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|[+] rockies » Northwest Foraging Course with Tom Elpel and Kyle Chamberlain (Go to)||Kyle Chamberlain|
Would you like to polish your plant identification skills and feast on wild edibles? Join Kyle Chamberlain and Thomas J. Elpel, author of Botany in a Day and Foraging the Mountain West for an intensive two weeks of botanizing, wild food foraging, camping, and exploring the diverse landscapes of the inland Northwest.
This intensive is geared toward making foraged foods the center of our daily diet, and preserving a small supply of food for the future. This is also part of an ongoing mission to locate and propagate the region's most useful plants for permaculture projects. Though too early for fruits and berries, March is a prime time to collect a cornucopia of tubers, shoots, and greens. Honing your forager's eyes with Tom and Kyle, you will learn to feel as much at home in the big green world as an ape in the jungle.
Our aim is to equip students with more than knowledge of a particular set of plants in a particular region. We offer a working taxonomic knowledge of food plants throughout the cold climate world, useful in modern horticulture, traditional foraging, and everything in between. This broader kind of education is in the spirit of Botany in a Day and Kyle's articles, Our Associates and The Botany of Nothing.
Learn more here: http://www.greenuniversity.com/Class_Schedule/Botany_Foraging_Intensive.htm
|[+] wild harvesting » Learn Foraging and Ancestral Skills with the Human Habitat Project! (Go to)||Kyle Chamberlain|
There are exiting ways to get involved in the Human Habitat Project this coming year!
I'm gearing the agenda toward providing a cutting edge bioregional education experience, through foraging, ancestral skills immersion, permaculture, resource stewardship, travel, exposure to congruent communities, and connecting with intriguing individuals. After all, my own desire to continually learn and explore was the impetus for the project. A satisfying education involves more than books and tests. The education we all want is an adventurous path to leading a rich life. The Human Habitat Project is about pursuing nature's 'good life'. This journey is made of intimate connections with life's great variety, finding lifelong friends and mentors, exploring the land, learning from the land's cultures, giving to the greater community, and finding your niche.
The agenda linked outlines activities planned for the year, at the project site, and across the broader bioregion. If you'd like participate, or have ideas for integrating your own plans, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Human Habitat Project
|[+] rockies » Montane Indicators (Go to)||Erica Wisner|
Thanks Bill. There were these two botanists, Daubenmire and Daubenmire, who took my understanding of native plant ecology a long way. I recommend their stuff. The trouble with botanists is that they are more interested in determinants than potentials. They tend not to see a lot of wiggle room in succession.
But I got on a roll, and I didn't address some of Erica's questions:
-Oregon grape doesn't seem like a great indicator for blueberries. Oregon grape can handle sterile acid soil, but it seems to have a wide soil tolerance. Blueberries need more water than Oregon grape. Evergreen leaves are an adaptation to both nutrient stress and winter moisture. Blueberries loose their leaves. I've never seen naturalized blueberries in the Inland Northwest. The native Vaccinium are mostly at altitude, except in wet North Idaho. I haven't had a good look at that habitat. The Vacciniums I'm most interested in are the evegreen huckleberry of the coast (is it hardy anywhere in the interior?), and West Asian species like Vaccinium arctostaphylos (similar precip regime). But overall, I think the genre requires particular environmental conditions that are difficult to create here. I'd rather live here, where pome and stone fruits were indigenous staples, rather than on the soggy coast, where Heather Family plants like salal and red huckleberry were the staples.
-Wild rice and wapato both grow in a little bit deeper water than cattails. Wild Rice is harvested commercially in Benewah Lake in Idaho. This is the logical seed source. I have not seen how it grows there. Wapato may be tricky because it relies on particular cycles of high and low water, which typify larger lake and and river systems. The nearest indigenous wapato complex I'm aware of is that of the islands and sloughs of the lower Columbia. John Callas of Portland knows some good spots there. There are several species. I have yet to see any of the species growing in harvest able quantities in the interior.
But there are a number of aquatic options. I'd like to see a Nelumbo lutea trial. Water caltrop is invasive and illegal, but it probably kept our Mesolithic European ancestors alive. Our regular yellow water lily has edibles seeds, which were a staple of the Klamath and Modoc. I still wonder if there's a hardy Eleocharis for us somewhere. Then there are things you can grow on the landward side of the cattails, like Potentilla anserina. In the Mint Family, there's a local Lycopus uniflorus and some European Stachys for pond edges. Cattails are a very versatile veggy themselves.
Okay. Getting too late. Beddy bye.
|[+] rockies » Montane Indicators (Go to)||Erica Wisner|
I was not aware of the FS database. Thank you! I like the thoughts on indicator plants.
In my own observations of the region, I have found what I call "soil development" to be one of main determinants of vegetation. This is particularly true of the northern half of the Washington, which has not had much time to develop soil, since the retreat of the ice sheet. To me, a "developed soil" is one in which parent rock has weathered down and accumulated as finer particles, and/or has been colonized by plants for a long time, thus acquiring organic matter, and all of those luscious qualities gardeners look for. But developed soil is rare in the mountainous Inland Northwest- maybe 10% of the landscape. Much of our horticulture comes from agricultural areas, river valleys, and grasslands, and doesn't doesn't translate well onto our rugged, brushy, shallow-soiled landscape.
