Are you thinking about planting some edibles in your garden or yard? There is nothing more fun or rewarding than picking a handful of fresh raspberries or an apple right off the tree. But planting home-grown edibles takes some planning, effort, and patience. Here are some tips:
1. Start small – too often people get the planting bug and go overboard planting a large garden and/or too many fruit trees, berries, or other edibles. By summer the weeds have taken over and harvest time becomes over-whelming. Begin with a small garden and/or a tree or 2 and add more each year if you choose.
2. Make sure all the plants you select are hardy for your zone. In North Iowa, we are in zone 4. Select plants from zone 2-4.
3. Research planting and care of the plants you choose. Have a plan and think about making a garden calendar as a reminder of what needs to be done when.
4. Call us at Natural Plus if you have questions. Two other excellent references for home gardening are the ISU Extension service www.extension.iastate.edu. and Purdue Extension service www.extension.purdue.edu.
5. Enjoy! For most of us, gardening is a hobby. Enjoy the benefits – the beauty and joy of nature, and savoring in the delicious taste of fresh fruits and vegetables you have grown yourself.
Focus on Plants: Planting Edibles
Edibles you can grow yourself include everything from fruit trees and small fruits to potatoes, vegetables, herbs, etc. At Natural Plus we carry a good selection of fruit trees, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, and some herbs. Spring planting is good for edibles.
Here are some common tips for planting and what we have in stock this season.
Apples – We carry a nice selection of hardy semi-dwarf apples. (Apples can come in dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard sizes.) We prefer semi-dwarf trees as trees are sturdier than dwarf sizes, and apples are easier to pick than on bigger standard varieties. For pollination, you will need to plant 2 apple trees that bloom at about the same time.
Pears- Pears grow quite well in North Iowa if you select the right varieties. This year we will be carrying Patten Pear good for eating, pies, and baking. You need 2 pears for pollination. Patten is a good pollinator for other varieties.
Plums- We carry Mount Royal. The tree is small- 8-12’ and plums are good for eating and desserts. You need only plant 1 plum. Mount Royal does not need another pollinator.
Cherries- We are carrying Evans Bali, Meteor, and North Star. All of these varieties are tart and are good for pies, canning, and baking. (Most sweet cherries are not hardy in North Iowa). They do not require another pollinator.
Peaches – We carry Contender which is now recommended for zone 4. Though recommended as hardy, they will still require extra attention and protection. They do not need another pollinator.
Raspberries – We carry sturdy 1 year,# 1 bare root plants. Varieties include Bristol Black (which has large black fruit late July), Heritage (which has 2 crops of red fruit in July and September), and Lathum (which has red fruit late June into early July).
Strawberries – We carry 1 year, #1 bare root plants. Varieties include All Star and Sparkle – both are June bearing and good for eating, freezing, and preserves.
Asparagus- We carry 2 year, #1 bare root plants including Jersey Knight, Mary Washington, Purple Passion, and Sweet Purple.
There is nothing better than enjoying the "fruits" of your labor.