Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Edible plants for shade


It was very satisfying putting together this list of edible plants that can grow in shade, for Gardenista - my answer to a reader's plea for help. There were more than I thought.

In the garden new garlic is sprouting, the self-seeded mâche is up, very late season fava beans are leafing out, the arugula keeps on trucking, and the squirrels are in an acorn digging frenzy, tipping over my Italian dandelion plants and uprooting baby kales. I inadvertently contributed to their stash, and for the squirrels Christmas came early, More about that, tomorrow.

The sun has left our garden altogether, now, and while I have always loved seasonal changes, I am bracing myself for the dark months ahead. Indoors, my work spot will shift soon from the darker living room to sunny bedroom, where the two Thai limes are in the windows, soaking up the rays. I have found signs of scale on them, probably a pest they brought with them from Tennessee, and which I never noticed when they were outside. I have been spraying them with Neem oil. They will be indoors through April. Which seems very far away.

Earlier darkness or not, New York is destined for record high temperatures, today. Mid October's nip has melted to a balmy 88'F. (Oh, hi, Global Warming!) And my mosquito bites, acquired in the line of gardening duties, tell stories of high summer.

12 comments:

  1. I, too, have found scale and mealy bugs on my indoor plants, particularly those my husband brings home as gifts from school or from potted herbs from the grocer. Trader Joe's and Lucky are our local germ farms. Since I now refuse to use most manufactured pesticides in my home, it feels defeating in some way. I have raised a variety of plants to fruit indoors, and outdoors I am happy for the birds and moths. It takes some attention, but having a small space with limited water resources is a different kind of work compared to a full yard. I hope you find comfort wherever you find home, Marie.

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    1. Thank you, Katie. How do you treat the pests?

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    2. "Pests" is a funny name, as I'm currently actively raising cabbage butterfly caterpillars outdoors on nasturtiums. The winter songbirds here on central coastal CA love to eat them. From gifts and grocers, I've inadvertently brought home all manner of Homopterans - scales, mealy bugs, and aphids (both green and black). From my IPM (integrated pest management) class years ago for my entomology degree, I've tried soapy water (diluted Dawn dish soap in a spray bottle) - it's such a mess and hard to keep the fallen insects from simply sitting on top of the container soil. Generally, I simply smoosh the mealy bugs and aphids by hand BEFORE their numbers get overwhelming - like I said, it takes some attention. As for scale insects, they are hard to pry off woody plant parts unless they're soaped first. If the infection is severe, I hate to say it, but I simply trash the plant. I don't even put it in my compost, because I don't want my other plants to be infected, too. That's why I said it feels defeating.

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    3. Thanks, Katie :-) I know, the term "pests" is relative.

      I'm not even sure my critter is scale. I need a macro lens to capture it - I may have two problems, and will post about them soon to crowdsource some informed opinions. Not an infestation, by any means, as I remove what I am currently calling scale as soon as I see it and spraying Neem oil.

      I would also trash a badly infected plant but these two limes are dear to me! In the garden I do zero pest control (not true - beer dishes for slugs), letting the other insects help out (as well as our baby possums, I suspect), so this OCD approach is new to me.

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  2. None of my mâche has come up this year, despite three different seed sources; usually I always have some in the fall and spring.

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    1. I had that problem last year when I sowed the mache too early. It was too warm for it to germinate. The second sowing germinated poorly but enough came up to overwinter and really bounce into life this spring. The plants coming up now are self-seeded from those, and came up when our night time temps started dipping into low 50's. I doubt the seedlings like our current heat wave.

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  3. I am now ready to pull up my Abraham Darby rose because as you were, I'm tired of fighting the fungus. You mentioned what you replaced it with but I can't remember?

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    1. Aw...I really, really miss having cut roses, Lisa. But I just did not have enough sun, and then in the front of our current house. with their backs against a hot wall, it was too hot for roses in midsummer. But I miss them. Do you want a different rose?

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    2. I have 2 Abraham Darby's in a vase next to me right now....They open beautifully and have a sweet scent, but the leaf spot! Do you have a good recommendation? I'm so sorry you can't grow roses right now, but a shade garden can be so lush!

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    3. Mine did get leaf spot towards the end of the season (now), and I just took it as normal. But if yours are spotty right through the year it might be time to choose something else. Munstead Wood was quite spot-free (red flowers) and very perfumed. I don't really know your growing conditions so can't say if that is contributing factor. Kockout roses are supposed to be very resilient but I don't like them, personally, as they are unscented.

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  4. A few weeks ago I left a comment asking for just this - I suppose I may be the reader you mention?! - and here it is!

    Aside from being exactly what I need for my shady window boxes, it came at the perfect moment, as I am sitting here post-debate trying to focus on the positive and hopeful things in our society. Thank you, Marie, for being both helpful, and kind. Tonight you have helped one person feel peace.

    Now, to go read about these beautiful plants!

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    1. Carrie, yes it was you! Thank you for commenting. It led me on an interesting search and I realized there were more edibles than I would have thought.

      I hope it helps :-)

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