Edible Landscaping

Pollinators hard at work.

Flowering bushes and gardens are most definitely atheistically pleasing, I have flower gardens a plenty but edible landscaping is a joy that is unique in and of itself.

Just about everything in my backyard is edible. Going to my backyard is like going to a farmers market on my property. There are lots of options when it comes to landscaping.

In this post, I will reveal how I use plants to landscape my backyard into an edible mini paradise.

Blueberry Bushes:

Blueberry bushes loaded with berries.

There are lots of ways to add edible landscaping to your property. Blueberry bushes are not only producers of wonderful deep blue berries but have beautiful spring green leaves. When planted in a row they creat a hedge of greenery and goodness. In the fall their leaves turn to a beautiful red that are stunning in the fall landscape.

Blueberries ripening on one of the blueberry bushes

As the blueberries ripen throughout the season they add a lot of beauty to the yard. They turn from a green to a deep blue or purple depending on the verity.

When planting blueberry bushes, plant at least 6 of 2 or 3 different verities. Doing this will ensure adequate cross pollination and a large yield. Blueberries need a few different varieties nearby to cross pollinate well. If too few are planted the harvest will be reduced and they will not be as prolific.

Arona Berry Bushes:

Arona Berry Bush. Related to the Acia Berry, Arona Berries are a super food high in antioxidants and are great additions to smoothies.
Arona Berry bush. 8ft tall.
TARDIS in the background behind Arona Berry bush.

Arona Berry bushes are another great way to add edible landscaping to your property. Topping out at about 8-10 ft tall and a spread of 5 to 6 ft wide, these bushes are show stoppers.

In the Spring that are filled with white delicate blooms that turn into dark purple berries around mid-summer. They have a sweet/tart taste, somewhere between a cranberry and a cherry. They are dense little berries that are great to add to smoothies or other berry dishes. My chickens absolutely love the Arona Berries. They will readily pick all the berries they can near the bottom, luckily these bushes are tall so there is plenty to go around.


Arona berry blooms

Unlike blueberries, Arona Berry bushes do not need another bush to cross pollinate. Given their size 1 or 2 will be enough. I have two of these bushes in my backyard, both are beautiful and a lot of berries come mid-summer.

Black Berry Bushes:

Another beautiful trailing berry bush to add to an edible landscape are Black Berries. Unlike Blueberries or the Arona Berries, Black Berries do best on a trellis. While they can grow independent of a trellis they do better if they have a support to keep the branches off the ground. If too low to the ground the berries tend to rot before they can be picked.

Fresh Black Berries and Raspberries picked from my backyard. After dinner, for dessert I serve my family and guests fresh berries.

If you have tasted Black Berry jam or Black Berry pie then you know exactly what to do with these prolific little berry producers. Black Berries are great in many things from smoothies to jams to pies. If the bushes produce an abundance, then frozen Black Berries are a treat in the winter months when all the bushes are dormant.

The possibilities are limitless with what one can do with a bushel of Black Berries. I have my Black Berries bushes near the Grape Arbor so they can trellis along with the grapes as they grow taller and have longer branches. Instead of keeping them pruned to a smaller size I allow them to grow long and just attach them to the Arbor as they need more support.

Grapes:

Grape vines attached to arbor.

If you are granted the room, grapes are another great plant to add to your edible landscape. Grapes are very versatile, they can grow on fence posts, poles, trellis, or even chain link fences. As long as whatever they are growing on can support the weight of the vines, grapes are a possibility. Uncultivated, grapes vines will grow up trees and other vertical shrubs that can support the weight of the vines.

A Grape Arbor is not necessary to grow grapes just the method that I chose. But if you are interested in building a Grape Arbor, a Pergola Arbor is a great asset as it can double as a place to hang Hammock swings, a porch swings, or even a hammock. If you are interested in how we built our Grape Arbor I will link that post here.

Unlike Blueberries and other berries, grapes need something to trellis on. To have a successful grape harvest the vines must be kept off the ground. Grapes also need lots of pruning. I prune my grapes every January, cutting off the dead vines and securing the previous seasons growth to the trellis. Come March/April when the grape vines come out of dormancy, they will grow on the dormant vine and continue their journey up the trellis.

Horticultural/mineral oil spray that I use on my grape vines and other vines that need a hand in dealing with insect loads. Found at Tractor Supply and other feed/farm stores.

you will need to spray your grape vines to keep insects at bay. I use an organic gardening spray that works well at keeping the bugs off and will not harm the chickens or other wildlife in my backyard (just the bugs). It can be found at Tractor Supply or other farm/feed stores.

Neem oil is also a good option but will need to be sprayed more often. I spray my grape vines 3-4 times a year. Once as the grape vines start to bud, then again after they leaf out, once in the mid season (June-July) and once a month or so before harvest. This spray schedule keeps the bugs from eating the leaves and stripping my vines throughout the growing season. Just make sure to spray early in the morning or later evening to keep from burning the leaves.

