Edible Landscape

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New trends, fads, and improved methods challenge us to change our current ways of doing things. Gardening also faces these same challenges. Sometimes, it may be just a new name for a practice that’s been around for years. For example, the edible landscape is a relatively new name for a practice my grandparents employed in years past. It’s also a practice we can enjoy in our own landscapes today. Most home landscapes have focused more on appeal and aesthetics in recent years. Healthier lifestyles and local foods are two emerging trends in our culture that encourage placing more practical plants in our lawns and gardens.

Edible landscaping is placing plants in your home landscape that can be used to provide food in place of plants serving an ornamental purpose only. Plant a blueberry bush for an early-blooming shrub. Blueberries are also extremely healthy, packed full of antioxidants. They do require more acidic soil than most plants – be mindful of this if you select them for your garden. Also, some blueberry varieties provide a longer season to enjoy the fruit. Strawberry plants function as a groundcover in sunny, well-drained locations with the bonus of fresh strawberries. Many vegetable crops perform nicely in mixed borders while providing eye appeal and fresh veggies for the table. Herbs offer variety in textures and fragrances as well as enhancing the landscape.

Fruit trees are a viable option to plant in place of small ornamental flowering trees. Fruit trees provide beauty during bloom in the early spring and fresh fruit in summer and fall. Some fruit trees require more care and attention than others to produce bountifully. Apple and peach trees will require regular spraying to prevent pest problems. Asian pear and persimmon trees are generally easier to cultivate. Vining plants for décor and trellising include blackberries and muscadine grapes, both providing ornamental qualities and fresh fruit.

There are exciting educational opportunities being offered by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center. To aid your decisions on fruit trees and small fruits, two trainings will be offered in February. There will be a Fruit Tree Pruning Demonstration on Thursday, February 19, from 1-3 p.m. at Geraldine’s Peaches and Produce, 10728 Highway 41 North, Lumberton. A Fruit Tree Seminar will be held the same evening from 6-8 p.m. at the O. P. Owens Agriculture Center, 455 Caton Road, Lumberton. Dr. Mike Parker, NCSU Professor and Extension Specialist, will facilitate both events. The cost of this training is $5 (check or money order ONLY).

A Blueberry Pruning Demonstration will be held Monday, February 23, from 2-4 p.m. at McKellar Farms, 2173 Highway 130 West, Rowland. A Small Fruit Seminar will follow from 6-8 p.m. at the O. P. Owens Agriculture Center, 455 Caton Road, Lumberton. Dr. Bill Cline, Extension Specialist, will facilitate both events and plans to address blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and muscadine grapes during the seminar. The cost of this training is $5 (check or money order ONLY).

For more information or to register, please contact Mack Johnson, Extension Horticultural Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 910-671-3276, by E-mail at mack_johnson@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at https://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.