Monthly Archives: December 2013

Merry Christmas… I’ll see you next year!

As always, I take a break from Christmas to New Year’s Day to spend more quality time with my family.

I wish you a Merry Christmas. I’ll be back soon.

John

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Seven: 61-70)

As I discussed in my recent article, Fighting Fungophobia (or Mycophobia) …the fear of mushrooms, here is a list of 70 Distinctive Mushrooms:

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part One: 1-10)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Two: 11-20)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Three: 21-30)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Four: 31-40 )
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Five: 41-50)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Six: 51-60)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Seven: 61-70)

This list of mushrooms comes from David Arora, mycologist extraordinaire and author of Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises and More. I’ve added photos and a brief paragraph about reported edibility, characteristics, distribution, and habitat. Remember, this is not meant to be an identification guide but rather an introduction to some pretty amazing and representative mushrooms. The mushrooms on this list are all found in the United States (my home), but the majority are also found outside of North America.

A quick note on edibility: I am listing whether the mushroom is considered Edible or Poisonous or Deadly Poisonous. Understand that all mushrooms should be cooked before being eaten. Even edible mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal upset (nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, and/or diarrhea) if the mushrooms are not cooked. Yes, some people can handle raw mushrooms in small amounts (mainly just the common, grocery store “button mushrooms”), but most will succumb to symptoms if they eat enough raw mushrooms, especially wild mushrooms. Also, note that some edible mushrooms may cause gastrointestinal symptoms for some individuals and none for other individuals. One species may cause some symptoms for one person but not for another. It is variable. If it is your first time consuming a new type of mushrooms, go slow. Eat a little bit one day, and if you do well, then consume a bit more the next day. If you still have no problems, then you can likely eat that type of mushroom with no issues. Finally, note that most anyone has a good chance of getting gastrointestinal symptoms if they eat an excessively large amount of mushrooms of any type. Just like if a person eats a whole pot of bean-laden chili… watch out! Keep it in moderation, but have fun!

Seventy mushroom listings and photographs will take a lot of space, so I am going to break the list up into ten species segments. I recommend reading David Arora’s books as well as some local field guides. Then go outside and get to know the fungus among us… er, you, I mean.

Here are the final ten:

61. Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea group, C. booniana)
62. Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)
63. Dead Man’s Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)
64. Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)
65. Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus, M. elegans)
66. Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)
67. Black Morel (Morchella elata)
68. False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)
69. Fluted Black Elfin Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)
70. Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

Here is the list again with photos and accompanying paragraph of additional information:

Giant Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea)

Giant Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea)

Giant Puffballs Calvatia booniana)

Giant Puffballs Calvatia booniana)

61. Giant Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea group, C. booniana): Edible. These mushrooms are softball to basketball-sized and are edible when young and white throughout, before the skin breaks into brownish scales and the mushroom disintegrates. Puffballs can have a laxative effect on some people, but not most. Fruiting Body: 3.9-28 inches (10-70 cm) in diameter, but can get to 59 inches (150 cm)! It is very common and found in Europe and North America in pastures, fields, and forests.
Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)

Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)

Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)

Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta)

62. Sierran or Sculpted Puffball (Calvatia sculpta): Edible.  One of the more distinctive mushrooms with an egg shape and pyramidal or polygonal “warts”. Said to be one of the best tasting puffballs. Fruiting Body: 2.8-7.1 inches (7-18 cm) tall and wide. This is an uncommon species found in western North America in coniferous forests at higher elevations (2,500+ feet/750+ meters), but also found in Brazil (researchers are still trying to determine the cause of this).
Dead Man's Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)

Dead Man’s Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)

Dead Man's Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)

Dead Man’s Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius)

63. Dead Man’s Foot (Pisolithus tinctorius): Not Edible. When young, this unique mushroom looks like a small, dark puffball. One a good day, the mature specimen looks like a dusty stump or root, but on a bad day it could look like a pile of excrement. It is used as an aromatic seasoning in Europe when unripe (known as “Bohemian Truffle”), and it is a medicinal in China. Fruiting Body: 2.0-11.8 inches (5-30 cm) tall1.6-7.9 inches (4-20 cm) broad. Widely distributed through North America, Europe, and Asia. Grows solitary, widely scattered, or in small groups on the ground along roadsides, abandoned lots, hardpacked, poor, and sandy soils. It forms symbiotic relationships with plants, but it is not particularly picky about its partner.

 

Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

An “egg” of the Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)

64. Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus): Edible. This mushroom gets its name from the smell (like rotting meat) and the shape (horn, pencil, or phallic are all terms used). The fruiting body is tall with a dark cone-shaped head covered in strong-smelling slime (gleba). This mushroom can grow as fast as 5.9 inches (15 cm) per hour! The immature fruiting body (called an “egg”) has an inner, white layer called the receptaculum that is edible raw or cooked, without the smell! Fruiting Body – Egg: 1.2-2.4 inches (3-6 cm) tall. Fruiting Body – Stalk: 3.9-11.8 inches (10-30 cm) tall with a cap 0.6-1.6 inches (1.5-4 cm) broad. Common and widely distributed in Europe and North America, but also found in Asia, Central America, Africa, and Australia. Associated with rotting wood in deciduous and coniferous forests and grassy areas.

 

Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus)

Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus)

Elegant Stinkhorn (Mutinus elegans)

Elegant Stinkhorn (Mutinus elegans)

65. Dog Stinkhorn, Elegant Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus, M. elegans): EdibleThese closely related Stinkhorns are also edible in the “egg” stage and still have a rotten odor when mature. They are smaller than the Common Stinkhorn above. They have no cap, but still have a slimy gleba. Fruiting Body – Egg: 0.4-1.2 inches (1-3 cm) tall. Fruiting Body –  Stalk: 0.4-5.9 inches (1-15 cm) tall. These species are commonly found in eastern North Amercia, Britain, Europe, and Asia.
Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

Common Morel (Morchella esculenta)

66. Common Morel (Morchella esculenta). Edible (choice!) Another one of my favorite mushrooms (yum!), and it is almost unmistakable. The conical cap is pitted or honeycombed and tan to yellow to buff in color. The interior is hollow. All Morels should be cooked before eating. Cap: 1.2-4.3 inches (3-11 cm) high and 0.8-2.4 inches (2-6 cm) broad. Found alone, grouped, our in large clusters in a wide variety of locations, but most common under hardwoods and in areas recently burned. It is found in North America (common in eastern North America), but also in Brazil, the UK, Europe, and many other locations around the world.

 

Black Morels (Morchella elata)

Black Morels (Morchella elata)

Black Morels (Morchella angusticeps)

Black Morels (Morchella angusticeps)

67. Black Morels (Morchella elata, M. angusticeps, etc.): Edible (choice!). There are actually a number of species considered “Black Morels”, and it has only been in the last few years that DNA testing has shown these to be distinct species… this means they all look really similar. They also all taste really good! All Morels should be cooked before eating – some people can have “allergies” them, but we don’t know exactly what causes this. As with all new mushrooms, small samples are the best way to start. Cap: 0.8-7.1 inches (2-18 cm) high and 0.8-3.9 inches (2-10 cm) broad. Widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere within, or on the edges, or forests and in disturbed or burned areas.

