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Landon Sunrich
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Location: Western Washington
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I am trying to think of some of the pros and cons of Sword Ferns in Both natural and permaculture systems.

Pros

Near Infinite cut and come again potential makes it great for sheet mulching

Giant root balls hold soil in place even on steep hillsides

Cons

Exclusionary

Non Edible

Take up lots of sun in clearings

Occupy extensive tracts of forest

Here's a picture of some in my front yard. I cut 3 of them down to nothing early this june and trimmed the mostly dead saggy bottom 1/3 of the forth. Stems where used as sheet mulch for the area they are growing. A former septic leach field in near full sun.

EDIT: 3 (2.5) ferns in foreground cut to ground this june 4th fern just had bottom ring cleared
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Alder Burns
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Do you know for sure that the young fiddleheads are not edible?
 
Rick Roman
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Location: Pennsylvania Pocono Mt Neutral-Acidic Elv1024ft AYR41in Zone 5b
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I've been cultivating and eating Ostrich Fern fiddleheads for years. They are a favorite spring delicacy. I was under the impression that only Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) were safe for consumption. I have lots of other types of fern and would love to harvest them if they were safe to eat. Can anyone here on permies confirm this?
 
Landon Sunrich
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Alder Burns wrote:Do you know for sure that the young fiddleheads are not edible?


They have always looked tough and feathery. I have eaten other fiddle heads but these just look unapatizing. So no. I have never eaten then and gotten sick. So I don't know for sure they aren't edible - but I am strongly suspicious. I'll takes some photos of new fronds emerging and perhaps try a bite or two next spring there is fern everywhere around here
 
Rick Roman
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Location: Pennsylvania Pocono Mt Neutral-Acidic Elv1024ft AYR41in Zone 5b
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Thanks Landon for starting this tread. I'm curious about the benefits of fern in the permaculture garden. I can't think of anything more to add to your list, other than they sure ar beautiful. Bracken fern cover the wooded area of my land and make it tough to forage for mushrooms...grrrr. In the garden, I've been trying to eradicate a patch for the past few years with little success. They sure are resilient.
 
Landon Sunrich
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I have found that these sword ferns actually move really easily. Just dig up the root ball and plop them down elsewhere. I can get pics of the root ball tomorrow if there is interest
 
Landon Sunrich
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So given the chose between a roofed metal cage with a few big rocks and a stand of sword ferns, my chickens choose sword ferns. They also seem to dig ostrich ferns
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Landon Sunrich et al : I have read repeatedly on many different sites that Ferns are heavy-metal concentrators, -Most Reliable the Canadian Government !

This means that you should KNOW the History of the Ground that you are picking on, Not close to a Black top Road ( Fiddle heads follow water courses, so
do roads ! ) And not on the site of -or down stream from Mine workings/tailings or old tanneries !

Due to neighbors who refuse to maintain drainage ditches on their property I have nearly a 1/4 of an acre that needed 5-6 years to progress to a solid field of
Fiddle heads, ( The problem is the Solution !) plus a few other sites for the very early ones and the Deep revenues that hold snow till 1/2 way through May for
the late/last ones !
 
allen lumley
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Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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books fungi hugelkultur solar wofati woodworking
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Rick Roman : Every thing I said for the Ostrich Fern doubled for the Bracken, Until the bracken are cooked they are slightly toxic, because I have ample Ostrich Fiddle
heads I do not mess with the bracken, I have been told that the two cooked al dente, are virtually the same, I have also been told they taste like dirt, and that they
taste like Asparagus ! I like mine with a splash of vinegar, wine vinegar with tarragon when I can get it ! For the crafts Big AL
 
Landon Sunrich
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Location: Western Washington
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Landon Sunrich wrote:So given the chose between a roofed metal cage with a few big rocks and a stand of sword ferns, my chickens choose sword ferns. They also seem to dig ostrich ferns


For clarity, I meant for housing, nesting, and shelter
 
Landon Sunrich
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Location: Western Washington
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I'm bumping this thread. Ferns are an awesome chop and drop around these parts and now is the time to cut them back to nothing and mulch over anything that needs it before the hard spring rains come.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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