Good gardens and good cooks go hand-in-hand

By Lynette L. Walther | Oct 05, 2018
Photo by: Lynette L. Walther Lynette's small backyard raspberry patch produces just enough for a good supply of jam, and a raspberry pie or two. She is carrying on a family tradition of growing fruits, berries and vegetables

Scratch the surface of any great gardener (figuratively, not literally), and you are bound to discover a great cook as well. Any cook worth their salt relies on the freshest ingredients — vegetables, fruits and herbs — and many of them depend on their own gardens for those ingredients and inspiration. In a lot of cases, that impetus could simply be one of keeping up with the zucchini or tomato production or the berry patch. Whatever it is, the two are often inseparable.

 

2019 Garden Writers Association Scholarship applications now open

The 2019 GWA Scholarship program is now accepting applications from college and technical school students interested in pursuing a career in garden writing, photography or blogging. The GWA Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable partner of GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators, continues its commitment to provide financial assistance to deserving students who wish to pursue or further a career in horticultural communications. This year's scholarship awards will range from $500 to $1,000 per student and include a complimentary full year membership to GWA. Students must be enrolled in either of two categories: Community Colleges & Technical Schools The GWA Foundation Kathleen Fisher Memorial Scholarship is made in recognition of Kathleen Fisher, who was the editor of The American Gardener, the journal of the American Horticultural Society. It is given annually in the amount of $500 to any full-time or part-time post-secondary student, including technical schools and community colleges, majoring in horticulture, plant science or journalism, with an interest in garden communications. Colleges & Universities GWA Foundation general scholarship grants are provided for college-level juniors or seniors enrolled as full-time students majoring in horticulture, plant science or journalism, with an interest in garden communications, including garden photography. General scholarships are given annually and vary in number (two to nine) and amount ($500 to $1,000), depending on the earnings of the scholarship endowment. It is beneficial for horticulture or plant science majors to have taken courses in journalism and vice-versa, although exceptions will be made. In recent years, more than $100,000 has been awarded to outstanding students. Grants range from $500 to $1,000 per student at the discretion of the GWA Foundation Board of Directors. Scholarships will be awarded directly to the institutions on behalf of students. Deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 5. For questions, contact Ashley Hodak Sullivan, GWA Foundation executive director, at asullivan@kellencompany.com or 212.297.2198.

Recently as I rolled out the crust for a pie to use up the last of the raspberries in the freezer, I thought of my grandmother. A consummate cook and baker, she relied on the sour cherries and cooking apples from the trees she grew for her pies. She would spin them into pure culinary gold. She grew berries and vegetables, too, in her little in-town plot, and was famous for her tomato plants that often reached to the top of the garage and produced bushels of red fruits. Reba Miley will forever be the one who got me on the road to both good gardening and good cooking.

Her kitchen measurements were always in terms of teacups and eggshell halves — which makes many of her personal recipes difficult for me to duplicate. She used lard in those heavenly pie crusts, and her “secret” thickening ingredient in the cherry pies was tapioca. (Oops, I let the cat out of the bag!) I, on the other hand, rely on standard measuring cups and olive oil for my pie pastry. Although I do use butter to dot the top of the fruits before sealing on the top crust, just like she did. I like to think I am carrying on her traditions in the garden and the kitchen in some ways at least.

And like my grandmother, I grow many of the ingredients for my pies and other dishes: blueberries, raspberries and apples — though this was a tough year for the latter. My growing space is limited to a small town lot, but it is amazing what can be grown in a limited amount of space. You really don’t need a farm to produce vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries.

In fact, new varieties are making it easier all the time to grow a range of edibles — from container vegetables to small shrubs with edible berries and fruits — that look good and enhance the landscape in the process.

Consider these unique flowering shrubs that produce edible berries. Yezberry Japanese haskaps are delicious and packed with more vitamin C, potassium and fiber than citrus fruits. Bearing the flavor of raspberries and blueberries all rolled into one, this tasty superfruit can be eaten fresh or made into sauces, jams and smoothies. To produce berries, you'll need to plant another Yezberry variety as a pollinator.

Yezberry haskaps, from Proven Winners, are very easy to grow and don't require any special maintenance. They can grow in any type of soil and have no particular pruning needs. If pruning is required, however, it should be done immediately after harvesting berries in early summer. You can harvest Yezberry haskaps as they ripen, turning from green to deep blue. If you taste a blue fruit and it does not taste sweet, leave the crop on the plant for another couple of days to ripen fully. It reaches just 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, about half the size of other varieties. These easygoing shrubs are among the first plants to bloom in spring. Their tubular yellow flowers develop into elongated blue berries that taste like a cross between a raspberry and a blueberry.

Yezberry Japanese haskaps are closely related to Sugar Mountain sweetberry honeysuckle. However, the Yezberry series was developed from purely Japanese strains of haskap, while the Sugar Mountain series is of Russian heritage. Other differences: Yezberry haskaps bloom a bit later, so they're a good choice for areas that get frequent spring frosts. Yezberry fruits are plumper and rounder than Sugar Mountain fruits, but both are equally tasty and heavy-bearing when it comes to harvest time.

Sugar Mountain sweetberry honeysuckles also provide nutrient-rich fruit that has become popular for its antioxidant benefits. And you can grow your own goji berries when you plant Lifeberry varieties that are great eaten fresh or dried. Grow these in full to partial sun and they are hardy to Zone 3. They grow to an average of 36 to 48 inches tall and wide.

Yezberry haskaps make an easy-care edible hedge, small enough to grow in most landscapes. Try them surrounding a vegetable garden or orchard, or even in a container. Then all you’ll need to do is to get those berry recipes handy!

Growing edibles is as easy as pie. Nutritious and sweet, cold-hardy Yezberry haskaps are a new way to add some berries to your landscape. (Courtesy of: Proven Winners)
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