Windbreak to the North

I started planted the north berm adjacent to my Deep Forest. The berm averages about 3 feet and pushes the wind up enough that my small evergreens diffuse it. However, it almost gives my Deep Forest visual privacy from the neighbor and the road/driveway. I decided to plant the berm with Banana Yuccas with their defensive spikes, for an additional 3 feet of windbreak and visual privacy.

Banana Yucca and One Seed Juniper

Banana Yucca and One Seed Juniper

As I cleared a few weeds back, I saw this tiny One Seed Juniper seedling, yay!  I planted the Banana Yucca next to it.  I rescued the Banana Yucca from under a large Juniper uphill, where it would not likely bloom.  These two grow well together.

Banana Yucca

Banana Yucca

Here is the second one, surrounded by weeds indicating a slightly moister spot.  I will stagger the Yucca plants so they look natural in this spot.  I think 12-16 plants.  Transferring them grom deep shade means at least a dozen more to mature, bloom, and bear fruit, another goal I have.  I am pleased to find a Juniper seedling to match the Pinyon Pine seedling also on the berm.

It has been unbearably hot the last couple weeks and even getting up early has been hot.  It rained yesterday and dropped back to the 80s, for which I am grateful.  I even dug up a couple rocks and got back working on the Southwest Gate path.

I have clouds now and hoping for another rainstorm.

 

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Externalizing Costs and Arsenic in Soil

Arsenic in soil is widespread and extremely toxic in part because it accumulates in our bodies.  It is just one way businesses externalizes costs onto others, and is so widespread it is hard to calculate the damage.

I bought acreage in a county in Texas slated for Superfund remediation, where the government comes in and taxpayers pay for cleanup after the corporations destroy land and water with toxins.  The government is way behind on Superfund cleanup due to lack of funds; however,  both parties refuse to force corporations to include toxic clean up as as a cost of doing business.  This is called “externalizing costs” in business schools and considered a huge plus to maximize your profits at the expense of others.

It is part of why the Trumpster feels like he is a smart negotiator in business, because he routinely externalizes costs.  Four bankruptcies left others holding the bag while he skated out of paying for his bad decisions.  Pretty routine.

In my county in Texas, cotton farmers were the Market Economy big boys that externalized the cost of cotton farming as they chose to do that.  Picking cotton was harder if the leaves were still on the plants.  It slowed the pickers down and left more hidden boles unpicked.

Defoliation with arsenic was allowed even though all concerned knew how toxic it would be in the soil and to the workers who produced it, the cotton pickers, the balers, etc.  The Market Economy boys selling arsenic and the big cotton farmers made money.  The poor workers and their children paid the price.  Eventually the taxpayers will pay too.

So the arsenic producers and cotton farmers moved on.  In that county, about 60% of the poor people living around the train station offloading arsenic in leaking and sometimes broken bags, are seriously ill even today.  They are on government assistance and their medical bills are paid by taxpayers.  This is about the third generation that has lived and died in low level arsenic poison because it is widespread.  They have brain damage and will never be able to make decisions that would save their children.

Another Market Econony businessman used to externalizing costs bought thousands of acres of this depleted and toxic acreage at a very cheap price, divided it up into ~10 acre parcels, and owner financed it to thousands of folks out of Dallas wanting to live the country life dream.  Their yard dogs get sick and so do their children, because decades after the arsenic was dumped, it persists in the soil.

I bought 14 acres from this man.  To be more accurate,  I bought two 7 acre pieces that gave me a mild north slope (cooler by a few degrees in Texas) and control over my miniature watershed except in major flooding.  Before I moved there, I dug a 40×60 runoff pond and planted Sunflowers.  Sunflowers are arsenic accumulators and bird attractors.  The Sunflowers cost less than $20.  I remediate 14 acres.  The federal government could disseminate this information and not spend billions one of these days.  But the Market Economy boys will one day get million dollar contracts for a cleanup that maximizes damage to the area so that more million dollar contracts will be given to fix that new damage.

There are many more ramifications and there is a lot of information about arsenic in southern soils and how even low levels lowers IQ.  Recent scandals about deep south farmers switched to rice farming.  Rice is another arsenic accumulator.  Instead of burning and containing the arsenic… they chose to “externalizes the cost” of remediation by selling the rice for human consumption instead of burning and removing the arsenic safely.  Rice is a big portion of Market Economy babyfoods.  Now that they have been selling arsenic-laced rice for a few years, their websites piously proclaim lowered arsenic levels in the soil.  Sure, it is now in the water supply.

All justified and glorified in our taxpayer funded colleges and universities that promote “externalizing costs” in the business schools as if it is a desirable and essential component of capitalism.  This one concept is behind 90 percent of lethal business practices and it is not an inherent component of capitalism.  The Earth is a closed and circular economy and externalizing costs is not possible; the pretense is a death dance.

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Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Sunflowers! The quintessential western wildflower that symbolizes the sun.

