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Cover crops explained
At the edible landscaping workshop, Ms. Maruskin also explained cover crops. Now, I have to admit I’ve never given this term much thought. I knew that farmers would often plant a crop during the fall to help cover during the winter and early summer but never stopped to wonder why. Cover crops are chosen because of their allelopathy. Rye, clover, sorghum, and vetch are a few that are commonly used. These plants produce chemicals that inhibit growth of other groups of plants. They truly help cover the tillable agricultural space as the seasons change. In addition to warding off potentially unwanted plant species, these cover crops also manage soil fertility/quality, water, pests, diseases, biodiversity, and wildlife.

Cover crops explained

At the edible landscaping workshop, Ms. Maruskin also explained cover crops. Now, I have to admit I’ve never given this term much thought. I knew that farmers would often plant a crop during the fall to help cover during the winter and early summer but never stopped to wonder why. Cover crops are chosen because of their allelopathy. Rye, clover, sorghum, and vetch are a few that are commonly used. These plants produce chemicals that inhibit growth of other groups of plants. They truly help cover the tillable agricultural space as the seasons change. In addition to warding off potentially unwanted plant species, these cover crops also manage soil fertility/quality, water, pests, diseases, biodiversity, and wildlife.

Final species from Edible Landscaping workshop!
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Sassafras is an understory tree like the pawpaw. It prefers the company of larger species for partial shade. The leaves of the sassafras may be substituted for bay leaves in recipes since they are related. However, don’t eat the fruit! It’s fruit has a dark red peduncle is a deep, dark indigo-blue color.

Redbud (Cercis spp.)
Redbud is relatively short-lived (45 years or so). It’s flowers can be eaten. Vinegar can also be created from redbud. The pods can be eaten raw or lightly steamed like snow peas. Redbuds attract honeybees.

Mulberry (Morus spp.)
Both red and black mulberries are edible. They are one of the most common in Kentucky. Mulberry jam can also be created from its berries.

Lindens (Tilia spp.) 
Lindens are considered “good neighbor” species. Tea can be created from its flowers. The flowers are also very attractive to honeybees.

Final species from Edible Landscaping workshop!

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Sassafras is an understory tree like the pawpaw. It prefers the company of larger species for partial shade. The leaves of the sassafras may be substituted for bay leaves in recipes since they are related. However, don’t eat the fruit! It’s fruit has a dark red peduncle is a deep, dark indigo-blue color.

Redbud (Cercis spp.)

Redbud is relatively short-lived (45 years or so). It’s flowers can be eaten. Vinegar can also be created from redbud. The pods can be eaten raw or lightly steamed like snow peas. Redbuds attract honeybees.

Mulberry (Morus spp.)

Both red and black mulberries are edible. They are one of the most common in Kentucky. Mulberry jam can also be created from its berries.

Lindens (Tilia spp.)

Lindens are considered “good neighbor” species. Tea can be created from its flowers. The flowers are also very attractive to honeybees.

Starting Tree Seedlings
PVC pipe is a great idea if you would like to try to start your own tree seedlings. A few species including those in the oak family, persimmon, and pawpaws send a long root down as they are growing. This makes them perfect for growing in a PVC pipe. If you’re going to start trees from seed, use peat-free soil. It may also be in your best interest to scarify the seed for 15 seconds before planting it. Seeds have a tough, hard coating that helps protect the seed. However, to start seedlings from these seeds, many seed coats need to be prepared for germination. You can use a small file or sandpaper to rub the outside of the seed coat. Do this only for 15 seconds or so.
 *Photo courtesy of Michael Carlson of the BC Ministry of Forests and Range*

Starting Tree Seedlings

PVC pipe is a great idea if you would like to try to start your own tree seedlings. A few species including those in the oak family, persimmon, and pawpaws send a long root down as they are growing. This makes them perfect for growing in a PVC pipe. If you’re going to start trees from seed, use peat-free soil. It may also be in your best interest to scarify the seed for 15 seconds before planting it. Seeds have a tough, hard coating that helps protect the seed. However, to start seedlings from these seeds, many seed coats need to be prepared for germination. You can use a small file or sandpaper to rub the outside of the seed coat. Do this only for 15 seconds or so.

