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Uses for Siberian elms  RSS feed

 
Heather Ward
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Siberian elms are a common invasive tree in my area. I have eaten the samaras in the spring, and harvest large amounts of leaves and small branches to feed to my goat. Does anyone know of ways for humans to use the leaves? They are definitely not toxic, and are mild in flavor but very tough. I am curious about the "leaf concentrate" method advocated on leafforlife.com but haven't actually tried it. All input/comments welcome! How can we make this extremely invasive tree pay its way?
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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im interested too, as these are "weed" trees in my area too.

i know they can take coppicing, as the power line crews cut them back from power lines .... only to come back and do it again a few years later....
i know cows/goats will eat the leaves and small twigs too, but havent looked into how humans can use it.

 
Kevin Feinstein
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I am a fan of Siberian Elm as they like to grow and are tolerant of somewhat harsh local conditions (including drought.) I do understand that this also makes them have an "invasive" habit, so beware of that of course. I very much like to eat the samaras, they are unique tasting and sweet. I have read they make an excellent goat feed, too bad I don't have any goats. However, this "feed" quality of them makes them excellent candidates for compost and mulch and even substrate for mushroom innoculation (whether edible or soil food web stuff.) They create very good biomass without any persistent essential oils or anything. What I am really interested in trying is using their leaves to create the fertility in a bioponic (aquaponics without fish) type system. I am interested in mulberry leaves for the same thing.
 
Heather Ward
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Kevin, it's very interesting that you mention mulberry leaves. Mulberries are fairly invasive in my area too, since they survive droughts well, and for a few years I have been coppicing one and adding the tender tips to cooked greens mixtures. I learned about their use as a cooked green in an old Euell Gibbons book. Recently I was fascinated to hear claims, including from at least one reputable forager, that the water that mulberry leaves are cooked in is hallucinogenic. To that I say ha, indeed. I have often cooked them in soups, and nothing remotely interesting has ever happened as a result😉.
I think that your interest in these leaves as clean biomass is right on target. I have more of them than my goat can " process" for me, and that might be a good use.
 
Kevin Feinstein
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Yes, I know of mulberry leaves (when young) are edible cooked. And quite delicious. Certainly no hallucinogenic effect. With the Siberian Elm and Mulberry leaves, yes, I know that eating them, and as you say even feeding them to goats isn't enough of a use. I am really interested in where fertility starts in the cycle of life, and using something like elm or mulberry to fuel your system (comfrey is similar) is something I am really looking into. Using dried or fresh leaves in your tank instead of fish to provide the fertility for hydroponic/bioponic plants is about as sustainable as I can think of. Even if you are using compost tea, which I am really big fan of, you need to start with something sustainable in order to create sustainable compost, like Siberian elm leaves. However, when composting, most of the carbon is lost as C02 into the atmosphere. My 5 foot compost pile just finished, and it was barely a little hump on the ground, barely a foot tall when I went to use it. Imagine if we could get the fertility directly from the uncomposted leaves and such! I am very excited to try this out.

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