Are you getting anxious for spring? If you haven’t received seed catalogs order some or visit the websites to look through the options. Heirloom and open-pollinated seed sources If you already have seeds see if it is time to start some for your area or start some to grow indoors Seed Starting Force branches of early spring bloomers to bloom indoors. Forcing branches Edible houseplants – houseplants are great but houseplants you can eat are even better. Edible Houseplants Force bulbs to bloom indoors – this may need some advance planning Forcing Bulbs
If you would like to grow sweet potatoes starting your own is a great way to begin. Sometimes sweet potato starts can be difficult to find. Plus, you can choose a variety you already know you like. Purchase sweet potatoes from the grocery store or natural foods store. If you see vegetables called “yams” they are sweet potatoes although they may be a different color of sweet potato. Sweet potato colors include pale orange to dark purple. Since you will be eating part of the sweet potato you can see if it is a variety that you like. Cut off 2″ or more of the more pointed end of the sweet potato and let it sit and dry (heal) for a day or two. Eat the rest of the potato. Recipes (towards the bottom of the page) Place the cut sweet potato in water leaving the top inch above the water. Change the water daily keeping it at about the same level every time. Watch for roots to form. After the roots have begun growing sprouts will begin to appear towards the top. Continue to change the water daily and let the roots and sprouts grow. Once there are sprouts with a few leaves which have roots attached you will be able to gently separate each sprout from the sweet potato end which you originally cut. You should have more than one sprout. Plant sprout in a pot filled with potting soil – cover the roots. The pot should be about 2″ larger in diameter than the sprout. If the chance of a frost is past (about May 15 in my area) and the soil is warmed go ahead and plant directly outside or plant to a larger pot for growing as a potted plant. Sweet potatoes can be grown
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata or Montia perfoliata) also known as Indian Lettuce and Winter Purslane is a wild edible plant native to the Western U.S. including here in Utah. It it typically found in moist, shady places in early spring through early summer and possibly in the fall. The first growth of Miner’s lettuce has small paddle shaped leaves. The plants later form a rounded, cup shaped leaf. The tiny, white flowers grow through the middle of the leaves in a small bouquet. Growing I had purchased some seeds which I was going to plant after moving into my house and then I noticed Miner’s lettuce was already growing in my yard. As an annual that reseeds readily I have never needed to plant it. Growing less than 10″ tall Miner’s lettuce can be used as an attractive groundcover. Just keep in mind it will disappear by Summer and reappear again in fall or the next spring. Seeds are available from Baker Creek and Richter’s. I sometimes have plants available for sale. Eating Each spring in my area I harvest abundantly beginning in early spring and around May it disappears until the fall or the next spring. I eat it fresh – usually in salads of mixed greens and alone. Miner’s lettuce can also be steamed and eaten like spinach. Miner’s lettuce is a mild flavored green that combines well with some of the stronger flavored wild edibles such as larger dandelion leaves or plantain leaves. Leaves and flowers are both edible at any stage of growth. Young Miner’s Lettuce Miner’s Lettuce in Bloom
Bush cherries are cherries that grow on a shrub or bush instead of a tree. There are several types of cherries with the common name of bush cherry including Sand Cherry (Prunus x cistena), Hansen’s Bush Cherry – also sometimes called Sand Cherry (Prunus bessyi), Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa), Prunus cerasus X Prunus fruiticosa, and Prunus japonica x P. jacquemontii. That last one is the only one I have tasted the fruit from so far. Bush cherries can be grown as a hedge, windbreak, or as a single shrub in situations where you may not want a cherry tree. Their cherry-like fruit may not be recognized by the passerby as an edible fruit and so if planted along a sidewalk you may not have the fruit picked by others without permission. The bush cherries I planted ripen later than tree cherries and so a crop may not be lost due to weather or birds and is also late enough to not attract cherry fruit fly. The fruit of Prunus japonica x P. jacquemontii is red like Montmorency tart cherries and has a simliar flavor and size. At my house they ripen around the first part of August. My two shrubs purchased by mailorder from Hartmann’s Plant Company are about 1′ tall and are producing a small amount of fruit. Their mature size is 4 x 4′ when they will be producing a few pounds of fruit. A minimum of two bushes of different varieties should be planted. Bush cherries vary in mature height from 4′ up to 10′ or more. Flavor, color, size, and harvest time and quantity will also vary. Some would be better used for jams than fresh eating. Bush cherries may also keep birds away from other fruit in your yard that ripens at the same time.
Edible landscaping involves growing edibles in the landscape but not necessarily in the traditional sense where they are planted in a garden spot. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs including some less familiar types can contribute to an attractive landscape and also provide sources of food. Edible plants can be used as groundcovers, shrubs, trees, perennials, annuals, vines. Some edibles can successfully be grown as houseplants. This is especially nice if you live in a climate where such plants will not survive outdoors. Why do you want to grow edibles? Self Sufficiency, Save space, Variety, Economic, Environmental, Adventure Some thing so keep in mind when growing edibles: Start with what you know you will eat. Just because something is edible that does not mean it is tasty to you. Want to try something new? See if you can find it at a farmer’s market or grocery store first so you can try it. Some edibles will not produce much per plant – Saffron for example Be sure to accurately identify all plants before eating whether in your landscape or in the wild. Some edibles look very similar to toxic plants. Label plants when you plant them. How much effort do you want to go to? Blueberries require extra work in alkaline soils. Is it worth it? Research what will grow in your area. All plants below can and do grow in my zone 5/6 Utah area. Those listed under Indoors grow indoors in winter and most can spend the summer outdoors. Edibles in parking strips or along driveways may pick up toxins from automobiles. Plant as far away from the street as possible. Avoid areas with pressure treated wood or railroad ties due to chemicals in the wood which may stunt growth and/or be taken up by the plant. Use food safe
I love blue flowers and have created a blue flower garden in the past. In my soils some look more purplish blue than true blue. For this list I chose some that are more blue than purple. Blue adds a coolness which can be wonderful in the hot summers. Blue also contrasts nicely with orange, yellow, or white. I don’t plant orange flowers in my yard (just my personal taste) so I pair blue with white and possibly pale yellow. For the annual shade garden deep blue lobelia and white impatiens are amazing. Bachelor Button or Cornflower – annual flower, reseeds so you may not need to plant it again. Also in burgundy, pink, white, and purple. Balloon flower – flower looks like a balloon until it fully opens. Also available in white. Bell flowers – many types of Campanula come in shades of blues, purples, whites, and pinks. Clustered Bellflower Borage – this annual or biennial herb has blue, edible flowers which can be used in salads, floated in punch bowls, frozen in ice cubes, or used in other decorative ways. Reseeds. Brunnera – a large leaved groundcover for shade has forget me not like flowers in the spring. Could be a good substitute for hosta since slugs are not as fond of the rough leaves. Spring Bulbs – besides Iris reticulata as mentioned below there are several spring bulbs that are available in blue: Hyacinth, grape hyacinth, Glory of the Snow, Puschkinia, Glory of the Snow Puschkinia Camas – this native to the Western U.S. is a later blooming bulb in the garden. Although it has an edible tuber it must not be confused with Death Camas which has a white or pale yellow flower and as the name suggests should never been eaten. Camas Columbine – another