*Photo courtesy of Michael Carlson of the BC Ministry of Forests and Range*

Walnut (Hickory) Family (Juglans spp.)
Walnuts require two trees to be close to one another in order to produce their mast. As mentioned earlier, black walnut trees are allelopathic. Black walnut contains a toxin called juglone. Its allelopathy wards off many other plant species. Planting near a black walnut tree should be avoided unless you are absolutely certain the juglone will not affect that particular plant species.
*photo courtesy of Norman G. Flaigg* 

Walnut (Hickory) Family (Juglans spp.)

Walnuts require two trees to be close to one another in order to produce their mast. As mentioned earlier, black walnut trees are allelopathic. Black walnut contains a toxin called juglone. Its allelopathy wards off many other plant species. Planting near a black walnut tree should be avoided unless you are absolutely certain the juglone will not affect that particular plant species.

*photo courtesy of Norman G. Flaigg
Oak spp. (Quercus spp.) 
The acorns of all oak species are edible. There are two separate groups of oaks. If you can distinguish between the two, you’ll find a sweet variety of acorn and avoid the bitter type (unless that’s your preference). White oaks have the sweet acorns while black oaks have bitter tasting acorns. Black oaks contain more tannin than the white oaks do. There are many oak species in Kentucky including white, burr, overcup, chestnut, chinquapin, blackjack, shingle, and willow.
This site explains the process of creating acorn meal - http://askville.amazon.com/acorns-edible/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=17756711.
*photo courtesy of USDA*

Oak spp. (Quercus spp.)

The acorns of all oak species are edible. There are two separate groups of oaks. If you can distinguish between the two, you’ll find a sweet variety of acorn and avoid the bitter type (unless that’s your preference). White oaks have the sweet acorns while black oaks have bitter tasting acorns. Black oaks contain more tannin than the white oaks do. There are many oak species in Kentucky including white, burr, overcup, chestnut, chinquapin, blackjack, shingle, and willow.

This site explains the process of creating acorn meal - http://askville.amazon.com/acorns-edible/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=17756711.

*photo courtesy of USDA*

Maple spp. (Acer spp.)
Maple trees can be tapped for their syrup. Kentucky represents the southernmost fringe of the syrup industry. On average, it takes 40 gallons of sap to create approximately 1 gallon of syrup.
Maples do have mild allelopathic tendencies. Allelopathy, as mentioned in “9 Reasons Why You Should Consider Native Landscaping” post, is the suppression of growth of another plant or species because of a toxin released by a nearby plant or species.
If you want to spare yourself the mountain of work in creating maple syrup, you can actually consume another part of a maple tree. The helicopters! The seeds encased in the helicopters can be eaten raw. They can also be roasted. Some describe them as similar to soybeans while others explain they’re like green beans.
*photo courtesy of USDA*

Maple spp. (Acer spp.)

Maple trees can be tapped for their syrup. Kentucky represents the southernmost fringe of the syrup industry. On average, it takes 40 gallons of sap to create approximately 1 gallon of syrup.

Maples do have mild allelopathic tendencies. Allelopathy, as mentioned in “9 Reasons Why You Should Consider Native Landscaping” post, is the suppression of growth of another plant or species because of a toxin released by a nearby plant or species.

If you want to spare yourself the mountain of work in creating maple syrup, you can actually consume another part of a maple tree. The helicopters! The seeds encased in the helicopters can be eaten raw. They can also be roasted. Some describe them as similar to soybeans while others explain they’re like green beans.

*photo courtesy of USDA*

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) 
Pawpaws produce an edible fruit that Ms. Maruskin described tasting like a cross between a banana, mango, and a hint of strawberry. I’ve never actually had one of these before so I can’t attest to its taste. Kentucky State University in Frankfort has a great website for anything you’d ever like to know about pawpaws at http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/.
*photo courtesy of USDA*

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Pawpaws produce an edible fruit that Ms. Maruskin described tasting like a cross between a banana, mango, and a hint of strawberry. I’ve never actually had one of these before so I can’t attest to its taste. Kentucky State University in Frankfort has a great website for anything you’d ever like to know about pawpaws at http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/.