Your valley shows the full spectrum of soil development, from the bare rock on the ridges then sterile gravels, then colonized gravels, then stony soil, and then the deep dark soil of the creek bottom. The soil is moving. The best stuff all moves down. Bitterbrush (Purshia) is an indicator of undeveloped sterile soils- it can live here because it is a colonist nitrogen fixer. It grows on stony slopes, sand dunes, and in the understory of frequently disturbed pine forests. In soils with more organic matter, sagebrush will replace bitterbrush. Both species are indicators of some of the driest conditions in our region. Bitterbrush, being N fixing, is superior browse for ungulates, and crucial food source for seed eating rodents. It is so attractive to animals, that the Sanpoil Indians avoided it in the Spring, thus avoiding ticks. Both bushes yield a profusion of fibrous bark on favorable sites, once used for clothing.
These shrubs tend to prevail over native grasses where the summer precipitation is lacking. That is why, as you move east of the Cascades, you encounter less shrub steppe more grasslands. You are moving from a West Coast (Mediterranean) winter precipitation regime, to a Continental summer monsoon regime. Grasses also do better at higher altitudes, which experience less summer dryness. By the time you get to Eastern Idaho, Central Montana, and Wyoming, you're in bison country. Mismanagement of grazing achieves the same affect as low summer precipitation- it creates shrub lands out of grasslands.
Undeveloped soils can be used to advantage. In some cases, as on talus slopes, moisture availability might be very high, due to reduced evaporation and low plant completion. Riparian colonists, like cottonwood and siberian elm, can grow in bare sand and gravel in otherwise dry sites. Most fruit trees are slope adapted, and do excellently where there is just a little dark soil forming between the stones (as in basalt). Among the reasons for this are: air drainage, temperature moderation, condensation, freedom from grass competition, freedom from competition from taller riparian and climax trees, and reduced browsers accessibility. Elderberries, particularly in the southwest, will grow here and there on such slopes- not necessarily because there is any ground water there. On stony slopes, plant establishment may be a greater challenge than moisture availability. It is hard for a seed to find foothold in stone.
Of coarse, slope direction matters. In general, east facing slopes are the best for fruit trees. In hot arid locations, north may be best. South is workable if there is moisture. West facing slopes are very harsh.
Basalt seems weather into the most fertile floury soils around. It seems great for everything. But some plants, like apricots, seem to prefer coarser soils from metamorphic rock. And it seems like the more geologicaly "recycled" parent rock is, the less fertile it is. Sandstone and gniess tend to be bad. Some rocks form poor soils simply because of the way they break down physically. Granite that rots into coarse sand will be infertile. Granite that breaks down into a mixture of fine and coarse particles, especially clay, can be fertile. Limestone isn't terribly common in our region. Caliche is or main calcareous rock.Slow breakdown of rock by plants (humic acid) seems to result in fine soil more often than mere physical weathering. Soil deposited by water can vary in texture depending on what part of the former watercourse you're in. My place was under an ancient glacial lake! Soil blown in from grinding glaciers is the awesomest, but don't let it blow away again!
Tall leafy forbes, perenial grasses, and leafy deciduous trees/shrubs, in that order, are the best creators and indicators of developed of soil. Fire is helpful in developing soil where significant organic matter is retained below the soil surface. When shallow rooted vegetation (like doug firs) is burned, the soil may be briefly fertilized, but loose organic matter. The more plant material returning to the soil each year, the more developed it will be. Woody growth, especially in our semi-arid climate, tend to lock up nutrients and stall soil development. Evergreen trees and shrubs, are the poorest nutrient cyclers, and can colonize nutrient poor soils (they are adapted to conserve nutrients). Most native conifers can colonize a fresh road cut, whereas grasses and forbs may take many years. Conifers can take hold at low nutrient conditions and perpetuate them indefinitely. Conifer forests with less forbs, grasses, and deciduous shrubs in their understory are less fertile- this is is either due to soil texture, or some factor preventing understory plants from establishing. In our dry conifer forests, light is not a limiting factor. Water and nitrogen are limiting factors.
Soil wood is another important vegetation determining factor. Fallen wood stores moisture. Most of a douglas firs' fine roots grow in soil wood. Soil wood promotes rhizomatous shrubs like snowberry and oregon grape. Soil wood does not promote soil development, because it is slow to release nutrients, and does not shed organic matter deep within the soil. A conifer forest has a very thin layer of organic soil, the deeper soil will be sterile.
Evaporation is critical to pH. In an arid area, the pH will be low, and bulrushes will grow in ponds. In very humid areas, where there is little evaporation, sedges may dominate ponds. Cattails have a wide tolerance. pH and evaporation determine stream-side vegetation as well. Places where water is drawn out of the soil by evaporation are the most fertile areas (look for butterfies). Here you will find nettles, and other tall leafy forbes. Even though sagebrush is an evergreen, and a poor nutrient cycler, sagebrush soils will be fertile because of the minerals drawn up by evaporation. Large Brassica weeds like tumble mustard indicate a fertile basic soil. In many sagebrush soils, there will be a layer of chalky white caliche stone several feet below the surface. Caliche forms at the level where the evaporation and leaching have equalized. In wetter places, we can assume that leaching takes lost minerals to an indefinite depth.Too much evaporation leads to surface mineral deposits, or salt flats, and greasewood shrubs.
Some practices and vegetation types cause acidity by limiting either evaporation or transpiration. This can be seen when bracken ferns take over a pasture or woodlot. In forested place, If grazing devegetates an area, the soil will leach out and become acid. On the flipside, if herbivory is insufficient, shallow rooted woody plants may dominate, the ground will be shaded, and acid conditions will prevail. Bunch grasses are excellent at regulating pH, because they are deep rooted, transpire water efficiently, and let the soil breathe between bunches.
