Planting Information for:

Merry Wives of Windsor

BALMMelissa officinalis lemon balm, common balm, balm mint

Perennial; start from seed indoors in spring or fall, or sown directly after frost in poor to average, well-drained soil with plenty of sunshine. Zones 4 – 9.  Grows 24 – 36 inches. Wrinkled, oval 3-inch leaves smell strongly of lemons when bruised. Although in the mint family, lemon balm is not invasive, but does reseed. Spikes of small yellowish or white flowers all summer. Divide in spring or fall, or root cuttings of young growth.

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BILBERRYVaccinium myrtillus. Whortleberry

Low, shallow-rooted deciduous shrub native in poor acid soils of European moors and heaths. Blue-black, edible fruits (like blueberries) are very high in antioxidants. Zones 3 – 7.  Grows 8 – 12 inches. Ripens July to September. Primarily bee & insect pollinated. Provide well-drained, acid (pH 4.5 – 6) sandy loam in sun or light woodland shade; does not tolerate lime. Grow young plants in pots until established. Dig a wide, shallow hole; tease roots & plant not too deep, fill with soil, tamp, and water. Top with acid leaf mulch or pine needles.

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BUTTONS (BACHELOR’S) – Centaurea cyanus, cornflower

This vigorous, annual self-seeding European wildflower has naturalized across the U.S., and is sometimes invasive in agricultural crops.

Zones 2 – 11. Numerous florets in brilliant blues, pinks, purples & white congregate in 1.5”-wide heads that attract birds & butterflies. Start seeds indoors early or sow directly after the last expected frost, in sun or light shade where soil drains well, of average fertility or even poor. Drought tolerant. Grows 2 – 3 feet tall.

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CABBAGEBrassica oleracea var. capitata

1 – 2 ft. biennial, grown as an annual, cabbage is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc. Zones 1 – 9. Start seed indoors for spring crop 6 – 8 weeks before last frost date or direct sow in summer for fall planting. Frequently started as transplants. Plant in a sunny spot with well-drained soil 1 – 2 inches apart. Avoid planting too deeply as cabbages are shallow rooted. Harvest when plants form heads or “head up”. 

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CARROT (CARET) – Daucus carota ssp. sativus

Biennial, harvested as a root vegetable 2 – 3 months after seeding. Zones 2 – 11. Grows 1 – 3 ft. tall. Roots are usually orange, but can be brownish, purple, yellow or other colors. Average well-drained soil in sun is best. Direct sow seed outdoors 2 – 3 weeks before the last frost. Thin 2-inch tall plants to 2 – 3 inches apart, depending upon the variety. Harvest as needed when roots are 1 – 1.5 inches wide. (Beware: Some wild carrots can be toxic!)

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ELDERSambucus spp., commonly S. canadensis or S. nigra.

Shrubby, deciduous trees valued for their flattish heads of multiple small yellowish-white flowers followed by small nutrition-rich glossy black or blue-black berries. Zones 3 – 9. Grows 8 – 13 ft. tall. Select a sunny or partly sunny location with good drainage; incorporate well-rotted organic matter. Remove plant from container; tease any crowded roots. Dig wide planting hole somewhat deeper than the rootball. Plant with the soil level slightly higher than before. Replace original soil, tamp to firm and water.

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ERINGOESEryngium spp. Sea holly

Very deep-rooted thistle-like perennial with stiff prickly leaves and spiny e.g., g-shaped heads of tiny steely-blue flowers. Zones 5 – 9. Grows 2 – 3 ft. tall. Drought tolerant, sea hollies prefer poor soil in full sun. Plant from containers in spring or fall, or sow seed outdoors about 2 months before last frost. Cover seed 4 times its size; transplant seedlings when at least 2 pairs of leaves appear. Excellent as a cut flower; cutting encourages further bloom. (Elizabethans made candy out of them!)

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FICO (FIG) – Ficus carica

Figs thrive outdoors in warm winter zones; elsewhere grow indoors in containers. Zones (5)7 – 10. Some cultivars (e.g., ‘Brown Turkey’) survive to Zone 5. Plant outdoors in full sun in average soil. Plant container-grown plants directly as usual, or plant in a larger container for patios or decks. Keep watered, mulch with organic matter or compost. Prune to thin branches if necessary. Figs produce fruit 1 – 2 years after planting, from early till late summer or early fall.