*photo courtesy of USDA*

You can use osage oranges (hedge apples) to help combat problems with mice, spiders, or ticks in your home. Place them near where you think the unwanted critters enter your home to help ward them off.
*Photo by Bruce Martin*

You can use osage oranges (hedge apples) to help combat problems with mice, spiders, or ticks in your home. Place them near where you think the unwanted critters enter your home to help ward them off.

*Photo by Bruce Martin*

Julie Maruskin, Director of Clark County Public Library, discussed several of Kentucky’s native and naturalized tree species during the Edible Landscaping program on April 30th.
Edible families and individuals species in Kentucky include

ebonies (persimmon)


maples (sugar & black)


oaks (all species, including beech & chestnut)


walnuts (hickories & pecans)


laurels (sassafras)


mulberries (red & osage orange)


rose (crabapple, plums, cherries, serviceberries, hawthorn, berries)


honey locust


redbud


lindens (basswood)

Julie Maruskin, Director of Clark County Public Library, discussed several of Kentucky’s native and naturalized tree species during the Edible Landscaping program on April 30th.

Edible families and individuals species in Kentucky include

  • ebonies (persimmon)
  • maples (sugar & black)
  • oaks (all species, including beech & chestnut)
  • walnuts (hickories & pecans)
  • laurels (sassafras)
  • mulberries (red & osage orange)
  • rose (crabapple, plums, cherries, serviceberries, hawthorn, berries)
  • honey locust
  • redbud
  • lindens (basswood)

9 Reasons Why You Should Consider Native Landscaping

 
  1. Native landscaping protects the regional ecosystem. An ecosystem is a community of both non-living and living things. They have evolved and adapted to one another throughout time in order to survive. Introducing new things into this environment may disrupt the balance to which they have adapted. Species thrive in their native area.
  2. Native landscaping protects and feeds native plants, wildlife, and birds.
  3. Native landscaping preserves part of the local history. Many of these species were used early in Kentucky’s history for a variety of uses. Keeping these species around helps protect that part of our history.
  4. Native landscaping reduces the effects of global climate change. Any living, breathing plant, shrub, or tree will use carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) during the process of photosynthesis (production of their own food). The more plants, trees, and greenery we have, the more carbon dioxide is absorbed and used. The products of photosynthesis include glucose (their food), oxygen, and water. Not a bad tradeoff!
  5. Native landscaping protects the soil against erosion. Native species once again have adapted and evolved with their environment over time whereas ornamentals or decorative species have not. Natives species help to stabilize the soil with their spreading root systems. Large amounts of wind or water do little to shake them. Soil erosion occurs where the soil does not have this stability or structure (like on steep hills or where a variety of vegetation exists).
  6. Native landscaping eliminates the amount of water, herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers you need to use. This is sounding repetitive but since natives are accustomed to a certain area, they grow well there. They’re supposed to grow there so you don’t need to help them with extra chemicals. Chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers) are needed to propagate species that don’t necessarily belong in an area. Natives grow with other natives and form relationships that benefit one another (mutualism). Natives are often “good neighbors” with one another.
  7. Native landscaping reduces the total level of allergenic pollens. Native species don’t produce an overabundant amount of pollen like many ornamental/decorative species.
  8. Native landscaping reduces fossil fuel use by reducing the amount of mowing you need to do. Many native species are allelopathic. Allelopathy is the suppression of growth of another plant or species because of a toxin released by a nearby plant or species. For example, black walnut trees are allelopathic. They release a chemical (juglone) that inhibits the growth of many plants that may attempt to grow nearby.
  9. Native landscaping reduces human stress related to landscaping. Humans become less stressed with more birds, wildlife, and plants as well as less mowing, fossil fuel use, global climate change, and erosion.

Start landscaping with native species today!