by Cortney Moore
February strikes me as quite an interesting month when it comes to gardening. At moments I just don’t know what to do with myself. One minute I want to slip back into my January hibernation and the next, jump right into March busyness. I am caught in limbo as the 28 days tick by and the anticipation of what this spring will look, feel & smell like starts to build. Will it be dewy, damp & earthy? Will it blow in all sunny, warm & dusty? Or will it appear out of nowhere clear, crisp & fresh bringing hope of a successful gardening season? Whatever it is like, I know I will be ready for it.
This February I am spending my time researching all the yummy edibles I will be growing in my landscape. The apple, plum, pear and nectarine trees look a bit lonely out there. I think some fruiting shrubs would be a friendly compliment.
Lonicera caerulea also know as haskap, honey berry or edible blue honeysuckle is on my planting list for 2013. Haskap flavor has been described as blackberry, cherry, grape & kiwi. Wow! Sounds like a rainbow snowcone I used to get when I was a kid. I can’t wait to pop one in my mouth and know the taste for myself. This shrub is very cold hardy. It tolerates clay soil conditions and soils with higher pH. It will grow in sun to shade. It is also disease and pest resistant, but watch out, the birds love the berries. I will definitely be covering mine with bird netting. I want all these goodies for myself. Especially since this “blueberry of the prairie” is said to be higher in antioxidants than real blueberries.
I am also saving a spot for goji berries (Lycium barbarum) this season. The taste is described as a cross between cherry, cranberry and raisin according to some people and others have more colorful description of the flavor. Goji berries are a super food and for that quality I will tolerate a less than desirable flavor. Like honey berry, goji berry also tolerates higher pH soils and seems very well suited to our growing climate.
I like new & different, but I definitely will be delighting in good old classic fruiting shrubs like Saskatoon. I just love saying that! You might know it as Amelanchier alnifolia ‘Regent’ or serviceberry. Gwen’s Buffalo Currant (Ribes aureum) is a must have. Last summer we ate the currants off our neighbor’s bush so in the fall we planted one for ourselves. The fruit is so plump and juicy when ripe with just the right amount of sweetness to enjoy picked from the plant.
I am not going to stop with trees & shrubs when it comes to the edibles.There are a few places in my landscape that vines will be perfect. Hardy kiwi and grape will be fun growing along a fence and on an arbor to screen two of our neighbors. Fruit and privacy, how functional is that. I am convinced plants can do anything!
Although I have been growing plants for decades, I am fairly new to the edible landscape concept. Like most humans I am curious and I absolutely love to learn. That is why I love working at the nursery. We have a wealth of knowledge in the employees who work here. We all get to share our expertise and passion. And we have you, our wonderful customers, to come in and tell us all about your growing experiences.
So please help me stay balanced this month. Visit the nursery and express your passion whether it be your edible landscape or simply a really cool pothos that you are growing (yes, pothos can be cool!) With your help maybe I won’t be torn between hunkering down for the rest of the winter and wanting to jump right into my gardening obsession. And we can share our visions of the perfect spring.