Backyard Permaculture, Edible Landscaping, Mini-Orchard or Something Like That.

I’ve been on the fence about where I see myself living in the long term and this year I decided that I’ll probably stay here for a while.   I have a few fruit trees in the ground and some other edible perennials, but I’ve been a little hesitant to put things in the ground just because of the likelihood that I was going to move somewhere else.    There’s a lot of good reasons for me to stay put in this house (for one, I’ll have it paid off by the time I’m 39 at the current rate) and unless I do something like marry Mrs. Duggar, it’ll probably meet every need I’ll have in the future.

Not only was the prospect of moving on my mind, I also told myself that I needed my lawn for my dogs.    This is true, but it dawned on me that the majority of the tree exists in the air and underneath the ground and there’s usually only a small trunk at the surface level.  No shit, Ryan.    Putting in a few trees wouldn’t take hardly anything at all from the dogs.   They might even like having more things to run around, more things to observe and more shady spots in the summer.

I’ve had my order out for plants for quite a while and I’m fine-tuning my plans for where things are going.   I called the utility companies the other day to get them to mark out the lines, so hopefully they get here tomorrow.   Then over the next few daysI’ll put the trees and shrubs in.

I have the following trees coming:  Plum, Crabapple, Sweet Pit Apricot, Cherry, a 5-in-1 Pear and a mini-dwarf apple.    I picked up a few more container-sized trees – two Evereste Crabapples and a Necta Zee nectarine.

I have raspberries, several currants, elderberries, sea buckthorn, gojis, Nanking cherries, kiwi, Rugosa roses, maypop and a few other odds and ends coming too.

The plan this year is to put down the trees and start working on a food forest where I’ll have the trees surrounded by layers of shrubs, herbs, roots and vines.    I’d like to put in a brick path that leads to….somewhere and have this path lined with shrubs and mini-dwarf trees.

My front yard is fairly shady with a few partial-shade spots and a bit of full sun areas.   Right now I have a little bit of catnip, a dwarf peach tree and about a dozen or two strawberry plants here and there but I’d like to get more production out of the front.   Right now I’m thinking of taking a sunny space about 3′ x 20′ on the side of the house and filing it with edible ornamentals as well as putting in crabapple and cherry trees and maybe elderberries.

Another project I’d like to tackle is the issue of my deck.   It’s a nice deck and very big but it’s kind of miserable during the day in the summer just because it’s so damn hot.   I’d like to make the space productive and nice to hang out in, but it’s hard to get things to grow in containers with the sun constantly beating down on it.    It’s really nice at night though.   I’m not sure if I want to build a trellis over part of it but I suppose that’s an option.

I’ve drawn up a rough plan for what I have and have coming and will post pictures and updates as I go as well as some of my thoughts and anything I come across that I feel is worth sharing with the world.    The more I think about it, I have a lot of possibilities with my less than a quarter acre lot and no reason NOT to go wild.   My neighbors probably already think I’m a little weird, I don’t see myself trying to sell the place anytime soon and my dogs will be fine.

Catnip – Not Just For Cats

In middle school I recall hearing a few urban legends that smoking certain common items like banana peels and catnip would produce a high similar to marijuana.   I recall a kid claiming that he went on top of his grandmother’s garage to smoke catnip.   He apparently started hallucinating – he believed a black dot was chasing him and he ended up falling off the garage and breaking his leg.   Whether or not that’s how he actually broke his leg, I don’t know, but up until last year that was the only time I had heard of catnip being consumed one way or another by humans.

Towards the end of summer I had heard about all of catnip’s benefits and was able to pick up a few plants from a garden center very cheap – unfortunately I had passed up on several free plants from a different garden center closing down for the season within days of hearing that it’s actually useful from this website

Anyways, I have four plants around my yard, mostly worked into rockbed landscapes.   Catnip (nepeta cataria) is a perennial and sure enough, the plants came right back this spring.   I have them all in semi-shady areas where they seem to be doing fine.    Like other members of the mint family (catnip is also known as “cat mint”), it can be invasive and get out of control.  My plants are in places where I’ll be glad to have them take over and just consider that good fortune – it doesn’t need much attention, it looks nice, it attracts beneficial insects and it’s useful.   What’s not to like about that?

Catnip is a calming herb without harsh sedative effects due to the nepetalctone content so it’s good when you’re feeling tense or just looking to wind down one way or another.    I like to have a tea with catnip when I’m planning on tuning out and drifting off for the rest of the night, sometimes mixed with chamomile.

Catnip also helps with when dealing with an upset stomach and other digestive disorders as well as helping relieve headaches and symptoms from PMS.    The link I posted has a laundry list of all the benefits of catnip and I’d suggest going through the list to get an idea of all the different things catnip is good for.

As previously mentioned, the herb is in the mint family so naturally the taste is minty, although a lot more subtle than spearmint or peppermint.   It’s mild, kind of grassy and slightly citrus-like (I think).    I usually mix it with other herbs when I make teas, but it would be just fine on its own with maybe a bit of honey. Just put some fresh or dried herbs in a tea ball of some sort and let it steep.

This is a plant that be grown hassle-free just about anywhere with a ton of uses.  If you don’t have any catnip around your oikos, I’d strongly suggest looking into throwing a plant into your landscape or a container (not garden spaces though because it might be too invasive).

As far as smoking it goes, I have a feeling it’s just a school yard legend.    As for banana peels, well, I tried it in 8th grade after seeing the Dead Milkmen’s “Smokin’ Banana Peels” on Beavis and Butthead and it didn’t work.   Tasted nice enough though, I guess :::shrugs:::