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I would love advice on what to plant next!

 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Planting once and harvesting forever is my mantra, but, what can I plant next? The flowers are bright, the asparagus is sweet, the trees are too young to bear AND I HAVE A LOT MORE GROUND THAT I CAN PLANT!

I have soil that is sandy and officially classed as Easily Erodable, it is on a hillside, and it is excruciatingly dry during the summers. I am in zone 5, and the soil gathers a good bit of moisture during the winter in the form of snow that melts in the spring.

To make things more interesting, I am slightly handicapped, I do not dig, I do not climb ladders (so standard trees are out, the Hunza apricot is a standard but it needs to be the only standard tree)and any watering is done by the bucketfull. I can plant a little with hand tools, or in a pinch I draft my youngest and I pay him $5 an hour and a trip to Sonic.

So far I have successfully established American Plum, asparagus, lots of daffodils, some tulips, and last year I planted a Hunza apricot, though it has yet to manage its first winter. I have had many plants that have failed on me: the plants that have succeeded have either gone dormant during the hot, dry summers (like daffodils and tulips) or have deep root systems (like asparagus and the trees).

My question then becomes: WHAT ELSE? I adore edibles and flowers. Most dwarf trees have roots that are too shallow for the dry summers, and I have already planted the common spring-flowering bulbs. The lilies failed: they tried to grow too late into the year and the dry summers got them! Crocus would be lost in the long grass and the grass has to stay in order to keep the soil from eroding.

So, what else either has deep root systems or can go dormant in the summer? Something that survives -10 and does not need a ladder to harvest...... I have already planted all of the plants that I know of that might do well.

Terri

 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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Maybe a goumi or roses?
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Huh. I had never considered roses: I had no idea they were drought tolerant! I shall have to research roses.

I believe I will pass on the goumi, as Wikipedia says they taste a little like rhubarb. I dislike rhubarb!
 
Steve Flanagan
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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Goumi will help improve the soil. And you can always blend the goumi fruit with a sweet fruit.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I suggest some nitrogen fixers and dynamic accumulators.
They will help solve nutrient issues.

 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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What sort of area are you working with Terri?
My idea of plants that can handle it dry is probably quite different from your reality...
My globe artichokes produce a lot of 'chokes' in poor, sandy, dry soil, they are awesome-looking plants (well, before the spring gales shred the leaves, which they don't seem to mind) and the insects love the flowers.
I'd have a good look around at indigenous plants. I grow lots as they're evolved to handle the conditions, and support other native species.
I love succulents! Just poke 'em in the ground...
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
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You need some herbs. Many are perennial. I think Swiss Chard would work for you too and it
is long standing. So get a list of annuals that you really like and carve out a spot that you can
keep mulched and in the spring pull back the mulch plant seed and as the plants come up pull
the mulch back to them. I am attempting to garden like ruth stout and sometimes you can find a youtube
video of her as a very elderly woman. Watch that and see if that would work for you. It cuts out
the plowing. Keeping your growing area mulched should help you.

You should have some bunching onions going along with garlic and onion chives. It is pretty simple to
grow your own garlic. If you like flowers you should have day lilies. They are tough and very productive.
Some re-bloom and if you want to you can eat them. The asiatic type lilies are another matter.
 
AdAstra Shepard
Posts: 10
Location: Eastern KS, USA
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Hello from another Eastern Kansan!

Sounds like I have a site with slightly different conditions than yours: my entire yard is shaded most of the day by gigantic old oak & maple trees in my and my neighbor's yards. So that cuts down on the evaporation and helps with the drought conditions a bit. But it means I have trouble getting enough sun to grow traditional stuff like tomatoes and peppers and squash. Ah, well, everything's a trade-off, I guess.

Anyway, if it helps, I've had great success just encouraging things that are already growing in my area. I don't know how you feel about things traditionally considered "weeds," but I've found dandelions, creeping charlie, wood sorrel and violets growing wild in my yard. Those are all edible and pretty nutritious. I've allowed them to overrun the grass wherever they want, within reason. I do try to keep them in balance and not allow one species to get too out-of-control... I've also had great success overseeding my yard with white clover. That fills in any bare spots, and provides nitrogen to the soil, and it's another one that's edible. I also have day lilies running wild everywhere; they seem to love it here.

Have you tried Jerusalem artichokes / sunchokes? They are a native plant here in KS and they're rumored to be pretty much impossible to kill. Sun- or shade-tolerant, drought-tolerant. Plant them where you'd plant sunflowers, they're in the same family and look very similar. But at the end of the growing season you harvest a bunch of edible tubers that are kind of like potatoes. They can also act as a source of shade and climbing trellis for beans and/or squash, and they attract beneficial insects.

Good luck!
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3000
Location: Anjou ,France
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Firstly get some bees either a Top bar hive or a Warre nither are back brakers
Secondly sunchokes require digging if you want to harvest so maybe not those
Thirdly Blackberrys seem to have deep roots And a thornless one would give good crop very easy if you use the left And right technique for training. Not sure if you are allowed them .
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