Raspberry:

Another beautiful plant to add to an edible landscape are raspberry bushes. Newly planted this year, I have the raspberry bushes planted at the back of the arbor. As they grow (like the black berries, raspberries need a trellis) I will attach them to the grape arbor and let them trellis up the arbor along with the grapes and the black berries. I have one raspberry bush that survived our cold winter, the rest sadly perished. So this year a bought a more hardy variety that is cold hardy down to -20. Hopefully, with these new varieties I will not suffer any more losses of my raspberry bushes.

Butterfly Bushes:

Although not edible (by humans anyway), butterfly bushes are a great plant to add to an edible landscape. Not only are they beautiful, but a stately butterfly bush will attract pollinators to your yard. Everything from butterflies, hummingbirds, bubble bees, honey bees, and hummingbird moths will flock to the butterfly bushes to feed off the nectar of the butterfly bush blooms.

In mid-summer when the bushes are in full bloom there is a frenzy of activity around the butterfly bushes. In close proximity with the berry row many of these valuable pollinators visit the neighboring berry bushes and continue to pollinate creating a high yield.

Spices and Herbs:

Another way to add edible plants to your property is that of herbs. Most herbs are flowering plants that have beautiful blooms that attract bees, butterflies and other important pollinators.

I grow just about the herbs and spices that I use in cooking and for inscene making. I rarely have to by herbs because I harvest and dry the herbs that I have here on my property. Everything from Basil to lavender I grow on my property.

In the fall I harvest the spices and herbs and use them in cooking, teas, baking, and incense. At the end of this post I will share one of my favorite dried herb incense recipes that I have constantly fragrancing my home.

Vegetable Gardens:

Veggie gardens need no introduction, these gardens no matter the size are a great way to add edible landscaping to your property. I have several veggie gardens. One that I use as more of a kitchen garden, the other I grow corn, pumpkins, sunflowers and other fall/winter goodies.

In all my veggie gardens the girls patrol the rows of veggies eating the bugs off the plants and tilling the soil in search for worms. My girls are a great asset is organic gardening, their natural talents reduce my need for any bug ellimitating regiment. I may lose a tomato or two to a curious chicken, but I plant enough for everyone to get their fair share.

Flower Gardens:

Although not edible (by humans) I do have an abundance of flower gardens that surround my home and property. These gardens provide food for necessary pollinators such at butterflies and bees which in turn assist me in increasing a high yield from the edible landscaping. It is through these beneficial insects that we are able to feed our families and put food on the table.

In attempts to aid the bee populations, I do not spay any insecticide near my home. Many of my gardens contain herbs and spices which naturally deter may pest insects that would otherwise enter my home.

Chickens:

Given that this is a blog that is primarily focused on raising backyard chickens, how do my girls factor into edible landscaping.

The simple answer is composting. The girls create a very nutritious compost in their coops through their digestive processes. Due to the presence of a gizzard in their digestive system, chickens process everything they consume. When added to the coop shavings and composted, the girls produce the best plant food that money can buy. Because my girls are fed an organic diet by way of their feed and whatever delictibles they find out when free ranging, their compost is also chemical free.

Every spring I spread the compost the girls have been making throughout the winter. Because chickens poo is high in nitrogen and other minerals beneficial to plants, my gardens are lush and produce high yields.

Many visitors to my farm ask me what I feed by gardens to produce such beautiful blooms and large vegetables. My answer, chicken poo. My homestead is literally powered by my girls. They are the secret to my success.

Recipe:

As promised, I leave my recipe for natural incense that I created using spices and herbs from my garden. This recipe is very versatile and can be tweaked given aromatic preferences.

The Kuntry Klucker’s Home Herb Insence

For this recipe you will need an electric wax warmer or a wax warmer that is warmed by a tea light or other source of heat.

1/8 to 1/4 tsp olive oil

1-2 TBS dried rosemary

1-2 TBS dried sage

1-2 TBS Dried lavender

1 TBS Basil

Other things that can be added: Tree resins such as frankincense, dragons blood, myrrh, copal, or benzoin. Drops of essential oils can also be added.

In the wax warmer place a small amount of olive oil, just enough to just cover the bottom of the wax warmer. Mix all the dried spices in a small bowl and add to the wax warmer on top of the oil. Turn on wax burner or light tea light under warmer. After a few minutes of heating, a spicy yet calming aroma will be released by the herbs simmering in the oil in the wax warmer. You can add other aromas as well, such as essential oils or resins to bring the aroma to your liking. This is an all natural way to fragrance your home without releasing harmful substances in the air such as chemicles that are often added to candles and other wax or oil fragrances.