Sunflower

Sunflower

These are wild sunflowers, the parent of our domesticated sunflowers. The biggest difference between the two is that the wild sunflower has multiple heads and the domesticated has a single stalk and single flower that is larger with larger seeds.

The wild sunflower has the advantage if you want to eat the flower buds, the size is perfect if you pick them and steam them like globe artichokes.

Sunflower seeds are edible and make a high quality cooking oil.

Sunflowers are great phytoremediators to remove toxins such as lead, arsenic, and uranium from soil. They were used at Chernobl to remove cesium-137 and at  Fukushima to remove strontium-90.  On my 14 acres in Texas to remove arsenic.

If in healthy soil, Sunflowers are edible, flower buds, seeds, oil, stems.  I read that germinated seeds are blended with water to ferment into a seed yogurt.  I haven’t tried that but added it to my list of things to try.

A tea from the leaves is astringent, diuretic, expectorant, and fever reducing.  Sunflower leaf tea has been used for malaria and lung ailments.  Collect as the plant begins to bloom and dry for later use.

Fiber from Sunflower stems are used to make paper.

There are many uses for Sunflowers, but I grew Mammoth Sunflowers in Texas against my unshaded west wall to lower my air conditioning bills and improve my home comfort.  Instant shade is wonderful while waiting for a young tree to grow into the job. I had eastern shade or would have done the same for Texas morning sun.

In forest fire areas like where I live, Sunflowers can provide temporary shade to your walls without being a fire hazard.  I grew wild sunflowers on the southwest side of my house last year, and it was wet enough for them to grow 8 feet tall.

Another thing I used Sunflowers for was to add plant diversity to my 14 acres.  A 4 pound sack of black Sunflower oil birdseed, sprinkled lightly across my acreage brought birds and birds dropped seeds of their own to sprout and grow.  It went from a dozen species to over 300.

Spread the bigger varieties of Sunflowers out and they make perfect living poles for indeterminate beans.  No storage issues, compost at the end of the year and they are not only edible, they are gorgeous.

One more thing about Sunflower seeds, they are high in Vitamin E, our primary antioxidant that supports cell membranes and brain cells, among other things.

I have grown wild and domestic Sunflowers and wild is a bit more drought tolerant in my very low rainfall area.  I have too much shade for a large seed crop, but can grow plenty of flower buds to eat.

Sunflowers are wonderful for prairie locations and even shady food forests have sunny spots to grow a few.

 

Posted in Circular Economy, food forest, gardening, medicinal plants, permaculture, poetry, Prepper, wild edibles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Honey Clover (Melilotus albus)

Honey Clover is an import from Europe/Asia and has spread throughout the US. It is a member of the pea family and has edible pods, beans, and fresh leaves.

Honey Clover

Honey Clover

I had Honey Clover in Texas and ate fresh  leaves and beans as long as they were available.  I ate them raw but liked them cooked with egg noodles, and served with chopped tomatoes and chives served on top for a simple lunch.  This plant is in full bloom and smells very good.  It has coumarin, also in Tonka Bean which is a widely used perfume ingredient.  To use it in perfume, I need to collect the entire plant, dry, and extract the coumarin.

As a biennial plant all these bloomers will not return next year and once the seeds set it is past its glory as a perfume.  This is the quintessential honey plant and where there are acres of them, honeybees make a wonderful clover honey.

This year I would like to collect just the flowers to make a vanilla type extract.  I have not done that before  and hope it does make something to use in place of imported vanilla.  I will go out tomorrow morning with kitchen sheers and collect. If lucky, they ought to rebloom and work well for perfume.

I couldn’t resist eating some of the leaves this morning, they are mild, tasty, and nutritious.  There are plenty this year, I will have beans and leaves for a dish or two of pasta.

Medicinal reports were vague and contradictory, so I didn’t put much credence in them.  Perfume, vanilla, green vegetables and honey are a lot to offer the food forest.

Posted in Bees, Circular Economy, food forest, invasive species, perfume, permaculture, Prepper, wild edibles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rabbit Hutch Access

I am creeping forward on my alternate access to the Rabbit Hutch. Still rough but less likely to fall.

Rabbit Hutch Access

Rabbit Hutch Access

The path skirts trees on the right, and drops into a gravel pile and rock pile on the left.  Maybe 4 feet down.

Step Up

Steps

I dug this area out this morning and made 2 steps from the edge of my driveway to the concrete pad for the propane tank (removed).  The pad is still mostly buried by a dumptruck load of concrete mix.  The pile of concrete mix also bled onto the driveway and will have to be removed.  It interferes with the proposed garage.  I will use this pile of gravel for this project.

I used gravel from the top of the pad, so you can now see part of it.  The path will go straight uphill from the pad, to the entrance to the Deep Forest.  The incline is about 3 feet over a 20 foot length.  Now I can access it, I will see if I can enter closer to the driveway.  I haven’t cut the tangle of dead limbs on that end just yet.  Not sure I want to cut all of it, it breaks the wind and is more private.

