anybody interested in edible yards/landscaping?-foraging : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I came across a site that might interest other people who want to maximize the amount of food they are growing on their property. It is . There is much good info on this site, and it parallels many ideas that I have had on developing the non-forested section of my property. Similar to permaculture, the methods involve creating micro-climates, but in this case it is in building forest gardens. Shrubs, and trees, bearing fruit, and nuts, with fruit bearing vines climbing them, with ground covered by herbs, and woody plants, and vegetables most of which are perennial, or self seeding annuals. The PFAF people are not set up to send any of their thousands of varieties of plants to U.S. or Canada, so I was interested in starting a discussion on the varieties native to this continent, or are common introductions, that people might consider usefull in this garden. Also, like the PFAF group, I am interested in medicinal, and other plant uses, like basketry, cordage, etc. Anybody interested in discussing this further, feel free to begin here. Looking forward to the responses---- Roberto

-- roberto pokachinni (, February 12, 2002


Edible landscaping is something that I have considered and have these two sites to offer to the discussion.

Edible Landscaping, “This database lists every perennial plant that is worth growing for the sake of its produce, and that is hardy in at least 3 USDA hardiness zones; it also contains a selection of the most popular perennial herbs. Every plant listed here will survive temperatures down to at least 15 F without special care, and to at least 10 F with special care.”

A great source of fruit trees, berries and unusual edibles, is Raintree Nursery, in Morton, WA,

-- BC (, February 12, 2002.

There is a book by Tom McCubbins, the ag rep in Orlando entilted "The incredible Edible Landscape", you might be able to read it through inter libary loans. The book cover everything you would need to know - twice. And you would need to adjust for climate also.

-- mitch hearn (, February 12, 2002.

I try to plant only things that are edible,, day lillie,, herbs and such. Im in the process of removing Iris's from all around the house,,last owner had them ALL over. Cattails are near teh creek,,so salads are no problem

-- Stan (, February 12, 2002.

Hey, Stan. What color are your irises? And whatcha doin' with them?

-- Bren (, February 12, 2002.

Two good websources are Robert Waldrop's site at

and, beautiful photos.

I am working on an edible forest garden up here in Alaska, very interesting. Good luck with your project. Please keep us all informed on your project!

-- D. Jones (, February 12, 2002.

Greetings, and thanks for the responses. I'll be checking into the resources listed as soon as I can. I had a line on another book; but I can't find the piece of paper I wrote it on, but I'll find, and post it. Stan, I have heard of an edible iris. Maybe once you are rid of the ones that you don't want, you could plant some that you do. Hey D Jones, what part of Alaska are you in, and what sort of forest are you making? Is it hard to find fruit trees tolerant of Alaskan weather, and do any nut trees produce there? I have friends up near Haines Junction, in the Yukon, the info that you provide could be of value to them if you are up in the main part of alaska; and for me if you are in the panhandle. Do you have potential problems with Grizzly bears, and black bears like I do, or are you creating a forest in the urban alaskan scene?-not that that keeps out the bears around my home town. I'm thinking of an electric enclosure around the orchard area, with a solar charger for the wire. I'm not sure where I'm gonna get a lot of my plants yet. but here's a bit of my goals. Nearby, Terrace used to be full of orchards, as it's got kindof a banana belt climate for being so far north. I'm thinking of grafting good eating local apples onto wild pacific crab apple trees, and good cherries onto the wild bitter cherry trees. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to graft plum onto the bitter cherry (their both stone fruit), and maybe if that sort of thing is possible, then I might, maybe, possibly, build a greenhouse over a couple wild cherry trees, and graft apricot, and almond onto them (possible?-I don't know) I want to get a few black walnut, a few hazelnuts, a couple chestnuts, some hickory, some oak, (I have a friend in Ontario that will send me fresh nuts in the fall) and maybe a few Ginkgo. I plan to have cattails, pond lillies, watercress in my pond system, as well as trying fresh water clams, crayfish, and suckerfish, from local sources, as well as guppies, molleys, and goldfish. For shrubs, I will mostly go with red huckleberries, saskatoon berries, blueberries, highbush cranberries, elderberries, raspberries, salmonberries, thimbleberries, blackberries, roses, hazelnuts, salal, oregon grape, black, red, and blue elderberry, gooseberries, black, and red currants. Thats the basic low-down. I may be putting in some kiwis, and there will be plenty of hardy vegetables in mulched beds all over the place. I will need very little irrigation, as the land is damp, and I live in a rainy place. I don't even have the deed to the land yet, the subdivision is still waiting for government approval. I've got my fingers crossed for the spring. Happy harvests, Rob.

