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Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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Welcome to permies Thomas!

1) If you could only have five plants, what would they be and why?

2) What are your favorite plants from the following climates and why:

i. tropical
ii. arid
iii. subtropical
iv. tundras
v. temperate

3) What is the most fascinating plant you have-

i. eaten?
ii. grown?
iii. seen?
iv. used?

4) What is the most nutritious and filling plant you know you of?
 
Thomas Elpel
author
Posts: 30
Location: Pony, Montana
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Dave,

Good questions!

So, basically, we are packing for a one-way trip to Mars, and we can only bring five plants? How about 1) onions for food, flavor, and medicine, 2) a starchy tuber, such as potatoes, yams, or sweet potatoes, 3) if I could only eat one fruit en masse, I would have to go with bannanas, 4) how about avacados for food and rich oils, and 5) some kind of salad green... maybe dandelions for food and nutrition. What's your five?

Favorite plants from different climates:

I don't have much experience with tropical climates, but I do have a nice greenhouse on the front of my house, which includes orange trees, hibiscus, grape vines, a bannana (no fruit yet), guava vine, passion flower, lots of herbs, gernaniums, and a seven-foot tall Mexican marigold which smells amazing. I really like it when the orange trees bloom. It makes the house smell so good!

A few of my favorite plants here in Montana include saskatoons (service berries), cattails, and whitebark pine nuts... actually pretty much everything that's included in my book Foraging the Mountain West:

http://www.hopspress.com/Books/Foraging_The_Mountain_West.htm

Okay, skipping to most fascinating plants:

Eaten: I've been pretty fascinated by hawthorns lately. We did a foraging class at Rabbitstick Rendezvous in September and harvested a bunch of black hawthorns. We then squeezed the pectin out thorugh a screen, separating it from the seeds. There is so much pectin that the juice solidifies on the edge of the container without running all the way in. For the fruit portion of our meal, we ate chunks of hawthorn berry pectin.

Grown: I live in a cold desert. I've grown increasingly fond of plants that have Siberia in the name, notably Siberian elms and siberian almonds. Siberian elms are invasive in many places, but that isn't a risk here. However, they do seem to thrive with minimal moisture in places where it would be challenging to grow anything else. And my Siberian almonds are only two feet tall, but already producing some small, fuzzy, bronze-colored almonds.

Seen: Probably elephanthead lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica). See attached. Cool flowers, huh?

Used: Probably birch bark for containers and fire-starters. The resins make the bark behave in such unnatural ways.

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Elpel
http://www.GreenUniversity.com


Pedicularis_groenlandica.2.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pedicularis_groenlandica.2.jpg]
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
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How do the resins of the birch bark make it behave?

The hawthorn sounds really cool! Do you have any photos or a video of the pectin doing this? What does hawthorn taste like? May you describe it please?

The elephant lousewort is very beautiful!

My top five plants would be 1) yarrow for medicine 2) moringa for vitamins 3) avocados for my fat needs 4) potatoes for starch 5) black eyed peas for protein I would probably need a sixth one to get my fruits into my diet.
 
Thomas Elpel
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Posts: 30
Location: Pony, Montana
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Dave,

If you light a strip of birch bark, it curls itself up backwards into a tight roll and burns a surprisingly long time, like a torch. Dipping the bark in hot water softens the resins enough to fold the bark orgami style to make pots and such.

In regards to the hawthorn pectin, attached is a photo from my book, Foraging the Mountain West.

Yarrow seems like a good choice for your top five!

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Elpel
http://www.GreenUniversity.com
Hawthorn-pectin.jpg
[Thumbnail for Hawthorn-pectin.jpg]
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
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Yum, the hawthorn looks delicious!

What plant do you think is the hardiest for a lazy gardener to kill?

What plant do you think is the easiest for a lazy gardener to kill?

What plant has been the most rewarding for you to learn about, care for, discover, cook with, etc? Rewarding can take several meanings: emotional reward, tasty food, pretty to look at, etc... If you would like, please may you elaborate on what plants were which type of rewarding for you.

What is a good plant for beginners at grafting? What plant would you recommend for guerrilla gardening and why? I am thinking of a plant that would be pretty, smell good, and taste good. Something that might open people's eyes to the wonderful possibilities of what could be grown in their lawns. Also, it would be nice if the plant can tolerate some pesticides and herbicides and is quick to grow and regrow when cut back. Is there any plant that you know of that fits some or all of those characteristics that might help guerrilla gardeners push people from lawns to gardens then to food forests?
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6778
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Thomas Elpel
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Location: Pony, Montana
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Dave,

Okay, the hardest plant for a lazy gardener to kill? Well, I'm an expert at neglect, and about the only thing left in my garden is cabbage, which won't form heads, but I bring in a plant every couple days and use the leaves on sandwiches. Otherwise, I harveseted a lot of weeds out of the garden, which are mostly edible and delicious.

Easiest plant to kill? That probably depends on your local climate.

Most rewarding plant? Hmmm. The challenging aspect of these questions is that I don't normally rank plants in terms of which ones are better or worse than others, so I'm really just making it up on the fly. I pretty much like all plants for different reasons, and the criteria for my homestead is pretty simple: I'll grow just about anything that won't die here. I like wild plants. I like cultivated plants. I just like plants!

Grafting: I've never done grafting myself... there are just too many things to learn and try in this world! But I knew a guy on a remote homestead near the Snake River in Idaho, who was grafting apples onto serviceberries and peaches onto his wild plums. I thought that was pretty cool.

Guerrilla gardening: Anything tossed in the lawn is going to get sprayed or mowed or won't have sufficient room to germinate and grow. Planting trees seems like a good way to go. Plant something big enough that it will be seen and protected and worked around. Fruit trees seem pretty ideal. Whether or not the adults do anything with the fruit, the neigbhorhood kids sure will. It used to be common for people to plant fruit trees by the front sidewalk, and kids lived like a tribe, grazing around the neighborhood, but now people tend to plant landscaping plants out front, and fruit trees (if any) hidden in the back. Plant them in front, and you will help grow neighborhood kids that are aware of and care about fruit trees.

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Elpel
http://www.GreenUniversity.com
 
nancy sutton
gardener
Posts: 659
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Re: Siberian almond, perhaps that refers to the 'Siberian apricot', prunus sibirica. Apparently it's fruit is not sweet enough to eat, but the seed yields an edible, almond-flavored oil (minus any cyanide, I presume).

http://fruitipedia.com/siberian_apricot_prunus_sibrica.htm

 
Thomas Elpel
author
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Location: Pony, Montana
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Nancy,

The dwarf siberian almond is Prunus tenella. See the new thread:

http://www.permies.com/t/40618/plants/Thomas-Siberian-almonds

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Elpel
http://www.GreenUniversity.com

 
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