With winter going on strong, I thought it’d be a good idea to talk about gardens and food hedges.
No. I’m not out of my mind. I know there’s tons of snow out there, but now is a great time to get planning on your spring garden. Even if you don’t start planting until late March to mid-April, planning your garden now will help push the cold away; even if for just a little while.
The one think I’ve found with my every changing garden is that I prefer perennials over annuals when it comes to plants. I do enjoy planting tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans and the like for my veggie garden; but I also like to incorporate plants that only need to be planted once that will bring me years of food without all the work involved that annual planting brings. In short, I love the plants but hate the digging.
One way of doing this is a food hedge or “Fedge”. A food hedge is nothing more than a row of bushes that produce either a fruit or a nut. The fruit versions are easy enough. Blue berry, black berry, or raspberry plants all make great hedges. You could even mix the latter two up without changing the texture of the hedge. If you live in the seep south or Florida like I do, you can plant different plants like Surinam Cherry or even Sea Grape. Both produce fruit and will make for a great hedge. (I’ve made three hedges out of Surinam Cherry and it holds up very well to shaping and continuous trimming.)
Nuts are a little trickier. Yes you can make hedges out of what would normally be a nut tree. What you have to do is first find the nut trees that grow best in your area and then buy small saplings of them. When the start getting roughly ¾ the size you want, cut out the central leader (The main branch in the middle) so that the side branches take over. You’ll probably have to “train” your new “bush” for the next five years, but it will grow into a hedge if you do your part.
If you think you’ll get more berries or nuts than you’ll ever use, don’t worry, the birds and squirrels will help you with that. Come harvest time, those critters will be more than happy to help you with any extras. (They’ll also inspire you to harvest the fruit or nuts when it’s time as well.)
If you’re just going to plant fruit or nut hedges for the wildlife, I recommend asking for any “white” or alba versions (cultivars). That way any, um… residue will not stain either your driveway or car.
Food hedges are a great way to expand the “outdoor fridge” of your garden. Once established, they take little maintenance. And kids love them.