 

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

68. False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta): Edible to Poisonous to Deadly Poisonous. This is the “feared” mimick of the edible Morels. The key identifying factor is the folded, or brain-like, appearance instead of the honeycombed or pitted cap in true Morels. Some people can eat these mushrooms with no problems. Some eat these mushrooms and develop diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, vertigo, headaches, and tremor – almost everyone recovers. However, some eat this mushroom and go on to develop organ failure, seizures, coma, and death. It appears that there is both a variation in response to the toxins and a variation to the amount of toxins produced in certain areas of the world. Europe has more deaths, and North America has almost none. Despite this, many people still eat this mushroom and consider it a delicacy. I recommend avoiding it! Cap: 1.2-4.7 inches (3-12 cm) tall and broad. Commonly found in temperate climate coniferous and deciduous forests, and is more common on disturbed ground.

 

Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)

Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)

Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)

Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa)

 69. Fluted Black Elfin Saddle or Slate Grey Saddle (Helvella lacunosa): Edible (with caution). The dark, convoluted cap with fluted stem makes this mushroom pretty easy to identify. Many people consider it very good, others find it bland. It is almost always eaten without the tough stalk. It has recently been reported to contain toxins, but the only reports of illness (gastrointestinal upset) is when it is eaten raw. Cap: 0.8-2.0 inches (2-5 cm) wide, but can get to 3.9 inches (10 cm). Found under pines, oaks, Douglas fir, and grassland nearby these trees in North America, Europe, China, and Japan.
Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

70. Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia): Edible. This fungus’ name is very appropriate… it really looks like a discarded orange peel! It starts off rather round, but becomes cup/saucer-shaped to flat and wavy with age. As with so many other mushrooms, some collectors find that it tastes good, while others find it bland. David Aurora states that because it is so frail, it hardly seems worth the trouble of collecting. Fruiting Body: 0.4-3.9 inches (1-10 cm) across. Found on bare or disturbed soils in Europe and North America.

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 Photo References:

  • http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1157/1358565822_1890b9ee44_o.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Calvatia_booniana.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/45/Calvatia_sculpta_49007_cropped.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Calvatia_sculpta_fs-04.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Pisolithus_arhizus_bk-01.jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Gasteromycetes/Pisolithus%20tinctorius/Pisolithus%20tinctorius%20eucalyptus.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Phallus_impudicus.jpg
  • http://rachisaurus.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/phallus-impudicus-stinkhorn1.jpg
  • http://letsdeliquesce.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/img_3698.jpg
  • http://www.naturamediterraneo.eu/Public/data4/lipo/Mutinus%20elegans%202.jpg_20061124193336_Mutinus%20elegans%202.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/Morchella_esculenta_84915.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Morchella_esculenta_-_DE_-_TH_-_2013-05-02_-_02.JPG
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Morchella_elata_83538.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/Morchella_angusticeps_38336.jpg
  • http://www.fungalpunknature.co.uk/Fungi/G%20Esculenta%206.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Gyromitra_esculenta(fs-01).jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Helvella_lacunosa_1977.jpg
  • http://www.fungalpunknature.co.uk/Fungi/Helvellalacunosa.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Aleuria_aurantia_1.jpg
  • http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2012/130/4/2/aleuria_aurantia_by_jakhajay-d4za9sn.jpg

 

My Interview on the Permaculture Voices Podcast

I had the great honor, and a lot of fun, to be interviewed by Diego Footer of the Permaculture Voices Podcast. Diego is organizing the Permaculture Voices Conference in March 2014. It is shaping up to be a who’s-who in Permaculture. Speakers like Geoff Lawton, Allan Savory, Paul Wheaton, Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, Jack Spirko, Toby Hemmenway, Dr. Elaine Ingham and many more will all come together during this 4-day conference.

The interview was based on my series of articles on The Myth of the Perfect Job.

To listen to the interview, please visit Diego’s site.

 

An Overview of Alternative Home Designs: Part 4

If you read my article on building an intentional community, you’ll see that I am strongly recommending bypassing the traditional mortgage path and promoting build-it-yourself, alternative housing. I have shared a few posts in the past on some of the alternative housing options, but I thought it would be fun to give a brief overview of the more common (of the overall uncommon) alternative housing options that are available today.

Obviously, the photos in this article are just a sampling of what exists and what is possible. These photos are meant to give a general sense of what a building style looks like.

As I started to put this article together, I realized it was going to be photo intensive. I decided to break it up into a few parts:

Tooday, we will cover Small Houses, Modular Homes, and Hybrid Homes…

Small House: This is more of a concept than a specific building design. These homes are typically less than 1,000 square feet (92 sq meters), and often significantly less, but the goal remains the same: maimize good design and minimize wasted space and cost. One big advantage to these homes is that they are often mobile!

Small homes can be permanent...

Small homes can be permanent…

...or mobile!

…or mobile!

Small homes are all about efficiency.

Small homes are all about efficiency.

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home (same house as above, just a different view)

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

Small home

 

Modular Home: This is another concept instead of a specific building design. These are prefabricated homes consisting of multiple sections (modules). The modules are designed and built off-site, delivered to the site, and assembled on-site. I am only showing these homes to be complete in my listings of alternative home designs. Almost any style of home can be modular. These are quick to build and are usually cheaper than traditional site-built homes, but they are not necessarily better for the environment or the inhabitants.

Modular Home

Modular Home

Modular Home

Modular Home

Modular Log Home

Modular Log Home

 

Hybrid Home: There are no rules for what constitutes a hybrid home. Any design that incorporates more than one method of construction qualifies. Here are just a few examples…

One of the well-known hybrid homes (cob, wood, straw-bale).

The Hobbit House – a well-known hybrid home (cob, wood, straw-bale) in Wales, UK.
This home became rather famous, but its owners no longer live in it.
Some reports state that there were a few design flaws that caused water damage.

The same family (Simon and Jasmine Dale) went on to build, and now reside in, another hybrid home as part of the Lammas Project in Wales, UK.

The same family (Simon and Jasmine Dale) went on to build, and now reside in, another hybrid home as part of the Lammas Project in Wales, UK.

Simon and Jasmine Dale’s website

Cob and straw-bale home

Cob and straw-bale home

Cob and straw-bale home

Cob and straw-bale home

THi

This is a 400 year old clay-lump and wattle and daub thatched cottage – beautiful!

Ben Law’s home in the UK… wood, straw-bale, and cob

Another view of Ben Law's handbuilt home.

Another view of Ben Law’s handbuilt home.

Interior of Ben Law's home.

Interior view of Ben Law’s home.

