I'm totally new at learning about Permaculture, and I'd like to plant some things in my urban plot that are appropriate. It's a spot next to and below a highway (the highway is higher than the yard, about a 20' by 20' plot, and currently there is a fig tree and some rhododendrons, some bamboo, a hawthorne tree and a western red cedar (actually I think this area is part of the East Duwamish Greenbelt; a narrow strip of land that runs between the highway and my house). Anyway, I'm hoping to start my first garden this summer, and am wondering what would be hearty. There are alot of mice and raccoons that run around also. Because it is under the road and has the strip of trees, it is a very shady area. Oh, and it is on the east side of the house and west of the highway. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I haven't had a garden (or a yard) in about 15 years and am excited to get started but want to make some good choices..
You didn't say what your climate is like, but because of the fig tree (awesome score!) I figure it's probably not the great white north.
Is your bamboo an edible variety? Eating the shoots can help contain it.
Giant Soloman's Seal is hardy to zone 4, will grow in shade or sun. It looks nice, has flowers for bees, and the shoots in the spring are relished as an asparagus-like veggie. It spreads by rhizomes, so harvesting the shoots will help keep it in the area you want it to stay.
I've seen rhubarb growing quite happily just out from under the shade of a fig tree (right at the canopy edge).
Stinging nettles don't mind some shade, are super nutritious as a cooked green, and the stalk at the end of the season can be used as a wonderful fiber for rope and thread.
Violets, especially labrador and sweet, like shade, make a nice ground cover (though slow growing) and have edible beautiful flowers.
Sea kale is a perennial that tolerates some shade but does better in sun. The flower shoots can be eaten like broccoli, the leaves like spinach.
Have you considered adding a pond? You could grow a variety of aquatic plants and it would be really good for habitat for all sorts of beneficial animal garden visitors.
Thank you so much for your suggestions! I forgot to say I'm in Seattle, WA. I will take your suggestions into considerations. i have a pre-existing condition that is supposed to greatly benefit from stinging nettle too, so that would be perfect. Also, what an excellent alliteration! Hope your day goes swimmingly! Lisa
Don't now if you are down on Duwamish fill, but given your location, please consider a lead test. It can get much worse then lead down there. Be careful.
Also given your location, consider adopting a portion of the duwamish greenbelt. Much of it is city land that could use some love. Soils are less contaminated. More nettles, and probably cleaner, red huckleberries, salmonberry fruits and leaf (raspberry) tea. Blackberry. Learn your mushrooms... inoculate some windthrow with oyster mushrooms. Fiddleheads?
There have been some restoration ecologists who work the greenbelt who might be good tour guides. SUN has an online interactive map that can give you information about your local forest.
Thank you, Paul; I did not even think of that. I am inspired now to do more research on the East Duwamish Greenbelt so I can understand the soil better. Also, I will check out the link to the website that you included. Happy gardening!
Healing happens in the garden
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