Monday, December 2, 2013

Luscious Landscaping

Chris and I moved into our home last January.  We have been here less than a year, but we are making great strides to make it our own.

The first item on which we are focusing is the landscaping outside.  We started with my garden, and we took down a tree that was too close to the house.  (I started to learn how to use an ax)

Please forgive my stance.  I am learning.  

It is important to me to plant trees, as well.  They are pretty, provide shade and help reduce erosion.  What if these trees are beautiful flowering trees that also provide food?  I would call that a bonus!

This spring I planted two pear trees and a fig tree.  We got figs, and we don't expect to get any pears for a few more years.

This fall, I added to our wannabe "Food Forest".  We planted an almond tree, two apple trees, a grape vine and two Paw-Paw Trees (a native Pennsylvania tree).  The almond, apple and Paw-Paw trees were bare-root trees.  I will describe how to plant these at another times.  The Paw-Paw trees produce an oblong fruit that reportedly has a creamy texture with a banana, vanilla, custard flavor.  I am excited to confirm this.

My husband was told that Paw-Paws attract a rare type of beautiful butterfly.

We also wanted shrubbery for the front of the house.  I wanted something pretty, and I wanted something yummy.  Blueberries are beautiful year-round and super yummy.

I went through a mail-order company.  We got all of our trees and our blueberries at once.  It took us six hours to plant everything.

The blueberry plants looked like this when we got them:

Here's the red one by itself (you can see how the beautiful red the leaves turn in the fall):

Here's one that's still green:

Now, dig a hole.  I like to dig it a little deeper and wider than the root ball.  That allows the roots to spread out and grow without having to fight through compacted soil.  Fill the hole with water, so your blueberry plant can take a long drink.

Now, tip the potted plant upside down and catch it as it slides out of it's pot.  If it feels a little stuck, massage the sides of the pot to try and loosen it.

Now you have a very compact root ball.

Break that rootball apart so that those roots can flourish and run free and be happy!!  I gently use my thumbs to break apart the ball.

It will no longer be as firm, but it will be ready to grow!

Now place the plant in the hole that you dug.  Line it up so that the soil of the top of the root ball is inline with the top of the ground.  If you plant it too deep, you may kill the plant, plant it too shallow and the erosion of the roots may get it.  The depth does not have to be perfect.  

Now fill in around with the loose dirt and push out any air pockets with your palms.

Now you have a planted blueberry bush, but we're not done yet!  Blueberries LOVE acidic conditions.  You can add supplements and peat most and sand until you get the ideal soil conditions, but that doesn't sound very simple to me.  A trick to get big juicy blueberries (as told to me to my dad who was told that from and old blueberry farmer) is to add some old rusty nails around your bush. 

 They love the iron.  As they rust down the plants eat it up.  Sounds good to me!

I don't want to disregard their love of acid altogether, so I have access to pine needles which are very acidic.

I added that beautiful mulch around my blueberries.  When it composts down, it will help to acidify my soil without me having to buy too much of anything!