Category Archives: Edible Forest Gardening

This category includes articles on edible forest gardening and how the concept of forest gardening can be applied to the residential setting.

10 Jun

2014 Early June Garden Pictures

It has been a while since I posted pictures of the garden, a couple years actually, but I wanted to share with you some of the plants and fruits that I have going this year.

A place in the garden for meditation and relaxation

A place in the garden for meditation and relaxation

I bought this Buddha statue at Target about 10 years ago. It is resin (plastic) but still looks really great after an entire decade in the garden. ‘Catlin’s Giant’ Ajuga groundcover is in the foreground, along with annual begonia. A variety of native woodland irises (iris cristata) is just to the statue’s right with the short sword shaped leaves. In the far back is an evergreen yew. Behind the statue you can see the larger sword shaped leaves of a bearded iris and a chartreuse leaf spiderwort. I think the large boulder the statues sits on is ideal for creating some additional scale and impact, so the statue feels grounded and connected to the earth. Some black Mexican river stones around the statue also lend a nice effect.

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A Steuben Grape on the arbor leading from the driveway to the patio.

A Steuben Grape on the arbor leading from the driveway to the patio.

A Steuben Grape on the arbor leading from the driveway to the patio. It is a little too much for this arbor and I haven’t cut it back yet this summer, so it looks a little out of control. The gate has bamboo poles spray painted black zip tied to the gate, extending above it, so the neighborhood deer don’t jump through the gate (the metal portion of the gate is only the bottom half) Looking through the gate you can see my Celeste fig and some other perennials in containers.

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Sprinkler tripod made from Bamboo

Sprinkler tripod made from Bamboo

I made this tripod to elevate my impact sprinkler (which is on a timer)  The tripod is made from very heavy bamboo and the sprinkler is screwed very securely to it at the top.  The legs were also pounded into the ground about 6 inches or more.  It is amazing how much force a sprinkler has as it pulsates, but this thing isn’t going anywhere, it is very sturdy, and the added height allows the water to go over the shrubs and evenly water a large area.

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Shade garden plants that have some nice color and texture contrasts.

Shade garden plants that have some nice color and texture contrasts.

I took the time to label the plants in this picture because I thought is was a good illustration of using foliage color and texture to create interest in a shade garden.  There are few plants that bloom for a long period in the shade, so relying on foliage is a good strategy for having a beautiful shade garden throughout the summer.  This is a mixture of native, and non native plants.  The coleus and the flowering torenia are annuals, but the rest are perennials that come back each year.

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Serviceberry tree / Amelanchier 'Autumn Brilliance' after fruiting (and after harvesting)

Serviceberry tree / Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ after fruiting (and after harvesting)

This shows our serviceberry tree about a week after the fruit was ripe.  Unfortunately, due to the late freeze this year we had very little fruit set…but usually between the two trees of this size we get up to 9 pounds of berries.  Well hope for better luck next year.

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Native Edible Paw Paw tree in such deep shade my camera's flash popped up...ha!

Native Edible Paw Paw tree in such deep shade my camera’s flash popped up…ha!

I planted 3 paw paw but this is the only one that survived the transplanting…one was in too much sun and the other was in a place that was too dry, this spot was just right, very deep shade, and moist soil…

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North Star Cherry just beginning to get ripe!

North Star Cherry just beginning to get ripe!

This North Star Cherry is about 3 years old and this is the first year we will get cherries off of it.  Right now they are looking beautiful….just starting to get ripe (if you follow me on facebook you know that I ended up netting this tree to keep the chipmunks from stealing the cherries….and yesterday I harvested about a pound and a half of cherries….)

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Mandevilla in hanging wall basket planters.

Mandevilla in hanging wall basket planters.

This year I am trying tropical Mandevilla in the wall baskets….I hope they get enough sun to bloom well…they get about half a day’s sun facing east….I absolutely love having drip irrigation on my planters because things do so very much better when they don’t dry out so much during the day.

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'Liberty' apple early June

‘Liberty’ apple early June

My apple trees are about 4 years old now…maybe 5…the fruit isn’t ripe until the fall, but it has set quite a few apples this year.  I wonder if I’ll get any or if the wildlife will take them all again this year?