Dried spices and herbs in a tea light heated cast iron wax warmer.

As always, thanks for reading. Till next time, keep on crowing!

I hope that you enjoyed and found value in this post. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or shoot an email my way. Kuntryklucker@gmail.com I can also be found on facebook.

Basket full of the days eggs resting on a hammock chair hanging from the Grape Arbor.

Coops and Blooms

Spring has sprung at the Kuntry Klucker Farm, chicks are peeping and flowers blooming. I am going to dedicate this post to the plants and flowers of the chicken yard. It is no secret that I tend to go overboard when it comes to decorating the backyard for my girls, this will be a virtual tour, a flower walk if you will. So, I guess we will start from the coop closest to the yard entrance and work out way out.

When entering the backyard the first coop we come to is Henwarts. Henwarts is the newest addition to the “Coop-hood” and shares a large outdoor pen with The Kuntry Klucker. So thus some of Henwarts decor is shared with The Kuntry Klucker. In front of The Kuntry Klucker I have a row of cinder blocks. These blocks have two purposes, keeps the girls and the dirt in the outdoor pen area and doubles as planters for flowers. Every year in this cinder block row I plant petunias. I love these little super bloomers for many reasons. A few of  the most important are the fact that they display lot of color, tolerate the hot afternoon sun well, and most importantly hold up well around chickens. I do have a row of chicken wire in front of the cinder blocks to offer some protection against the girls pecking but this by no means keeps all of the girls out of the flower row. I have a few ladies that despite the obvious boundary will still hop over the fence and help them selves to an afternoon snack of petunia blooms. The petunia’s being the prolific bloomers that they are do not look any worse for the wear recovering very quickly.

The next coop we visit on our backyard tour is my largest coop The Kuntry Klucker. For this coop I thought that hanging flower baskets were perfect. Found at the dollar store these cute little baskets are just the perfect size for a few flowers. Instead of using cocoa liners that seem to loose their shape after the first two waterings I opt to use thick weed barrier to hold the potting soil. What cute chicken home wouldn’t complete without a window basket. Attached to the wood of the pen I have planted a variety of flowers in these baskets. Petunas once again taking center stage. I feel that they add a bit of fun to the girls homes.

As we proceed on our coop tour we come to The Coop De Ville. No one lives in this coop, but rather this coop is used for storage and a few nesting boxes. Even though no one lives here I still just cannot pass up an opportunity to decorate a coop. Like The Kuntry Klucker I have mounted hanging baskets to this coop as well. Once again Petunia’s take center stage.

Next we come to the spice garden. In this garden I have lot of things planted. The tall bush with the small red blooms is a red honeysuckle bush. Taller than me (I’m 5’8″), this bush is one of the largest in the garden. These highly fragrant little blooms blanket the whole backyard with a sweet fragrance and attract many butterflies and hummingbirds to the backyard, adding to the beauty of the girls surroundings. I have many of my kitchen spices planted here among the two coops that call this plot home. Roy’s Roost and Betsy’s Bliss are situated here among all the plants a spices. This year I planted a red butterfly bush, in a few months it will be beautifully loaded down with blooms giving the butterflies another place to rest and spread their wings. The chickens are fenced out of this garden area so all the creatures that visit these plants are protected from the girls. This allows many caterpillars to spin coccons among the thick foliage of many of the plants here.

In the center of this garden I have planted an Arona Berry bush (kin to the Acia Berry), this bush which too is taller than me has the most beautiful white blooms. I use many of the berries that this bush produces in my smoothies. The chickens also love these berries, another reason that I have to fence them out of this garden area. After the berries appear I make sure that the girls get a good share of the spoil which they go absolutely nuts for. Amongst other plants in this garden I have a Goji Berry Tree, Sage, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, and Mint.

Next we come to the TARDIS! This is one of the funnest coops in the “coop-hood”. This coop belongs to my son who is a massive Dr. Who fan, he even named all his Silkie girls after the characters in the Dr. Who series. Being that this is my son’ coop he did not want me to decorate it too heavily with flowers. After all the real TARDIS does not have flowers attached to the sides of it. Naturally, I had to agree with his point and allow him to put his personality into decorating his coop. I did however get away with planting a rare Red Hydrangea next to his coop. I thought that this plant would add a nice pop of red and contrast well with the blue of the TARDIS.

Finally we come to the Bantam Boutique! This coop too belongs to my son. Each of my boys have their own coop with their own special breed of girls. This coop is home to White Crested Polishes, my youngest son’s favorite breed. Again I have to lay off the over the top flower decorating but I got away with a few things. At the end of the Bantam Boutique I have a pot with several colorful annuals in it. The Polishes enjoy jumping on top of the pen to take a few samples from the flowers. On the far side of the Bantam Boutique I have planted two yellow butterfly bushes. Not only are these bushes beautiful, they offer lots of afternoon shade for the Polishes that call this coop home.

