Thursday, April 26, 2012

Earth Day, Arbor Day, Wildlife Habitats and Edible landscaping.

This post originally started out as an Earth day post, then turned into an Arbor day post...and finally ended up as a post on edible landscaping. :) It's been one of those weeks.

Earth Day was on April 22, and Arbor Day was April 27th. So often times we will spend the week focusing on trees and planting seeds/ flowers (okay we pretty much do this every week). Last year we planted several fruit trees for Earth day and went on a garbage/recycle walk up our road collecting all the trash and recyclables that people dump.
This year, the weather didn't cooperate with us, and Earth day was cold and rainy, so we spent the entire day inside. The kids started some seeds in pots, and we did some crafts using recyclables. Then with the kids in school all week, we decided to postpone our tree planting until the following weekend...which was Arbor Day weekend.

For those of you who don't already know, Arbor Day foundation is the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees. When you join Arbor day foundation for a $10 donation, you get 10 free trees or if you don't have a place to plant trees you can have 10 trees planted in a national forest in your honor. Kind of cool, eh?

This is the Keifer pear we planted last year. It was a pretty large tree (14 foot) when we put it in, and i was worried that it might not survive the transplant. All the new trees we planted have done really well and are leafing out nicely. We planted the Keifer pear, two black heart cherries and two plum trees. We won't get fruit from any of them this year, but it was nice to see that they survived the winter and have lots of new grown, green leaves and all look very healthy.

This year our plans were to plant several more new trees. We purchased 2 American filberts, 2 American Elderberry, 2 Allegheny service berry, 2 more blueberries and a Nanking cherry.

We chose the American filberts (hazel nuts) because they are a fast growing shrub 8-12' tall, they produce lots of edible nuts, and are also good for wildlife. They are native to the Eastern US, are drought tolerant, grow very fast and do well if planted along a woodland edge. With our limited space for big trees, i think hazelnuts are a good choice for edible landscaping and wildlife habitats.

i really wanted to grow Elderberry because it's one of those plants i have foraged for...but am not completely confident identifying. Elderberry is very high in vitamin C and has a lot of health/medicinal benefits. It can be made into elixir, syrup, jellies, jams and wine. Although Elderberries are native, and i'm quite certain i have them growing on my land i wanted to plant my own, so i could be absolutely positive i was picking elderberries. Rather than risking picking a potentially poisonous look alike. Elderberries are considered easy to grow, are only 6' to 12' feet high and are another great choice for wildlife.

i decided to get the Allegheny service berries kind of on a whim. i was already getting the other trees, and thought these looked interesting. When i was pregnant with my girl, i remember my doula taking about Service berries, and June berries. It was the first time i'd ever heard of them. Service berries are similar to blueberries, but do not require the acidic soil. We love blueberries, and have around 15 established bushes . Blueberries require acidic well draining soil though, and ours have never really done that well. Although they produce every year, they really haven't grown very much and several of them seem to be struggling. The Allegheny service berries are native, easy to grow and produce lots of edible berries. The fruits are sweet and juicy and rich in iron, copper and vitamin C. Native peoples dried the fruits like raisins and used them to prevent scurvy in the winter. This is another tree that will grow well along the edge of woods.

We already have one Nanking Cherry that i always thought was ornamental. The last couple years it started producing a few cherries. So after i looked it up and read a bit about it, i realized if it was better pollinated it could be producing a lot of cherries. Nankings are a great dwarf cherry 6'- 10' that produces tons of small tasty red cherries that are good raw or in pies. It is extremely hardy, has beautiful flowers and if you plant more than one can create a lovely hedge i've read conflicting info on whether it is self pollinating or not. Ours has just started producing cherries, so i thought it was a good idea to get a second one to make sure it's getting adequately they are gorgeous in the spring when they are blooming.

Although it will be several years before we are able to harvest from the new trees, i feel like we have really been making a lot of progress the last couple of years. Even though we took down a few trees to make room for the goats, we have replanted many trees that will benefit both us and the local wildlife.

1 comment:

  1. I'm am going to join the Arbor Day foundation right after I leave here.
    As for you... you celebrate Earth day everyday. I did a post and made a big deal for myself of making every a day to do some tiny thing in honor of the earth and you and your family already really live that. You know how much I admire you.