Edible Landscaping

January Q & A

Question: I'm interested in grow scallions (green onions) this spring in my Queens, New York garden. How do I get started?

Answer: Scallions can be just onions harvested while the tops are still young and tender. But there are certain varieties available that have been bred to just form tasty tops and no bulbs. Depending on the variety, the tops can be green, white, or red/purple colored. The beauty of green onions is they can be planted early in the season, grow well in small spaces like containers, and you can plant them in succession during the growing season for a continual harvest. So even if you have little space in your Queens home, you should be able to plant some scallions. Here's how to grow them.

Purchase a few different scallion varieties to grow from seed. 'Evergreen Hardy White', 'Red Beard', and White Spear' are some good choices. For a real simple way to grow scallions, buy onion sets instead. Consider planting scallions in a container, their own bed, or in between other slower to mature vegetables and flowers such as broccoli, tomato, zinnia, and cosmos. Sow seeds or sets 3-inches apart in well-drained soil amended with compost in a sunny location. Fertilize with a soluble nitrogen product such as fish emulsion and keep plants well watered.

Once large enough to eat, thin the seedlings, using them in salads, leaving about 4 to 5 inches between plants. Usually the scallions will reach full size for eating 2 months after planting when they're 6- to 8-inches tall and still tender. Either pull the entire plant when harvesting or snip it off just above ground level and allow it to regrow.

Question: I'd like to grow some nuts in my San Fernando Valley, California backyard. What are some good choices for my area?

Answer: The San Fernando valley used to be the home of many commercial nut orchards. Unfortunately, development has reduced the amount of acreage, but the climate and soil is still great for growing nut trees. Many nut trees can get quite large so make sure you have enough room for a shade tree that could eventually top 50 feet! Many kinds of nuts can grow in your warm climate. Some good ones to try include 'Pedro' walnut, 'Garden Prince' almond, and 'Mohawk' pecan. 'Pedro' (30 feet tall) only grows two-thirds the size of regular English walnut trees and is self fertile so you'll only need one tree to get nuts. 'Garden Prince' almond is a genetic dwarf growing only 10- to 12-feet tall and also is self fertile. 'Mohawk' pecan is self fertile and widely adapted, but eventually produces a 50-foot tall tree. While nuts are great for home growing, providing food for wildlife and people, they do require protection from squirrels, who love them as much as we do, and take some attention to harvesting and processing. If you're up for the challenge, plant away!

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