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Linda Lee

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since Mar 27, 2014
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food preservation forest garden urban
Sandy, Utah
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Recent posts by Linda Lee

I turned a suburban front and back yard into a food forest for humans and critters.  Well, it's a work in progress as I only started 4 seasons ago.  So what was a monoculture doused in toxins is now a great habitat.  I watch what the critters are doing and what they feed on. I don't care if they're a pollinator or not as I just want to have as diverse an ecosystem as possible and it's just fascinating.

I tend to scatter seeds around and experiment with different plants. I let the critters tell me what they want, not caring if something is "native". Critters learn just like humans do and can discover new food sources that they didn't have before.  I let lots of veggies go to seed.  I try to have as long a flowering and seeding season as possible, including leaving wild sunflowers and Russian sage seed heads for the birds in the winter.  I leave lots of "messy" areas for nesting materials and bug habitats.  In the warm season it's fascinating to walk around and see what's going on.  I feel like I offer an oasis to the critters in our suburban neighborhood.
8 months ago
Suburbanites are the wackiest.  I truly don't understand their war against nature.  I can understand all the reasons people above have given and they make sense!  But the suburbanites we live around are just unfathomable.  Living in Utah there is just constant watering plus the more they water, the more they have to mow and then all the fertilizer they use so that the grass gets a preternatural AstroTurf look and of course that causes more mowing.  But it's not just mowing that's involved in this war but all their weapons of destruction - the blowers and edgers.  Oh god, Saturdays here are just hell as they all do their war maneuvers.  We have one lady who lives in back of us and because I'm in my yard gardening a lot I see what she's up to.  She doesn't work so has tons of time and she is out there edging and blowing and mowing about every other day, just spending hours making that horrible noise.  I'm sure no wild plant has ever gotten more than an inch high in her yard.  And craziest of all is that I even see some of these people go into the street and start blowing - why, I have no idea.  And of course every scrap of material must go into the garbage can.  We have no yard waste pickup here.  It's all landfill for any clippings and woody debris, sigh.  Of course no one would think of composting.

So my yard definitely stands out from the rest.  I chop and drop.  I have a pile of composted stable manure in my driveway that I'm gradually using up on my gardens. I manually dig out any wild plants I don't want.  I never hire a service. I've taken out the parking strip grass and planted pollinator herbs.  In the back I've got all my rain barrels and a couple of compost bins.  I collect people's bags of leaves every fall to accumulate and last through the season for my compost bins.  I've begun pulling out my beds in the front and planted semi-dwarf fruit trees around which I also grow out my beds wider and wider each year planted to all manner of things from herbs to onions to flowers to wild plants like violets and salsify.  Eventually the day will come and the neighbors won't have noticed but the lawn will have disappeared...  My husband should thank me that I no longer ask him to mow the back as any grass I can just pull out by handfuls to use as mulch and in the front he only has to mow a couple times spring and fall because I don't water enough to cause the grass to grow in the summer.   My only weeds are grass.  Everything else has a purpose whether for food for us or the critters, or to delight.

I love the comments people had about seeing more wildlife as that's exactly true with our yard!  I've seen so many more birds and insects plus my interests in identifying all of them has created new areas of study for me.  One thing leads to another.  One day I'm just a newbie gardener, the next I'm reading about genetics, seed saving, canning, trying to identify bumble bees, and learning bird photography so I can do citizen science.

When will suburbanites wake up from their comas and come back to life?
1 year ago

Scott Foster wrote:Linda,

Thank for the info!  They are sold out this year :-(

Oh no!  Sorry to hear.  Steve S was complaining about them and said they were trash as they wouldn't cook down for him. So they were going to give us replacement beans.  Actually they will eventually cook down to loveliness.  Just took me a day and a half in the slow cooker  Maybe you can find someone who wants to reject them.  :)

Scott Foster wrote:

Wj Carroll wrote:While I could be completely wrong, where I come from butter beans refer to heirloom varieties of lima beans that have been cultivated for their flavor and texture as a dried bean.  Although they may certainly be eaten fresh, they are regarded more as storage beans.... and they are truly excellent!  Whether cooked fresh or dried, the flavor and texture is very different from standard limas.  Limas have a brighter flavor when fresh, that goes very well with butter.  When dried, they are very mild and need to be cooked with onions or another strong accent to be very appealing (at least, to me - I like them boiled with onion, bacon and a bit of cornmeal, and served with hot sauce).  Butter beans are earthier and richer, more like lentils or field peas in flavor - cooked fresh or dried, with pork fat - there are few better foods on earth, to my taste.  My favorite is an  old variety, passed own in my family for 200 years or so... probably much longer, that we simply call "speckled butter beans".  As for growing beans... well, they all seem to grow well in North Carolina, depending on when they are planted.  Of course,  everything from wine grapes, to truffles, to American Ginseng and ramps grow here depending on the elevation.... zone 5 on the mountain tops to zone 8 at the coast, with everything else in between.... hot and humid in the summer, bitter cold in the winter, plenty of precip nearly year 'round.