"Savanah trees" are those that can tolerate grass competition. Savanah trees are more compatible with soil fertility than forest trees. Savanah trees include: legume trees, ponderosa and pinyon pines, oaks, and walnut family members. These trees tend to have deep roots.They tend to be fire adapted.
Forest trees like Douglas Firs, Larches, Red Cedars, and Grand Firs, tend to be less compatible with other plants. The tend to be shade tolerant and have shallow roots. I believe than any alleopathic effects of these plants are insignificant compared to their effects on pH and nutrient cycling. Paul Wheaton seems to be very anti native conifer. This is not a very sophisticated position. At low densities, the intermittent shade and sheltering provide by conifers, even the more "alleopathic" species, is of great benefit. A ponderosa pine never hurt nobody.
You ever think: those wetter places where deciduous forest grow- don't they also get less sunlight because of all the rain clouds? And maybe the reason we don't grow deciduous forests here is as much because of too much sun as not enough rain? I think a little shade is good for most wild plants here. The damn domesticates are sun hogs though.
The conifers arrange themselves along a moisture gradient, which mostly corresponds to an altitude gradient.
Some plants, like high altitude aspens, may indicate areas of snow accumulation and conservation, more than ground water. North facing cliffs achieve this in arid areas.
Pocket gophers are another overlooked limiting factor. Open areas with high gopher depredation will be dominated by rhizomatous shrubs and unpalatable annual weeds. And don't underestimate herbivory from deer. Deer can totally curb succession away from soil development by causing unpalatable evergreen dominance.
Soil depth is another great determinant. It takes at least four feet of topsoil to grow wheat, and perhaps more for perennial grasses. Deep, well developed soil has high water storage capacity, but it can only be used by deep rooted plants. Some plants prefer not to grow in deep soils. Gopher vulnerability and grass competition are factors. Only a few fruit trees excel in deep bottom-land soil, and they tend to be the cold tolerant ones. Pears and hawthorns love it. Many of the best edible native plants, like biscuitroot and bitteroot, grow only on the droughty frost-heaved, stony soils of ridge tops.
Camas prefers vernal pools, mucky black soil, and freedom from grass competition. In well drained soils, this condition is only achieved in lenses of soil held by bedrock. If I had to plant camas on Erica's sight, I might burn part of the apsen grove, or make a stone-lined vernal pool in a draw, filled with black mucky soil. Like the soil that forms under sphagnum moss growing on a rock.
But if you really want feral root veggies, I'd sow those dry slopes to salsify, the the valley bottom to yampah and wild carrot, and feral parsnips in those prime evaporating wet spots. Burdock in the shady places around riparian trees. Bull thistles in the slash piles and compacted soils. Evening primrose on the sandy soils. All of these are bienial, vs. perenial. Camas takes a while to develop.
I wouldn't take willow type as a temperature indicator. The whole poplar family is very cold hardy.Willows grow in the Arctic circle.The shrubbier willows are probably more dispersive and browse/beaver resistant.
There don't seem to be many good native indicators of temperature or frost. We don't have many frost sensitive plants in the first place. The dominant plant communities haven't changed much since the ice retreated. There where historic cold spells that froze the major rivers and caused the service berries not to fruit. The native plants seem to simply adjust their timing as they go upslope. The only warm areas in the region are the river valleys, so I'm not sure if the plants that grow only there are just adapted to riverine dispersal (smooth sumac, hackberry, poison ivy, white alder). The best temperature indicators may be exotic plants, like evergreen blackberries. Don't get me wrong, a spruce obviously can hack the cold better than a ponderosa, but that's not going to give you any sharp boundaries about what you can plant.
I think people too often blame temperature or precipitation when they kill plants by planting them where they don't want to grow. An apple tree doesn't want to grow in a lawn on a valley bottom. It wants to grow on slope or a in minor draw. People try to plant things on sites where they would face great competition of succession were allowed to proceed. Most of our edible plants naturally grow on sites too dry and marginal for climax forest trees.
From an ecological perspective, the best use of deep soiled areas is grass and grazers. The best use of riparian areas is wetland, fish, and beavers. The best place for orchards are the draws and foothills.
Don't forget to look at the length of first year wood, and whorl spacing on conifers, when making site comparisons. Conifers don't care much for fertility, so greater whorl spacing is a good sign of greater summer precip. Mature conifers which retain their lower branches indicate marginal moisture.Poor recruitment of conifers means marginal moisture. Poor recruitment of deciduous shrubs could just mean deer.
Okay, enough for now. Maybe I need specific questions about how particular plants fit into this framework of determinants.
|[+] resources: seeds, plants, honey, consulting, etc. » Bone Salve Buyers? (Go to)||Karen Crane|
If I made a big batch of bone salve (the key ingredient in Sepp Holzer's legendary deer repelent) would you want to purchase some? Email me: practicalnaturalist (at symbol) gmail.com
|[+] rockies » Another Mission: (Go to)||Bill Kearns|
What: The elusive east side Salal. Salal, Gaultheria shallon, was a staple fruit of Coastal Natives. It's an adaptable bush capable of surviving in the understory of evergreen forests. Salal seems to be confined to warm coastal climates, but the Washington Native Plant Society lists it in thier county lists for Kittitas and Chelan Counties. Is there a hardy salal variety to be found in the Eastern Cascades?
