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food forest and wetland

 
                          
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Hi there.  I'm new to this forum and I am really excited at all the info here.  My husband and I just bought some land with a wetland and a small wooded area.  Does anyone have any ideas about what kind of plants I can plant in these areas to create an edible wetland and an edible forest?  I've already planted some high brush cranberries and wild ginger and harvested the nettles.  I see tons of salmon berries beginning to flower.  What else should I consider adding to the mix?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Could you tell us approximately where you are -- at least your growing zone and climate?  I can tell from the plants you've mentioned that you are probably in the PNW, on the west side of the Cascades, but coastal, valley, north or south?

Kathleen
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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will be watching this thread as well as we are discussing our wetland/forest/grassy area and doing more with it ourselves..I have purchased winterberry plants that will go in one of our wet shady areas...this week sometime..i have elderberries in my wetlands and i have ordered blueberries but not sure where they are going right now..you can also put in wintergreens and as you said cranberries..I'm in zone 4..but do grow zone 5 plants..with some good success..

I just tossed 4 new waterlilies into my deep area of my pond yesterday..hoping they grow they were kinda weak looking.

in the drier area of the s edge of my woods i planted 3 walnut trees (one black, one carpathian, one butternut) 2 weeks ago..and then the old spent garden that had been here but never really used..is turning over into a berrie/nut/perennial foods garden..and it already has several baby nut trees (kinda want this area to be an expansion of my woodlands eventually)..i put in hazelnuts, sweet chestnut and hardy pecan here)..I also have planted 2 paw paw and have ordered for this area 2 mulberry trees..there is a sunny area of asparagus, and horseradish and rhubarb..and will be going in this spring are raspberries and blackberries as well..also have jerusalem artichokes ordered and walking onions..

to the south of this area there is more woods..ash and lilac trees mostly..and they are young..so they are not casting any shade yet..and to the east of this area is pond and west is a fencerow mostly where baby evergreeens will provide a future windbreak.

our woods here is mostly aspen, wild cherry, maple, ash and a few oak...I am trying to bring in more diversity as our aspen trees are at the "dying off" age in most cases..where it is ready to turn over to mostly hardwoods.

there are wild raspberries growing in one area on the west side near the property line..they will stay..or be managed a bit better so they are useful ..the soil is so rich, and there are both wet and dry areas.

will be interesting to see how WE all develop our woodslands..here is a picture of the woods behind the old spent garden (oh there is an arbor with grapes over the swing..asparagus to right and in front..and also a few flower beds here too mostly poppies, dayliliies and lilacs..still winter here..no green leaves)
[/img]
 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Crystal,

Without knowing where you are it is tough to make accurate suggestions, but there are a few to consider for wetlands:

-Aronia (Aronia melanocarpa - This is a wetland shrub that produces big clusters of purple/black berries. When they are under ripe, look out! They are quite astringent. However, once they ripen, they lose the astringency and make an excellent juice. The juice is super high in antioxidents (as many of the dark colored berries are) and it has an excellent flavor. We like to add a handful of ripe berries to pear sauce when we're processing in the fall. As a kicker it has fantastic fall color (red).

-Pears on quince rootstock - We've found that grafting pears onto quince rootstock creates a semi-dwarf tree that can handle seasonal inundation. This is perfect for a PNW wetland scenario. We actually have peninsulas & islands in our wetland where we've planted pears on quince. These are great because they are largely protected from deer (especially the island ones) and they produce fruit in an area that would rot many other trees.

-Willow & dogwood - Although not edible, willow & dogwood can make great basketry materials. Many types are also quite colorful in winter when they lose their leaves & display their bark of green, red, gold, & orange.

-Mayhaws (Crataegus aestivalus) - Mayhaws are hawthorns from the Southern US that have edible fruits. They are tasty and make great jams & jellies. We've found that they seem to do just fine along the edge of our marsh. In fact if you have some of the exotic European hawthorns coming up you can graft mayhaws right onto them and turn a problem into a treat.

-Pawpaws (Asiminia triloba) - Pawpaws are delicious, custard-like fruits related to soursops & custard apples. They are native to the eastern US. They grow in swampy understory conditions. They seem to take a long time to come into production, but once they do they should set fruit fairly regularly. If your wetland goes into your woodland these might be a species to consider.

-Cattail (Typha lattifolia) - All parts of the cattail are useful. The shoots are edible in early spring. The pollen tips are edible in early summer. The entire plant can be used for basketry, mat-making, or creating woven screens. All in all, I'd say Cattails are a winner. They do tend to spread quite a bit (which may be fine). If you want, you can find a less spready species that has narrower leaves (I can't remember the name).

-Wapato aka 'duck potato' (Sagittaria latifolia) - This PNW native used to be harvested extensively by Native people. They harvested the tubers growing in the muck and cooked them like a baked potato. I haven't eaten them myself, but you can see PFAF (http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Sagittaria+latifolia) for a complete run down.

That should be a good start for you.

Good luck!

Dave
 
                          
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Thank you for the advice.  I really appreciate it!

I live in a zone 4 near the base of some foothills and sheltered from the coast by the Chuckanuts.  How did you make those man-made wetland islands?

~Crystal
 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Crystal,

To create chinampas we start by taking brush and prunings from other parts of the property and piling them up in the area we want the island (or peninsula) to be. We keep doing this until there is an area of roughly the size and shape we want. Then we get in the marsh (on a nice, warm summer day) and dig up muck and sediment around the area and pile it on top. We do this until all the sticks are covered. In order to avoid sloughing at the edges we will often pound in some willow stakes. These stakes will often start to grow. Their roots will form a matrix that will stabilize the chinampa.

After about a year of decomposition the island will sink. We will repeat the process of throwing woody material on followed by muck. Each year the island will stay a bit higher and become a bit richer than the year before until, eventually, it is elevated out of the water year round.

Occasionally we will also have excess soil available elsewhere on the land from excavating for foundations or other construction. Often we will put some of this soil on a chinampa to provide a mineral component to the soil matrix.

Once the chinampa becomes relatively stable you can plant a variety of things on and around it. From a permaculture perspective, by creating a chinampa you are increasing edge and providing a place to plant species that only exist on the edges of wetlands (see previous post above).

If you do use willows as your anchoring trees, I recommend managing them for basketry materials. That means letting them grow for a couple of seasons, then starting a program of coppicing them each spring. Not only will you get basketry (or fencing) supplies, but you will also maintain plenty of sun on your chinampa for other species to grow.

Dave
 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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how long have you been there? do you know what all grows there already?

what about huckleberries and hazelnuts? oregon grape, salal? strawberries, lettuce (under cages...), raspberries, blueberries, swiss chard, spinach, herbs too.

I just found two Oregon Myrtle(or California Bay Laurel) on my property, I'm going to move them to my garden. I can use the leaves just like bay leaves(but they are more potent).

Take the opportunity to learn about native plants and how they were used. See what's already there. The PNW rocks for growing berries! Don't know your elevation,etc, but stuff like apples and cherries will go feral too, just take a little care picking a hardy variety.
 
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