This is a great thread, so informative..


I have great memories of my grandfather baking big fat pork chops with butter beans.  What a fantastic dish!   The butter beans he used were large, almost an inch long. I'd love to plant this type of bean but I haven't had any luck finding seed.

Regards, Scott  

Hey Scott,
Rancho Gordo has some giant Royal Coronas.  They recently had them in their latest bean club shipment and I cooked some up.  Absolutely amazing how large they were, bigger than the previous Christmas Limas I'd gotten from them and loved cooking.  Both were some very meaty beans.  You might want to check them out if you can't find them from a nursery.

Rez Zircon wrote:

Linda Lee wrote:

Rez Zircon wrote:Speaking of herbs, is there such a thing as a cold-hardy rosemary?

I asked that very question of my nursery last year and they suggested the Arp Rosemary.  Will see in the spring if the plants are still alive.  I did mulch them well with straw in the fall just in case and we did have a very cold winter.

Wish them luck! I had a bush rosemary in the SoCal desert that was fine through several winters of -10, but died following a mild winter, so ya never know.

Now I'm in MT, zone 4/5, but I have a spot where the ground never really freezes hard -- my yard is raised about 3 feet with a rock retaining wall, and the garden strip below the wall apparently sucks a lot of heat from the ground behind it. (Probably a good cold-climate garden trick, come to mention it.) That strip also gets really hot in summer. Allium family do well there and everything else I've tried struggles.

I've even had them die in the PNW area which is mainly zone 8 but I thought it was usually after a winter of colder temps.  I think the best thing to do is to keep propagating new ones from cuttings. Eventually hoping to get one adapted to your environment.  I'm in zone 7a now and in a microclimate around my house with southern exposure and heat retention from the home so hoping to keep rosemary going.

Scott, I'm new to growing asparagus as well.  Just planted some last year.  It's somewhat sheltered under the big canopy of my locust tree so was wondering if that was a mistake.  But now reading about wild asparagus being shaded, I'm hoping it will be okay.  And like with everything it's good to grow in different spots, if that's possible, to see what grows best.

Rez Zircon wrote:Speaking of herbs, is there such a thing as a cold-hardy rosemary?

I asked that very question of my nursery last year and they suggested the Arp Rosemary.  Will see in the spring if the plants are still alive.  I did mulch them well with straw in the fall just in case and we did have a very cold winter.

Scott Tenorman wrote:I just plucked a bunch of asparagus seed from my plants.

SUPPOSEDLY, these have been growing in the desert of Southern Utah for the last hundred years or so.  Zone 8a, desert, hot 105 plus in summer with low humidity, 3,000' elevation.  I got them from a local, and he wasn't trying to make any money off of them.  They've grown great for me after just one year in the ground here.  I haven't tasted any of it yet, so I can't comment on that.  

I have one tiny mason jar of berries to share.

I'd love some heirloom stuff for a straight up trade if you think it would be a good match for my area.

I'm just experimenting with stuff, but anything edible is the only criteria.

Let me know.

Hi Scott.  Linda from Sandy, Utah.  Not sure where you're living in southern Utah but when I lived in Moab back in the 80's  asparagus grew wild along the Colorado River, just out in the sand, shaded by some willows and tamarisks.  In the spring we would harvest.  So it definitely handles heat and poor soil.  I'm amazed at the power of nature.  When our snow recently melted I found lots of things already starting to grow.  Probably the snow helped insulate the ground to keep it from freezing.  So fennel fronds starting to come up plus chard was perking up and even though we've had temps in the single digits, the oregano never seems to suffer that I have growing by the garage.
You should be happy to have these wild plants in your field as they are soil improvers (ie Lupine, Goldenrod, etc). They deep dive into the soil and bring up nutrients that cultivated ones are too weak to reach, plus they unpack the earth and allow water to transfer further down. Bare earth is dead earth. Don't have a monoculture of cultivated plants - companion planting with wild plants is actually better and contrary to outdated thought, the wild plants do not leach nutrients because they can go deeper, fix nitrogen in the soil, etc. If they're overcrowding certain cultivated plants, just pull up around them but leave elsewhere.

Stop thinking of wild plants as weeds and start thinking of their beneficial uses.
4 years ago