Learn to grow an edible yard - Nan Chase explains

If you go
Nan Chase speaking July 9, 7 to 8:30 pm
Tulsa Garden Center 2435 S. Peoria Ave., Tulsa,
Free and open to the public, refreshments served
Information www.tulsaherb.com

Nan Chase has three books to her credit, including:  “Asheville: A History”, and “Eat Your Yard: Edible trees, shrubs, vines, herbs and flowersfor your landscape”.

After 30-years of what she calls serious gardening, Chase and her husband moved to a home with a small lot in Asheville, NC. When they had land they grew apple, pear, and peach trees; berries , nuts, and herbs; green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and kale, pawpaws, persimmons, crabapples, quince, yucca, and medlar.

Their move to a more manageable place meant less work but growing edibles was part of their life and they had to figure out a way to grow things that were familiar.

The Chases rotated plantings, engineered trellises, fences and railings that would support food crops growing vertically.

They added organic matter to create good soil in which they could grow asparagus and sunflowers. Then, where the soil was impossible, they made straw bale planters to grow tomatoes.

At the new place, they put in dwarf apple and pear trees, crabapples, pawpaw and pomegranates, raspberries, artichokes, grapes, blueberries and an herb garden.

Even with all that, Chase says that the reduced work of a smaller place gave them more time and fewer sore muscles. 

On Monday, Chase will be speaking at the Tulsa Garden Center, providing helpful tips on how to make your yard work to feed your family and friends. She loves to cook and put food up for the winter months and will explain how she gets all that done.

Chase believes that we can produce enough food by growing 30-productive plants and still have a beautiful landscape.

Fruit trees, shrubs, vines, herbs and flowers provide blossoms, foliage, and structure, while also offering fruits, nuts, herbs, seeds and tuberous roots that you can eat fresh or preserve for year-round enjoyment. 

In her book, “Eat Your Yard”, Chase explains that planning is important. Visualize a way to use the garden efficiently to add beauty, color, texture, and food production.

She believes that organic gardens produce the healthiest food and that bringing birds into the yard is the best way to nurture an organic way of life. There is no need to ever feed birds, just provide clean water and lots of flowering plants.

Birds in the landscape groom the plants, removing insects as they feed and aerate the ground.

The other essential is healthy soil with lots of organic additives such as greensand, bone meal, blood meal, manure, kelp meal, fish fertilizer, composted yard and kitchen waste and top it all with lots of mulch.

Chase says that growing orchard fruit is one of the most rewarding gardening experiences available. The sense of accomplishment combined with the beauty of the flowers and the bounty of the harvest can be part of everyone’s yard.

She suggests apple, cherry, crabapple, peach, pear, plum, and quince in dwarf varieties. Fruit trees have specific pollination needs so you may need two varieties of one fruit in order to get a harvest.

If you want to grow nuts and berries, Chase suggests almond, blueberry, chestnut, hazelnut/filbert, pecan, or walnut for backyard growers.

Bay, grapes, kiwi, lavender, mint, nasturtium, rosemary, sage, and thyme are her suggestions in the herb and fruit chapter.

Chase also suggests fig, pawpaw, persimmon, prickly pear, yucca, rose hips, and sunflowers for your edible garden.

The book has information for each plant, including growing tips, recipes and ideas for preserving.

“Eat Your Yard” was published 2010 by Gibbs Smith. List price $20 and $15 at online vendors. It will also be on sale at Chase’s talk.


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