|Master Gardener Sheila Dunn|
Buncombe County, NC
Buncombe County Master Gardener Sheila Dunn started her talk to a packed room of interested gardeners by explaining that no growing system is perfect or completely effortless. After her talk, the locals lined up, interested in whether she had enough free starts of her strawberry plants to give away. With years of experience behind her, she spoke as a friend who sincerely wants to share what she knows to make your life a little easier.
Dunn wasn't even afraid to share some of her gardening failures through the years. There was the time a nursery sold her one plant when she needed two in order for them to produce fruit. Then there have been the apple trees and various types of grapes, some doing better than others. She cautioned than even an imperfect looking apple might still be perfectly fine to eat, "When you're gardening organically, your stuff isn't always gonna be beautiful, but it tastes good."
|Sheila Dunn's Home Landscape Transformation|
Dunn had been asked to speak at the Organic Growers School
, where thousands of people gather in the mountains of Western North Carolina each year to learn the latest sustainable growing methods. Dunn had transformed her sloped front yard, typical of the area, into a beautifully landscaped garden with all sorts of pretty, edible plants tucked into it. As she explained, she doesn't like to grow things in rows.
I asked Dunn for permission to share her top picks for what she called "effortless edibles." Keep in mind, she lives in the mountainous Asheville, NC area. What worked for her and her neighbors may or may not work for you. You'll have to compare your climate for what grows best where you live. She noted that most edibles prefer at least six hours of sunlight, so you'd need to choose your planting location carefully. Dunn chose plants for their hardiness and usefulness in providing something good to eat. She also considered the potential savings of a good crop of certain foods versus cost in the grocery store. You can learn more about horticulture in Western North Carolina at this link
Sheila's Top Picks for Edibles in The Landscape:
Fruit Trees: Asian Dwarf Persimmon, Asian Dwarf Pear, Pawpaws
Hedges or Shrubs: Blueberries, Cherries
Vines: Hardy Kiwi, Muscadines, Malabar Spinach
Forest Gardening: Mushrooms