Here is an amazing video (television show) on how Ben Law built his home in the woods…

 

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Photo References:

  • http://www.thetinylife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Texas-Victorian-Tiny-House-bedroom.jpg
  • http://tinyhouselistings.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/tumbleweed-tiny-house-company.jpg
  • http://www.motherearthnews.com/~/media/Images/MEN/Editorial/Articles/Magazine%20Articles/2012/08-01/Mortgage-Free%20Living%20in%20a%20Hand-Built%20Tiny%20Home/Tiny_Homes-3.jpg
  • http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LWW9QtfquLY/T4ZzIFT-zaI/AAAAAAAAABU/n9xWJR1Fo9Q/s1600/IMG_0025.JPG
  • http://tinyhouseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/tinyhouse.jpg
  • http://static3.businessinsider.com/image/50ede2b36bb3f7f850000010/20-surprisingly-beautiful-tiny-homes.jpg
  • http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-VyVjjx9apUY/UkWVi3vvQyI/AAAAAAAAB2A/VcneYN1wxZA/s1600/Tiny+House+interior.jpg
  • http://clotheslinetinyhomes.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/dsc01900.jpg
  • http://lookhomedesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Tiny-House-Interior-Design-2.png
  • http://www.designboom.com/contemporary/tiny_houses/10.jpg
  • http://www.thetinylife.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/tiny-house-inside.jpg
  • http://buildipedia.com/images/masterformat/Channels/At_Home/2011.12.07_small_houses/images/3_small_house_%7C_credit_-_Tumbleweed_Tiny_House.jpg
  • http://www.redesignrevolution.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/EPU-House.png
  • http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R1Hq9AiVWBs/UF273F1BNhI/AAAAAAAABGM/vFG8VhN0zFQ/s1600/Tumbleweed+Traveling+011.JPG
  • http://simondale.net/
  • http://www.cobcourses.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/CPRE-White-Cottage-cob-bale-extension-1.jpeg
  • http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7CB9Sa-YtSI/Trw-lzaWCmI/AAAAAAAAA5U/RfTAkheQ7NA/s1600/Hybrid+011.jpg
  • http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/GbM2In5Hfx4/maxresdefault.jpg
  • http://www.motherearthnews.com/~/media/Images/MEN/Editorial/Articles/Online%20Articles/2010/09-01/Straw%20Bale%20House%20on%20the%20Prairie/hybridhouse8.jpg
  • http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/12/29/article-1102663-02DB9FE6000005DC-880_468x293.jpg
  • http://inlanding.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/benlaw.jpg
  • http://homefaerie.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/sussex-finished-house-side-lg1.jpg
  • http://earthbagbuilding.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/withyfield-cottage-interior-by-ben-law.jpg
  • http://info.greaterbostonmodulars.com/Portals/200887/images/dsc00811.jpg
  • http://www.pchomesmo.com/wp-content/uploads/copy-Wohletz-24-e1370997691287.jpg
  • http://api.ning.com/files/bSxxdg2UqxoYU3DMfsrxTSBOoR5KZFWWcxlQlx0-QZnbWq9dzRCxVFUMtep20miFQu8FRd32OQHIeUd8iaVYDXCVg20kLs6P/Construction1.jpg

 

Permaculture Plants: Rosemary

Common Name: Rosemary
Scientific Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae (the Mint family)

Rosemary almost needs no description, because it is so well known.

Rosemary almost needs no description, because it is so well known.

Description:
This plant probably needs no introduction. Rosemary is a small shrub with evergreen leaves that are most commonly used as a culinary herb. As an evergreen shrub, it is a year round ornamental plant, but it also attracts beneficial insects and hummingbirds, is drought tolerant, and is an aromatic pest confuser. Almost every herb garden and vegetable garden has at least one Rosemary bush, and it is easy to grow. Considering how useful, and tasty, it is, we should consider placing them throughout our property and Forest Gardens as well.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Illustration from Köhler's Medicinal Plants - 1887

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Illustration from Köhler’s Medicinal Plants – 1887

History:
Native to the Mediterranean, Rosemary has spread around the world with the spread of European civilization.

Trivia:

  • It is said that that the Virgin Mary (Jesus Christ’s mother) spread her cloak over a white-flowered bush when she was resting. The flowers changed from white to blue to match her cloak, and the plant was called “Rose of Mary” ever since.
  • Rosemary flowers can be white, pink, purple, or blue deep purple or blue-violet.
  • The genus Rosmarinus is Latin for “dew of the sea” – in reference to its refreshing smell and its natural habitat along the Mediterranean coast
  • Rosemary garlands were used by Greek students to increase their memory; this is where “Rosemary for remembrance” originated
  • A sprig of Rosemary was placed under a pillow to repel nightmares.
  • A sprig of Rosemary was placed outside the home to repel witches.
  • Rosemary was the favorite scent of Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • Rosemary contains salicylic acid… this is the chemical aspirin is derived from, and it has the ability to ease aches and pains and reduce fevers.
Rosemary is one of the most well known culinary herbs.

Rosemary is one of the most well known culinary herbs.

Recipe: Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Roasted Grapes

Rosemary Oil is a flavorful addition to many meals.

Rosemary Oil (infused… not the essential oil) is a flavorful addition to many meals.

USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Cullinary Herb – Raw or cooked. Fresh or dried. Young shoots/stems (before turning woody) and leaves. One of the best known cullinary herbs. Infused oil can be made as well.
  • Tea Plant – the leaves and/or flowers can be steeped in hot water to make a tea
  • Edible Flowers – the small flowers have a soft “rosemary” taste, more gentle than the leaves; they are a pleasant addition to salads or an edible garnish.
  • Essential Oil – used as a fragrant component in skin and hair products, cleaning products, incense, perfumes, and many other products

Secondary Uses:

  • General insect (especially bees) nectar and pollen plant
  • Ornamental Plant – as an evergreen, it is commonly used in gardens as a functional, but attractive, plant
  • Groundcover – while not a classic groundcover plant, Rosemary can
  • Drought Tolerant Plant – once established. I have killed many a Rosemary plant by letting one get too dried out before its root system was deeply established
  • Maritime Tolerant Plant – this plant can tolerate salt air of a marine environment
  • Aromatic Pest Confuser – potentially inhibit or repel garden pests
  • Hummingbird Plant – this plant has nectar that attracts Hummingbirds
  • Lacewings prefer to lay eggs on this plant
  • Medicinal – Rosemary has a long history of medicinal uses (see note in Trivia above)

Yield: Variable.
Harvesting: Leaves can be harvested year-round as this is an evergreen and one of the reasons it is so popular. Flowers can be harvested whenever they are in bloom.
Storage: Ideally, Rosemary is used immediately after harvest; this is how I like to do it. But it is still good if used within a few days fresh. It can be kept in a small glass of water, like cut flowers, for over a week. Can be stored for many months if dried.

The upright, or classic, form of Rosemary.

The upright, or classic, form of Rosemary.

Rosemary also has a low-growing, creeping form.

Rosemary also has a low-growing, creeping form.

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 6-11
AHS Heat Zone: Zone 12-6
Chill Requirement: Possible, but not likely; no reliable information is available.

Plant Type: Small Shrub
Leaf Type: Evergreen
Forest Garden Use: Shrub Layer, Groundcover Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: There are a number of cultivars available.

Pollination: Self-fertile. Pollinated by bees.
Flowering: Spring to early Autumn (April-October), but can flower all year long in mild climates.

