It has been quite a long time since my last post. My garden has been neglected. The regular job got a bit in the way, but now that I have some more time on my hands, I have hit a new road block – getting inspired and excited about gardening again. When I feel this way, I have a few go-to places on the web I like to visit to recharge my batteries. This seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase them, and hopefully inspire you to also get outside and start your personal garden.
Sam Van Aken, an artist and professor at Syracuse University is in the progress of making several grafted fruit trees with 40 different types of stone fruit (peaches, cherries, plums, etc) on each tree. Why?
- As an artist, he is trying to make a beautiful tree which will have different color flowers blooming at different times, giving you a kaleidoscope of color for an extended period of time.
- As an experiment in horticulture, he is creating a tree which will provide a variety of fruit and nutrition throughout the entire growing season – not just for a few weeks as you would get with a traditional peach tree for instance.
Check out Sam’s wonderful TED talk to learn more about the project.
Grafting trees is nothing new. In fact all navel orange trees are not grown from seed, instead they are grafted buds from an adult tree onto compatible root stock. You can even visit the original navel orange tree in Riverside California. It is one of two trees planted in 1873 which essentially started the entire citrus industry in California. This grafting makes all of the trees perfect tasting clones of the original tree. That is the most widely used grafting technique, but what Van Aken is doing is sometimes referred to as multi-grafting, taking a bud from multiple trees onto one single plant.
There are two multi-graft fruit trees in the Man vs. Garden yard – a “Citrus Salad” Tree (Two different kinds of oranges, Lime, and Pink Lemonade Lemons), and a multi-grafted Pear Tree with 4 different kinds of Pears whoch fruit at different times of the year. Most nuseries sell at least a few grafted trees, or you can go to online sites such as:
These trees are great for small gardens/yards which don’t have the space needed to plant several fruit trees and they continue to be a marvel to me on a daily basis.
Edible Feast is the latest incarnation of the long running Victory Garden television show on PBS. It focuses on small and eclectic farms/people trying to make a difference in their communities or simply doing something completely different. It opens your eyes to the varied things you can do in your yard – no matter how large or small. Some of my favorite episodes include rooftop salt making in New York City which asks the question, why would you not locally source salt – which is used in almost every dish you eat – yet you would locally source vegetables for example – and Bantam Cider from Massachusetts who use heirloom apple varieties from local farms to produce their cider which is slowly growing in popularity across the northeast.
While I certainly will never (and would not want to) produce heirloom apples or gourmet salt – the show focuses on the talent, inspiration, and sheer love of nature that these people have for their work. It’s hard not to see that passion and go outside and try something yourself at a much smaller scale – plant odd vegetables you may not be able to find your local grocery, plant a fruit tree that no one in your neighborhood has, or simply spend a few extra minutes this week cultivating whatever you currently have growing.
Nearby, in Pasadena California, is the Urban Homestead. It is a fascinating “city farm” which uses only 1/5th of an acre to produce enough food for their farmers family AND sell directly off of their porch. It is simply a marvel in efficient planning and smart farming. I encourage you to check out their blog to see what they are currently working on.
If one family can can yield 6000 pounds of produce out of their small backyard – why can’t you get outside and water your darn tomatoes! (note to self)