Edible Landscape with Charlie Nardozzi

Charlie Nardozzi on Edible Landscaping

We had an exciting interview with Charlie Nardozzi, author, garden writer, consultant, speaker, radio, and television personality. Starting at the seedlings of edible landscaping we talked about what crops are good to plant right now. His favorite is the broad bean also known as the fava bean. "These beans are a great source of protein, have many vitamins and minerals in them, and release nitrogen into the soil," says Charlie. All types of greens such as spinach, arugula, lettuce, and mache are excellent to plant right now. Peas and radishes are good as well. You should get your first harvest of greens in one month. Also good to plant now if you transplant is cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli. "Garlic and onions are good to plant now, but you won't see a harvest on those until early summer." Knowing how much to water in the winter can be tricky if you are new to planting. In winter Mother Nature helps us out with watering so we rarely have to do it, but if you are unsure Charlie recommends the quick and easy finger test. If you can stick your finger into the soil and it is still dry you need to water.

Winter is approaching and some of our beautiful summer flowers will die out until next year. What do we plant now you ask; pansies, violas, primulas (primrose), sweet William and cornflowers are just a few. We generally fertilize our flowers in the summer to keep the soil rich with nutrients, but "because it is winter everything is growing slower and the soil retains more nitrogen so fertilizing is probably not necessary" Charlie adds. For those of us who want the beauty of flowers but don't have the greenest thumb Charlie suggests pansies and violas, also known as Johnny jump ups. What does all of this have to do with edible landscaping? You may not know this but pansies, snap dragons, violas, nasturtiums and even roses are edible. Two of the more obvious edible flowers are the yellow mustard flower and pea flowers. Add some color and flavor to your salads with some flowers.

If there is a damp area and a place to hide the slugs and snails will find it. They enjoy warm temperatures, a stroll through wet landscapes and dining on your sweet young succulent growth. Snails and slugs don't like strong flavors, so planting things like marigolds, chicory, onions and brassica around your young growth will naturally repel the pests. Charlie also proposes clean cultivation as another option. In the winter because things grow slower there are less weeds so taking off the hay or mulch and just using a hoe will keep your snail and slug problem down as well. If you need to buy a sail bait Sluggo is an organic one Charlie has found to be helpful.

Let's not forget the trees and shrubs which is usually what comes to mind when thinking about edible landscaping. When asked his favorite tree for edible landscaping Charlie could not just pick one. "Figs in containers are great and do well. Blueberries are adaptable, beautiful, low in ph, make the soil more acidic and the pests don't like them. Gooseberries are good and so are currants. I like to eat them (currants) fresh but the red and white are good for jam while the black ones are used for a liqueur in France. Currants are even higher in antioxidants than blueberries." Gooseberries and currants enjoy the coastal regions because they have a higher humidity but will also grow in foothill areas.

We asked him if it was better to plant a 1 to 5 gallon tree or get one that is larger. He suggests going to your local nursery and getting one that is 2 or 3 years old. This way it already has a good root system and you won't have to wait as long for fruit. For California he likes pomegranates, blackberries, and pineapple guava which also have an edible flower.

When designing a drought tolerant edible landscape Charlie relays many factors to look at. Plant selection is always key; however placement is a big part as well. Look at what flowers you have that need shade and moisture then plant a larger tree by them to accommodate that need. To keep moisture in and weeds out consider an organic option like mulch or go with rock to add texture. Another great idea in hot areas are rain barrels with a drip irrigation system. This will allow you to save the rain water and allot it to the roots as needed so you don't over water. If you don't have a large area to plant in or even just a balcony you can still have edible alternatives.

Dwarf trees are great for small areas and produce good fruit. An example of this would be the columnar apple tree or dwarf citrus trees. Give it a little sun, water and time release fertilizer which lasts 3 to 6 months and you will have fruit in no time. If you have wild life around you it's best to stay away from fish, blood meal, or bone meal fertilizer as it will attract them.

We want to thank Charlie Nardozzi for taking time out to let us interview him. If you enjoyed this article and are interested in more information please feel free to contact us or visit Charlie at either of his webpages



Posted in Home_Improvement Post Date 12/14/2020






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