-- roberto pokachinni on B.C. N.Coast (, February 12, 2002.

the Irises are purple,, and Ive been digging them up for 3 years,, and still have alot ,, been trying to give them away,, anyone want to come and get em ??

-- Stan (, February 12, 2002.

Garden thoughts, February 2002

On climate, and Zones, and why things have trouble growing

The USDA zone system is set up on yearly low temps. Here in Kodiak the zone system does not seem applicable, and here is why: The problem is that the soil never warms up, not fully, not even in summer. We statistically have 8 days a year above 70o. Most plants need 60o to 70o soil temperatures to germinate. Many places with much, much colder winters, like Fairbanks, have their soil warm up to germination temperatures.

The second factor is the extremely acidic pH, which limits nutrient absorption, as well as types of native plants. The generally large amount of rainfall tends to leach out nutrients. The 8-inch volcanic sand layer under the top inch or two of soil also does not hold nutrients well, and plants have to struggle to send roots through to the soil underneath.

Lastly, our site has many beautiful and huge Sitka spruces, which do shade out many areas of our land. The best sun is found on the driveway going up to the road, with some sun in a relatively swampy area in back also.

Consequently, we have had to make some interesting adaptations to grow foods and flowers and herbs here. One is doing a lot of container gardening. The driveway can be utilized in summer by moving large pots onto it. The secret for me was using a dolly, or handtruck! In winter, snow removal necessitates moving everything off the driveway, and this method works well.

Lack of soil has brought forth several ideas. One is that I buy potting soil for starting plants each year, emptying last year’s into new containers outside, mixed with compost, manure, etc. For one garden area, we sheetcomposted over a foot and a half of mostly scrounged materials last year, including seaweeds, beachpeat, manure, lawn clippings, blood and bone meal, leaves, and as much organic matter in general as we could find. This proved very fertile, but brought on an explosion of the normally large slug population. My whole first garden was eaten to the ground by slugs! Now I know to wait a while for the slugs to die off each year that I sheet compost.

Another idea is to make raised beds out of logs, and just throw in the composting materials, volcanic sand, and so forth in the normal course of gardening. I may simply make mounds in various places we plan to have bushes and trees. Unfortunately, the extremes of Alaska mean that I may have to use my car, and fossil fuels to haul stuff, but at very least we can combine it with trips into work or town.

What grows here

Here is a list of native or wild edible plants we found here last year; raspberry, salmonberry, wild blueberry, devil’s club, spruce, fiddlehead fern, wild rosehips, fireweed, plantain, wild chamomile, and horsetail fern. In addition, I picked many edible mushrooms from nearby woods.

These are perennial plants we planted, and that grew, last year: gooseberry, 2 types of cultivated blueberries, rhubarb, red currant, black currant, highbush cranberry, spearmint, peppermint, chives, land cress, strawberries, alpine strawberries, sage, dame’s rocket, violet, viola, crabapple, 2 varieties of apple, 2 varieties of pear, comfrey, Russian olive, monarda, English thyme, lemon thyme, tarragon, walking onion, multiplier onion, garlic, parsley (biennial), shallots, salad burnet, watercress, garlic chives, poppies, sorrel, Roman chamomile, and catnip.