Where: Who knows? Maybe some some low pass permitting the intrusion of coastal species... It would have to be a wet place.
When: dormant season for transplants. Plants are evergreen.
|[+] rockies » Another Mission: (Go to)||Bill Kearns|
I just remembered another mission!
What: a regional variety of Northern Bugleweed, Lycopus uniflorus. A great deal of attention has been given to the Chinese Artichoke in permaculture circles, it is an unusual edible tuber from the mint family. Less know are the edible tubers of Northern Bugleweed, the only other mint family root vegetable I know of. I've never identified this plant, much less tasted it. But native people used to eat it for desert- it must be good.
Where: Swampy places in Southern BC or Northern WA. Apperently it grows with cattails and other riparian vegetation.
When: I have no idea when the seed ripens. Presumably one could transplant tubers any time durring the dormant season.
|[+] rockies » Vital Botanical Missions for Bold and Intrepid Souls (Go to)||Kyle Chamberlain|
You just made the Garry Oak Mission so much more awsome! Thankyou for your interest in this. This kind of intimate local knowledge is just what I was hoping this thread might generate. Maybe you'd agree that there's more to a tree than it's species name. I think that where a plant comes from, and its story, are very imporant, from both a utilitarian and a poetic standpoint.
I would very much like to perpetuate these special trees you've described. And I would treasure the act even more if the seed was gathered with appropriate respect. I'll be in touch as the collection season nears, to strike a deal with you.
I have space for the seedlings on my land, but think it would be best not to put all the eggs in one basket. Perhaps others know of another good site for preserving special trees like this. My site is in a cool and relatively high rainfall area (21"). I think it would be wise to have another repository at a hotter drier site.
I am very supportive of your idea of scouting upstream for the northernmost grove. I, for one, would love to know exactly where it is. However, seed from the Simcoe grove would suit my purposes just as well. Do you think it would be worthwhile to pursue specimens from a higher altitude?
I dont' know when I'll have the time to make my botanical exploration of Snake River, but I'll need at least one fellow explorer, and I'll keep you in mind. Do you have any white-water experience? I think there are a few rapids along this stretch. I'm fairly confident with a canoe on flat water.
|[+] rockies » Vital Botanical Missions for Bold and Intrepid Souls (Go to)||Kyle Chamberlain|
Vital Botanical Missions for Bold and Intrepid Souls
For the Greater Good of Inland Northwest Permaculture
I am of the belief the best plants for our polycultures are localy adapted wild plants, which can't presently be bought from nurseries. Another post I made in the gardening forum made me realize I have a mental list of botanical 'missions' I'd like to make, to obtain seed from prime locations around the country. The seed could be propagated by a trusted gardener and shared. But there isn't any reason I couldn't have help with these missions. In fact, I'm sure many of you have your own missions in mind. Maybe we can help each other out. I know that we live all over, and many of us travel.
These missions, should you choose to accept one, would be of great service to permaculture in the Inland Northwest. If any of these missions interests you, I can provide information and garden space. But you wouldn't neccesarily have to work with me. And if I should suddenly die, I'll feel better knowing that other permies know about these resources. I may think of more later, but here are some missions:
Where: Pullman and Palouse, Washington
What: Remarkable Salisfy, Trogopogon mirus. This beautiful wildflower is a rare natural hybrid between widespread weedy yellow salisfy and purple salisfy, the garden vegetable that brought us ‘mammoth sandwich island’. This plant must be examined as a wild root vegetable for our polycultures. I suggest enlisting the help of a local botany professor. Get the seeds to trusted gardeners for propagation. http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php
When: Whenever the large dandelion-like seed heads ripen, probably in mid-summer. Watch for common yellow salisfy to ripen.
Where: Canyons of the Southeastern Oregon Desert
What: The most Northwestern wild specimens of Silver Buffaloberry, Sheperdia argentia. This is a nitrogen fixing shrub with very tasty berries. My favorite candidate for apple interplant. It is a native alternative to Russian Olive. It is desert adapted. Gather the best fruits from a diversity of the best bushes. Select types for saline soils and non-saline soils.
When: sometime in the summer, when fruits ripen.
Where: Orofino, Upper Clearwater River, Idaho area
What: The most prolific stands of wild sweet cherries I’ve seen anywhere in the region. Select for fruit quality, drought tolerance, and diverse ripening times. Also in your area, wild cherry plums, European plums, apricots, apples, blackberries.
When: Late June-July
Where: Snake River and Tributaries Upstream of Lewiston
What: We desperately need tap the botanical resources of this area. This is the epicenter of our region’s wild fruit diversity. Old World fruit trees have been naturalizing here for hundreds of years. One of these days, I’m going to float these rivers and collect seed along the way. This is probably the best way to access this extremely rugged country. Look for: mulberries, apricots, cherries, plums, cherry plums, walnuts, pears, and maybe peaches. Ideally we’d get the seed to several nursery locations around the region.
When: Late June-August, late September for walnuts
Where: Foothills of the Eastern Cascades, from Ellensburg South
What: The northernmost stands of Garry Oak in the Interior. The northernmost grove is supposedly on the Yakima River near Ellensburg. Select seed for palatability (taste them, aim for less bitter), yield at early age, drought tolerance, and cold tolerance. Collect from high and low altitudes. We need to aid the northward movement of oaks in light of accelerating climate change. Seed must be planted quickly after collection.