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Kousa dogwood with immature fruit and the last of its flowers.

Kousa dogwood with immature fruit and the last of its flowers.

This is the Kousa dogwood in the shade garden, it isn’t native but it is actually a lot hardier than our native dogwood in situations where there is full sun, shallow soil, and some drought.  Did you know that the fruits on this tree are edible?  They are, but they aren’t the greatest things I’ve ever tasted.   Not bad as an addition to the morning smoothies in moderation though, and I love eating a variety of things from the garden that you can’t find at the grocery store.

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Hosta and ferns that overwinter outside in their containers in my zone 6 (last winter it dropped to zone 5) garden

Hosta and ferns that overwinter outside in their containers in my zone 6 (last winter it dropped to zone 5) garden

This hosta and native fern have both been in these containers for about 4 years.  I don’t take them inside or cover them or anything during the winter and they come back great each year, in fact, every year they look bigger and better!

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A wider view of the hill garden from the shade garden patio

A wider view of the hill garden from the shade garden patio

I really love my garden!

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immature blueberries on a plant that overwintered in a container, zone 6

immature blueberries on a plant that overwintered in a container, zone 6

These blueberries have also overwintered in containers outside for a few years now, and last winter the temps got down below any we had seen for over 15 years, so definitely below zone six and solidly into zone 5 temps.

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24 Apr

What is a Food Forest?

What is a Food Forest?

Mary’s definition:

A food forest is a constructed or modified forest ecosystem system designed to largely self sustain over time, while providing the ecosystem services of a natural woodland and providing some food or other resources for human consumption.

It is not “vegetable gardening in the shade”

The 7 layers of forest gardening - drawing by Graham Burnett

The 7 layers of forest gardening – drawing by Graham Burnett

Basically, a food forest is a very ancient method of agriculture. Evidence of people modifying the forests for an increase yield of edible plants can be found as much as 11,000 thousand of years ago, before traditional cereal based agriculture. It is a method of growing things that people need like fruits and vegetables, providing habitat for animals that humans might want to eat, like rabbits, chickens and goats, and other products that people want, like honey, maple syrup, herbs, nuts and wood products, but with less intensive inputs and within a more sustainable ecosystem system that supports water quality, biodiversity, air quality, soil health, and ecosystem resilience.

In modern times forest gardening is being rediscovered for the environmental benefits, but is also being tested as an economically viable alternative to modern agricultural methods.

I’ll be blogging more extensively on forest gardening as an urban and suburban agricultural system over the coming months.

11 Apr

Early April Shitake Mushrooms (and flowers)

A few photos I took tonight (April 11th 2014) to show the first harvest of the season for the shitake mushroom logs we have in the shade garden. I think this marks 1.5 years since inoculation so I am expecting several more pounds this spring…I hope. This harvest was 13.5 ounces, and I left a few small ones on the logs to get bigger, maybe by tomorrow they will be ready.

While I was out there I also took some pictures of the hellebore (which has been blooming for a month now) and the native wildflower – bloodroot (which only blooms a few days each year, so it is a treat to see it. I did notice that I now have 3 bloodroot flowers, they have multiplied because the last 2 years I only had one.

Shitake mushroom log 2014 April - 1.5 years after inoculation

Shitake mushroom log 2014 April – 1.5 years after inoculation

Shitake Mushroom harvest

Shitake Mushroom harvest

Hellebore Spp. www.sprawlstainable.com

Hellebore Spp. www.sprawlstainable.com

Bloodroot Sanquinaria Canadensis L. www.sprawlstainable.com April 2014

Bloodroot Sanquinaria Canadensis L. www.sprawlstainable.com April 2014

11 Mar

Sprawlstainable – New and Improved for 2014

Spawlstainable began as a two year chronicle of Dan and Mary Deweese’s journey to create a more sustainable lifestyle while living in the suburbs. Their 2 year goal was to reduce their energy consumption by 50% (which they did) and to grow 10% of their own food (which they didn’t). After the two years was up they had many followers, and had enjoyed their blogging experience, but new things came along and Sprawlstainable went dormant, without updates, for another couple of years. Now, Mary is resurrecting Sprawlstainable with new categories, a new mobile compatible word press template, and most importantly, a new commitment to adding content, because, even though the blogging had taken a hiatus, the Deweese’s journey towards sustainable living did not, and there is a lot to write about and catch up on…..so welcome to the New and Improved Sprawlstainable Blog….Thanks for Visiting!