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With this we come to the end of our little backyard tour. Every year I pretty much plant the same annuals varying the colors from year to year. As far as the perennials, bushes, and spices I only replace them as needed. The girls seem enjoy their little piece of heaven living the good life here at The Kuntry Klucker Farm. As for me, getting to play in potting soil and frequent my local plant nursery is as close to blissful as it can get.

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I hope y’all enjoyed this post and the tour of my backyard, coops and blooms.

Till next time keep crowing, the girls and I will see you soon.

Before departing, below is a short video of The Kuntry Klucker Farm Chicken Yard.

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

The Kuntry Klucker Farm is in FULL Bloom

Its been a busy spring here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. The coops have all been painted, seasonal annuals planted, and chicks flourishing in their new digs. Spring is always a busy time here but this year has been especially busy. I did something that I have never done before, painted all the coops in the expanse of one week. If your asking if I am crazy the answer is, yes! It was a hard task, but with the weather not being very corporative I had to strike with the iron was hot. That meant painting all the coop in a week between strong cold fronts, ahh, the joys of spring. I usually like to pace it out a bit more, but usually I have weather patterns that are bit more subtle. But you have to work with what you can, so all the coops got a new coat of paint in the span of a week. The girls seem to enjoy their newly updated homes.

The TARDIS in particular got quite the facelift. This coop which is home to my “little kuntry klucker’s” Silkie’s is a huge Dr. Who fan. He named his coop the TARDIS from the beginning even painted it a TARDIS blue to match. This year during our coop painting projects the TARDIS finally got it official lettering. Might I add that he did all this work himself, he is quite the budding artist. Those that follow Dr. Who will relate quite easily to his art work. Those that are not Dr. Who fans that is more than ok, I am a recent convert myself, so I understand. With out further ado, I unveil the chicken TARDIS here on the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

Two other coops additionally got their official lettering. Henwarts and the Coop De Ville. But first, Henwarts. Earlier this spring I added a 7th coop to the “coop-hood” here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. This coop was named “Henwarts”. Named after the Hogwarts School of Magic only with a bent towards chickens. Henwarts has officially been added to my growing collection of chicken coops. Painted after the colors of Raven Claw, one of the four houses at Hogwart. I thought that this theme would fit well for a flock of Buff Laced, White Crested, and Tolbunt Polishes. The residents of this coop will officially move in in a few weeks. They are still being kept with the other chicks till they are old enough to move into their own coop.

Finally, the Coop De Ville. I have had this coop from the beginning. During the infancy as we were drawing up the plans for the Kuntry Klucker Farm it consisted of two large coops like the Kuntry Klucker. However, I found a need for a storage area for garden tools and so forth. So instead of attaching a pen this coop stayed as it was for a long time, an unfinished storage area. Well, this year I finally decided that it needed a name and a theme. So I decided on the name “Coop De Ville” and the color theme of John Deere. Its a bit of a mix match but I feel that it suites that chicken yard very well. So, showing her colors for the first time here on The Kuntry Klucker, the Coop De Ville. It’s still a storage area for garden tools, but I allow the girls to go up into the coop and lay eggs there by setting out a few nesting boxes. The girls really seem to enjoy the quietness of this laying area.

Now that the spring planting season on the horizon tilling the garden is my next task, in the mean time the girls have been helping me plant annuals. The girls know what fun awaits them when flats of flowers and bags to potting soil come into the backyard. I get lots of “hen-help” with planting the flowers in the various potting arrangement in the chicken yard area. They enjoy tasing all the different colors of the flowers and of course dust bathing in the potting soil bag. A hen’s life here is a good one.

And finally the chicks! These were the little peeps that were in my indoor brooder just a few short weeks ago. Chicks grow so fast is almost insane. Anyway, they moved from the brooder to the TARDIS which was their outdoor brooder for a short time. Then as they outgrew the TARDIS they move to Henwarts for a short while, as they needed more space they finally ended up at their final coop location The Kuntry Klucker. The Polishes will take up residence in Henwarts when they are a little older. They have taken to the move and adjusted well. They love the extra room for flying and of course all the meet and greets they get from the other girls as they walk by the Kuntry Klucker to see what all the peeping is about. The older girls are getting to know the new kids on the farm as the new kids are getting to know them. In just a few short months they will be out in the yard enjoying the plentful bounty in the backyard.

Well, I think that pretty much does it for the news here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. All feathered residents are doing well awaiting the next exciting event, tilling and planting the garden. I will start tilling up the garden in the next few days providing the weather cooperates.

Till next time, keep on growing, we’ll be back soon.

~ The Kuntry Klucker Farm Crew ~

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