Where: the Black Hills, South Dakota
What: Some of the Northwesternmost Burr Oaks. Select for acorn size, palatability, yield at early age, drought tolerance, hardiness. Collect both tree and scrub forms. These may be the best food acorns for our region. Seed must be planted quickly after collection.
Where: Northern Utah, foothills
What: the northernmost stands of Gambel Oak. A good hardy, edible oak, see instructions for other oaks.
What: find the famous Sweet Idaho Bur Oak!
Where: City of Rocks, South Central Idaho
What: The northernmost Single Leaf Pinyon Pine Forests. Select for yield at an early age. This may be one of the few food trees suited for places too dry to grow Ponderosas.
When: September, production can be geographically sporadic.
Where: Boise, Idaho
What: Giant Persimmons, desert apricots, Kentucky Coffee Tree. There is a persimmon tree as big as a ponderosa pine on 11th and Fort. It fruits abundantly and obviously does well in our climate. Wild apricots in the foothill canyons, on the road to the dump from town. An amazing arboretum east of downtown with all kinds of food trees, and a large Kentucky Coffee Tree Specimen.
What: Wild parsnips
Where: I don’t know! Wild parsnips have been documented growing in the Inland Northwest. I’m still looking for a patch. Please help me find them.
Where: The Mojave Desert/Great Basin Desert Transition, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.
What: Hybrid Oaks, hardy Prickly Pears, others. Screw Bean Mesquite? There are many great wild food plants in this region. Helping these plants move North, as the climate changes, will be to our benefit. Gambel Oaks hybridize with Live Oaks here. This hybrid is hardy and will grow with Joshua Trees in sand! The Timbisha Shoshone are the native people of the hottest driest desert on the continent, Death Valley. They have a food forest! It’s a screw bean mesquite orchard in the sand dunes of the valley floor. This is an excellent staple food. This tree might do well in the hottest, driest parts of our region, on the saline soils of the Lower Columbia.
Where: Northern New Mexico, extreme Southern Colorado, foothills
What: New Mexico Locust. All the uses of Black Locust, but smaller, and even more drought tolerant! Could probably grow in our treeless regions.
When: collect dry pods in September
Challenges for the Inland NW- Find wild reproducing stands of:
-almonds (don’t believe me? http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php)-riverside grape
Or any of the other plants on my master list:
-I live near what I think may be the northernmost stand of Curl-Leafed Mountain Mohagany. It is very hardy desert adapted N fixing small tree. No edible uses, but wildlife browse it. Contact me for seed.
-I found a wild grove of Siberian pea shrubs, in the middle of nowhere, growing beneath a ponderosa pine canopy, I’ll try to collect seed next year.
-The biggest, most productive ginkgo tree I’ve ever found is in the Sun Lakes State Park Campground, near Soap lake Washington.
-Spokane’s Finch Arboretum has many good plants, including Cornelian Cherry, Chinese Dogwood, Italian Alder, and watercress.
-I have local sources for localy adapted fruit. I’m greedy with the seed. But I might hear an offer.
-Kyle in Kettle
|[+] organic » Questions: the Wuzzy Line Between Veggies and Weeds (Go to)||Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame|
I notice the wild carrot, aka Queen Annes Lace, is much better adapted to my environment than garden varieties are. It's a weed. It self sows. Deer don't bother it. Nobody waters it. Sure, wild carrot has much smaller roots. But what if I could breed a variety intermediate between the wild carrot and my wimpy domesticated ones? Since they're the same species, this should be possible. There are other veggies we might back cross with localy adapted weeds, like brassicas. Has it been tried? How might one go about this?
Also, it seems far fetched, but I wonder what would happen if I tried grafting cherry tomatoes or tomatillos onto hardy perrenial nightshade vines. I've got nightshade vines up here that overwinter. Is it stupid to think maybe I could create perrenial tomatoes this way? How are tomatoes grafted?
And while I'm at it- Internet databases indicate that there are wild parsnips growing in parts of Eastern Washington. I've gone on wild goose chases looking for them, to no avail. If you know of any patches growing anywhere in the Intermountain US, I want seed. The drier the habitat, the better.
And speaking of that, another plant I'm after is a rare natural hybrid between purple and yellow salisfy, called 'remarkable salisfy' that grows in the Palouse region of Washington and Idaho. Yellow salisfy is a tremendously successfull edibe weed. Purple salsify is it's tastier relative. If anyone in that region is looking for a special mission...
The more I study the matter, the more I realize how paramount localy adapted plants are.
|[+] resources: seeds, plants, honey, consulting, etc. » Seed swap via letter (Go to)||conrad folke|
I'd never heard of seed libraries before. What a brilliant idea. I am definitely in favor of PERMASEX. Although, I'm not it a good position to organize a seed library myself.
Let's trade. I'll PM you.
-parnsip 'harris model'
-good king henry
I may order some bulk non-dormant tree seed later. Let me know if you might want to barter for:
-pinyon pine (monophyla or edulis)
-siberian pea shrub
|[+] permaculture » Lawns, Agriculture, and Gardening-THE MATH (Go to)||Kyle Chamberlain|
“. . . every society that grows extensive lawns could produce all its food on the same area, using the same resources, and . . . world famine could be totally relieved if we devoted the same resources of lawn culture to food culture in poor areas." - Bill Mollison
I've long accepted the above statement as fact. But I know Bill Mollison did his math in the 1980's. Having been asked to prove this recently, I decided to do my own math with more recent numbers. It still adds up.
