Exploring Fun Foods!

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Exploring Fun Foods!

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

The Heartland Harvest Garden hosted the Sweet Corn Festival on Saturday (July 17) to celebrate a backyard favorite.  But we’re also growing lots of other great food plants that we hope you’ll take the time to explore. Kudos to Matt Bunch and his leadership of the team that makes this garden grow!

This tempting apple is a ripening Zestar Apple. Please refrain from picking these beauty so they can be harvested at the proper time.

Step back and you can see our Gardener Barbara Fetchenhier has masterfully trained the Zestar apples into a Belgian fence. Get many great ideas for backyard fruit in the Missouri Star Orchard portion of the Heartland Harvest Garden.


The Asian Pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) are also beginning to ripen and offer up delicious crisp fruit. This pear is ‘Chojuro’ a Japanese selection and the tree has produced abundant fruit this year. Watch for these in a week or so at the tasting stations.

Peaches are ripening on the trees as well, some early varieties are past but many more are yet to ripen. These are ripening Reliance Peaches weighing down the branches. We did thin peaches to allow 6-8″ of space around each fruit and prevent trees from breaking under the weight of abundant fruit.

Yum! Don’t these plums look wonderful? These are Toka Plums which is a hybrid between our wild plum and the Japanese Plum. None are quite ripe as a fully ripe plum is soft and purplish red on this variety.

Blackberries are starting to ripen: only the black fruit are fully ripe.

Blackberry bushes are best grown trained on trellises. Look for many varieties in the Missouri Star Orchard Quilt Garden. Some blackberries can grow canes 12 feet long.

Watch for these signs in the garden to enter our Giants of the Backyard Contest by guessing how large each of these extraordinary vegetables will grow this season. Ballots are available in Good Earth Gifts in the Missouri Barn. Depicted is the Yard Long Noodle Bean — how long will it grow?

The corn in this picture is popcorn and the plant in the foreground is a marsh mallow. Hmmm — these fun foods originate from plants! Let the young (and old?) folk figure this one out.

The salvaged and donated corn crib is at the center of the Fun Foods in Fun Foods Farm south of the barn. Beneath this iconic structure you will see everything that forms and flavors fun foods from bananas to coconut, passionfruit, papaya, spearmint, peppermint, cinnamon and the source of chewing gum. By the way, we’ve had visitors ask how corn was stored in this open wire structure: corn used to be harvested and stored while still on the cob!

The little yellow pea flowers on this plant are the beginnings of peanuts. How do peanuts end up underground?

The Basil Bed section of Rosalind Creasy’s Authors Garden is a great place to smell the wondrous array of basil that grows well in our gardens. We don’t want you to pick but we don’t mind that you rub the leaves of basils, mints and other herbs to enjoy their aromas.

The companion plants along the Pear Promenade are full of blooms now and an accompanying menagerie of pollinators and other beneficial insects. STOP and take a look at all the activity of insects on the Pennyroyal (foreground), Short-toothed Mountain-Mint (mid) and Pineapple Mint (left). There are countless honeybees, sweat bees, thread-waisted wasps, feather-legged flies, many species of butterflies, bumblebees and more — I guarantee you won’t get stung just taking a look. You will be amazed at the diversity of creatures that help us maintain our Heartland Harvest Garden!

A Black Swallowtail caterpillar consumes some of our dill in Rosalind’s Garden. We share many of our plants with such creatures so they will pollinate the flowers when they become a butterfly and otherwise enrich our garden experience. Remember to come back and visit Powell Gardens during the Festival of Butterflies on August 6-8 and 13-15 to see this caterpillar all grown up. Enjoy the sweet corn this weekend, but be sure to visit the rest of the tasty treats in the Heartland Harvest Garden and the beautiful eye candy throughout the rest of Powell Gardens. Waterlilies and Hydrangeas are simply fabulous now on the Island Garden while Hardy Hibiscus and various Black-eyed-Susans steal the show in the Perennial Garden.