‘Naturescaping’ garden feeds body, soul

Feb. 24, 2012

‘Naturescaping’ backyard garden a way to feed body, soul

It’s time to consider which herbs you would like to plant in your organic garden for spring, or keep in little pots on your windowsill to add to foods you prepare.

When you put them in the ground, you can arrange them in a way that provides spice and flavor for food, as well as feeding your soul with inviting greenery.

A new book that can help give you ideas for shaping your yard is The Naturescaping Workbook by Beth O’Donnell Young and beautiful photographs by Karen Bussolini (Timber Press, $24.95).

One of the joys of backyard organic vegetable growing, whether for food or profit, is the variety of delights that can be discovered even in small spaces.

Naturescaping is an incredible guide for innovating in the garden, providing outlines for a variety of edible arrangements.

For example, it gives lists of edible trees, vines, shrubs, flowers and herbs, and shows photos of gardens in different arrays.

Another book that picks up where Naturescaping may leave off is Better Homes & Gardening’s new book: Herb Gardening (John Wiley & Sons, $19.99) and also just out in bookstores.

Herb Gardening gives astounding “plant by the number” garden plans that can provide any gardener with a spectacular display of herbs. It gives advice on herbs for different seasons, pairs that do well together, histories of where they come from and delicious-looking recipes.

Here is a Top Ten of grow-your-own culinary herbs for summer:

Basil

Thyme

Mint

Parsley

Hyssop

Bee Balm

Lavender

Sage

Dill

Coriander

I would add Stevia, a natural sugar substitute, and also warn that mint can take over your garden if you are not careful.

With these two books, a garden enthusiast could have a great deal of fun shaping, or reshaping, a diverse and edible garden that feeds body and soul.

Honeybee report: Speaking of bees, retired extension service apiculturist Harry Fulton warns beekeepers that the warm weather may be setting up their bees for hive failure.

He writes: “Bee colonies are consuming a lot of honey now because of the mild weather in January and early February, which resulted in early and unusual brood rearing. They gathered a lot of pollen then, which stimulated egg laying also.

“Consequently, please check to see if your bees have plenty of honey stores. They will not be gathering significant food stores until mid-March, unless you are in south Mississippi, where things will bloom earlier which produce nectar. There is some indication that fruit tree bloom will occur early, but do not let this fool you. Bees normally begin to ‘make a living’ by then, but this year is unusual. More cold weather could come, which will shut it all down.

“The general rule is that if bees have less than two full combs of honey, they should be fed immediately. They could need as much as 30 pounds (6 full deep combs) to get them through. For each full comb of brood emerging, it has been said that the bees need one full deep comb of honey/pollen stores. If they are not able to gather due to rainy weather or cold weather, then honey stores disappear quickly (one or two combs a week).”

Come see us: I’ll be speaking on Organic Backyard Market Gardening Saturday at the third annual Sustainable Living Conference by Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi at Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond. For more information, see: www.ggsim.org.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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