Rebecca Rosa

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since Sep 12, 2016
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forest garden foraging rabbit chicken cooking homestead
Western Oregon (Willamette Valley), 8a/8b
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Recent posts by Rebecca Rosa

Artie, yep! It's the Alsea river in Oregon's coastal mountains.
7 months ago
Although they love red flowers, sometimes timing and availability is the most important thing. I notice that in the early spring, patches of mahonia in blossom are often jealously guarded by male hummingbirds.

(not my photos)

Later on in the season, azalea, lucifer lillies, fuchsia, dame's rocket and runner beans are all very popular with them.
7 months ago
I love taking a closer look at flowers and plants to see what creatures I can identify hanging around. Whether it's a old familiar favorite like an orb weaver spider, a bumblebee, or something new, I'm always happy to find a new resident or visitor in my garden. I try to identify the things that are unfamiliar to me. As the seasons go on, I often notice populations returning year after year in increasing numbers. It's very encouraging to notice these creatures appreciating my gardens, and I try to return the appreciation by creating the habitats they seem to enjoy. Recognizing these beneficial creatures and working in step with them brings us another step toward a healthy garden system.
Let's share our pictures of beneficial insects and others (spiders? hummingbirds?) interacting with plants! This thread can also serve as a photo list of plants and what beneficial creatures they attract.

Bumblebee on sunflower

Honeybee on a dandelion

A lovely ladybug on the hunt

Ant on mustard flowers (there was a spider here too)

Swallowtail butterfly visiting Dame's Rocket

Not sure who this one is, but it has a metallic green-gold sheen to it (a small predatory fly, dolichopus / long-legged fly of some kind maybe?)

It's quite hard to get a good shot of some of my favorites, like hover flies, but I'll definitely have another try soon.
Who's hanging around your garden?
7 months ago
I grow radishes for pods not roots (Singara variety) and the blooms attract loads of pollinators - I've even seen hummingbirds visiting them. I've noticed the same thing with scarlet runner beans. Dill is always humming with tiny pollinators, as is comfrey when it's in bloom. For really early season stuff, bulbs like crocus are a good bet, and I notice that hyacinth flowers are really popular as well. Columbine, mahonia, heather and hellebore are also excellent early spring food for pollinators, with hellebore blooming in late winter for the earliest of the pollinators and those who are active on warm winter days.

Anything in the sunflower family is awesome to have around - the flower is actually hundreds or millions of small flowers compounded together, so it's like a drift of flowers all in one.

Things with bigger, open blooms are nice for providing shelter as well as nectar - I can usually snag potted azaleas for cheap on clearance at certain times of year, and bees seem to especially love them. If they do well in your area, flowering shrubs are great to have around. Kind of like the sunflowers, a shrub will have many blooms on it over a period of time and that seems to keep them coming back for more. Things like raspberries or blueberries can provide food for the pollinators and for you, too.

Any type of clover is great, you can usually find it in bulk mix at the feed store or wherever. I bought a 5lb bag a couple of years ago on clearance and have been using it and adding things to the mix - dandelion seeds, radish, kale, catnip, calendula, poppies, whatever I have on hand, and using that where I find bare ground.

I've noticed that a drift of flowers really attracts pollinators better than a plant here or there. I'm sure those are of benefit too, but a few of the same thing together, like Bruce's rows of cilantro and arugula, are infinitely more popular than a single plant off on the other side of the garden in my experience.

And lastly, you'll notice each year that the predators seem to return if you keep creating the conditions they like. Jumping spiders really like my mulched herb beds and wooden fence posts, for instance. Keep a key eye out and you'll notice all sorts of allies out there!
7 months ago
There's a lot of good information here, thank you all.

Skandi, I've struggled to get enough vitamin D, I've only been tested in the winter but was quite low and definitely feeling some of the effects. I do take supplements, and try to be mindful of getting enough sun, but I don't want to rely on only those, especially right now. Our stores here are still selling out of about half of the brands of daily vitamins along with cold medicines, etc. I could definitely eat more of most of the things listed in this thread happily, and more varied sources is always a good thing in my book! And I do believe it is stored in body fat, for four weeks or more, at least from my reading.

Kate, we can get pasture-raised animal products locally and try to do so whenever we can, so that's something. I do wish that we could utilize some of our space here for goats of our own, but right now it's not feasible. For those that can work animals into their system, it's definitely a great option. We do plan to get goats within the next 2-3 years once we can build a shed for them and invest in fencing! But fences are a whole other topic....

Mushrooms will create vitamin D if placed in light for a couple hours right before eating them, even store bought buttons.  

Putting mushrooms in sunlight to up their vitamin D content after harvest isn't something I had heard of before, but it makes total sense. That's awesome to know, we've wanted to grow mushrooms for other reasons but that pretty much seals the deal. In the past I've foraged a good supply each late autumn and stored them using a dehydrator, so it sounds like I've been missing out a bit! I love mushrooms for cooking, I'll have to try sun-drying some this spring/summer. Even if it isn't the most useful form of vitamin D, it's something, and mushrooms are great for so many other reasons. Fresh and dehydrated are definitely a staple in Italian cooking which is a mainstay for us. (And now I'm hungry.)

