about herbs and so have not been posting much on my blogs. 
What About Herbs? is now available for Kindle and soon for Nook.

Small Green Roofs book

I won the book Small Green Roofs by Nigel Dunnett, Dusty Gedge, John Little, and Edmund G. Snodgrass from Gardening Jones blog!

It is interesting reading about green roofs on everything from apartment building carports to birdhouses.  I think I will try one on a birdhouse - maybe using edible plants for birds.

Although the book is not specifically an edible landscape book growing edibles on rooftops is discussed along with some photos and instructions for green roof building. 

Bush Cherries

Bush cherries are cherries that grow on a shrub or bush instead of a tree.  There are several types of cherries with the common name of bush cherry including Sand Cherry (Prunus x cistena), Hansen's Bush Cherry - also sometimes called Sand Cherry (Prunus bessyi), Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa), Prunus cerasus X Prunus fruiticosa, and Prunus japonica x P. jacquemontii.  That last one is the only one I have tasted the fruit from so far.

Bush cherries can be grown as a hedge, windbreak, or as a single shrub in situations where you may not want a cherry tree.  Their cherry-like fruit may not be recognized by the passerby as an edible fruit and so if planted along a sidewalk you may not have the fruit picked by others without permission. The bush cherries I planted ripen later than tree cherries and so a crop may not be lost due to weather or birds.

The fruit of Prunus japonica x P. jacquemontii is red like Montmorency tart cherries and has a simliar flavor and size.  At my house they ripen around the first part of August.  My two shrubs purchased by mailorder from Hartmann's Plant Company are about 1' tall and are producing a small amount of fruit.  Their mature size is 4 x 4' when they will be producing a few pounds of fruit. A minimum of two bushes of different varieties should be planted.

Bush cherries vary in mature height from 4' up to 10' or more.  Flavor, color, size, and harvest time and quantity will also vary.  Some would be better used for jams than fresh eating.  Bush cherries may also keep birds away from other fruit in your yard that ripens at the same time. Bush cherries are something you may want to consider in place of non-edible shrubs in your yard.

Bush Cherry in Spring

Bush Cherry beginning to show Fall color

Edibles Native to the Americas

To celebrate this Fourth of July why not plant and/or use some plants native to the Americas?  Some such as tomatoes and potatoes were unknown in the old world until they were imported from the New World.  Thanks to all those over the thousands of years who propagated these plants so that we might have them today.  I cannot imagine life without tomatoes, peppers, and many of these other delicious and nutritious plants.

Some other edible American plants are quinoa, corn, monarda, camas, cattails, wild rice, miner's lettuce, peanuts, and chocolate (an excuse to eat chocolate to celebrate the 4th? : )).  Before consuming plants be sure you are identifying them properly and that they were not treated with pesticides.

See more Fruits native to the Americas

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard or Chard Beta vulgaris cicla is a vegetable often grown as a spinach substitute because it can handle the heat of summer while spinach cannot.   Chard can be harvested for a longer period than spinach due to its tolerance to summer heat.  Chard can also be planted early - before the last average frost.  Plant in full sun or partial shade.  Chard varieties can be green with white ribs, red ribs, or the rainbow varieties which also include purple, orange, or yellow ribs.   Plant chard in your yard where you would like something unusual, leafy, and colorful.
Cut the outer leaves first when harvesting leaving the inner leaves to grow larger for a later harvest and to keep this colorful vegetable as part of your landscape. 

Chard can be eaten raw or steamed, or in a stir fry.
Chard recipes

Swiss Chard

Chard In The Landscape

Gardening - from Utah Boomers Magazine interview

My interview with Utah Boomers Magazine.
How Does Your Garden Grow?


Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits.  I love the scent and the taste of fresh strawberries and all the delicious things you can make with them.

I am growing Alpine strawberries this year for the first time. Alpine strawberries do not grow runners like other types so they can work well as a border plant or in other areas where you don't want your strawberries to fill in.   The berries on alpines are smaller and some say tastier.  Alpine fruits can be red, yellow, or white depending on the variety.  Birds tend to not eat the yellow and white fruits.

Of the runner types of strawberries there are June bearing which bear their crop all at once, Everbearing which bear for a longer period but not actually the entire season, and Day Neutral which bear for much of the season.  If you want to make jam or have another use where you want a quantity at once June bearing are a good choice.  If you want the harvest spread out you would want Everbearing or Day Neutral.  Why not grow some of each?  Just keep them separate so you know what is what.

Strawberries can be grown in full sun or part shade in well drained, weed free soil.   I grow mine in 4 x 4 Square Foot Garden beds.  The alpines I will plant in the front yard here and there as a ground cover near my currant bushes.

My main strawberry pests are slugs, snails, and birds.  I recently heard the idea of placing red painted rocks in the bed right before the berries ripen to fool the birds.  That way when the berries are ripe they won't want to try them.  You can also use bird netting if you prop it slightly above the bed.  Fake owls, fake snakes (or a piece of garden hose curved to look like a snake), or CDs where they are allowed to move in the breeze may all help scare birds away.  For some slug and snail control ideas check my landscape/garden blog.

Strawberry recipes

Spring Fruit Tree Care

If the coldest weather is likely past and the buds on your trees are expanding now is the time to prune most of your fruit trees.   Apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, and apricots should all be pruned at this time.

