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Top Ten Most Useful Plants

 
Wendy Dunnico
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I'm looking forward to moving to Northern Spain in September, to develop ten acres into a smallholding/community garden for education and meditation.
Please can you offer advice on what the Top Ten of Most Useful plants would be? I'm thinking along the lines of bamboo, hemp (the non-intoxicating kind), oats...species that contribute to food, housing, clothing etc. Thank you !
 
John Saltveit
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Flax-Linus ussissimum, by definition.
John S
PDX OR
 
Wendy Dunnico
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Thanks, John.
I've just looked it up - I can't believe I didn't realise that LINEN was made with flax! This looks like a great crop to grow, linseeds are so nutritional for humans and animals. And you get lovely flowers too.

Does anyone have any ideas on what the best green manure crop would be in a warmer climate?

Wendy.

 
dj niels
Posts: 181
Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
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Jerusalem artichokes aka sunchokes. My little patch made a great summer privacy hedge last year, pretty yellow flowers, and a real survival food--I have been able to go out this week and harvest a bucketful in a few minutes, even when nothing much else is even growing or edible.

Perennial onions, chives, also--My Egyptian walking onions are one of the first perennials to show their heads and be ready to harvest for stirfries etc.

Comfrey--makes great compost and mulch, can be used for healing salves and herbal baths, and BURN ointment, and can be fed to chickens as part of their forage.
 
Wendy Dunnico
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More great suggestions (although I wonder if the walking onions will walk themselves into my kitchen when they're ready for the pot?!)

The smallholding will have about 5 acres of established woodland/forest, mostly pines. I'm assuming that in the spanish sunshine I could experiment with growing bamboo, hemp, oats, flax, veggies, etc. in semi shade or small natural clearings.

Does anyone have any suggestions for the most useful shrubs and trees to grow in the Top Ten? I'm also aiming to experiment with grafting a variety of fruit and nut species onto already established relatives, to save money (and also cos I'm not getting any younger and don't want to wait twenty years to harvest them!).

Thanks, Wendy.
 
Deborha d'Arms
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Location: Mt Shasta, CA
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Here's an Article i wrote on my Forest Garden Resource Database; http://www.forestgardening.net/ on this subject containing my top 9 essential edibles for food security;
http://www.forestgardening.net/CustomPermalinkstructure-/1202/9-forest-gardening-food-security-edibles/

Check it out for LOTS of information on edibles appropriate to the forest Garden



---Deborha d'Arms
 
Jose Reymondez
Posts: 137
Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
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To give some context, Northern Spain has a climate like the Pacific Northwest with zones ranging form 7-9 depending on the altitude and location, also some zone 10 microclimate pockets where there is never frost because of the Gulf Stream effect.
 
henry stevenson
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Location: Devon, UK
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Deborha d'Arms wrote:
Here's an Article i wrote on my Forest Garden Resource Database; http://www.forestgardening.net/ on this subject containing my top 9 essential edibles for food security;
http://www.forestgardening.net/CustomPermalinkstructure-/1202/9-forest-gardening-food-security-edibles/

Check it out for LOTS of information on edibles appropriate to the forest Garden



---Deborha d'Arms


I read your article (it's certainly very interesting), but I have to disagree with the idea of sun chokes being a good protein. I looked its profile up on the usda database and it's only 2% protein. Brussel spouts and broccoli have more. Your recommended kale has twice as much protein (when consumed raw). They're awesome stuff, but not good for protein.

Sorry, just something that I picked up from the article. It's a good thought exercise and your article has definitely given me something to think about though. I have a very tiny garden that I am trying to put to best use which I share with three hens and my dog so it's got some good things for me to consider (tiny as in it's about 20 x 32 feet roughly).
 
Deborha d'Arms
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Location: Mt Shasta, CA
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Hello Henry, Thankyou for your reply.
in my article i said sunchokes were 'A source of effortless protein', not a necessarily a 'good or high' source. Sunchokes AKA Jerusalem Artichokes are very well known historically to be famine food sources --excellent effortless means to feed oneself when food is scarce- which is invaluable information to have. They contain 3 grams of protein--1/2 that of beans, more potassium than a banana, (644 mg. per cup), supply 28% of our daily iron requirements, also are high in fiber and contain sodium and vita C. Humans need much less protein than we are lead to believe due to Big Corporations pushing the Beef industry.

However, if you are specifically looking for a high protein crop, two great perennial choices from the legume family would be; Apios Americana, the American Gorundnut, and Caragana arborescens; the siberian Pea tree/shrub. Both are very easy, hardy adaptable protein sources to grow. i have both of these in my garden. (In Edible forest Gardening we use perennial edibles and fruiting trees and shrubs for ecosystem building and low maintenance.)