US acreage in lawns: 40 million (journal Environmental Management)
That area in square feet: over 1.7 trillion
The square foot value of garden: $2 per square foot (the National Gardening Association)
The worth of US lawn area converted to garden: over $3.4 trillion
Total worth of US agricultural crops in 2011: $172 billion (USDA)
USDA farm subsidies in 2005: $23 billion (Washington Post)
Cost of lawn care in the US: $5.7 billion (National Gardening Association)
In other words, the dollar value of the nation's lawns converted to garden, would be almost twenty times the dollar value of it's official agricultural crops. This is before farm subsidies, and disregards the dollar cost of lawns.
US gardens are already worth an estimated 21 billion dollars, and they achieve this on less than 500,000 acres.
US agriculture uses around 400,000,000 acres of crop land, and is worth about 150 billion dollars after subsidies. Therefore, on a per acre basis, garden is worth over 100 times more than agricultural land.
These complicated figures merely confirm what is easily observed. Gardening is what you do when you want to grow food, wheras farming is a way to make money, albiet a risky way. Broad scale grain crops have very low yields in comparison to garden staples like potatoes and parsnips. Agricultural land produces commodity crops (like field corn and wheat) which aren't valued as food unless highly processed. Gardens specialize in the crops which have the highest intrinsic value as food (like tomatoes, cherries, and carrots). The big numbers shouldn't suprise.
|[+] permaculture » Horticulture of the United States of Pocahontas (husp) (Go to)||L Anderson|
I’m inspired by something much like the husp idea. My idea is a little more specific. How might Plateau Indian cultures have evolved differently, if they could have accessed Old World knowledge and biological resources without an accompanying conquest? I’ve done a lot of thinking on this, and I’ve developed some theories I’m fairly confident with.
My study of prehistory indicates a hierarchy of staple food preferences:
1. Big Game Animals
2. Fish and Small Game
3. Roots and Seeds
4. Intensive Use of Seeds (Agriculture) as last resort.
(a healthy diet includes other foods, like fruits and greens, but the above foods are the only foods with enough protein and fat or carbs to be used as staples)
There is only a short list of food groups in nature that are rich enough for the human species. Societies will only descend the hierarchy when preferred food resources are marginalized or destroyed, most commonly due to population pressure.
Because of Pleistocene extinctions, and because amplified human hunting pressure kept bison off the Plateau, Plateau people were fisherman. But there’s reason to believe they’d rather have been big game hunters. When horses became available, Plateau people would actually ride hundreds of miles over the Rockies, through hostile territory, to hunt bison on the Plains. Why? Would you rather wear a buffalo robe or salmon skins? They also quickly adopted cattle, amassing large ranging herds.
Only when pollution, commercial fishing, and later dams, destroyed their fishing lifestyle, did Plateau Indians accept grain farming. In contrast, many of them eagerly became ranchers and gardeners as land ownership became the norm.
The Great Basin Cultures, to the south, never had bison herds, or salmon streams. These people were specialist seed collectors. They did things for food that would have seemed desperate to Plateau people. They drove jackrabbits into painstakingly constructed nets, they set traps for packrats, they ate insects and reptiles, and they laboriously winnowed and ground tiny hard seeds into edible gruel. Food scarcity forced them to be extremely nomadic, whereas Plateau people had permanent or semi –permanent villages. Without large hides for clothing, Great Basin People wove clothing from twisted strips of jackrabbit hide or sagebrush bark.
With the salmon gone, Plateau people might have resorted to a Great Basin sort of lifestyle, but there may have been too many of them, and whites were forcing them to settle.
But, what if the Indians could have chosen which Old World things to take or leave?
I think if the Plateau Indians had had their choice, they’d have imported all of Eurasia’s larger herbivores. Think Mongolia: horses, cattle, camels (and why not elephants too? Some modern biologists want to use surviving elephants as proxies for extinct mammoths and mastodon). These animals would have probably been taken into individual ownership, but kept in unfenced communal herds, as the Indians are known to have kept their horses. Fencing, beyond corrals, seems to happen only where agriculture develops alongside pastoralism. Unlike wild bison, owned animals are less likely to succumb to overhunting, despite a high human population. If the Indians did wish to maintain wild herds, they would need to enforce hunting regulations, much like our own. The most effective way to harvest from wild herds is the use of seasonal drives into communaly constructed corals. This need not be a harrowing hunting adventure. Deer are easily caught in snares. The favored hunting techniques of yesterday would be called poaching today.
Herds of large animals would have minimized one of the Indians most important chores: landscape burning. People around the world resorted to ‘fire stick farming’ after the megafauna went extinct and took savannah and parkland biomes with them. Control of woody vegetation was once achieved largely by the megafauna. Mastodons are known to have browsed on many conifer species, and may have even pushed trees over to reach the needles. Shrub oxen ate sagebrush and rabbitbrush. Other large browsers, like the American camel, played similar roles. Without megafauna, the burden of controlling woody vegetation falls to humans, who are savannah adapted creatures. Indians thus allied themselves with the most ferocious of herbivores, fire, to maintain open spaces for hunting, berrying, and root digging.
Despite the sedentary life offered by salmon fishing, I think many people would have preferred a nomadic life with the herds. Some of the nomadic bison hunters of the Plains are thought to have abandoned sedentary farming after the arrival of horses. Herder families can be very wealthy, and villages can be cramped and lice ridden. Violent conflict over grazing territory would probably flare up occasionally amongst herders. But presumably a relatively stable system of territories would emerge.
