11 unique edible plants for your garden

June 14, 2019 by  
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Part of the joy of gardening is falling in love with the plants you choose to nurture, especially those with a tasty reward. While the traditional carrots and raspberries certainly have their place, you can create a yard full of unique, yummy and eye-catching produce when you select plants that are a little less traditional. The produce department at your local supermarket might have a few dozen choices, there are actually hundreds of fruits and vegetables that you may have never even heard of, let alone considered growing. While some require special adaptations, such as tropical weather, most are just as easy to grow than the mainstream selections. Here are some examples to get you started. Jujube If you’re in USDA zone 5-9, check out the jujube. This is not the beloved candy by the same name, but the candy was inspired by this small, apple-like gem. Jujubes offer a sweet and sour flavor and can be eaten raw, although the sugars intensify when dried. Jujubes like hot, dry environments and tolerate drought quite well. Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food Pawpaw Another heat lover is the pawpaw, similar to tropical fruits like the related cherimoya and custard apple. Happy in zones 5-9, the pawpaw doesn’t do well on a commercial scale, but is a great addition to a backyard garden . The plants itself is a small, uniform tree that produces pleasant foliage. Quince You may have heard of quince jam or seen it on a menu at a restaurant, but few people actually grow quince themselves. At one time, quince trees were as ubiquitous as pear and apples and rightfully so since it is related to both. Quince must be cooked for eating, but the reward is equivalent to apple pie in a single fruit with flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and a hint of citrus. Quince grows well in zones 4-9. Cattail Did you know cattail is edible? If you have a pond area be sure to include this plant in your design. Young stems can be eaten raw and young flowers can be roasted. In midsummer, the pollen from the cattail can be used as a type of flour in pancakes and breads. It also works as a thickener for soups and sauces. Young shoots on the plant can be cooked like asparagus by roasting or grilling. They can also be added to stir-fry for a distinct flavor. Chocolate Vine Less tropical than other options, the chocolate vine can even tolerate substantial amounts of shade. Best in zones 4-9, it produces sweet-smelling flowers in the spring and long pods later in the summer . The pods can be cooked like a vegetable but should be avoided raw. Before you toss them in the oven though, pop open the pod and scrape out the pulp, which resembles a banana/passionfruit custard that can be eaten directly or mixed with other fruits. Edible Flowers In addition to those traditional and non-traditional fruits and vegetables , remember than many flowers are edible too. This makes for many exciting options for your yard, even outside the designated garden gate. Include nasturtiums, violas, pansies, borage, and calendula in your landscape and you will have a cornucopia of salad greens at your fingertips. Maypop If you love passion fruit, but don’t live in the tropics , try this American cousin instead. Happy in zones 6-10, this vine not only offers a delectable fruit, but also produces large colorful blooms in the form of purple and white blossoms. Haksap More commonly known by a variety of names in the honeysuckle family, haksap produces a delicious sweet-tart berry that tastes like a cross between a blueberry and a raspberry. Almost as great as the tasty treat it produces is the gift it provides with its delicate downward trumpet-shaped blooms. Make sure to plant at least two of the same type of haksap together for effective pollination . Medlar Medlar is an ancient fruit, even though you may have never heard of it. For thousands of years, dating back to at least the Roman era, this small deciduous tree has produced small edible fruits. Related to roses, the one to two-inch fruit resembles large rosehips. The color is a rosy brown. For a commercial product, the medlar is a bit finicky since they have a very small window of the perfect ripeness for consumption. For the backyard gardener, though, your challenge might be picking them at the right time before the animals pluck them for you. Medlars adapt well in climates with hot summers and wintry winters. Red Meat Watermelon Radish While the flavor is similar to the traditional radish, the look is anything but. It’s a bit of a mind game when picking the small radishes off the plant, which look nearly identical to a spotted watermelon at 1/1000 the size. Red meat radishes are a cool weather crop and will bolt if planted when it is too warm. Serviceberry Placed right up next to your garden, trees, or perennials, serviceberries add a lively texture to your landscape and produce a yummy, yet non-commercial, fruit for your backyard enjoyment. Serviceberry grows well in a variety of zones because there are different varietals of trees and shrubs. It is a versatile and durable plant, growing wild in many areas. Plant it right up next to the house or in soggy areas of the yard where other plants are unhappy. Watch for the berries to ripen, which resemble blueberries in size and shape. Images via Shutterstock

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11 unique edible plants for your garden

Amazon patents network-based ‘gardening service’

December 6, 2017 by  
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As if Whole Foods  isn’t enough, Amazon is looking beyond your shopping list, and right into your backyard. As first spotted by The Modern Farmer , the tech giant has just received a patent for a network-based “gardening service” that would provide users with the ability to get personalized recommendations for everything from ideal plantings based on location to recipes, required tools, and much more, by simply snapping a photo of their yard. The service, which is essentially a smartphone app for the gardening-challenged, uses algorithms and image recognition software to evaluate conditions and make recommendations. While the tool at first seems a bit perfunctory, it is a lot more specific and personal than a simple Google search. Related: You can now buy tiny shipping container homes on Amazon For example, the patent tells a hypothetical story of a woman named Evelyn who just moved to Seattle and would like to cook a meal with the “unfamiliar” veggies growing in her garden. To get started, she snaps a photo of her yard and the gardening service determines she has mint, tomatoes, and cucumbers growing in one corner. As such, it recommends she makes a Greek salad. At the same time, the service may also see that she has a “large brick pizza oven structure [that] may shade the south-end of the backyard.” Knowing that, it might suggest Evelyn plant some wild ginger—”available at the electronic marketplace” for purchase (of course), as it is a low-shade plant that would do well in those conditions. More broadly, the service is also able to provide recommendations on based on specific geo-location. So as long as one inputs their garden’s coordinates correctly, it can develop a personalized plotting plan, or “virtual garden,” detailing what plants would thrive. The feature would also allow one to see how their garden would look as it transitions through the seasons, and to be sure, what exactly you’d need to buy on Amazon to make it happen. Via Modern Farmer Images via Amazon’s U.S. patent and Pixbay