Life Span:

  • Years of Useful Life: No good information available, but there are many reports of Rosemary bushes living 15-20 years.
Rosemary flowers are beautiful and edible.

Rosemary flowers are beautiful and edible.

Purple to blue is most common, but Rosemary also has pink and white flowers.

Purple to blue is most common, but Rosemary also has pink and white flowers.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT

Size: 3-4 feet (90-120 cm) tall and wide (prostrate/creeping forms are significantly shorter)
Roots: Fibrous, not very deep
Growth Rate: Slow to medium

Rosemary is fantastic fresh...

Rosemary is fantastic fresh…

...but is easily dried as well.

…but is easily dried as well.

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates light shade
Moisture: Dry to moist soils. Can tolerate drought once established.
pH: 5.5-7.5

Special Considerations for Growing:
None.

Propagation:
Typically from seed – not dormant. May take a while to germinate. May be propagated via cuttings or layering in Summer. May also be propagated via division.

Maintenance:
Minimal.

Concerns:
None

 

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Photo References:

  • http://jonnsaromatherapy.com/images/plant_images/Rosemary_il.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Rosmarinus_officinalis_’Tuscan_Blue’1.jpg
  • http://contentzza.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/rosmarinus-officinalis_lg.jpg
  • http://foragersyear.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/rosemary2.jpg
  • http://www.freedomisgreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Rosemary_white_bg.jpg
  • http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fzuaKSz-txU/T-taWCpE5AI/AAAAAAAAAbY/snTfokOFcxI/s1600/Starr_080117-2176_Rosmarinus_officinalis.jpg
  • http://www.onlineplantguide.com/Image%20Library/R/7205.jpg
  • http://www.secretsofculinaryherbs.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Rosmarinus_officinalis133095382.jpg
  • http://www.teacher-chef.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/7-19-drying-rosemary.jpg
  • http://www.loverslanenursery.com/images/Tree%20and%20Plant%20Images/rosemary2.jpg
  • http://thinkgum.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/rosemary.jpg
  • http://gourmandistan.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/rosemary.jpg
  • http://blog.balancedskintherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/rosemary.jpg

 

 

 

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Six: 51-60)

As I discussed in my recent article, Fighting Fungophobia (or Mycophobia) …the fear of mushrooms, here is a list of 70 Distinctive Mushrooms:

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part One: 1-10)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Two: 11-20)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Three: 21-30)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Four: 31-40 )
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Five: 41-50)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Six: 51-60)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Seven: 61-70)

This list of mushrooms comes from David Arora, mycologist extraordinaire and author of Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises and More. I’ve added photos and a brief paragraph about reported edibility, characteristics, distribution, and habitat. Remember, this is not meant to be an identification guide but rather an introduction to some pretty amazing and representative mushrooms. The mushrooms on this list are all found in the United States (my home), but the majority are also found outside of North America.

A quick note on edibility: I am listing whether the mushroom is considered Edible or Poisonous or Deadly Poisonous. Understand that all mushrooms should be cooked before being eaten. Even edible mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal upset (nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, and/or diarrhea) if the mushrooms are not cooked. Yes, some people can handle raw mushrooms in small amounts (mainly just the common, grocery store “button mushrooms”), but most will succumb to symptoms if they eat enough raw mushrooms, especially wild mushrooms. Also, note that some edible mushrooms may cause gastrointestinal symptoms for some individuals and none for other individuals. One species may cause some symptoms for one person but not for another. It is variable. If it is your first time consuming a new type of mushrooms, go slow. Eat a little bit one day, and if you do well, then consume a bit more the next day. If you still have no problems, then you can likely eat that type of mushroom with no issues. Finally, note that most anyone has a good chance of getting gastrointestinal symptoms if they eat an excessively large amount of mushrooms of any type. Just like if a person eats a whole pot of bean-laden chili… watch out! Keep it in moderation, but have fun!

Seventy mushroom listings and photographs will take a lot of space, so I am going to break the list up into ten species segments. I recommend reading David Arora’s books as well as some local field guides. Then go outside and get to know the fungus among us… er, you, I mean.

Here are the next ten:

51. Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
52. Hericiums (Hericium species)
53. Hedgehog Mushroom (Hydnum repandum)
54. Pink-Tipped Coral Mushroom (Ramaria botrytis)
55. Cauliflower Mushrooms (Sparassis species)
56. Scaly Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus group)
57. White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus)
58. Chanterelle, Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)
59. Horn of Plenty, Black Trumpet, Black Chanterelle (Craterellus cornucopioides)
60. Witch’s Butter (Tremella mesenterica)

Here is the list again with photos and accompanying paragraph of additional information:

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) showing multiple colors... hence its name!

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) showing multiple colors… hence its name!

51. Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor): Not Edible. This is another shelf fungus. The name versicolor means “several colors”, and that is an apt description. Cap size: 0.8-2.8 inches (2-7 cm) but can get to 3.9 inches (10 cm). It is very common and found around the world. Typically in groups, rows, and large masses or overlapping clusters on logs, stumps, and fallen branches of hardwoods, especially oaks.
Lion's Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)

Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)

Hericium coralloides

Hericium coralloides

52. Hericium, Lion’s Mane (Hericium species): Edible.  One of the more distinctive mushroom genera with its classic, white icicle-like appearance. There are a number of species in this genus, and some can be quite large (over 50 lbs/23 kg). All four North American species are edible (best when young) and virtually unmistakable. The fruiting body is 3.9-30 inches (10-75 cm) broad with tufts of spines hanging from them. Found growing solitary or in small groups on dead trees, stumps, logs, or fallen branches in many places around the world.
Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum)

Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum)

Note the on these Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum)

Note the spines on these Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum)

53. Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum): Edible (choice!) This edible mushroom has rather unique spines hanging from the underside of the cap instead of gills or pores, and the stalk is often off-centered. It is commonly compared to a Chanterlle (see below) with a sweet, nutty flavor. It is sometimes bitter or peppery, but that usually disappears with cooking. Cap size: 0.8-6.7 inches (2-17 cm), but can get to 9.8 inches (25 cm). Found commonly in northern temperate climate zones and grows solitary, scattered, or in groups on the ground under hardwoods and conifers, sometimes in fairy rings.

 

Pink-Tipped or Clustered Coral Mushroom (Ramaria botrytis)

Pink-Tipped or Clustered Coral Mushroom (Ramaria botrytis)

Pink-Tipped or Clustered Coral Mushroom (Ramaria botrytis)

Pink-Tipped or Clustered Coral Mushroom (Ramaria botrytis)

54. Pink-Tipped or Clustered Coral Mushroom (Ramaria botrytis): Edible (with caution). Some people rate this mushroom as choice, but others claim it causes diarrhea. David Aurora recommends trying it, because it is so large and fleshy and potentially good! This is a large coral fungus which starts off white or pale and eventually turns brown to tan with pink, purple, or red tips that fade with age. Fruiting Body: 2.8-7.9 inches (7-20 cm) tall and 2.4-11.8 inches (6-30 cm) in diameter. Common and widely distributed around the world under broadleaf trees.