This year we hope to add to the perennials: lemon balm, horseradish, asparagus, evergreen bunching onions, borage, chicory, dandelion, orange daylily, Good King Henry, more types of sage, more herbs, sunchokes, rosa rugosa, stinging nettles, German chamomile, perhaps cattails, and two or three types of mushrooms. Possibles include cranberries, wintergreen, hardy bamboo, and almost anything from Raintree Nursery’s catalogue that I can find a place for.

As regular vegetables we grow chard, lettuce, celery, parsley, peas, favas, turnips, potatoes, spinach, cabbage, kale, radishes, beets, carrots, Chinese greens and other cold-hardy growers.

Edible flowers include calendula, nasturtium, chive flowers, violets, Johnny jump-ups and pansies.


Use window boxes and hanging containers (several found at dump last year) to maximize sun space. Line the whole driveway with as many containers as I can find. Halibut tubs, cast off cans and barrels, big pots, etc. Get my Own handtruck! Prune out dead wood overhead to lighten the canopy, plant out bushes in the sunnier forest spots. Haul as much organic matter and manure as I can find. Maybe, ask for a truckload of topsoil for our anniversary! Work to encourage native bees to nest here. Pollination is a big problem here. Make the tiny lawn area into a food producer by planting dandelions and clover, both of which stand being mowed, in it. Alaskans are not big on monoculture lawns; many don’t even have any lawn.

My wild idea Lastly, I’m thinking of stocking our little stream with fertilized salmon eggs. Have to see what we can catch, and do some studying.

-- D. jones (, February 13, 2002.

D.Jones, I should have read your e-address, to see that you are an island man, and a cold and Bear-en one at that. thanks for the extensive post on what you are growing, and doing on your land. I can only suggest increasing your flower content to boost your bee situation, and possibly hummingbirds, and other winged flower sippers. You could plant flowers under your fruit trees. There is a certain mix of flowers I've seen in packets spacifically for under fruit trees-both for pollinators, and soil enhancement. by the way, I had an old Chantrell picking friend from Washington State named Ross, who used to commercial fish out of Kodiak; perhaps you've met him.

Have you considered gardening in your trees? I have some friends who didn't have enough sunlight because of the extensive tree cover on their land. They had rock climbing gear, and a lot of cedar shakes, so they climbed the trees, and built cedar boxes at various places in the big red cedars, sitkas, and hemlocks. They were able to grow all sorts of stuff in full sun, with the tree blocking the north wind. They had no problems with the abundant deer!

I don't know about Alaska, but in Canada it would be very illegal to do anything with salmon, without some very official paperwork, in quantity. the only reason that I can even consider messing around with my stream is that it flows into the ground on my property, and does this again before it dumps into a larger creek, that supports cut-throat, and it isn't until a few miles downstream that Salmon get involved in the watercourse. I haven't done much research on the legalities of my plan, but I will before I stock my ponds, and creeklet with any animal life; however I'll stay clear of salmon. Salmonids are the sacred cow of my region. I wish you luck. If it is legal, I would suggest catching both a female, and a male, and fertilizing the eggs yourself. The female must die unless she is gushing red eggs when you lift her. The male can be released after being "milked" of his semen; I'm sure you can come up with the method.

Besides the species that I listed, I will likely be importing frogs, toads, salamanders, dragonflies, all in egg, or larval form, and try to encourage, and increase, the bats, birds, and other assorted creatures with habitat, and perennial food.

-- roberto pokachinni in B.C. (, February 13, 2002.

I have been making a list of local foods and what more I can add to my garden/orchard. Thank you for the website addresses.

A book that people may be interested in is:

Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods by Gary Paul Nabhan.

-- R. (, February 13, 2002.

You might be interested in and also the group associated with the site. Lots of great information about culinary and medicinal uses of wild plants... herbs, trees, and also about wild game and fish.

-- nancy (, February 13, 2002.

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