People in fishing villages, with their large populations, could hold their own against the herders. Fishing villages would be the group most likely to pursue horticulture. They would probably grow root vegetables in small fenced gardens for their own use, and for trade with the herders. They might grow potatoes in pine needle mulch and fish wastes. Historic fisherman would do anything to keep the rivers clean, and would detest any plowing in the watershed (an early white explorer once got severely chastised for discarding a single bone into the Kettle Falls fishery).
Gardening might make the harvest of some wild vegetables, like bitterroot, obsolete. But all indigenous farmers gather select wild foods. You can’t beat serviceberries, and venison! Some important root veggies, like parsnips, burdock, Jerusalem artichoke, and groundnut would naturalize and could be gathered from the wild.
Horticulture would allow some villages to move away from the Columbia, to wetter forested areas and canyons. These villages might require domestic animals. Marmots would probably be domesticated, as have rabbits and guinea pigs. Fowl would be popular. Pigs might be controversial. Some Indian groups expressed anger at pig keepers when pigs pilfered their camas grounds. If swine went feral, some wild foods would decline. Would the pork make up for it?
It seems unlikely that irrigation would be much utilized. Our geography isn’t especially conducive to primitive canals, and our rainfall is ample for the development of dry land techniques. We know stone mulch was used to grow crops like cotton in drier areas of the Southwest.
Horticultural societies are often matriarchal. Do you ever wish that women were in charge? I do.
In moist coulees and low elevation forests, sensible people would establish fruit and nut trees: chestnuts, walnuts, pome, and stone fruits, persimmons, mulberries, ext. Our region is fruit heaven. All the food trees presently known to grow wild in the region could be planted on a large scale. It is likely that the use of certain trees near villages would be ‘owned’ by families. But even today, the vast majority of fruit trees go unclaimed. We might see a pattern of use similar to prehistoric California’s populous acorn fed villages (proper squirrels would need to be introduced if nut trees are to naturalize. The Western Gray Squirrel is the best candidate). The forests were already being managed as food forests, using burning and other techniques. Smart managers could girdle dud trees and protect good ones, favoring quality in the population. Managers would hasten the recovery of our forests from the ice sheets, by fostering a greater level of tree diversity common in other pine forests. Oaks are one particularly conspicuous absence. Indian fires were already favoring a patchy mosaic landscape, which mitigated catastrophic fire. The use of large animals, and the advancement of late succession hardwoods, would reduce fire frequency and improve soils.
One hedge against deforestation is that Plateau fishing villages where fueled by driftwood, being located near places where driftwood accumulated. Plateau people had polished stone adzes for carving, but no axes for felling. Small trees were cut with bone chisels and stone adzes. Large timbers, used only for cedar planks and canoes, were obtained as driftwood or felled with fire. However, with large animals, fuel transport would be possible. If the Romans had used coppice fueled rocket mass heaters, would they still have deforested Europe?
With abundant salmonids and mussels, Plateau people might not take aquaculture seriously, but they could benefit from the introduction of warm water fish into existing lakes and ponds (carp, catfish spiny rays). Baited basket traps are one of the easiest ways to harvest these species.
If the population became dense enough, hierarchies might emerge. We know Northwest Coast cultures became populous and complex enough to harbor slavery. The relatively egalitarian societies of the interior probably owed their freedom to their sparse population. Salmon fishing limited villages to the river bottoms. Horticulture would allow for much more of the land to be settled, and would almost certainly increase the population. History shows the freest people live in marginal areas.
With a high population density, agriculture threatens. What is to keep broad scale wheat from developing? Aggression from herders might dissuade, but only temporarily. It’s possible that wheat, with its low yields, might be ignored, in favor of high yielding root vegetables. But with a hierarchy in place, yield might be ignored for the sake of easily amassed wealth, via grain stores. If chestnut trees really do yield as much as organic wheat, we may have a solution. But much of our wheat growing area is probably too dry for chestnuts.
My nightmare is something like the Inca potato empire, where every frozen mountainside is covered in crowded suburban potato terrace. Protein starved people in tiny stone huts are sleeping with guinea pigs and burning llama shit to stay warm. No trees. No wildlife. Everybody is kissing the ass of a totalitarian communist government that sentences entire ethnic groups to labor camps. The god-complex emperor lives in a palace and rides around on a litter carried by slaves. Some of you probably think ancient farming societies were really groovy. Not me. I’d rather not have my beating heart cut out by the Aztecs or be nailed to a cross by the Romans. Empires have been making life hell long before oil and industry. Pre-oil doomerism?
Why don’t these people ever stop after a few potato terraces or a few rice paddies? Is it the elites that end up forcing people to exploit the entire landscape? Are peasants just suicidaly competitive? How do we keep this from happening? I have a few ideas.
High population density may be inevitable since small populations are vulnerable to conquest (although, nomads like the Mongols do sometimes give farmers hell, and this might be possible again in a post oil future. Climate instability may also favor nomads). But perhaps even populous societies can stave off hierarchy and population growth through ecologically sound food production. For instance, a food system that incorporates a tree, a fish, a large animal, a few small animals, and five vegetables is like a simple mini-ecology. It will be stable and productive. If it is stable and productive enough, its users will be affluent, and affluent people plan their families. An ecologically sound food system does not need to expand. Affluent people can also be more resistant to hierarchy than starving peasants. It is hard to control people who have what they need, just as it was hard to control the tribes while the bison still roamed and the salmon still spawned. If we could design a viral food system that is so weedy and insidiously productive that it is hard to destroy, that might limit hierarchy. Imagine a populous affluent society, where everyone has plenty of leisure. Old people keep up on the news, teach the young, and forge ties with the neighbors. The young people are healthy and smart, engaged in sports and hunting, and loyal to their elders. Each household is interconnected yet self-reliant. Would you want to mess with a society like that?