 

Sparassis crispa

Sparassis crispa

Sparassis brevipes

Sparassis brevipes

55. Cauliflower Mushrooms (Sparassis species): Edible. (choice, best when young and still creamy white). This is another unique coral mushroom that is difficult to mistake. The characteristic fruiting body is composed of wavy, flattened, leafy, or ribbonlike lobes. They fruit at the base of trees, and will fruit year after year in the same spot. Some mushrooms will have a spicy-fragrant odor as well. Fruiting Body: 6.3-23.7 inches (16-60 cm) tall and wide. They grow as parasites on hardwoods (especially oak) and coniferous. Most common in Europe and North America.

 

Scaly Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus)

Scaly Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus)

Scaly Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus)

Scaly Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus)

56. Scaly Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus group). Poisonous. This mushroom has a classic vase-shape or trumpet-shape, classic in chanterelles. The surface can be red to yellow to orange, but often faded and not very bright. While some find this mushroom delicious, most will develop nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Fruiting Body: 1.2-5.9 inches (3-15 cm) broad and 2.0-7.9 inches (5-20 cm) tall. It is found in forests under conifers (fir, pine, hemlock, etc.) across North America and Asia.

 

White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus)

White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus)

White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus)

White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus)

57. White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus): Edible (choice!). Here is another chanterelle that is a great edible. It has white flesh that bruises to yellow-orange-brown. It only lives on the west coast of North America: California to the Pacific Northwest. Cap: 1.6-5.9 inches (4-15 cm) across.  Found under conifers.

 

Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

58. Chanterelle, Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius): Edible (choice!). This is the prized culinary Chanterelle, and one of my favorite mushrooms. It has a beautiful yellow to orange color with a light, fruity frangrance. There are a few look-alikes, so be certain of your identification. Cap: 1.2-5.9inches (3-15 cm) wide, but can get to 9.8 inches (25 cm). Commonly found in overlapping clusters on stumps and logs, but occasionally on living trees, of conifers and hardwoods. Widely distributed across northern Europe, North America, and Asia, but also found in Africa.

 

Horn of Plenty, Black Trumpet, Black Chanterelle (Craterellus cornucopioides)

Horn of Plenty, Black Trumpet, Black Chanterelle (Craterellus cornucopioides)

Horn of Plenty, Black Trumpet, Black Chanterelle (Craterellus cornucopioides)

Horn of Plenty, Black Trumpet, Black Chanterelle (Craterellus cornucopioides)

59. Horn of Plenty, Black Trumpet, Black Chanterelle (Craterellus cornucopioides): Edible (choice!) This is a difficult mushroom to find due to its dark color, but it has a good flavor. I’ve made a wild mushroom risotto with this mushroom that was fantastic. Cap: 0.8-2.75 inches (2-7 cm) wide, but can get to 6 inches (15 cm). Found in the forests of North America, Europe, and eastern Asia under broadleaf trees (especially beech and oak).

 

Witch's Butter, Golden Jelly Fungus (Tremella mesenterica)

Witch’s Butter, Golden Jelly Fungus (Tremella mesenterica)

Witch's Butter, Golden Jelly Fungus (Tremella mesenterica)

Witch’s Butter, Golden Jelly Fungus (Tremella mesenterica)

60. Witch’s Butter, Golden Jelly Fungus (Tremella mesenterica): Edible. Many people are unfamiliar with the jelly fungi and their rubbery, gelatinous consistency. Witch’s Butter is a parasite of a fungus that decays wet wood (fungi in the genus Peniophora). While edible, this common jelly fungus is flavorless. Fruiting Body: 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) wide and 1-2 inches (2.5-5.0 cm) tall with an irregular shape. Found in crevices and cracks of decaying wood of deciduous and mixed forests in temperate and tropical climates around the globe except Antarctica.

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 Photo References:

  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Trametes_versicolor(mgw-02).jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Trametes_versicolor_2.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Hericium_erinaceus(nw-01).jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/2009-09-25_Hericium_coralloides_(Scop.)_Pers_58068_crop.jpg
  • http://www.duinkerken.nu/paddestoelen/images/Gele%20Stekelzwam%20-%20Hydnum%20repandum%20-%201200×947.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/2012-08-29_Hydnum_repandum_L_256175_crop.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Ramaria_botrytis(Exeter-2004-49).jpg
  • http://www.mushroomhobby.com/TripNotes/20071103-04%20SPSP%20AND%20JSF/Ramaria%20botrytis.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Sparassis_brevipes_-_Robichaux.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Sparassis_crispa.jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Gomphales/Gomphus%20floccosus/Gomphus%20floccosus5.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ea/Gomphus_floccosus_6051.JPG
  • http://www.northwestmushroomers.org/images/Cantharellus_subalbidus.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Cantharellus_subalbidus_bk-01.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/2007-07-14_Cantharellus_cibarius.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/02/2007-07-14_Cantharellus_cibarius_Detail.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Craterellus_cornucopioides(mgw-01).jpg
  • http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/pictures/data/8/Mustatorvisieni.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Tremella_mesenterica.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Tremella_mesenterica_JPL2.jpg

 

What is Mob-Grazing? Permaculture Lessons from a Safari.

I was sitting in the back seat of a small, open-top Jeep. It was a late April afternoon in the northeastern South African savannah about a decade ago. The breeze was just starting to cool the land from a warm, almost hot, day. A few friends, my wife, and I were taking a safari after spending a month working at a HIV mission hospital in Nigeria.

We were told that if we stayed within the confines of the Jeep, we were somehow viewed as part of the landscape… something like a lumbering elephant, and the predators would not see us as a potential food source. This was only slightly reassuring as we pulled up to a tree where a leopard was resting. She was lounged in the crook of a large branch about fifteen feet (4.5 meters) off the ground which, with us sitting on raised bench seats, put her less than ten feet (3 meters) above us. With no roof. No metal bars. No cage. Nothing but air between us and this deadly, hunting cat. She was well over 100 pounds (45 kg), and she was solid muscle. She lazily turned her head toward us, stretched, and yawned nonchalantly, but I am pretty sure it was just to show off her large canine teeth. We saw what looked to be the front half of an antelope, probably an impala, up in the tree with her.
(Note: in the photo at top, you’ll notice that you can just make out the front of the impala’s head hanging below the branch that the leopard’s front foot is standing on)

We were trying to get good photos, bumbling with our equipment like the tourists we were, when the cat lithely jumped to the ground. We all fell silent. She assumed the classic “cat ready to pounce” pose I had only seen in person with small house cats attacking a toy or a leaf. This cat was looking past our Jeep to a small herd of male impalas who were slowly walking right toward the tree we were under. I immediately took note of the wind. It was blowing from the impalas to the leopard. There was a few scraggly bushes between the herd and the cat providing perfect concealment.

The cat stalked closer for a few minutes, but seemed a little disinterested. In hindsight, we realized it was probably because she was well fed and still had a stockpile of meat in the tree behind her. After a few minutes of us wondering if we would see the gore of a real hunt, the wind changed. The lead ram froze, made a sneezy-grunt call, and then the whole herd lept away in the direction it arrived. The leopard stretched out and laid in the grass for a few minutes, but then is shot up and ran toward her tree.

