GROUND RULES AND TOOLS FOR SEPTEMBER 2006
EDIBLES AND WILDFLOWERS ADD TO YOUR LANDSCAPE
September 7, 2006

By Victoria County Master Gardener Gail Dentler

Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
PHOTOS COUTESY TEXAS COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
“In addition to salad plants and greens, edible blooms of plants like calendulas, nasturtiums, and roses, along with cool season pansies and violas among others add color to your garden. Shown here are the calendula and a typical red tinted rose.”
Even though the weather still doesn’t seem to be cooling off just yet, there are necessary preparations to be made for fall gardening.  Two weeks ago, fellow Master Gardener Roy Cook wrote that fall gardening was all about timing – and nothing could be more true in bringing colorful, edible greens to garden borders and site preparation of wildflowers.

COLORFUL EDIBLES IN YOUR LANDSCAPE


Colorful, edible greens could be different varieties of lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard or broccoli.  If you are looking for smaller areas to grow vegetables - or you just want to experiment - it is suggested to plant them into your landscaping.  If you have extra room in your landscaping you can fill in areas with these edible plants.  You can remove your tired annuals or prune back perennials and add the vegetables instead.

SALAD PLANTS AND FRESH GREENS


If you enjoy salads and fresh greens you can buy enough seeds to keep you in salad all fall and well into the winter. Seeds and plants are readily available in local garden centers.  These foliage plants are mostly green so you will want to incorporate them so they will add dimension of color and texture to the already existing garden.  Look at the leaf color, shape, size and plant form to audition them for the space you have selected.

Leaf lettuce plants can be sown into the beds in a shady spot.  Make an eighteen inch wide swath through the garden bed or edge a sidewalk.  As the greens come up, pull up plants that need to be thinned out.  Mist them lightly during the day to refresh the seedlings and young plants.  Make sure if you plant spinach to avoid any plants that are labeled summer spinach, as this characteristic will have a serious impact on its growth with winter coming on.

EDIBLE BLOOMING PLANTS

Calendulas and nasturtiums, certain roses, along with cool season pansies and violas add color and texture to your landscape.  Did you know that they are also edible and can be used to brightly accent a dinner plate?  Edibles like these not only make your landscape more interesting, but are sure to add interest – and conversation to a dinner party setting!

PLANTING WILDFLOWERS

Another gardening practice for this time of year is planting wildflowers in early fall.  Wildflowers give such a spectacular show in the spring that it is worth the wait and preparation that is done in the fall.
 
• Site Selection
When planting, select a site that drains well and has minimal competition from large grasses, weeds and trees.  Most wildflowers need full sunlight and competition from grasses and weeds needs to be removed by hand or mechanical processes. An optional technique for a specific site is to use a herbicide to eliminate any existing vegetation that may compete with the plants.

• Readying the Site
Now get the area ready by mowing the existing area as short as possible, collecting and removing the clippings from the area.  If you are preparing a seed bed, rake or lightly till the surface of the soil to a maximum depth of one inch.  Shallow soil preparation will limit the disturbance of dormant weed seed.

• Mix Seed with Carrier
Next mix the seed with a carrier such as sand, perlite or potting soil.  This helps increase volume and aid in even distribution over the site.  It is recommended 4 parts material to 1 part seed.
 
• Plant the Seeds
Broadcast the seed in two directions.  Press the seed into the soil by walking or rolling over the newly planted area.  Don’t cover the seed any deeper than 1/16 of an inch for seeds the size of sugar grains up to ¼ inch for seeds 1/8 inch in diameter.  Some of the seeds will remain visible on top of the soil.
Contributing factors that will cause poor growth in the wildflowers are impatience, improper site drainage and/or deep soil preparation greater than 1 inch.  Going greater than 1 inch will unleash dormant weed seeds that will start competing with your wildflowers.
SUGGESTED SALAD PLANTS
ROMAIN*
Rouge D'Ivier
Freckles
*Can take cold and known for colo
r
WINTER COLLECTION
Lolla Rossa
Arctic King
Winter Marvel
North Pole
LEAF LETTUCE
Red Sails
Buttercrunch
Ruby
Salad Bowl
A TASTE OF BLOOMING EDIBLES

CALENDULA      
Somewhat peppery
Adds golden hue to foods
Used in salads and dips

ROSES
Many varieties and colors from which to choose
Velvety texture
Delicate sweet flavor
The stronger the fragrance, the stronger the flavor
Used readily in desserts, teas, sorbets and fruit salads

PANSIES
Many colors from which to choose
Slightly spicy lettuce-like flavor
Range from mild sweet to tart
Used in desserts and fruit salads