I should stop here. If you liked reading this, I could write more. I still haven’t covered the topics of shelter or technology. Also, if you like the husp topic, I think you might find my INPC talk interesting. It's in the videos section of my website.
|[+] permaculture » purple permaculture vs. brown permaculture (Go to)||Chris Kott|
The word 'permaculture' isn't realy neccessary for the discussion of our subject. We should be able to explain what we're doing, and why, in the common vernacular of our nieghbors . There is no need to resort to exclusive terminology. Even terms like 'ecology' can be counter-productive, and may only alienate rural people who still know trees by folk names, or urban people who've never felt dirt.
Ecology and permaculture are languages, used by a literate minority to encode the same world which is readily observed by everyone. We insult people by insisting they learn our language to interpret thier issues. Our way of interpreting the world may give us valuable insight and inspiration, but it will be useless to those who don't speak our language, unless we can translate it.
I think we often lean on terms like permaculture because we like feeling avant gard. I also think we use terms to lend legitimacy to questionable work which isn't of obvious value. My project may be misinformed, half-baked, and unpopular, but I can lend it credence if I call it permaculture. People of other perspectives will see right through this, even if our peers don't. Invoking the authority of permaculture can be dangerous this way. Our projects should speak for themselves.
All of that said, I think it is important for insiders to show solidarity with the movement. Where would we be without it? The word permaculture has a huge global following. It would be a shame to balkanize into warring sects. If we split up, we'll loose the flourishing exchange of ideas that has taken us this far.
I think those who speak the language should be able to rally around permaculture (conferences, forums). We can show a little tolerance. But in our own nieghborhoods, we should interpret what we do in a way that works for us and for our local culture. What makes sense in downtown Portland isn't going to make sense in rural Idaho.
I identify with the permaculture movement, but I call what I do 'human habitat restoration'. It's my term and I don't need anybody else to adopt it . I think everyone should have thier own words to describe what they do. Maybe that way, the work can speak for itself, and everyone can find a permaculture language that works for them.
Paul, I hope you continue to develop your own brand, even make your own word. I hope all of us will. But as the provider of this forum, your cutting ties with the broader movement might encourage people to choose sides. That might not be good. If we don't like where the movement is going, we can always try to steer it. It's not like anybody is really in charge.
-Kyle in Kettle
|[+] plants » ferns say "plant potatoes and sunchokes" (Go to)||Guy De Pompignac|
On nettles, I would like to point out:
We're assuming fertility is the cause of the nettles. What if the nettles are the cause of the fertility?
Nettles do seem to prefer fertiles soils, thriving beneath alders, and under bird perches. However, I've been doing a lot of observation and I've developed this theory:
Plants adapted to nutrient stress (like conifers) have incentive to perpetuate nutrient stress. But plants adapted to fertility (like nettles) have incentive to perpetuate fertility. In a spruce forest, the only place you will find healthy worm numbers is beneath herbacious cover, even when the subsoil is homogenous. The concentration of minerals in plants seems to be roughly correlated to the rate of vegetation turnover. Epethermals concentrate very high levels. Evergreens conctrate low levels. Plants with a high mineral concentration in their leaves will improve the soil with thier detritus.
I find the occasional clump of nettles in dry stony soil, even in places too dry for sagebrush, where they seem to be expanding and improving nutrient cycling. This hints at narrow establishment requirements and very broad post-establishment requirements.
I think that tall herbacious perrenials, like nette, fireweed, and goldenrod are some of nature's best fertility builders. Cow parsnip, coltsfoot, and thimbleberry play similar roles. Although, in succession, legumes like Thermopsis and lupine often preceed them. Experiments planned...
|[+] resources: seeds, plants, honey, consulting, etc. » Looking for plants (Go to)||Kyle Chamberlain|
'Oikos is sold out of their groundnuts . But I found some cultivated selections at Tripple Brook Nursery. The Groundnut Farm sells a wild type. Both have websites.'
|[+] resources: seeds, plants, honey, consulting, etc. » need groundnut, chinese yam, skirret... (Go to)||Paulo Bessa|
Oikos was sold out of their groundnuts . But I found some cultivated selections at Tripple Brook Nursery. The Groundnut Farm sells a wild type. Both have websites.
I recently picked a garbage bag full of domestic Harrismodel Parsnips, as well as some Takinagawa Gobo seeds. And I plan to gather some gingko seeds soon. I'm still looking to make trades.
|[+] resources: seeds, plants, honey, consulting, etc. » need groundnut, chinese yam, skirret... (Go to)||Paulo Bessa|
Need groundnut, chinese yam, skirret, walking/multiplier onion, and good daylily, starts for fall planting.
Also need chestnut, pine nut, yellowhorn, wild parsnip, seed.
Will trade or pay reasonable cash. I have a good collection of tree seed going to trade with, mostly species for my cold dry Eastern WA climate.
Email me? practicalnaturalist (At) gmail.com