Playing in the Garden of Eden

I spent most of my day off from the market economy playing inside and outside in my food forest. I have a funny combination of European and native edibles.

I walked around a bit and my Asparagus is up and enticing. The hore hound has come back up and also in a few new places.

My iris are looking good, maybe they will bloom this year. One of my customers brought me a couple hundred last year but left them discretely so I shared out maybe a hundred corms then planted mine in a river across the front after my first hard frost.  Also a few corners and a circle around a fruit tree. I am especially pleased because they are Orris Root which sets perfumes. I will make perfumes one day.

I spent some time studying perfume making last year, even though I was so broke! Receiving an anonymous gift of Orris Root in large numbers seemed wonderful.

A circular economy looks like this much of the time.  Things are gifted and there is plenty for all.

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Wild Violets a/k/a Lawn Weeds

Saturday I met Margy to go out for Mexican food at Sadies. Mmmmmmm, enough for 3 delicious meals.

Even better, she gifted me 7 bags of compost materials and over a dozen wild Violets from her front yard.

I have eaten these evergreen flower greens for a couple decades… they were  quite prolific in my Dallas and Seattle gardens.

Unfortunately I have not found any here in the mountains. She shared her bounty with me. I have planted half in a big pot inside and half in a pot outside. They need plenty of water, but if they multiply well I will find a moist shady space up the hill. Probably near the Mahonia repens.

This is a delicious mild green for eating out of hand, in salads, as a spinach substitute,  anywhere.  One-half cup has more vitamin C than 4 oranges.  Don’t put poison on them in your lawn, eat any that are poorly placed and let them run wild under shrubs or trees as an edible and pretty groundcover.

Wild Violets of one sort or another are available in every state and all are  delicious.  I have tried the commercially available ones but found them less tender even if the have bigger flowers.   Not a good tradeoff in my opinion, because the small late winter blooms are charming.

The early blooms bring out and feed pollinators when they need it the most.

I hope to get a good stand going on my property so I can eat the greens without fearing extinction.

Delicious and easy, what more can you ask for a food forest?

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Shutting Down for the Winter

Brrrrrrr, I’ve already had cold spells down to 12 degrees.

Meantime, I planted that Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila) that is a non-native.  I planted it along my dry, windy front edge that has killed every hedging plant I’ve tried over two years.  It is a hardy little survivor and if it survives there, more power to it.  Birds do eat the seeds.  I transplanted this from my property, and found two others on the mountain, growing where the pinyon pines have died back.  Their roots go down about 150 feet, deeper than One Seed Juniper (Juniperus monosperma).  Ahhhh, the wages of a twelve year drought.  If it windbreaks for other plants and my house, I’m good.  It creates a modest amount of composting material.

I put the solar heater back into the west window for supplemental heat, but it’s been overcast for most of the week.  I got out my down-filled mattress, cover, and pillow… toasty warm at night!  Unfortunately, my Papillon attacked and “killed” the down-filled pillow in the middle of the night and I woke up to a snowstorm of feathers.  I’m still finding feathers on my “professional” wardrobe for the market economy.  Aaarrrrggghhhh!!!!!  I’m having trouble appreciating Raven Black’s night antics.

Time for dreaming… of new additions to my food forest.


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Is that “Wild” Berry Poisonous?

A silly thing happened at work. One of my young coworkers has a large tree with a lot of “berries” on it and wanted me to tell him if it is poisonous. I asked for a sample of the fruit and leaves since no flowers are available.

He brought in a bag of what looked like Ranier cherries. The tree is huge, so it is likely on its own rootstock, likely sprouted from a cherry pit (seed). They were a bit overripe and showed bird damage, but definitely cherries.

I told him so.

He asked if they are edible. I said of course, they are cherries. He asked if I would eat one first. I did. He ate one with a terrible face and declared it bitter. Bitter? He spit it out! Mine was sweet but bland. He ate another.

He is going to harvest cherries this week. I love when that happens.

As the population has shifted to cities and corporate food production, an entire generation (or two) cannot recognize a common fruit tree.

I have had similar experiences with a young couple and a pear tree, a middle aged woman and a pecan tree, and a middle aged man and a wild plum tree.

Reality check: any species that cannot recognize food will not survive.

Grocery stores filled with corporate faux food are risky things to bet your survival on, let alone your children’s survival.

Even betting on the ability to grow European fruits and vegetables in the New World is iffy… without greenhouses, supplemental water, and chemicals. Corporate monocultural agriculture will collapse; it is so destructive that no other outcome is possible.

