Back Forty

edible landscaping and the south side

Our MALS (Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies) class, “The Meaning of Gardens,” met at the Montessori School again last night but this time we worked really hard for about an hour and a half building some beds against a bare chain link fence next to a playground.

Looking at these gardens, and musing about Charlie’s garden, makes me think about planting fruit trees and bushes again. I am not a big fruit eater, but Sandy is, and I’m trying to develop a taste for it.

I told the historic district commission that if they let me remove my black walnut tree, I would plant fruit trees within a couple of years. I have been waffling on this somewhat, because I have a very small space and a weeping willow would be more useful to me (for basketry). I have time to decide, though, because I’m going to wait until at least this fall to plant. I want the juglone from the walnut to dissipate first.

The south side of my house is a real challenge. It is very ugly, and there is very little room between my house and the houses next door on either side. On the south side, I have a neighbor who sprays several times a year with Round-Up, and on her side of the line between the houses everything is brown and dead. Which is certainly her right, but she’s not careful and the Round-up occasionally kills things that I plant on my side of the line. There are many utility lines that run overhead and underground in this 10 foot corridor. A fence would be expensive and make the corridor very cramped. The soil would have to be seriously improved for almost anything I’d plant there, and I’d have to be very careful when digging. I have reacted to this by letting my side just go wild and hitting it with the weed eater now and then. It is a shame to waste this sunny space, though.

However, I was looking at, and they have cherry bushes that could possibly be planted next to the south side of my house that have a height of 4-8 feet. Charlie suggested that I plant figs and Asian pears. The thing is, this neighbor is totally unpredictable. If she suddenly threw a fence up between our houses, it would be difficult to walk between the bushes and the fence.

I like the idea of edible landscaping. I just wish I hadn’t planted the Yoshina cherry trees in the front yard. They were free, and they’re beautiful, and they provide us with some privacy. But I could have had edible cherries instead and that valuable sunny space would have had another function.

Any suggestions are welcome.

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