published Saturday, October 27th, 2012

5 tips for cultivating edible plants

Daylilies look pretty, and they're edible, with a spicy taste that's a cross between squash and asparagus.
Daylilies look pretty, and they're edible, with a spicy taste that's a cross between squash and asparagus.
Photo by Staff File Photo.

Not only is the daylily a beautiful flower, it's also tasty. That's true of many native plants and flowers, according to eattheweeds.com.

Chattanoogan Lana Sutton is an advocate for growing vegetables, herbs and other edible plants in the yard.

"We can eradicate the region's hunger problem, be a model to the rest of America and transform neighborhoods into food markets, where neighbors barter, trade and give away the highest-quality, freshest food," she said.

Sutton has transformed her own yard into what she calls a "Garden of Eatin'."

"Whenever my daylillies are blooming, I have to decide whether to enjoy them visually or gastronomically," Sutton said. "It was a terrific surprise to learn daylillies can be frittered. They taste like a cross between squash and asparagus."

Dandelions are tasty, too, she said.

"Some people have fought the dandelion for decades with weed killers, but it's a fabulous member of the greens family. It's as salad-worthy as arugula. Every part of the dandelion is edible, including the flower," she said.

Sutton offers the following tips on establishing an edible yard.

five tips

1 Start with something easy, such as tomatoes. Plant in a window box if space is a problem.

2 Keep your kitchen waste out of the landfill and generate your own free, organic compost.

3 Choose the right place for your plants. Not all edibles need full sun, but they do need the right soil conditions. For guidance, talk to experts such as the University of Tennessee's Hamilton County Extension office at 855-6113.

4 Pick a food you love. If you're determined to make something work, you're more likely to have success. Try native blueberries with their lovely fall colors and spring flowers.

5 Don't be discouraged if at first you don't succeed. Sometimes plants don't do well in a certain place.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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