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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.

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!

Edible Landscaping Workshop

The second of the two workshops I attended by Ms. Maruskin of the Clark County Library was Edible Landscaping. This workshop focused on landscaping with Kentucky’s native or naturalized perennial edible trees. Many use these trees for their tasty edible fruits or nuts. However, happens that many of these natives are also extremely beautiful and perfect for landscaping. Some of the trees discussed include pawpaw, persimmon, black oak, white oak, walnut, and hickory. Other trees known as “naturalized” to the area were also discussed. These trees are not necessarily native to Kentucky but have been introduced or cultivated but have now spread and multiply by natural regeneration.

Saving Seeds (HTW Tip)

Julie Maruskin shared a very detailed seed-saving technique at the Heirloom Tomato Workshop. Warning – not for the faint-hearted. “The seeds of fleshy tomatoes benefit from the fermentation process, which helps clean the seeds of bacteria.”

To save seeds from tomatoes through the fermentation process, you must follow a set of tried and true steps, which Ms. Maruskin explained to us.

  • Choose a pretty, tasty fruit from a healthy plant.
  • Cut the tomato open (halves are fine).
  • Scoop out the seeds and pulp. 
  • Place in a jar with as much water as pulp.
  • Cover the jar loosely with a lid. You want a little air to get in.
  • Label as you go.
  • Keep at room temperature and out of direct sun for 3-7 days.
  • A layer of good mold will form on the surface. This moldy plaque forms a bacteria-killing anaerobic environment that also boosts germination.
  • After the mold forms, scoop it off, and dump everything else into a strainer under running water.
  • Rinse the seed and spread them out on a paper plate.
  • Label the plates as you go.
  • Let the seeds dry two weeks at room temperature.
  • When dry, pack the seed in paper packets or envelopes, and label as you go.
  • Store in the refrigerator if possible. If not, store at room temperature.

I don’t grow it unless I can eat it

Julie Maruskin, Director of Clark County Public Library

Light (HTW Tip)
To make sure your newly planted seeds receive enough light, there are a few things you can do. You can use fluorescent shop lights. Even better, if you have the resources available to construct a greenhouse or cold frame, your plants will receive natural sunlight. You can also start your seeds indoors in a window. However, Ms. Maruskin explained, “natural light from the average Kentucky kitchen window in March does not COMPLETELY satisfy the light requirements of tomato plants.” Incandescent light bulbs will not work. These light bulbs are typically found in lamps/lights. 
Make sure to turn off the lights at night so they plants will have a period of rest. If you leave the lights on 24/7, the plants become confused and end up performing worse than if you would’ve given them a little rest at night.

Light (HTW Tip)

To make sure your newly planted seeds receive enough light, there are a few things you can do. You can use fluorescent shop lights. Even better, if you have the resources available to construct a greenhouse or cold frame, your plants will receive natural sunlight. You can also start your seeds indoors in a window. However, Ms. Maruskin explained, “natural light from the average Kentucky kitchen window in March does not COMPLETELY satisfy the light requirements of tomato plants.” Incandescent light bulbs will not work. These light bulbs are typically found in lamps/lights.

Make sure to turn off the lights at night so they plants will have a period of rest. If you leave the lights on 24/7, the plants become confused and end up performing worse than if you would’ve given them a little rest at night.

Transplanting (HTW Tip)
Transplanting occurs when seedlings become too big for the container you have started them in. If you have started multiple seeds in one container, it is best to transplant them to their own individual containers when they have two sets of leaves. The first set of leaves you see from your seedling will actually be their cotyledons or their embryonic leaves. True leaves will begin forming as the second set of leaves. With tomatoes in particular, its true leaves will be serrated while its cotyledons are simple (not serrated). 
Transplant your individual plants to individual containers that are bigger. Make sure to create drainage holes once again and feed your newly transplanted seedlings with fertilizer. Also remember to label your plants as you go so you do not become confused as to what plant went where. We all think we know what plants are what until you become distracted and realize you have a bunch of seedlings and no idea which is which.

Transplanting (HTW Tip)

Transplanting occurs when seedlings become too big for the container you have started them in. If you have started multiple seeds in one container, it is best to transplant them to their own individual containers when they have two sets of leaves. The first set of leaves you see from your seedling will actually be their cotyledons or their embryonic leaves. True leaves will begin forming as the second set of leaves. With tomatoes in particular, its true leaves will be serrated while its cotyledons are simple (not serrated).

Transplant your individual plants to individual containers that are bigger. Make sure to create drainage holes once again and feed your newly transplanted seedlings with fertilizer. Also remember to label your plants as you go so you do not become confused as to what plant went where. We all think we know what plants are what until you become distracted and realize you have a bunch of seedlings and no idea which is which.

Seed-Starting Review (HTW Tip)

If you’re getting ready to start seeds for heirloom tomatoes (or any other seed), you need to make sure that you buy something that has “seed-starting mix” in its title. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we used Pro-Mix and Espoma seed starter mix for our seedlings. Potting soil doesn’t cut it if you’re looking to start seeds. If you’re a composter, you can use compost for seed-starting mix as well.

To start seeds you want to make sure your seed-starting mix is wet using warm water. If you’re planning to plant a bunch of seeds, put some of your mix in a big pan or pot for easy access. Fill your containers or flats with the seed-starting mix and then put your seeds on top. Cap it off with more seed-starting mix that is also moist.

If you can create a set-up for your newly planted seedlings, it is best to water from the bottom. This allows the plants to draw up the water, which makes them hardier and prevents overwatering.

Public libraries are about way more than musty books and library ladies shushing patrons.

Julie Maruskin, Director of Clark County Public Library