If I go all the way up on the outside, I need to guard the 4 foot drop in some way to catch or anchor feet sliding off.  Perhaps by angling the path higher on the outside edge.  Another benefit to this path is I can shut down the other path through the middle of the Alpine Rock Garden.  It sometimes attracts folks who think it is a continuation of the street that dead ends at my property.  It will be less confusing. An unintentional benefit.

They said this week would be cooler.  Once the sun makes it over the hill about 9 am it is fiercely burning.  This is the longest hot spell in my 4 years here. I am not out past 9 am.  I am getting the vaguest pale tan, my first ever.

Turkey is still on sale, so I bought another one last Thursday.  I am canning it today.

After that, I will can salsa from the remainder of last year’s dried chili peppers.  I usually run out before the new dried chilis are ready, and eat fresh green chili all summer.  This year I still have enough for about 12 cups of canned salsa.  I like having extra better.

Back to the hill early tomorrow morning.  The weeks slide by and I love retired life.

 

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Rabbit Hutch in the Deep Forest

As I continue to clear dead limbs in the Deep Forest around the Rabbit Hutch, I have better access to the new pathway I will create for access.  I can finally walk through, but it is still uneven and steeper than I’d like for a daily trip all winter.  It is more direct and much shorter than the steeper alternative.  Today I decided to plant Banana Yucca on the 3 foot berm for additional privacy from my neighbor and from the street.  They will give more wind protection too.

Banana Yucca

Banana Yucca

I have a lot of these and would like more.  They are evergreen and have huge flashy flowers that I want for perfume and fruits, plus 888 other uses.  Can’t have too many Banana Yucca.

I have a few small Banana Yuccas uphill that I will transplant, that are too shaded to bloom. I will also plant seeds.  The berm is mostly bare but there is one 18 inch Pinyon Pine already started.

I have tiny White Milkwort flowers uphill that I will try to transplant, perfect for this spot:

White Milkwort (Polygala alba)

White Milkwort (Polygala alba)

A couple large rocks after the path can be traversed with an appliance dolly, will be perfect to anchor Creeping Mahonia and White Milkwort.

Creeping Mahonia

Creeping Mahonia

I am close to being able to add gravel to the pathway but still lean toward pine needles.  It seems more feasible than I first thought after removing a lot of limbs.  Several days into this and still at it.  I am chopping the deadwood into smaller chunks that are laying on the ground like mulch.

I have 3 possible seating locations in the Deep Forest.  It is opening up nicely but is looking more “park” than “wild and mysterious.”  Darn, I loved the wild and mysterious look.  Oh well, less fire hazard and fewer accidents requiring antiseptic.

The Deep Forest opens to a small “meadow” to the south and that adds to the deep woods effect.  I seeded Blue Grama Grass there 3 years ago and it waves in the breezes.

The Deep Forest is adjacent my building site on the north side and the Meadow is to the east.

I “should” be working on that Southwest Gate Pathway… but blistering sun on fair skin!  Deep Forest is much cooler too.  Work is work, I suppose, it all needs to be done.

Apparently I defaulted to leave the Rabbit Hutch in place, and need to level and make minor repairs.  It is so pleasant to enter the Deep Forest, I will now have an excuse to do so every day.

 

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Creeping Mahonia (Mahonia repens)

While trimming trees around the Rabbit Hutch, I admired the Creeping Mahonia I planted.

Creeping Mahonia

Creeping Mahonia

I wish I had more than 2, but no blooms or seeds yet.  Perhaps next year.  For now it is good that they are healthy and growing with no input from me.  I do want to increase their numbers around the property.

Creeping Mahonia is a variant of Oregon Grape and has the same chemical constituents.

The main medicinal parts are the roots, which contain berberine.  They can be used as a goldenseal alternative.  Creeping Mahonia roots are used as an iimmune system stimulator and is antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal.

The roots have been tested for use against plaque psoriasis with excellent results, but the pharmaceutical lacks the tannins in the root that ease inflammation, irritation, and itching.  The topical cream tested was 10% tincture of the root.  Apparently plaque psoriasis afflicts 5 million people in the US.  It will be great if this treatment can help a chronic condition like this.

Creeping Mahonia root is a liver stimulant and blood cleanser.  It is also being tested as an anticancer and antitumor agent.  It is iused to treat chronic hepatitis B.

Powerful stuff.  At this time I am not motivated to dig up these pretty little evergreens as a medicinal, but I am keeping their profile in my list.  Creeping Mahonia and Oregon Grape both are sold in the Money Market Economy so are readily available.  An easy to grow evergreen with brilliant yellow flowers followed by edible berries that taste similar to grape juice if you add sugar.

Creeping Mahonia can be used in more ways and is native to New Mexico.  It adds a nice touch to my shady food forest.

 

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