I pruned my trees last week and will be spraying them with horticultural oil within days.  Pruning of fruit trees helps them to be healthier, produce better, and makes harvesting easier. Check with your county extension service and see if they have free pruning demonstrations.

You can prune dead, broken, or branches that rub against others at anytime.  Be sure to cut branches back to another branch or a bud.  If you cut in between branches or buds it will die back anyway.  If you hire someone to prune be sure that they know how to prune fruit trees and that they do not top trees.  Topping trees is unhealthy for the tree and will create problems in the future.  Arborists are professional tree pruners.

After pruning spray the entire tree with horticultural oil.  The oil spray suffocates overwintering insects on the tree.  I would consider oil spray to be one of the most important things you can do for insect control.

Starting Seeds or Planting Now?

When starting seeds or buying plants for your vegetable garden (or if you don't have a vegetable garden) consider planting some of those vegetables in other spots in your yard.

Peppers, lettuce, and many herbs are among the vegetables and herbs that are attractive plants and can be used instead of or among the other plants in your landscape. 

Were you considering an ornamental grass for your yard?  Instead why not plant chives, garlic chives, indian rice grass, society garlic, garlic, or in warmer climates, lemongrass.  You can have a grassy look and eat it too.

Lettuce is available in variety of color combinations and shapes.  Why not use it to add color and interest to your yard and taste to your table?

You can find some other ideas for substitutions and additions of edible plants to your landscape in this blog.

Wolfberry/Goji Berry

Wolfberry, Goji berry, Matrimony Vine, and Gou-gi-zi are all common names for Lycium barbarum.  Wolfberry or Wolf Berry is probably the most well know common name.  Wolfberry has been grown and used in China for centuries.  The berries can be eaten fresh, dried, or juiced and are high in protein and anti-oxidants.  Wolf berries contain all the essential amino acids.  You can find products made with Wolfberries such as juice, skin care, and energy bars.  Also, dried Wolfberries or Goji berries are available from the same site or from your local health food store.

Wolfberry - first year
Wolf berries grow on a vine (or can be pruned to grow as a shrub) which is hardy in zones 3 - 10 and is drought tolerant once established.  Information, plants, and a cookbook are all available from Phoenix Tears Nursery.  Plants can be purchased from Raintree Nursery.  Plants, seeds, and dried fruit can be purchased from Richters.

Wolfberry recipes

If any of you have grown Wolfberries I would love to hear about it so please comment.

Wolfberry in Bloom

Wolfberry Fruit

Second year of growth - Wolfberry flowers and fruit

Hardiness Zones

Hardiness Zones represent areas of average annual minimum temperatures. The USDA has divided the U.S. in to eleven different zones based on the lowest termperature recorded between 1974 and 1986. Other parts of the world also have Hardiness Zone maps.
This information is helpful for determining what plants may survive in your area. Hardiness Zones do not take into account rainfall, summer heat, soil type, or other factors but are still helpful when deciding what plants may grow in your area. Other factors such as lack of snow cover and lack of water can affect a plants survivability.
Plants are usually labeled with a hardiness zone and/or a minimum temperature to which they will survive. For example English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia, Hardiness Zone 5 - 8 is sometimes listed - 30 F instead of by zone.  Spanish Lavender Lavandula dentata has a Hardiness Zone of 8 - 9.  This information is more important than whether a plant is marked as a perennial.  Perennial in what zone?
My garden is a zone 6 ( -10 F to 0 F) so I can usually grow plants that can survive in zones 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. If I want to grow a zone 7 plant I may succeed by finding a warmer microclimate in my yard or growing the plant indoors. A microclimate is an area that has a slightly different climate due to wind protection, more shade, more sun, or other factors which create a climate warmer or cooler than the rest of the area.
I have been able to grow rosemary by planting it next to the foundation on the south side of my house. The foundation holds and reflects heat back to the rosemary's roots to keep it warmer through the winter.
To find your Hardiness Zone

Black Currants

My introduction to black currants came in a Small Fruit Production class when the professor brought in a bottle of black currant juice that he had purchased at a German deli. After having a taste I knew I wanted to plant a bush or two.

Black currants (Ribes nigrum) grow on an attractive, easy to care for deciduous shrub which can be used in the landscape in sun to part shade. These shrubs grow 3 – 6' high but can easily be pruned to reduce the height or espaliered. Black currants prefer a somewhat moist but well drained soil.
Currant bushes are related to gooseberries and have a similar appearance but lack the thorns which gooseberry shrubs have. Some black currants have leaves which will turn red in the fall.
Black currant fruits are more commonly used in European countries where they are used for juice, jam, and desserts. The leaves are sometimes used in tea blends.  If you have only a small amount of fruit on a young shrub you can throw a few fruits into a berry or cherry pie.  Dried fruit sometimes labeled as currants are usually the dried fruit of a grape.
Areas of the U.S. with White Pine Blister Rust may prohibit the growing of currants. Check with your local extension agent for information.

Gardening Classes

I will be teaching gardening classes again beginning Tuesday, January 11.  So, if you are in the Northern Utah area check out the schedule on my website to see if there are classes that may be of interest to you.  I also teach for groups so if you have a group and a topic you would like taught just let me know.