I absolutely love helping homeowners create the edible landscape of their dreams. As a landscape designer, I've had the pleasure of visiting tons of gardens. Over the years I have seen common mistakes that leave homeowners feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and simply at a loss on how to move forward. Here are five challenges I see most often, with tips on how you can can avoid making the same mistakes.
The rain has returned to Portland and the leaves are beginning to change colors. The daylight is getting shorter. Fall is here and our bodies naturally want to focus inward. During this time of year, I bring my love for gardening indoors through books. I've been reading some amazing books lately on plant medicine (which I'll write about this winter) but today I have five gardening books that I want to tell you about.
What's so special about these books? They are fantastic resource for any climate and they are the books I turn to often and/or frequently recommend to my friends and clients.
I get so excited when September arrives and I can plant our annual garlic crop. Why? I'll be completely honest with you. Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow, plus it fills the empty garden spaces left by my summer veggies. Here are a few suggestions for growing enough garlic for your household.
As a landscape designer, I'm always looking at landscapes and gardens. I've seen plenty of DIY gardens, landscape projects, and even online information that unfortunately weren't the best ideas. I've gathered four links to the best landscape design tips I could find online so that you have easy access to quality information, without feeling overwhelmed.
I wish I had captured my friend's face when she took her first bite. Before I stepped away to grab more tea, my friend said, "This plate might be empty by the time you get back." She wasn't kidding. She ate several cookies during our visit and took the recipe and four more cookies home for her family.
I've found myself grazing in my garden already this year. I am thrilled to see some of my greens returning after being eaten to the ground by slugs as seedings last fall and surprise returns from my arugula, spinach, and collard greens.
Yesterday I snapped a few pictures as I grazed in the afternoon sun, hungry for fresh food, despite the lunch I ate a couple hours earlier. Perhaps it's the change of seasons or my body's desire for more greens, but I made my way around my backyard (mostly in a squat) snacking on anything edible. It was one of the most delightful snacking experiences this year.
What's snack-worthy this time of year, you ask? A surprising amount of greens. Here's what I have growing right now:
Lavender looks great with nearly everything. It's silvery foliage and beautiful purple flowers add unique colors and textures to any garden. Try growing it near your vegetable garden, in your herb garden, in a perennial border, or paired with roses for a cottage garden feel.
Encourage rebloom by removing the first flush of flowers. Avoid pruning after late summer to prevent new growth from emerging. Pruning for shape and to remove seed heads is best done in mid- to late spring.
For any landscape to be great, the very first aspect to consider is function. Is the space easy to use? Are the elements of the landscape arranged in a way that makes sense for daily use and with your specific microclimates within that space? How can the space be arranged to achieve multiple goals at the same time?
I generally prefer to grow plants directly in the ground, but there are several places that I don’t feel comfortable growing food in our small city lot, like where a garage once stood and along the side of our house. One project this year is to increase veggie garden space by adding some large container gardens.
If you’re new to container gardening, here’s a quick into to thrillers, fillers, and spillers.
- Thrillers are larger or showier plants than the others in that container.
- Fillers do just what their name suggests - fill the space and are typically medium height.
- Spillers and cascading plants that grow down the sides of the container.
7 ideas for gorgeous and edible container gardens...
Violet species are numerous and their flowers are blue-violet, yellow, or white. Violets have five petals and the lowest petal typically is heavily veined and leads back into a spur. The leaves are almost always heart shaped. The plants are small, growing close to the ground. Most violets are perennials.
Both young violet leaves and the flowers are edible. They can be eaten raw as a trailside snack or mixed with other greens. Violets are not a strong medicine alone, but they do help enhance the medicinal properties of other plants. Violet leaves are high in vitamin C.
Here's a quick and easy photo tutorial of how to make a wreath out of items you find in your garden or on a walk in nature. This wreath is made with Doug fir and rosemary branches plus a few extra cones.
- Gather supplies: wreath frame, plant material, strong scissors or pruner, thin wire
- Make bundles of branches, about 6" long
- Secure the bundles at the base with wire...
Last spring I built an herb spiral in my backyard. It was added as an extension to my medicinal garden. I wrote a blog post about it with instructions for building your own herb spiral, plus photos of my process.
