Fruit bearing shrub Native to the Americas Can be found growing wild in some areas Easy to grow in your landscape Attractive shrub – usually 3 – 5′ tall, nice fall color Edible fruit – juice, jam, pies, some varieties taste great fresh. Can handle part shade I grow black, red, and white currants plus Golden Currant which gets its name from the yellow flowers. In my part shade front yard they are a nice addition to the landscape. A landscape where I worked had espaliered red currants along the garden fence. The tastiest wild currants I have eaten were orange fruited currants growing near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Want to learn about more wild edible plants? Join me on a Wild Herb Walk or a Wild Edible Plants class (check my Event calendar) and/or check out my book Wild Herb Card Decks.
Do you know what edible landscaping is? It may be obvious that edible landscaping involves growing edible plants in the landscape. Edible landscaping does not necessarily involve planting in the traditional sense where vegetables are planted in a garden spot or fruit trees are planted in a small orchard. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs including some less familiar plants 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. Gardening in containers is especially nice if you live in a climate where certain plants will not survive outdoors or if you do not have a garden spot. Why not grow plants that are attractive and can help feed you and your family? Use the Search in the upper left of this page for more information about edible landscaping. Be sure to check my calendar for upcoming events or contact me to schedule your own.
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.