We were all so busy watching the leopard, and the leopard was so busy watching the impalas, that none of us noticed a single hyena sneak up to the base of the tree with the leopard’s stored meat. The wind that had allerted the leopard to the impalas also likely allerted the hyena to potential food. In just a few leaps, the leopard had reached the hyena who had turned and tried to get away as fast as it could. There was a momentary collision. We heard a loud growl from the leopard and then an even louder yip, howl, and a characterisic hyena laugh. The hyena never stopped running. The leopard watched for a moment and then turned and trotted back to her tree. With graceful ease, she bounded up the tree, seeming to barely even touch the trunk. She resumed the position we found her in, and in a few minutes she was sleeping again.

The group of us in the Jeep seemed to be frozen while watching this Discovery Channel documentary unfold in real life. We realized that none of us took a single photo after the leopard jumped from the tree. We were too awed by what was happening.

Modern beef cattle systems can look beautiful, but they are not very natural.

Modern beef cattle systems can look beautiful, but they are not very natural.

So what does this story have to do with Permaculture and raising livestock?
For us to understand the most productive and sustainable way to raise livestock, we must understand how nature is designed. Permaculture Principle One tells us to Observe and Interact. That is what we need to do. But it is not what most people do, especially those who raise livestock.

Most beef cattle in this country are raised in one or two phases. In a cow-calf operation, a permanent cow herd is kept by a rancher to produce calves. The heifers (females) are kept to sustain the herd or are weaned and raised as beef cows; the males are castrated and weaned (steers). Both steers and beef cows are either kept at the ranch for 1-2 years and sold directly to slaughter, or they are sold to a finishing operation (a.k.a. feedlot). This is a factory farming system where cattle are placed in an fenced area, and feed is brought to them. They are feed until they achieve a certain weight and then sent to slaughter. I am diametrically opposed to the feedlot model in almost any form. I believe it strongly contributes to the poor health of any nation who adopts it… but that is not what this article is about today. Suffice it to say, that a feedlot is an unnatural and unsustainable system.

Whether in the cow-calf operation, the maturation phase, or the feedlot, the modern beef industry is not mimicking nature. When we stray from natural designs, we typically end up with unseen, unexpected, and eventually unwanted consequences. Most modern beef cattle systems cause pasture and rangeland degradation, topsoil and organic matter loss, decreased ecosystem diversity, and ultimately mild to significant desertification. Why does this happen? It is cause by two things: ecosystemic conditions and cattle management.

We almost missed seeing this lion until we were less than a dozen yards (11 meters) away!

We almost missed seeing this lion until we were less than a dozen yards (11 meters) away!
This photo of mine always reminds me of Peter Capstick’s book, Death in the Long Grass.

In locations with a healthy predator population, it is no wonder animals stick together.

In locations with a healthy predator population, it is no wonder animals stick together.

That's me driving through South Africa. Note the Cape Buffalo at the watering hole... mobbing together.

That’s me driving through South Africa.
Note the Cape Buffalo at the watering hole… mobbing together.

Ecosystemic Conditions
Let’s imagine for a moment we were back in the African savannah I described above. What would happen if the Jeep ran out of gas, and we had to walk back to camp. After witnessing the hunting leopard, do you think we would have to tell everyone to stick together? Not a chance! My wife would be glued to my side, gripping my arm so tight it would cut off the circulation. If she thought about it, I am sure my wife would say I am no match for a leopard. But she still feels safer with me by her side. All of us feel safer in a group when we are in a potentially dangerous environment. It is instinctual. It is the way nature is designed.

When we look at any non-predatory species in the savannah or grasslands of the world, we see a common behavior. We can call it clumping, bunching, or mobbing. This is where the herds of animals do exactly what we humans would do when walking through the African savannah… they stick close together. It is a survival instinct. They need to eat. But they have no idea if the grass they are eating is also hiding a hunting leopard or lion or other predator. So they stay close together. There truly is safety in numbers.

In most places where cattle are raised today, hunting and human development has decimated or eliminated the natural predators. Cattle have little to no real need to clump together in the pastures or rangeland. Some breeds and come lineages still retain this behavior, but most have lost it. Modern cattle do not mob unless they have no other choice.

Modern beef cattle are given very large areas, and they spread out a lot.

Modern beef cattle are given very large areas, and they spread out a lot.
This is not seen in natural systems.

Cattle Management
The second factor is how the cattle are managed in the pasture and rangeland. The vast majority of cattle are put out to pasture in a very large area. The cattle spread out and do not clump together. They go through the fields and eat their favorite plants or plant parts first. Then they eat their second and then third favorite plants. Finally, if they have no other choice, they will eat their least favorite plants. In an area this large, they may be able to only eat their favorite foods. This allows the less desirable plants to grow uninhibited and with less competition. These less desirable plants flower and set seed and reproduce while the more desirable plants are eaten. This management practice is effectively selecting for undesirable plants and selecting against desirable plants.

Impalas exhibiting their natural mob-grazing behavior.

Impalas exhibiting their natural mob-grazing behavior.

Raising Cattle the Permaculture Way: Mob-Grazing
If we wanted to model nature, then we would create conditions that allow our cattle to act in a way large herbivores do in the wild. We would encourage them to stick close together. We could bring predators to the cattle. This is not very practical, not cost effective, and probably more than a little dangerous. The other option is for us to significantly reduce the area we allow for our cattle. We can divide our large areas of land into much smaller spaces (paddocks), and with portable electric fencing, this is quite easy and not super expensive. This is called “mob-grazing” or “intensive rotational grazing”.

This has many benefits. Cattle that are bunched together still eat their favorite plants first, but with all the cattle close together, that food is gone fast. They quickly eat all their favorite plants, and they will then eat their less favorite plants. The plants that they do not like get trampled down and crushed. The plants that are eaten are also crushed. All these plants that are trampled create a natural mulching. They are also covering the land with high concentrations of manure and urine. This is all smashed into soil and crushed plant material creating a high nutrient fertilizer. Then the cattle are moved into the next paddock. The recently grazed field is allowed to recover before being grazed again.

We know that if done right, the desirable plants are selected for, and the less desirable plants gradually reduce in prevalence. The top soil increases. The organic matter increases. The soil water retention increases. The soil and pasture/field biodiversity increases. The cattle will also be significantly less stressed, and happier cattle are healthier cattle. The same land can now feed more cattle than when it was one, larger, open field. There is a lot of science and research behind mob-grazing. I am just scratching the surface of this amazing technique… a design that uses nature as a model… that is Permaculture!

Cattle being mob-grazed with portable electric fencing... brilliant design mimicking nature!

Cattle being mob-grazed with portable electric fencing… brilliant design mimicking nature!

 

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Photo References:

  • All safari photos are mine. Please ask if you would like to use them!
  • http://thebluegrassspecial.com/archive/2010/october10/imagesoct10/cattle-ranch1.jpg
  • http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site36/2009/0928/20090928__20090930_D01_FE30FDBEEF2~p1.JPG

 

My Legacy and an Expanding Horizon View

Legacy.