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FLAXLinum usitatissimum Common flax, Linseed

Easy-to grow annual raised for its fiber to make linen and for seeds used medicinally and produce linseed oil. Zones 4 – 8. Grows 2 – 4 ft. tall. Outdoors prepare soil in sun or part sun as soon as soil is workable; sow seeds 3 – 6 inches apart on the surface & water gently. Average, free-draining soil is fine but improve with compost if poor. Harvest for fiber about 3 months from seeding; wait until the heads are golden to harvest seed.

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GOURDCucurbitacea spp., Lagenaria spp. Ornamental gourds; may include cucumbers, melons, squashes, & pumpkins.

This annual vining plant thrives in full sun in well-drained soil; requires plenty of water in hot climates.  Zones 3 – 10. Start seeds indoors and plant out after soil has warmed. Best spaced on hills 4 – 5ft. apart, with rows of hills 6 – 7 ft. apart. Install a supporting trellis or heavy netting for them to climb. Encourage female flower production by pinching tall plants; bee & insect pollinated. Harvest when large fruits are hard & pale tan.

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HAWTHORNCratae.g., us spp. Thorn apple, quickthorn, whitethorn, May

Multiple cultivars; long-lived, thorny deciduous shrub or tree used as impenetrable hedges or ornamental specimens. Zones 3 – 8.

Grows 10 – 30 ft. tall. Masses of small white flowers bloom in spring followed by small, apple-like deep red berries (haws) in fall. Plant container grown specimens in spring in full sun or part shade in most any soil. Dig hole as deep & twice as wide as the rootball, tease roots if pot bound, then set in the hole and backfill, tamping as you go. Water thoroughly. 

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OAKQuercus spp.

Slow-growing, very long-lived, deciduous trees with separate male and female flowers. Zones 4 – 10.  Fruits are hard nuts called acorns. Thrives in sun in well-drained fertile soil. Plant acorn seedlings, just covering the roots in spring or fall. Root prune larger saplings before planting in their permanent position. Grows to 150 ft. tall, according to species.

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PEAR  – Pyrus calleryana

Most pear trees are bought as containerized saplings. Zones 3 – 8. Cultivars vary in eventual size from 8 – 40 ft., with dwarf, semi-dwarf & standard types. Select a spot in full sun with well-drained, deep fertile soil, enriched with well-rotted compost. Dig a hole sufficiently deep & wide to accommodate the roots. Remove plant from its wrapping (e.g., burlap) or container, tease the roots apart and insert into the hole, with the top at ground level. Backfill and tamp gently. Water thoroughly, apply mulch, and insert a strong stake to support the trunk. It should produce fruit in 3 – 4 years.

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PEPPER – Piper nigrum. From Twelve Night

A flowering vine cultivated for its fruit, the peppercorn, which is dried for spice or seasoning, and some traditional medicines. Zones 10 – 11. The fresh, mature fruit is dark red & contains a single seed. Pepper plants prefer partly shaded, well-drained, variable soil in temperatures of 75˚– 85°F. Soak seeds overnight before planting. It will not fruit for 2 – 3 years. The vine thrives indoors on an indirectly lit windowsill where it is humid and moist—and will flower & fruit year-round with regular watering & light fertilization.

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PIPPINS (APPLE) – Malus spp. including several Pippin varieties.

Heirloom Pippin apples are flavorful eaten fresh, and store well. Zones 3 – 8. Height 10 – 25 ft. or more. Plant trees in well-drained, deep fertile soils in full sun. Dig a hole sufficiently deep and wide to accommodate roots. Remove plant from its wrapping (e.g., burlap) or container, tease the roots out and insert into the hole with the soil surface at ground level. Backfill, tamping gently as you go. Water thoroughly & apply mulch; insert a strong stake to support the trunk.

