Honeyberries, Limes, and Other Experiments…

Nothing improves spirits on a rainy weekend like an email saying your spring nursery shipment is on its way. Rain, rain, go away. Come again after planting day. Well, the rain stopped late Monday, and my box of treasures arrived Wednesday. Take a look.

I know I probably shouldn’t have ordered this many new plants, especially in a year when I’m already tripling the size of my vegetable beds (and spending half my waking hours digging…). But, except for the Jerusalem artichokes, the things I ordered all take a few years to produce their first harvest, so I just couldn’t see waiting. I want to get them into the ground so the countdown can begin!

The white plastic bag you see is the Jerusalem artichoke tubers (packed with peat moss, it looks like). I bought 2 lbs., which should plant about 80 sq. ft. What you see in this picture is the part you eat, baked like a potato. These perennial tubers also produce sunflowers…

Then there’s the French tarragon I ordered, after learning that French tarragon can’t (easily?) be reproduced from seed. My family loves this on French potato salad. It’s really a must for summer salads of all kinds. This went into the garden the day after it arrived. The label said to space plants 12″ apart, but since I only have one, I gave it a little more room, pretty sure it’s going to spread.

One of my big experiments this year is honeyberries: Lonicera caerulea edulis. I read about these in Mark Diacono’s The Food Lover’s Garden, where he calls them “blue honeysuckle.” I’ve also seen them called “haskap.” Their big attractions are that they’re (supposedly) easy to care for and sometimes ripen even before the first strawberries. The bushes get about 6 1/2 feet high and wide, and in climates with hot summers, they prefer partial shade. (That’s why I have mine planted on the northward side of the garden fence.) They also require two different varieties of similar bloom time in order to pollinate. The two I ordered from Gurney’s are ‘Wild Honey’ and ‘Honey Sweet’. I’ve seen other varieties available from Territorial Seed Company.

Finally, there’s this beauty: my dwarf key lime tree. This winter I was jealous of my sister Rebecca who just moved to California and was eating fresh, homegrown citrus for the first time. Soon after, I read a blog post by someone in Pennsylvania who was harvesting limes from her indoor lime tree, and I thought, I have to do that! So I ordered this tiny tree from Gurney’s. I’ll keep it inside in a sunny window in winter and put it outside in spring and summer. And apparently in three years or so, it should start producing fruit. I’ll let you know how it goes!

If you’re trying some new experiments in the garden this year, I’d love to hear about them. I’m already compiling ideas for next spring!

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