I embraced organic gardening several decades ago. From the beginning I could see gardening wasn’t particularly productive for the effort involved. I camped and hunted with my parents and it was obvious that our native woodlands are superior at food production. Labor free until harvest.

Every year I brought one wild plant after another inside the garden gate. Every year I had fewer European varieties. Every year I look for native cousins to European varieties.

Every year I eat better. Every year I am healthier. I no longer get colds. I don’t buy over the counter remedies. I go to the doctor once every few years. I heal quickly from injuries.

In moving to acreage in the mountains, I slid backwards, starting over in a harsher environment. After two years I see improvement in my food supply and potential supply.

Today I cleaned the chicken coop and dumped the proceeds into next year’s beds. No need to compost, save a step or three and compost in place. When I plant that area it will be soft and rich.

It rained most of today. I planted the second Creeping Oregon Grape (Mahonia repens) near the first. The first already looks healthier than the two in pots. It is nearly dark and still raining, so the third one is on the patio another day or three.

I encourage anyone who has a bit of dirt to plant a tree or shrub with edible fruit or seeds. Pot up a blueberry on the patio. You might find out how delicious and rewarding it can be. Make one step toward life sustaining food and away from corporate GMOs, deformation, control. Choose one tiny corner for life.

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Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

I put the Redbud seeds in soil to sprout. Although most sources only mention eating the flowers, I eat the green pods and dried seeds.

This beautiful bloomer has just enough shade to grow lovely flowers underneath in the fierce Texas sun. Does it fix nitrogen? I have seen claims from both sides. The heart shaped leaves are attractive all summer and make good mulch in the garden beneath. The mulch quickly decomposes to enrich the soil.

I like trees that produce food. Their deep root systems and generous supply of compost make them easy to grow and a substantial gift of food to the larder provides health all winter long. Again, I appreciate the edible beans provided by bean family (Fabaceae) trees. So much easier than annuals.

A lucky addition to my food forest, since my chickens will also appreciate the dried seeds. Perhaps I will plant a Redbud seedling to shade their run and provide food… I keep adding to my circular economy, and like seeing the new plants fill empty spaces. I noticed how well my prickly pear pads are filling in and looking for many tunas next fall. My asparagus should be ready for eating next year. I should have a few apples, blackberries, and raspberries.

Each year gets richer. I want honeybees… if any are available. I have a rich variety of nectar now. I promise I won’t stress them with moving, toxins, etc. but I will steal a bit of honey!

My mustard plant seeds are drying nicely, too. I look forward to spicier meals all winter.

Started lentil sprouts today. A bit of water in a jar and drop in the seeds. I should have sprouts in three days. They are wonderfully nutricious for me and my chickens. I will add a jar every day until they sprout and each one cup jar has about 1/4 cup of lentils.

Life is good in a circular economy.

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Fall Seed Collecting

Today I found a Redbud (Cercis canadensis) tree covered with dried seedpods. I grabbed a dozen and will start a few trees this winter.

I like to eat the flowers, pods, and dried seeds. The flowers are a welcome sight in late winter, the tree is covered in purple blooms. Dried, the blooms are a nice addition to tea. As the pods form, use much like snow peas. I harvest a pound or two of dried seeds for cooking like lentils.

I admit that I rinse the dried beans before cooking and drain.

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I am Dreaming of Spring

I know most folks dream of Spring in the Winter months, but many seeds are collected in late summer and fall. What I collect now determines what diversity is added by me to my food forest next Spring.

I rarely buy seeds or plants, I collect them locally. Yesterday I collected Thornless Honey Locust (Gleditsia tricanthos inermis) seeds and Corydalis seeds.  I put 6 Honey Locust seeds to soak.

Honey Locust are native to the eastern half of the United States but have nauralized over much of the rest of our country. This one was obviously a nursery specimen planted in a parking lot as landscaping. My desire to grow a Honey Locust is for the edible bean pods which have up to 30% sugar. In a decade or so! If successful, I will try making sugar (or syrup) from the pods. The young pods taste like peas and are from the same family. Older pods are bitter but the beans are good cooked or roasted and ground for a coffee substitute.

Honey Locust leafs out late and drops leaves early like pecan trees. This allows many plants to grow and bloom underneath with welcome lacy shade in the hot summer months. A big plus in a food forest like mine. It does not fix nitrogen like most pea family members.

Corydalis is native to the mountains here and I want them for their beauty and for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. The seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.

I had one NM Sunflower my first fall here. I had two last year. This year I have three small colonies. If they keep this up, I will taste test the roots next year.

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