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POTATOESSolanum tuberosum

Potato plants produce carbohydrate-rich tubers underground.  Zones 3 – 10. Plant “seed” potatoes—cut pieces of potatoes with at least one “eye” (dormant shoot), 2 – 3 weeks before the last frost date in humus-rich soil in full sun. Dig a trench 5 – 6 inches deep or plant on soil at the bottom of a large container. Set out seed potatoes, eyes up, and cover with 2inches of soil. As the plants “earth up” the soil so that just the vegetative tops show. When the tops start to shrivel in 2 – 3 months, the tubers are ready to harvest.

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PRUNESPrunus domestica

Prunes are the dried fruits of plum trees, eaten raw or stewed. Zones 3 – 9. Grows 15 – 30 ft. tall. Buy dormant sapling plum trees, balled & burlapped or containerized; plant in winter or early spring in a sheltered, sunny spot in well-drained, sandy loam soil, in. Dig a wide hole deeper than the roots, spread them out, & set on a low mound in the middle. If grafted, the graft union must be an inch or more above the soil surface. Backfill, tamping as you go. Water well & apply mulch. Stake if necessary.

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PUMPKIN (GOURD)

This sprawling, fleshy, annual plant thrives in full sun in rich well-drained soil. Zones 3 – 10. Start seeds indoors to plant out only after soil has warmed; direct sow in warm climates. Plant in hills 4 – 6 ft. apart. The 1 – 3 ft. tall vines spread 3 – 15 ft. wide on the ground. Keep well-watered & mulch to reduce drying out. Bees & insects pollinate the female flowers that are separate from the pollen-producing males. Harvest when skins are mature & hard.

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RING (MUSHROOMS) – Fairy rings, fairy circle, elf ring, pixie ring.

A ring or fairy ring is caused by the mushrooms (fruiting bodies) of fungi, such as Marasmius oreades. These live on decaying wood, roots, and other matter in the soil & do not harm a lawn or garden. They tend to appear during wet weather spells & can be removed and discarded (but keeping them will encourage Shakespeare sprites!). The rings feature widely in folklore and legends.

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ROSE(ES) – Rosa species, hybrids and cultivars

A huge group of deciduous shrubs from 12-inch miniatures to 7-ft. tall Damasks, of varying hardiness, roses mostly require full sun with midday shade. Zones 3 – 8. Provide well-drained, rich acid soil. Plant containerized plants any time, but bare root in fall or early spring. Dig a wide enough hole to spread the roots, backfill, firm & water soil. Tea roses are grafted on wild stock; the point of union must be above ground. Known for their prickly stems & faint to intensely fragrant blooms, followed by fruits (hips).

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SUGARSucros

Primarily derived from a hardy, cultivated root crop, sugar beet (Beta vulgaris, each root 3 – 5 pounds in weight) and sugar cane, a perennial, tropical or subtropical grass crop (Saccharum officinarum, 10 – 20 ft.). The sap is very high in sucrose. Sugar beet is planted each spring from seed & is harvested in summer. Sugar cane is harvested by cutting the plants to ground level usually 10 – 12 months after planting.

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TURNIPSBrassica rapa subsp. rapa.

Turnips are edible, nutritious swollen roots. Start seed directly ½-inch deep in compost-rich, well-drained soil in a sunny or partly shaded location, in spring soon as soil is workable, or in late summer for a fall crop. Zone 2 – 9. Grows 12 – 14 inches. Keep watered; thin seedlings to 4 – 6 inches apart. The leafy greens develop rapidly; harvest fresh taking a few leaves from each plant; total removal hinders tuber growth. Harvest roots at 2 – 4 inches across, or before hard frost for fall crops. Store in a dry root cellar or refrigerate.

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WALNUT  –  Juglans regia  English walnut

Walnuts are the woody fruits of large deciduous trees grown for their nuts. Zone 3 – 7. 75 – 100 ft. tall. Separate male (catkins) & female flowers bloom in late spring. Plant out 1 – 2-foot-tall seedlings or grafted plants in a sunny, open location in autumn or early winter. Soil must be deep and rich; plan 20 – 40 feet space for growth. Soak roots, then plant into a sufficiently wide & deep hole to accommodate them. Backfill with soil, tamping gently as you go. Water, mulch & insert a supportive stake. 

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