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Bush Cherries

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.

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Edible Plants for Your Landscape

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

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Blue Flowers for Your Garden

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

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Help Your Plants Beat the Heat

Hot temperatures can be difficult for plants as well as for us. Sometimes even plants that like heat don’t do well with excessive or sudden heat. So, what can you do to help your plants survive during the hottest parts of the  year? 1. Proper watering. There is a tendency to water plants every day when the weather is hot. Plants may need watered more frequently or for longer but most plants will not need watered every day. Plants in hanging baskets or pots may be an exception. Even lawns do not need watering every day. It is said that more plants are killed by over watering than anything else. Wilting is not always a sign that plants need water. How to check for watering needs? In a few places stick your finger into the ground up to the first knuckle. Is the soil damp? Most plants can tolerate the soil getting almost dry before watering but will not tolerate wet soil. If you cannot stick your finger into the ground stick a screwdriver in. Some areas or some containers may need watered more frequently than others. Water in the cool of the morning or, if that is not possible the cool of the evening. Water at soil level whenever possible. 2. Give it some shade. Some plants prefer some shade especially when weather is hot. Lettuce, spinach, arugula, and cilantro flower and set seed when temperatures are hot. Plant them where they are getting some shade by the time the weather gets hot or when you are planting a second crop, or see number 4 below. Shade cloth can also be used to protect plants at least temporarily. Tomatoes drop blossoms when the weather is hot so providing some shade for a time may help to get a continual

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Genetically Modified Food – GMOs

Genetically Modified Food or GMOs Information on GMO Foods – also search my website for information on GMOs. I have written at least two blog posts to help with the understanding about GMOs. What is a GMO and Why Should You Care? GMO Defined GMOs: We need to go way beyond labelling to keep any food healthy Researcher: Roundup or Roundup-Ready Crops May Be Causing Animal Miscarriages and Infertility The Future of Food documentary Heirloom Seeds, Plants, and Plant Exchanges – Open Pollinated,  Organic, Seeds for long term storage Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding Non GMO food The World According to Monsanto documentary See also: Pesticides & Herbicides, Information and Alternatives Beuna, Garden Coach

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So You Don’t Want GMOs?

You want to avoid eating, planting, and/or storing genetically modified food? How do you know how to tell when there are no labels (yet)? I have noticed that there is still much confusion about GMO foods. This article is only covering GMO plants but some applies to GMO animals also. The short answer is if something is labelled “Organic” it cannot be GMO. Always read labels since the labels hold clues and may contain other information about ingredients you want to avoid. GMO and GE are terms that tend to be used interchangeably. GMO = Genentically Modified Organism GE = Genetically Engineered Wheat – GMO is not approved so you cannot buy GMO wheat. Seeds for your garden – only farmer’s can buy GMO seed. Popcorn – no popcorn is GMO. Cornmeal or corn for grinding – buy popcorn and grind it. I have always bought popcorn for grinding anyway. Why buy two kinds of corn when you can just grind popcorn? Corn – Sweet corn – make sure it is labelled Organic or get to know a farmer you can trust. Ask if they plant any GMO corn. Soybeans – make sure it is labelled Organic or get to know a farmer you can trust. Ask if they plant any GMO soybeans. Cottonseed oil – avoid cottonseed oil. Why consume an oil of something that you don’t eat? Canola oil – avoid Canola oil. Why consume an oil of something that you do not eat? I would avoid it anyway since there are other indications that Canola oil is unhealthy. Sugar – avoid sugar from sugar beets. Use cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, or stevia. You can even grow your own stevia. Potatoes – created by J.R. Simplot under the name Innate. Does it say that it does not

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