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Amazon patents network-based ‘gardening service’

San Francisco man singlehandedly revived a rare butterfly species in his own backyard

July 22, 2016 by  
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The California Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies used to flutter about San Francisco aplenty, but their populations declined in the 20th century as more areas were developed. Now in the early 21st century, they’re incredibly rare in the city, so one resident decided to do something. California Academy of Sciences aquatic biologist Tim Wong built a butterfly home in his own backyard , and around three years later is seeing the colorful blue butterflies slowly return. Described as ” the butterfly whisperer ,” Wong spends his free time working to bring back the butterflies. He discovered when the California Pipevine Swallowtail is a caterpillar, it only eats the California pipevine plant. But those plants were also rare in San Francisco. Wong finally found the plant at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, and they let him take some clippings home. From there, Wong built a “large screen enclosure” that would allow the butterflies to mate in natural conditions and allow him to observe precisely what they needed in an “ideal host plant.” Related: Monarch butterfly populations are multiplying Wong started out with 20 caterpillars. Now around three years later, his butterfly home is thriving. He raises the caterpillars and then takes them to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, and last year brought “thousands” to the botanical gardens. He’s now grown over 200 California pipevine plants. Wong told Vox, “We’ve seen more butterflies surviving in the garden, flying around, laying eggs, successfully pupating, and emerge the following year. That’s a good sign that our efforts are working!” While you may not be able to build a butterfly home in your backyard, there are still actions you can take to help butterflies. Wong said, “Improving habitat for native fauna is something anyone can do. Conservation and stewardship can start in your very own backyard.” You can plant native plants and weed to allow butterflies to obtain food easier, and you can also stop using pesticides. Via Vox Images via Wikimedia Commons and Tim Wong’s Facebook

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San Francisco man singlehandedly revived a rare butterfly species in his own backyard

How To Give Your Bathroom A ‘Go Green’ Makeover

June 22, 2016 by  
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If you’re an eco friendly individual looking to go green, there are a few obvious places to start — perhaps you create a recycling command center in the garage, outfit your backyard with a compost bin, and stock your fridge and pantry with…

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How To Give Your Bathroom A ‘Go Green’ Makeover

Montreal home expansion adds light and warmth without sacrificing an existing poplar tree

May 27, 2016 by  
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Located in Plateau Mont-Royal, the 1700-square-foot home expansion project was designed with primary consideration to preserving the large poplar rooted in the backyard. The addition would have to maintain respect for the centurion home’s original character while maximizing the space between the existing exterior wall and the root system of the enormous tree , which wasn’t much. It was a tall order, so Microclimat served up a tall solution. The three-level addition rises over the rear garden with two stories of picture windows, forging a strong connection between life inside the home and the world outside. Related: Scale-like brick facades envelop Des Écailles residences in Montreal The new space was integrated into the older part of the home through two new large openings in the existing brick wall. A light steel staircase serves as a filter between the interior and exterior spaces, balancing the new square-footage without sacrificing the home’s cozy feel. The addition creates two sunrooms near the new wooden windows provide a relaxing retreat overlooking the charming backyard and that sprawling poplar. The stairs lead to a mezzanine level, which houses the master bedroom and offers direct access to a new rooftop terrace. In the midst of the city, such connecting with nature can be a challenge. It’s impressive that Microclimat could create such a light, airy design without infringing on the tall poplar tree, especially considering many homeowners would have simply cut it down. + Architecture Microclimat Via v2com Images via Adrien Williams

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Montreal home expansion adds light and warmth without sacrificing an existing poplar tree

10 Weird Things You Can Actually Compost

March 30, 2016 by  
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Composting is a magic process where kitchen waste transforms into rich, black soil. Even those of you without one of these magical boxes in the backyard probably know that you can compost fruit and veggie peels, coffee grounds and paper towel – but…

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10 Weird Things You Can Actually Compost

There’s More To Zero Waste Than Being Green

March 30, 2016 by  
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I consider myself pretty green. I am a vegetarian and grow much of what I eat in my home garden. What my wife and I don’t eat we compost, which gets cycled back into the garden. We’re a one-car family, which works for me as I bike to work every…

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How To Create An Environmentally Friendly Oasis In Your Backyard

February 15, 2016 by  
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A love for the environment comes naturally with a love for the outdoors. Unfortunately, we can’t always take a trip to the wilderness every time we need a little quality time with Mother Nature. You can however transform your backyard into your own…

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How To Create An Environmentally Friendly Oasis In Your Backyard

Download These 20+ Unique E-Waste Upcycling Ideas

February 15, 2016 by  
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In an age where technology seems to move at the speed of light, electronic devices often become e-waste in only a few years after manufacture.  Download this fact – according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States generated…

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Download These 20+ Unique E-Waste Upcycling Ideas

Next-Level Green Resolutions For The New Year

January 21, 2016 by  
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If you’re at all concerned about the environment, you’ve probably got the basics of reducing, reusing, and recycling down. You’re the one composting in your backyard, abstaining from printing when it’s not necessary, and taking your reusable bags…

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Next-Level Green Resolutions For The New Year

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