A few days ago, I had a great question about sheet mulching in regards to my herb spiral. Check out Alison's question and my response in my original Herb Spiral blog post: http://www.dailyharvestdesigns.com/blog/2015/3/26/herb-spirals. She also asked how my herb spiral is doing one year later.
Here are some photos of my herb spiral today. Enjoy!
Understanding the difference between open pollinated, heirloom, hybrid, and genetically modified seeds is crucial to selecting the right seeds for your garden, whether you're planning to save your own seeds or just simply eat your garden's bounty.
Saving open pollinated seeds is the oldest way of seed saving. Open pollinated seeds are seeds that have been saved from a crop of open pollinated plants. This is done by keeping one variety of plants far enough away from another variety so that cross pollination does not occur. With open pollination, as long as pollen is not shared between different varieties, the seeds will be true to the parent plants and will hold their quality over time.
Designing your landscape isn't rocket science, but there is a method to the madness. "What's the problem with planting without a plan?" There are many things that could go wrong, such as overlooking the mature size of plants which often leads to overcrowding, plants too close to structures, and large plants smothering smaller plants.
With a plan, you can maximize your space by pairing complimentary things in the landscape, like your lounging space under a future shade tree. One other huge benefit to a landscape plan is creating a space that is easy to maintain. That alone is enough reason for most people to take the time for a landscape plan.
When designing your landscape, here are 5 steps to follow:
Have you thought about what you'd do if you didn't have access to food from your local grocery store, the farmer's market, or your weekly CSA share? Do you know how to grow any food yourself?
Keeping a supply of water and non-perishable food on hand is recommended for emergency preparedness, but having fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, honey, etc. available in your own garden can help keep you fed now and in a time of need.
Daily Harvest Designs weaves food, medicine, shelter, water storage, and more into beautiful and functional landscapes. This makes it easy to incorporate food into your landscape while maintaining a beautiful and functional yard.
Do you want your garden to look beautiful year-round but don't know where to start? Creating a beautiful landscape is easy to do once you know a few tricks.
Here are three landscape design tips for creating a beautiful space that draws you out of your house and into your garden. With a little planning and some digging, you will be drinking your morning coffee outside in a beautiful setting in no time!
Picture this scenario: You want to plant a few shrubs along the front of your house so you go out to your local nursery and buy some cute little shrubs. You are so excited about your landscape project that you get started right when you get home. You space the shrubs evenly from each other and about a foot or two from your house, plant them exactly as the nursery owner told you, water them, and sit back to enjoy your new shrub border. Perfect!
A couple years later, you notice that your shrubs are not cute little mounds anymore, they are starting to fill in and are rubbing against your freshly painted house and are growing together. Has this happened to you?
What went wrong with your landscape project?
A few years ago I traded a friend something (probably homemade jam) for some plant starts. He gave me three echinacea and three hyssop plants; none of them had labels. I've enjoyed these plants over the years but hadn't used any of them medicinally until last week.
Fortunately, two weeks ago, I had one of those ah-ha moments when I was with a couple herbalist friends (my herbalism teachers, to be exact). This ah-ha moment also clarified another small garden mystery involving another plant given to me by a friend. This plant was also unmarked, but I had a clue as to what it was.
Lemon balm volunteers all over my yard and I love it! It fills in the empty spaces and I let it grow, as long as I don’t want to plant anything else in that space. Lemon balm does great in the shade or part sun and is often tucked near a larger plant, like under my apricot tree, or in the corner next to my back fence.
Medicinally, it's great as tea or tincture. Use it for calming, colds, during menstruation, and for the gallbladder, liver, gastrointestinal area, and for your heart. I like to drink the tea simply because it's tasty!
When I took my permaculture design course in 2010, there were a few permaculture design elements that seemed easy to incorporated into most gardens. Herb spirals are one of them.
Our backyard is designed with a lot of big looping curves, creating wonderful nooks and crannies for seating areas, play areas, veggie gardens, and the perfect spot for an herb spiral.
What is an herb spiral? Herb spirals maximize garden space by coiling up a linear garden space into a mounded spiral. Built with some elevation, herb spirals offer various micro-climates. Each side of the spiral receives a different amount of sunlight and the soil moisture fluctuates as it moves down and around the spiral.