In recent years, I have heard a lot of this word.  We hear of “legacy software”.  Presidents are concerned about their legacy. Video games, movies, and comic books all use the word. This word has been overused and trivialized. It has almost lost its meaning and its impact.

One of Webster’s definitions is “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”

Personally, I like to think of a legacy as one of two things. I see it as a character trai  learned from an ancestor. I also see it as a gift from an ancestor. I have been doing a lot of pondering on the legacy I want to leave my children and grandchildren. I have realized that the legacy I want to leave may have nothing to do with the legacy I will leave. I may have a desire to do one thing, but the result has the potential to be very different. This is the fear that drives presidents and other world leaders, in their attempt to change how future generations will view them, to hire publicists and journalists to try and shape the history books before they are written. Unfortunately, it often works, but that just further cheapens the word.
Character Traits Learned from an Ancestor
The character traits I desire to leave my children and grandchildren are faith and fulfillment. I have written many times in my articles that I have a strong Christian faith. I know that my children cannot have my faith in them; they need their own. My desire, as Saint Francis of Assisi likely said, is to “preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” I want to show them how my faith has profoundly affected my life for the good. I want to be such an example that they will, at a minimum, be curious about my faith. I will use words, of course, but “faith without works is dead.” I cringe at the parents who say, “do as I say, not as I do.” That has dangerous and often depressing consequences.  I have written extensively on my own seeking for fulfillment in this life in my series of articles on the Myth of the Perfect Job. I hope to help guide them toward finding their own happy and fulfilled life.
Gifts from an Ancestor
The gift most people think of inheriting from an ancestor is money. Cash in the bank. I am actually very nervous about leaving my children large sums of money. I admit that I would love to be able to provide for all their needs, but money may not be the best way to do this. Many times, an inheritance of money is not used to provide for needs, but for wants and desires. These wants and desires are often shallow and fleeting. I can think of a number of “trust fund” kids who have never learned the value of work. The value of saving. The value of waiting. The value of anticipation and the motivation it provides. The sense of accomplishment when the work and saving and waiting culminated in meeting the goal set before them. Or the wisdom in realizing that there is often more joy in the process than in its end. So, no, the legacy I leave to my descendants will not be a large sum of money.
There is one gift I want to leave my descendants, and that is what I call a tangible vision in progress. This is not a formal title, and it may change if I come up with something better, but this is what I am calling it for now. To explain what this is, let me back up a bit and describe a significant change in my thinking that has occured in the last few months.

In an attempt at humor, I have many times told people that I need ten lifetimes to accomplish everything I want to do in this life. Recently, I have been struck by the reality of this statement. I honestly do not have the time to do everything that I want to do before I die. Many of the things I want to create will take so long to develop that by the time it is manifest, my grandchildren may not be alive any longer. For some time, I was quite frustrated by this; however, as of late, I have found significant peace with this. In fact, I am a little excited about it.

Expanding Horizon View
You see, my horizon has shifted. It has expanded. I used to look at an end point of ten, twenty, or maybe forty years in the future. I would tally all the things I wanted to accomplish, then consider how much time I had left to complete these projects. If I considered where I was in life, I would feel a bit defeated. I had joined the military to pay for medical school, and I had a lot of time remained on my committment. My Permaculture awakening occured in bits and pieces over the last decade, but I was on a track I could not easily drive off. All the things I now wanted to accomplish, getting land, starting a farm, teaching Permaculture, raising my and my family’s food… it all had to wait until I was done with the military. I would consider a food forest and the trees planted within it. Many of the large nut trees may not even start producing nuts for twenty years, and some may take fifty years! I would never see the results of all my labor since I would be starting so late in the game.

I will readily admit that it has been very hard for me to wait to start something that I am so passionate about. It is part of the reason I created this website. But, as in everything, the problem is the solution! I have been given the unique opportunity to study Permaculture for over a decade without getting to implement it on a large scale. And I do mean study. I read and think and sketch and analyze and ponder and write about Permaculture every day. For over ten years. That is a lot of time to come to a deep understanding of a thing. I am well beyond ready to get my hands dirty, so to speak, but what an opportunity! I have been able to travel across multiple continents with this knowledge in my head, seeing how local and indigenous people farm and raise food and build homes and meet their daily needs. I have been confined to being an observer, and I have learned a lot.

I have also matured in my mindset of Permaculture. This is such a blessing. I have read of many people, who did what I wanted to do. They were infected with Permaculture and then ran with it. They got some land and starting planting trees and doing things. I am still jealous of that. However, I now know that many of these people look back and wish they had a deeper understanding before they jumped in. They would have planted those trees over there, but now they are 10 years old, and moving them is nigh impossible. They would have placed the pond up there, but they can’t move it now. They would have build the house down there, but that is not really possible now. I have been able to learn from their mistakes without making my own… yet. But I long to make my own mistakes, a lot of them, but hopefully not too large. Also, like most people, when I was first exposed to Permaculture, I thought it was just a unique way to garden. I thought it was all about food. And it is, but it is so much deeper than that. It involves communities, businesses, countries, regions, and the world as a whole. This is so exciting, but I never understood this or its practical implications early on.

An Exciting Future
Of course, I have no idea what the future holds. The government could take everything I build and install a highway. An asteroid may fall from the sky and destroy the Earth. I may have only a single grandchild who, out of desperation, sells everything for a few dollars. Who knows? Anything is possible. But I will still move forward with a multi-generational focus. I will plan for one possible future, start to implement it by creating tangible elements (swales, ponds, forests, structures, etc.), and then teach my children and grandchildren how to maintain it and mold it as they see fit. I know that my design is just a starting point and what will eventually unfold in fifty or one hundred years is going to be drastically different, but maybe not. Maybe the nut trees I plant will provide food to finish high quality hogs of a breed I developed. Maybe the ponds I build will provide fish dinners for my great grandchildren. Maybe the forest I plant will be a magical place to hunt mushroms for my great-great grandchildren.

Things have changed. My horizon is now fifty to one hundred years in the future, sometimes even a lot further. I see the future with new eyes. I now see that I am given a unique opportunity. I will be able to design a project that may last for hundreds or even thousands of years. I have the ability to lay the groundwork for something which will be benefiting people many generations in the future. In the more immediate future, my children and grandchildren will have something that truly meets their needs, and it may just provide many of their desires and wants. It will be something of real value, not just a pile of cash. It will be a true legacy.

I think of the possibilities that await for my descendants and their peers, all because of the work that I and people like me will do, I am so excited. Let us build the foundation so that our children may have peace.

 

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Photo References:

  • http://jcwinnie.biz/wordpress/imageSnag/4_24_2007leafwater.jpg

 

 

Permaculture Plants: Osage Orange

Common Name: Osage Orange, Hedge Apple, Horse Apple, Monkey Ball, Bodark, Bodock, Bowwood, and many more!
Scientific Name: Maclura pomifera
Family: Moraceae (the Mulberry or Fig family)

Most people see Osage Orange as a tree with heavy fruit drop that makes a mess.

Most people see Osage Orange as a tree with heavy fruit drop that makes a mess.

