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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*

Sustainable Agriculture Workshops

I attended sutainable agriculture workshops on Thursday, April 19 and Monday, April 30 at the Woodford County Library (Midway Branch). Julie Maruskin, the director of the Clark County Public Library, presented on heirloom tomatoes on the 19th and edible landscaping on the 30th. Through a series of blog posts, I will discuss what Ms. Maruskin shared with us. These posts will have #Sustainable Agriculture and #Maruskin.

To learn more about programs offered by the Clark County Library, please visit http://www.clarkpublib.org/Programs.htm. To learn more about programs offered by the Woodford County Library (Versailles & Midway), please visit http://woodfordcountylibrary.com/News.html.

Heirloom Tomato Workshop

Here are a few terms from the Heirloom Tomato Workshop with which novice gardeners (like me) may not be familiar. They do apply to many plants beyond tomatoes as well.

Heirloom plants are “open-pollinated varieties” and have to be at least “50 years old or older”

Open-pollinated (OP) plant “seeds will produce the same type of plant next year.” Not all open-pollinated plants are heirlooms, but as we mentioned before, all heirlooms are by definition open-pollinators.

Hybrid plants are “bred from 2 or more OP varieties and will NOT produce plants like themselves next year.”