Trying new edible perennials!

So, I’ll post about this later when I have more time, but I got a permaculture landscaping company to come and fix my front yard. It’s so great. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Also we don’t need to be ashamed of our yard when delivery people come to the door anymore! We still need to be ashamed of how much delivery food we eat, but that’s a problem for another day.

So anyway, as a result of this miracle landscaping, I have a stock trough bed with almost nothing planted in it, as well as two new beds between my hedge and the city sidewalk, with space for plants.

20170616_092453First stock trough, planted with borage and ‘merlot’ lettuce, both reliable self-sowing annuals in my garden. I’m looking for more things to add.

These are tricky locations because the stock trough gets COLD (almost nothing planted in the other one overwintered successfully), so for that spot, I’m looking for mostly self-sowing annuals. It’s also quite a shady spot.

Beyond it (on the left-hand side of this picture) is the new, tiny grass patch that will house future baby play-junk! I was feeling guilty that my whole yard is so garden-centric, so now there’s one little area of actual nice grass. It’s about eight feet square. Every time I have to water it, it hurts my soul.

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Sidewalk bed – east side. I’ve planted a few things already, including a juniper shrub, giant Solomon’s Seal, and creeping nancy. My goal for this area is not to over-plant it, but to actually leave room for the plants to spread out in future years, something I never do properly.

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Sidewalk bed – west side. That ugly planter was in the yard. Now it’s an architectural feature y’all.

The other new beds are even shadier (on the Northern edge of our low, plus our street has a canopy of big trees), AND they’re next to the sidewalk, so they’ll be subject to gravel in the winter, the odd shovel-trampling or stroller-squishing.

Almost everything in my front yard has at least one of the following qualities:

  • Alberta native
  • Edible, medicinal or useful (usually nitrogen-fixing) plant
  • Attractive to bees

The only exceptions are a few perennials I planted in the first years of my garden, before I developed my preoccupations with plants’ usefulness. I’m also making some exceptions for the beds next to the sidewalk, because it’s such a shady, thankless spot to grow, I haven’t been able to find much that I think will survive.

So anyway, here are a few new edible perennials I’m going to try:

  • Claytonia Sibirica – Purslane ‘Siberian Spring Beauty’ – ordered some seeds from a random vendor on Amazon. What could possibly go wrong with that?! This is an edible perennial that has been on my wishlist for some time. [more info]
  • Goji berry. This was a suggestion from the guy who did my landscaping, and he planted 4 large-ish shrubs in then second stock trough. I also have some plugs coming in the mail so I’ll plant a few more elsewhere and see how they do.

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goji berries in the second stock trough. I hope they are hardy enough to overwinter in here.

And two from a new mail-order vendor I just discovered, Norton Naturals in Ontario. I ordered a couple things to try from them:

  • Groundnut – Apios Americana. This is such an interesting-sounding plant. It’s a perennial. It’s a vine. You can eat it. It fixes nitrogen. WHAT?! It’s funny that there are so many plants that were staples for Canada’s indigenous people and first settlers and now we not only don’t eat them, we have never heard of them. (This is a native species in Eastern Canada, not here)
  • Meadow Garlic – Allium Canadense. I love all members of the onion family. I love their smell, I love to eat them, and I love their globe flowers. Someone else in my neighbourhood is growing Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ (someone in a Facebook plant group IDed it for me after I surreptitiously took a photo, I’m not a wizard) and they’re gorgeous. I’m going to look for some bulbs in the fall.

I also would have ordered some ramps, but they’re sold out. Maybe in a future year!

So that’s my biggest project right now, getting these lovely de-weeded beds planted and mulched before the next time the elm trees drop their disgusting paper pod-storm and try to make one million baby trees.

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Front Yards in Bloom – nominations open for 2015!

Today, May 20th, is the first day you can nominate a yard in your neighbourhood for Front Yards in Bloom! This is a City of Edmonton program that recognizes beautiful yards. I especially love it because it includes categories for “natural” yards and edible yards – not just perfectly manicured lawns and shrubs pruned into topiary shapes*.

This recognition program is all about celebrating the efforts of our neighbours in beautifying Edmonton’s neighbourhoods. Is there an attractive yard in your community that deserves special recognition? Consider nominating a neighbour’s yard for an award this year!

You can nominate someone in your neighbourhood, or a friend – anyone whose yard you admire. And they would definitely appreciate it, because there’s a lot of glory that comes along with winning these awards, or so I would imagine. I probably won’t be eligible until I clean up the three (!) cubic-yard Burnco bags that are in my front yard (and that have been there since last year), and also possibly the quack grass that is growing through holes (!!) in said bags. Unless there’s a category for “trashiest yard,” and I mean that both in the judgment-of-classiness sense and the presence-of-actual-trash sense. (There isn’t. That would cheapen the whole thing for everyone.)

*Don’t think I would be judgmental about this, because years of playing The Sims has left me with the distinct impression that topiaries are awesome. Also, when I was a kid my dad was once so impressed with the TGV trains in France that he cut our hedge into the shape of one. So you could say topiaries are in my BLOOD.