Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

Homegrown Digest: Week of September 20, 2010

Posted by

It was fruit and nut week on Homegrown! Tuesday's show was dedicated to nuts, and Thursday's to fruits - not just the products, but growing them and adding them to your landscape. And of course, lots of interesting questions - click below for the week in a nutshell.

Regardless of what we may call a nut in a culinary capacity, "nut" has only one botanical definition: a one-seeded indehiscent fruit. Peanuts, coconuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, and pine nuts: none are true nuts. Conversely, most of the true nuts - acorns, filbert/hazelnuts, hickory and chestnuts - aren't even commonly eaten. We talked about the economic and horticultural benefit of growing your own pine nuts - for a gorgeous photo of the Korean white pine (Pinus koraiensis), take a look at our textured plants slideshow. If the idea of free, homegrown pine nuts isn't enough to entice you to grow one, the gorgeous photo ought to.

Ready to plant some nut trees of your own? Check out one of our favorite resources, Oikos Tree Crops. Even though neither Tony nor I have the space for an edible landscape of our own, we always day-dream about what we'd get from their awesome selection if we did (and as a bonus, they're based in our home state of Michigan). I briefly touched on the idea of permaculture, and Oikos is a great place to start thinking about how you can incorporate permaculture concepts into your landscape (no matter how big or how small). Also be sure to take a look at Edible Landscaping, a resource for edible woody plants and perennials since 1979.

If you're more into the eating than the growing, we get that, and that's why we're so glad we heard from a caller in California who had just attended the Walker River Paiute Tribe Annual Pine Nut Festival in Shurz, Nevada. There are actually a couple of species of Western pines that produce edible nuts, and this festival celebrates the spiritual significance of the pine nut harvest to the native people of the area.

We wrapped up on Tuesday with a caller who had recently moved to Florida from San Francisco and wanted to grow hydrangeas and was concerned about her sandy soil. We assured her that with enough shade and by digging plenty (and we do mean plenty) of compost into the soil, they should do just fine. This bulletin from the University of Florida Cooperative Extension provides further details.

Thursday's show was the fruit show, and we had plenty more botany lessons for you. If you need another go-through of the various fruit types, Fruit Identification Online will be a good place to start (though, frankly, this kind of knowledge is only useful if you are a student, professional botanist, or enjoy peppering your conversations with esoterica. If you are at a party and want to be able to say, "Hey! Did you know avocados are actually berries?!" when a fellow guest helps themselves to the guacamole, you might want to have a look at that link).

Early in the show, we heard from a listener whose squashes were greedily devoured by squash bugs this season and was told she should spray the soil this winter to get rid of them. When combatting an insect infestation, the first thing to do is to educate yourself about the insect's life cycle and find out how the pest will spend the winter: egg, larva, or adult. A site like University of Minnesota's Veg Edge is a great resource, and here's their squash bug page. The little villains will spend the winter as full grown adults, sleeping under a rock or a stray squash leaf, so clean up is the key to minimizing their winter numbers, and vigilance to preempting their feasting next growing season.

Then we heard from a produce trucker who was calling from Texas but makes her home on a lovely sounding homestead in Tennessee. She's a master gardener, and her old apple orchard is beyond repair. She wants to replant it with a variety of fruit trees and was looking for some advice on what types to plant. You can color Tony and me all sorts of jealous! We advised her to seek a local or at least regional source for varieties that will be the most successful in her area and told her about Edible Landscaping and Vintage Virginia Apples. Then a helpful fellow Tennessean called and suggested finding the plants grown by Freedom Tree Farms, a wholesale fruit tree nursery right there in the Volunteer state. Though they sell to the trade only, they have a very helpful pollination chart on their site and a contact form that should help Tennessee fruit growers find their plants at a local nursery. University of Tennessee offers this helpful guide for home growers, too.

That about sums up this week on Homegrown - stay tuned next week when we begin to delve into the world of autumn-planted, spring-flowering bulbs.

Comments (1)

  • Growing edible landscaping is a creative and efficient idea. These plants/trees can also be grown indoors in a controlled environment. Using discount hydroponics and cheap grow lights- you can grow indoors all year round. The presence of pests and diseases is rare when gardening indoors.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.