The American Groundnut also called the Indian potato, or earth nut, is a perennial vine native to Eastern North America, a once important staple food of indigenous peoples, producing edible legumes, leaves, flowers, and tubers. The nutritious crunchy tubers, tasting somewhat like sweet potatoes, yield 17 grams crude protein; more than 3 times that of potatoes. Use the legumes as you would peas or beans. These can be ground and added to cereal flours for making bread, and as a soup thickener. A good producing vine once established.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Apios+americana

The Siberian Pea Tree/shrub, very hardy to 40 degrees below, is a stunning tree yielding pea pods at 36 grams protein, which can be used the same way one would use lentils. They can be bland but respond well to flavoring. Both plants being of the legume family are nitrogen fixing plants, and so are good soil re claimers. Both are great choices to grow for high protein.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=57

(i didn't include these two plants in that article as they take longer to establish and are not necessarily considered quick producers until they mature)

Hope this helps,
Best,
Deborha
 
Deborha d'Arms
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Location: Mt Shasta, CA
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Henry,
As you have such a small space, forest Gardening--which is Verticle gardening and all about 'Up' might be something for you to consider space savingwise.
You could grow the Groundnut vine up your fencing, and or other edibles such as kiwi, cucumber vine (depending on your zone) passion flower, grapes, or chinese yam (more medicinal though).

The pea shrub as a tree would be a good bet and this can also act as a trellis for another edible vine. One of the virtues among so many the forest gardening method has to offer is that it can produce much food in a smaller space as we utilize layering of trees and shrubs--stacking them as we see the structure in our natural forests. No tree or plant is isolated, they are far happier, stronger, more resilient when all combined and scrambling around together--which means more edibles when we replicate this in our garden; instead of the ''come eat me" bug invitational of monocrops marching off in straight isolated lines, that has been the tradition of conventional gardening.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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if pines, look at seaberries too...
 
Lorraine Davdoff
Posts: 2
Location: New Mexico
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I live in a hotter climate and one of my favorite combinations is an eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) or western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) as the center of a small food forest. It is a member of the bean family, and I eat the seedpods green and cook the seeds (much like lentils). Since it fixes nitrogen and provides nice lacey shade in very hot summers, I find that everything grows well underneath. It has lovely purple-pink blooms in early spring and attracts pollinators. In my Texas garden, I had an existing eastern redbud and ate the pods and dried seeds. Redbuds are beautiful trees for a small garden and still provide food. Mine had a bench for sitting and I planted a mix of flowers and vegetables underneath... I like perennial edibles underneath, especially wild violets (Viola canadensis) for nearly evergreen perennial salad greens in Texas as well as beautiful purple blooms in late winter. I also grew these in Seattle since they are native to most of the U.S. You can buy viola canadensis, but I think the wild ones taste better. They are also good in deep north shade or under shrubs. Another good one is Sorrel (Rumex acetosa). I add a few daylilies, their buds are quite tasty, and the bulbs are edible if they need thinned. I make a circle of native onions around the outside, and pull them for onion greens. In summer, I hang tomato plants upside down from the branches and because Texas is so hot (tomatoes don't set fruit above 95 degrees), the light shade keeps them in production longer. In the winter, I fill in with english peas.
I love small scale gardening this way, and just planted a serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) that will become part of a food forest in my mountain garden I am starting in New Mexico. I get considerably less water, but am berming and burying wood underneath my plants. I have 5 acres of pinyon juniper forest, with a few empty spots, which are being filled with fruiting trees. I have a couple pinyons close to my house and am using them as a different grouping.
 
Deborha d'Arms
Posts: 17
Location: Mt Shasta, CA
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Just for clarification; Edible Forest Gardening is not Gardening IN the forest. it is gardening LIKE a forest, utilizing the patterns we find there and replicating these in our own gardens to create edible eco sysytems virtually on auto pilot from the ground up. Unfortununtly the name coined by Robert Hart, has its misnomers.
http://www.forestgardening.net/CustomPermalinkstructure-/3209/gardening-like-a-forest/

--Sea berries are indeed wonderful BTW; extremely cold hardy and prolific, with 10 times the vita C of oranges, these do however, require both a male and female plant for pollination. For a full plant list of hundreds of Forest Gardening edible perennials, shrubs and trees, see my book Jardin d'Or. (http://www.forestgardening.net/jardin-dor-a-treatise-on-forest-gardening/)

For more Edible ideas;
http://www.forestgardening.net/CustomPermalinkstructure-/661/twenty-two-top-edible-perennials-food-insurance-for-kinder-gardeners/



 
Deborha d'Arms
Posts: 17
Location: Mt Shasta, CA
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Lorraine;
Sounds like a terrific work you are doing in New Mexico creating your food forest.

i run a website and Forum on this subject for people interested in learning this and connecting community. we would love to
have you share some of what you are doing and any ideas with us there. the more we all connect, the faster we learn of new edibles, evolve, and
create new equations for better more resilient edible ecosystems together.

Love to have you if you have the time;
http://www.forestgardening.net/forum/index.php

http://www.forestgardening.net/

Best,
Deborha

 
Deborha d'Arms
Posts: 17
Location: Mt Shasta, CA
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Another Protein root for temperate zones;

Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum)- edible roots and greens that make a nice groundcover/vine and can grow in partial shade and
cloudy areas.

Tubers contain around 14% protein when dried. Prefers its roots in shade and tops in the sun, with moist soil.
Hates heat. Related to nasturtium. Most varieties need a long growing season to produce tubers (6- 8 months). Mounding
increases yields.

Last year’s plants will survive after tuber removal in mild areas, otherwise store seed tubers in dry sand or
sawdust. Protect young shoots from mollusks.

Propagated by stem cuttings and not by seed.

 
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