I hate being stuck in the house, especially here on the sofa, but it does give me a chance to indulge in one of my favorite activities, perusing seed catalogs. I have already sent in my big orders but I am not finished. A few weeks ago, I went to a lecture on edible forest gardens given by David Jacke. I returned with a list of native plants I want to naturalize inmy little Eden. Many I can get locally. I will send out an email plea for comfrey, wild garlic and ramps. Some I will have to order. As I plan my order, I will take a virtual walk around property. It may be shrouded in ice today with the wind blowing snow devils but in my mind, it is spring and lovely edibles are popping up.
I have two arbors. One supports several arctic kiwi plants. Arctic kiwi is considered invasive but it is easy to control and the fruit is not only prolific but contains more vitamin c than oranges. The second arbor is for our grapes. We have a cold hardy concord but for high yield, you can’t beat our local fox grapes. They grow wild all over. I harvested enough to put up 7 gallons of juice last year. I have a couple of spots where fox grape used to grow but we pulled them down before we knew how good they were. I want to get some re-established in the same spot this year. I pulled some roots last fall and have rooted them in the green house. I hope they made it through the winter. Now we come to the asparagus patch. It is well established and we will probably expand it this spring. The rhurbarb patch is next. Rhurbarb comes up early. It is such a treat after a winter of canned fruit.
The blackberry patch creates a natural fence between us and our nearest neighbors and several elderberry bushes are n the same general area. I ordered a couple of new varieties of blackberries this year but the ones I dug up from a friend’s patch were pretty prolific. I am anxious to see how the purchaced, thornless varieties will do. Next is the raspberry patch. We are doubling it this year. This patch is in a spot that was loaded with Japanese Knotweed we were trying to get rid of. Bruce was at his bee meeting last night and learned that honey bees love knotweed. We have decided to guit fighting this losing battle. We are going to harvest some to try as a spring vegetable-rumor has it that it is similar to asparagus-and hack it down if when it gets unruly.
A little further on we have the orchard. We have apples and pears and have ordered cherries, plums and peaches. All varieties are dwarf. This part of the yard is also where we keep the compost piles. We have three going at a time.
Now we follow a path to the lower gardens. The path is lined with fiddleheads. We eat these every day for weeks in the spring, give away pounds and freeze many more pounds.
Below the compost heaps is the spring that forms our lower property border, There is a lovey glade here, perfect for the mushrooms we grow. I have a morel patch and a pile of innoculated shitake logs. My herb garden is right in front with the shady part reserved for my many mint plants. Bruce’s bees have a terrific spot next to the herb garden.
The stream follows the property line. We have hazelnuts, Jeruselam artichokes, blueberry bushes and gooseberries that gorw along the banks. We have four garden plots that we rotate, a large hayfield and just enough maple trees to tap for the gallon or two of syrup we use each year.
I am missing a couple things I really want. I don’t have any sumac. I grew up believing that sumac was poison but I was treated to sumac tea last summer and love it. I don’t have ramps or wild ginger. I do should mention that I have a lot of nettles, lamb’s quarters and purslane. We eat them all summer in salads and as greens.
One place I forgot to mention was the greenhouse. The citrus spends the summer out there. In the late fall we plant cold hardy greens. This is were we start seeds and winter over some cold hardy plants. I could use another greenhouse. I am looking for an abandoned one that needs a new skin.
We have a lot of time money and energy invested in our home. As I watch the market tank today (again!), I can’t think of a better investment.