With watering can in hand, a first grader earnestly speed-walks across the grass, finds a pepper plant in need of a drink, and slowly drains her can around its base. She scoots back and tags her teammate in the waiting line; he quickly scuttles off to the basket of mulch, scoops a two-handed fistful, and tucks it around the base of a young tomato plant. Joyful cheers from their classmates urge them on. The “Garden Relay” ends with the harvester carrying back a single spinach leaf in her basket, and each team member gets a taste. Continue reading →
Fruit has traditionally been in gardens or orchards separate from the yard, but this does not have to be the case. Many perennial fruits do well in the landscape and can fit in as ornamental plants. As you prune, mulch, fertilize, and maintain your landscape, why not use edibles to give you a return on your investment in the form of sweet fruit and a sense of self-reliance? Continue reading →
I garden on a yard that is about one third of an acre. Most of the land is in the back yard and is maintained as a semiformal garden of trees, shrubs, perennials, and beds for annual vegetables. The front yard is very small (about 45’ x35’) and is located on a busy state highway. Until recently the front yard was very shady because of three street trees, so I planted shrubs that could at least take partial shade, mainly a bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora), but no fruiting plants because there wasn’t enough sun to bother. Continue reading →
with Michael Phillips
Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013
Reviewed by Penny Lewis
Generally when you’ve read and enjoyed a book, the movie version is a disappointment. But the recently released DVD, Holistic Orcharding, from Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard, is a wonderful exception. This five-hour video is subdivided into twenty-one sections that follow Phillips through a full year in his orchard. Continue reading →
Starting an ecologically-based farm business on marginal lands in the highlands of western MA
by Kate Kerivan
The rough-mowed trail led through an old field of asters and goldenrod edged with native high bush blueberry and American cranberry, humming with native pollinators. The trail continued through a stand of multiple-trunked ash, red maple, and beech typical of New England’s often cut woodlands. At woods’ edge, native water lilies, and yellow water poppy bloomed in a goodly sized pond. Continue reading →
During the summer of 2012, one of the projects undertaken by the Environmental Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture interns at Wellesley College was the planning and implementation of a permaculture garden at Ashland Middle School located about ten miles west of Wellesley College. Continue reading →
This article first appeared in Volume 96 of Wren Song.
Pawpaw Asimina triloba is a lovely little understory tree I would not be without. I first discovered it in my oak woods, happily naturalized and looking like something a bit more tropical than belonged there. Soon I fell in love with its bright green, large, drooping leaves that caught the light and glowed on moonlit nights.
I feel that this tree has been overlooked as an ornamental landscape tree which may be used to create a beautiful and wildlife friendly yard. While it is cultivated as a crop fruit it may be planted in a residential setting simply as an attractive tree while being a food source for visiting critters. The fruit can be eaten by opossum, raccoon, squirrels or foxes while the leaves are a host plant for the beautiful Zebra Swallowtail butterfly.
Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City
Written by Eric Toensmeier, with contributions from Jonathan Bates
Published by Chelsea Press, 2013
Reviewed by Penny Lewis
Like a well-designed polyculture, Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates have packed a lot of valuable and interesting information into a small space. And unlike many plant books, this one truly is a page-turner. Continue reading →
Growing fruit and vegetables can be a satisfying and rewarding pursuit. First of all, there is the satisfaction of cultivating delicious and wholesome food. Second, there are the aesthetic rewards: The sheer beauty of the plants themselves – think of a cluster of fiery blueberry bushes in fall or an apple or peach orchard in full bloom – can enrich our surroundings. Continue reading →
The following excerpt is reprinted with the author’s permission from The Holistic Orchard, Chelsea Green Publishing (January 10, 2012).
by Michael Phillips
Permaculture people speak of two classes of plants to encourage within any gardenscape. Recognizing the role of dynamic accumulators and beneficial accumulators helps us bring specific plant interactions into focus. Continue reading →