Mary Deweese

24 Jul

2011 Food Growing totals

serviceberries

Last Updated August 18, 2011

Here are the current food growing totals…as well as last years totals so you can compare how we are doing.    We are definietly behind for the year, but I have started a bunch of fall crops and hope to make up the harvest in a month or two.

 

Read More

26 May

PDF Download of Sprawlstainable’s Garden Design

Thumbnail section of Garden Plan

2010 EDIBLE LANDSCAPE PLAN DRAWING 11X17 click this link to download

I thought it was very important for you to have access to the garden design for the Sprawlstainable Garden.  This drawing shows the entire site, the legend to all the edible plantings of fruits and vegetables, the house, the gardens, the patios, etc. The download is of the entire yard, the little thumbnail photo to the left here is just a small section of the garden.

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22 May

Value of Homegrown Fruits and Vegetables

Serviceberry - a native edible fruit tree

 

These are the amounts I am using to calculate how much the food we grew would have cost if we would have bought it at the store.  I got the majority of these numbers by pricing organic produce during May and June 2010 at the Whole Foods Market in Town and Country, Missouri.  It would probably be more accurate if I got the numbers based on when these vegetables and fruits were at peak season, but it should be a pretty fair estimate of the actual cost.  Some of the items are still blank because Whole Foods was not stocking them at the time I checked prices…so I am hoping by the end of June I should have everything filled in.  There are a few items like currants, gooseberry, Jostaberry and serviceberry that I have never seen at the store…so I think I’ll just guess those to be similar to the blackberries and raspberries.  Click here if you would like to see the food growing totals for 2010 to see how much we have grown and the value of that food.  I am surprised at how fast the savings adds up and I expect that by the end of the year we will have saved quite a lot of money by growing our own food, although my numbers don’t reflect the amount I invested in the garden, but as I said before, I am a gardener, so if I wasn’t planting food, I would have been planting flowers.  Read More

05 May

Growing Shitake Mushrooms at Home

Shitake Mushroom

Growing Shitake Mushrooms

Did you know that you can grow shitake mushrooms at home?  Well we are trying it and will report how it goes.  We bought our first pre-inoculated log about 2 years ago.  It cost about $30 from a mail order company.  We did everything they said to do…soak the log, put it in the shade, keep it moist…but nothing happened.  It was supposed to produce mushrooms about 8 months after we got it…in the spring and fall for up to 5 years.  Well we didn’t have anything happen.  I called the company, and for $10 more they sent us another one last spring….again nothing happened. 

I had pretty much given up on them…but lo and behold, just this past week there were mushrooms!  Read More

05 May

Food Totals Grown in 2010

mary in garden

Final Totals

This is a portion of my spreadsheet that lists both the amount of food we have grown this year and the cost of buying this amount of organic food at the store.  Also included at the bottom are the totals, including the percentage we have eaten of the produce (I am keeping track of how much we eat versus how much we give away.)  Remember, my goal is to grow and eat 300lbs of food this year!  I will update this list each week and keep it posted as a sticky to stay at the top of the list so you can watch the progress.  Read More

29 Apr

Mary Mary (Not At All Contrary),
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Quite Well, Actually

a-rose

In our quest for more sustainability, with one of our primary goals involving growing our own food, we’ve got a couple of things going for us already: Mary loves plants,has a knack for growing them, and a few years back we invested in some improvements to our yard that included a number of raised beds and planting areas.

However, is is only recently that we’ve changed our thinking to more edible landscape plants. The earlier years of Mary’s graden focused more on ornamental plants and aesthetic priorities. Read More

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