Sean Abercrombie

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since Feb 16, 2014
southern Michigan
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Recent posts by Sean Abercrombie

Around here we have autumn olives-Elaeagnus umbellata- all over the place, common as buckthorn, seeded out from remnants of old farms. Growing out by themselves they reach more or less 10ft tall by the same or more wide, shading the soil underneath, a nice rich black layer on top. Oak, black cherry, apples, and other trees will grow right in alongside them and they are good spring forage for pollinators. The wood seems to rot fairly quickly when the canes/limbs die, so im not sure if it has much use.

In a study done in 2008 they showed nitrogen concentrations were "significantly higher" in the leaves of walnut trees planted with autumn olives than those without, while the reverse was true for potassium. The older they get the more nitrogen they seem to provide.

The bushes/berries ripen at different times and have slightly different characteristics but usually taste very similar if picked when vibrant red and loose, cold weather seems to sweeten them. By themselves I think the berries are amazing, only one fairly large seed to spit out and if you make fruit leathers they taste like unsweetened store-bought fruit snacks. The fruit is extremely high in lycopene (up to 17 times more than tomatoes), vitamin E, A, C, and other good stuff.

They do appear to spread easily as they get eaten by everything from birds to squirrels, but already seem to be everywhere so invasive or not they are here to stay. Groundhogs seem to like making dens underneath older bushes if the soil is sandy enough, any gardens nearby and you might invite in the marmotocalypse, truly terrifying.
4 years ago
One thing to look into might be neem oil, extracted from the seeds of Azadirachta indica. I recall reading over a study where the researchers were recording an apparent 100% sterility in males after they had injected ?? milligrams into male rats, no 'bad' symptoms and lasting months. I'm not sure what the long term/one time effects of using neem oil are and would be hesitant myself until reading further into it but I do think that it looks promising.

The bounty of natures medicinal cornucopia is breathtaking, an estimated 70% or more of popular medications are derived directly from living plant sources, many synthesized drugs are mirror images of what we see in plants that native peoples the world over have been using for similar if not the same purposes for millennia.


“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” - Hippocrates
4 years ago
Chicken of the woods is near the top of my list for edible foraging, takes on whatever flavor its cooked with, great chicken-like texture, and usually get pounds per find. I have found both L. cincinnatus (white underside-totally edible) and L. sulphureus (yellow underside-only the edges soft enough to enjoy) around here. Whatever I don't eat gets frozen and thrown in to the next batch of vegetable scrap stock. Also very prolific around here are tree puffballs and a very tasty variety of tall bushy coral mushroom.
4 years ago
I have read that fall is the best time to transplant asparagus, once dormancy begins, less of an impact on spring growth apparently. Strawberries can also be moved in the fall, though I've read that late august is when its usually done in colder climates.
The three on the left side of your last pic could possibly be half free morels, but i'm not sure, and at least around here taste very similar to true morels. If I can't positively identify a mushroom then it stays where it is.
4 years ago
Those plastic mesh bags that generally have onions & lemons in them from larger grocery stores are really nice, no issue with excessive moisture, durable, and they let the mushrooms spores move freely.
4 years ago
Try apple cider/white vinegar, the malic and acetic acid specialize in punching holes in fungal spores and tissue.
4 years ago
Some of the American indians would do controlled burns underneath the nut trees right before they emerged from the ground. The adults almost move like moths but are more slender.
4 years ago
I think a good approach would be to estimate the % of carbon/mineral bearing material put into the original mound, try to factor in what the wood will require for decomposition, and mulch with more or less of specific types of things. Sugar maple for example has around 5% mineral composition in its leaves, being higher in nitrogen then most other trees. Pine needles have 2.5 percent of their weight in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus, plus other trace elements according to research. Certain woods are going to have different properties, other then containing mostly cellulose/lignin binder, I believe the most notable difference will be in the bark where we see some utilized for winter foods by animals. This is a very complex situation, one that I would very much like to see works published on. Good luck on the build.
4 years ago

Greeting All. I have been utilizing this amazing site as a resource for some time now and have finally decided to take the plunge, maybe even create some interesting discourse in the process.

I understand from some of Sepp's videos that the government enforced planting of lumber pine monoculture acts essentially an invasive species around there, completely transforming what was once the Pannonian mixed forests and higher altitude pine forests. Somewhat similar to that we have an invasive species:buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) in Michigan and 27 other states that is essentially doing the same thing though of their own nature and not necessarily imposed by officials. Buckthorn can do great harm to existing species, it puts out leaves earlier and keeps them well past first frost, much later than any native species besides grasses and some other very low lying species, out competing native wild flowers, tree saplings, and about everything else from my personal observations except mosses and poison ivy, not to mention destroying song bird habitat. From a disturbed area it spreads like wildfire (albeit a very slo-mo wildfire) into pre-existing ecosystems, short term(decades) this plant will take over the understory, long term it will prevent trees such as oak/hickory/maple and everything else around here from returning. Now I understand were not taught to think in this time scale, but why not? At our current rate most of this land will be covered in concrete or stripped bare for monoculture, yet at the same time the sooner its addressed the less resources it will require in the future should we all decide to change our ways. But I digress.

With the high nitrogen and carbon content of the leaves/berries it does bring in the worms, 50% more by biomass and also additional exotic species. This sentence may seal my fate here forever but when you have an ecosystem that's evolved without earthworms and their exotic cousins for at least 10,000 or so years since the recession of the glaciers its reasonable to believe that they may have a lasting impact on native species. Now earthworms did reduce the depth of the forest litter by a meter or more in many areas, churning it all up, creating organic matter at lightning speed comparatively, and making nutrients more readily available to all plants. I got a lot of respect for nightcrawlers and red wigglers, but I'm concerned that having too many species of worms might make trouble for certain native plants that aren't used to all that action in the soil.

The reason I bring this up is because my intentions have rounded yet another bend and I have begun to understand the benefits of utilizing pre-european invasion landscape conditions. Having large nut bearing trees, followed by smaller nut/fruit bearing trees, followed by berries/bushes, followed by edible/medicinal groundcover. Essentially attempting to re-establish the pre-existing environment, a tried and true template for success, but on more of a local scale with some additional species thrown in. I realize that due to the diversity of plant/insect species present at both Krameterhof and in all permaculture/polyculture environments worrying over one or two species seems slightly ridiculous, but I have to ask...

At Krameterhof is it just red wigglers being introduced as I believe I saw in the videos, or is it a worm mix of some sort?

Are there any plants that were introduced at Krameterhof that Sepp regrets planting or really just didn't work out as planned, either invasive or harboring disease/pests?
4 years ago