Annie, thanks for the tip about facing them gill-side up. That link is really good reading, too!

UV exposed mealworms have a vitamin D content similar to salmon by weight.

That is awesome to know, thank you! This is the reason I asked here on Permies, because that's exactly the sort of entry missing from lists on more traditional food blogs, etc.
I'm not sure I could eat them myself, much less sell others on the idea, but it's really not that outlandish. I've worked at a shop that sold candied and seasoned insects as a kind of gag gift like these. Looking at those flavor profiles on their site brings some possibilities to mind, anyway. Anybody up for BBQ?
7 months ago
These rocks are very peaceful, thank you!

Some photos I took a while back of some nice mossy rocks -
7 months ago
Things in my culinary/tea garden -
Lemon Balm
Winter Savory
Bunching onions
Garlic chives
Crimson clover
Blackberry & Raspberry leaves
Rose hips/petals
Lots of different mints in pots... I can't get enough mint, really.
Same goes for basil. I grow about six kinds of culinary basil in a mix as well as tulsi holy basil for tea.

Other things I'm growing -  
Comfrey (I believe bocking 14 is more of a forage herb than a medicinal variety? I use it for compost and chicken fodder mostly)
Borage for the bees, as well as a few other things.

Wild herbs -
Wild mint
Wild rose
Chickweed (stellaria media)

Things I want to grow, but either haven't tried or had success with yet -
Lambsquarters... everyone else seems to have them as weeds but I'm not so lucky!
7 months ago
Is anyone growing/producing anything with high vitamin D content, or know of good sources, especially for those of us beyond the 35th parallel, where we don't get enough sun 3/4ths of the year?
I was looking at how much food we can produce ourselves on our farm and where our deficiencies lie, and this is a big gap for us. I don't imagine being totally self-sufficient even during these times, but it is now a bit more than just a thought experiment and I would like to shore up our food production and supply as much as I can.

I assume truly free range egg yolks might be at least marginally higher in nutrient value than normal egg yolks but that's about the only good source I know of that I can generate on our farm - luckily for us this one is already present and accounted for and we have enough eggs to share with family and friends. But eggs aren't really sufficient on their own, at least without driving a person mad. Beef cattle are a bit outside the scope of our system (any many permie systems, I would wager). A lot of people rely on (fortified) cereals, juices, milk... cheese, tuna... about the only thing that *grows* that I can find on the lists of recommend dietary sources is mushrooms - I'm curious which ones might be best for vitamin D content and which might be friendliest for beginners?

I must be missing some sources and I'm sure that others here at Permies know of some more underrepresented sources. I'd love to hear your knowledge & experience with mushrooms, or whatever else might be a good source of vitamin D.
7 months ago
A forager who considers the world their garden.
A hiker who is studying the forest floor just as often as the scenic views.
Those gregarious people organizing plant swaps or other community events. (group hobbies!)
A foodie who grows and can recognize the best/freshest ingredients and has developed a widened flavor pallet and become really familiar with "weird" foods because of what they can grow vs. get in the grocery store.
That person who knows so much about herbalism you could swear they were raised by medieval witches.
A beekeeper who grows things not for themselves but to feed their buzzing friends.
An armchair entomologist who has ID'd every bug in their garden and knows each's niche in the system.
Someone who grows milkweed and tracks and ID's the butterflies who visit, or any other type of garden where the goal is to attract & support wildlife.
Someone who knows the ecology and genus loci of their area like the back of their hand and can tell when to plant what based on the swelling buds of native trees or the arrival of a certain migrant to their landscape.
Someone who brushed up on latin just so they could pronounce and remember the scientific names of things, because who even knows what "pigweed" is from one region to the next?
Ditto for those who are reading scientific articles and papers not because they ever studied that subject in school, or work in that field, but because they are interested in how it might apply it to their situation.
Keeping a journal about what you planted, grew, foraged, cooked, etc.
Blogging about any of the above.
Making youtube videos or podcasting about any of the above.
An artist who considers the landscape their canvas, or likes to paint growing things, or likes to make natural pigments... or all of that and more!
8 months ago
"In a more recent review, published in January 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Toxicology, a French poison center reported more than 350 cases of food poisoning linked with bitter-tasting squash that took place between 2012 and 2016. About 56 percent of those cases involved squash purchased at a store, and in 26 percent of the cases, the vegetable came from a home garden, according to the findings." link to article.

It's only one statistic, but I find that 56% vs 26% interesting. It would seem that home grown squash is perhaps less likely to have this issue than squash bought from the store - unless those people were buying the decorative squash at the store and taking them home to eat, rather than buying something marketed as food.
8 months ago