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Rick, Food Plants in the Shady Forest?

 
Nicole Alderman
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Hi Rick! (And anyone else who responds!)

I was wondering if you had any edible plants that do well in a rather shady coniferous forest. About an acre of my property is shaded woods, with an over canopy of hemlocks with some cedars and a few big leaf maples. In the under story, there are ferns and some huckleberries growing out of stumps, and maybe a few straggly salmonberry and thimbleberries. Not much else grows in there. While I enjoy huckleberries, I would love to sneak in some other edibles, but I don't know what else would grow there. I don't have the time, money or resources to cut down trees, and I do love the appearance of wild forest, but I would love to get more food out of that piece of our property. Any ideas?

Thanks!
 
Rick Austin
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Hi Rick! (And anyone else who responds!)

I was wondering if you had any edible plants that do well in a rather shady coniferous forest. About an acre of my property is shaded woods, with an over canopy of hemlocks with some cedars and a few big leaf maples. In the under story, there are ferns and some huckleberries growing out of stumps, and maybe a few straggly salmonberry and thimbleberries. Not much else grows in there. While I enjoy huckleberries, I would love to sneak in some other edibles, but I don't know what else would grow there. I don't have the time, money or resources to cut down trees, and I do love the appearance of wild forest, but I would love to get more food out of that piece of our property. Any ideas?

Thanks!


Nicole:

Not sure where you live exactly (what zone, what state, what elevation) but if you have huckleberries growing there, I would think you could grow low bush blueberries - especially on the edges of the canopy.

Again, not sure where you live, but ramps, ginseng, goldenseal, may work for you... and of course you could inoculate some fallen trees with mushroom spores and grow that in the shaded area of a tall forest.

You might also consider cutting just a few trees here and there to open up some partly sunny areas within the forest... that gives you a whole lot more opportunities for growth of many more species...
 
Nicole Alderman
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My zone is probably 7b/8a, and I'm on a northfacing slope and get about 47 inches of rain a year. It looks like all three will grow here. I had no idea ginseng could grow here! I will have to look into growing mushrooms, too. Thank you!
 
Michael Stein-Ross
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Location: Temp: Caracas, Venezuela. Perm: Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed
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Hi Nicole,

Do you have Oregon Grape or salal growing? Something native to your area like that might work well for you and maintain the wild forest look you like. Those berries can be made into some good jams and when nicely ripe don't make a half bad snack.

Good luck!
 
Nicole Alderman
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That's a good idea, Michael! We do have some Oregon grape and salal at the top of our property (which is more of an open woodland). They seeded themselves there before we ever moved in, and are still quite small (only a few berries on some of the plants). I wonder if they can be easily grown from cuttings or divisions, or if I should just "thin" out some of the younger plants and put them in the darker woodland...
 
Michael Stein-Ross
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Location: Temp: Caracas, Venezuela. Perm: Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed
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Hi Nicole,

Now you have me interested in the propagation of Oregon grape and salal! I did a quick Google search and it's looking promising and not too difficult. Cuttings seem like less work than growing from seed.

Here's something I found about Oregon grape on www.thegardenhelper.com (but more detailed and technical processes can be found at www.nativeplantnetwork.org):

Growing Requirements for Oregon Grape Plants

Oregon Grapes are hardy in USDA zones 5-9.
These undemanding plants can be grown in almost any light, from full sun to dense shade,
but will grow best in partial shade.
They will tolerate a wide range of soil types, but thrive in humus rich, slightly acidic, evenly moist but well draining garden soil

Propagating Oregon Grapes and Growing them from Seed

Oregon Grape plants can be propagated with cuttings
taken from semi-ripe wood in the fall.
Sucker growths at the base of the plant can be removed
and planted elsewhere in the spring.

Oregon Grape seeds require 3 weeks of cold stratification.
For the best results, the seed should be sown in the garden as soon as it is fully ripened in the fall, for germination during the following spring.
Stored seeds may take up to six months to germinate.
When starting Oregon Grape seeds indoors, place them in moistened planting mix and store them in the refrigerator for 3 weeks prior to sowing.
Maintain a temperature of 50° in the growing medium until germination, which takes about 6 weeks if the seeds are fresh.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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