Description:
I love to read about plants that most people think are useless. Osage Orange is on the list of trees that many people see no need to have around. They have thorns, inedible fruit, and wood too hard to nail. But these thorny trees make a great livestock hedge, and the wood is perfect for fence posts and has the highest BTUs of any fuel wood in North America. The fruit has little to offer, but some swear it is a natural insect repellant and will keep a “hedge apple” under each bed in the house and in the basement. Osage Orange trees are fantastic windbreaks, are drought and flood tolerant, and provide shelter for nesting birds. This is probably not a tree for a small forest garden, but it is an ideal tree for a larger location especially if you want livestock hedgerows and a great fuel wood. I’ll keep this useless tree, thank you very much!

Maclura pomifera

Maclura pomifera

History:
Native to the Red River drainage of Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas in the United States, Osage Orange was widely spread through the United States and Canada in the 1930-40’s as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Great Plains Shelterbelt” project to combat the erosion and drought resulting in the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. It can now be found in all 48 states on the contiguous United States.

Osage Orange was a traditional, and very effective, living hedge for livestock.

Osage Orange was a traditional, and very effective, living hedge for livestock.

Trivia:

  • Osage Orange are not related to oranges, but the fruit does have a citrus-like fragrance.
  • The word “Osage” is in reference to the Osage Nation, a Native American tribe that originated in the Ohio River Valley but migrated west to the northern border of this tree’s natural range (Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma). It was told to Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame) that the people of the Osage Nation “so much … esteem the wood of this tree for the purpose of making their bows, that they travel many hundreds of miles in quest of it.”
  • Another name for the Osage Orange is bois d’arc which is French for “wood of the bow”.
  • The other names for Osage Orange are Bodark and Bodock, which are likely corruptions of the French name.
  • Osage Orange wood rivals yew for the top bow wood in the world. At one point, a good Osage Orange bow was equal in value to a horse and a blanket.
  • Osage Orange wood is very hard and dense – great for tool handles, crafts, furniture, etc. It needs to be pre-drilled before screwed. Nailing is almost impossible.
  • Osage Orange resists rotting and insects – similar to cedar and black locust. An ideal wood for posts.
  • The new stems on young trees have notable thorns. Osage Orange was used as living hedges before the invention of barbed wire. When grown closely together and pruned, these hedges were considered “bull strong, hog tight, and horse high”.
  • Osage Orange is dioecious (have male and female plants), but the female plant (pistillate) will still produce fruit without pollination… it just lacks seeds! The trees take about 10 years to mature, and it is not really possible to determine gender of the tree before then (i.e. before flowering and fruiting).
  • It is odd that such a large fruit is not a regular food source for animals. The seeds are extracted by rodents, but not much else. It is believed that the fruit of Osage Orange was a food source, maybe a prime food source, for giant sloths and mammoths of the Pleistocene (which ended about 12,000 years ago).
  • The fruit is considered an aggregate fruit (like its relative the mulberry) composed of many one-seeded drupes.
  • It is said that the fruit has a natural pest-repelling ability, but the proof of this is hard to verify. It is most commonly reported to repel cockroaches. I have a strong dislike of cockroaches, even if I see their role in the environment, so my home will have Osage Orange fruits for sure!
Osage Orange wood may be the best wood in North America for fuel.

Osage Orange wood may be the best wood in North America for fuel.

Osage Orange bows rival yew as the best in the world.

Osage Orange bows rival yew as the best in the world.

USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Windbreak – historically, this was its claim to fame, and its reason for spread over the continent
  • Edible Seeds – reportedly tasts like raw sunflower seeds. Can be eated raw or roasted. They are difficult to obtain. The fruit is not edible.

Secondary Uses:

  • Hedge – can be grown closely together to make a living hedge impenetrable by livestock (see Trivia above). When grown as a hedge, plant them no more than 4-5 feet apart. They can always be thinned later if needed. When grown this close together, the trees will grow more like tall shrubs, typically not growing taller than 20 feet (6 meters).
  • Wildlife Shelter – cover and nesting sites for small mammals and birds.
  • Wildlife Food Source – squirrels love the seeds! Not many other animals eat this fruit.
  • Drought tolerant once established
  • Maritime tolerant – can tolerate conditions near oceans or large salt-water bodies
  • Flood tolerant – this tree can withstand occasional flooding (this makes sense as it originates in the floodplain of the Red River floodpains.
  • Wood – posts, crafts, furniture, tool handles, archery bows (Osage Orange is not typically harvested for lumber considering that it can be small, knotty, and crooked).
  • Fuel – Osage Orange is fast growing and its wood has the highest BTU content of any North American wood (wood that is commonly available, that is). It is very dense, so it burns long and hot – like anthacite coal. It weighs 4,700-4,800+ lbs (2,130-2,175 kg) per cord and produces 30-32+ million BTU (British Thermal Units) per cord. Amazing! Note that it does spark (like Black Locust) and needs to be in a closed stove or enclosed fireplace if used indoors. It also does not light easily, and works best on a fire that has an established bed of coals.
  • Coppice Plant – at least one good source states that Osage Orange “sprouts vigorously from the stump”.
  • Pollution tolerant – Osage Orange can tolerate poor quality air, soil, and water in urban areas.
  • Pioneer Plant – helps reestablish overused or damaged land
  • Ornamental Plant – there are a number of thornless male cultivars sold as an ornamental

Yield: Not applicable.
Harvesting: Not applicable.
Storage: Not applicable.

Typical form of Osage Orange.

Typical form of Osage Orange.

...but Osage Orange can grow into a lot of crooked shapes.

…but Osage Orange can grow into a lot of crooked shapes.

...and can sometimes be fairly tall.

…and can sometimes be fairly tall.

Osage Orange will turn yellow in Autumn, but not always this vibrant.

Osage Orange will turn yellow in Autumn, but not always this vibrant.

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 4-10
AHS Heat Zone: Zone 10-1
Chill Requirement: Possible, but no reliable information is available, and as this is not a typical food plant, this is not as important.

Plant Type: Large Shrub to Small/Medium-Sized Tree
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Canopy Layer, Sub-Canopy Layer, Shrub Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: There are a few cultivars that have been developed, mainly for ornamental use.

Pollination: Osage Orange is dioecious – meaning that there are male and female plants. Typically, one pale will pollinate up to eight females for fruit production (if that is desired). Pollinated by the wind.
Flowering: Late Spring to early Summer.

Life Span:
No good information available, but there are a number of trees in North America that are between 200-300 years old.

Osage Orange flowers: male on top and female on bottom (from two different trees!)

Osage Orange flowers: male on top and female on bottom (from two different trees!)

Very hard and sharp thorns grow on young wood.

Very hard and sharp thorns grow on young wood.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT

Size: 40-60 feet (12-18 meters) feet tall and up to 40 feet (12 meters) wide, 1-2 feet (30-60 centimeter) trunk diameter
Roots: Taproot is most typical. One specimen had roots more than 27 feet (8.2 meters) deep! If grown in shallow soils, the roots can spread laterally. The lateral roots can grow at or above the soil surface. There are multiple sources that state Osage Orange can be transplanted easily, and to me this implies that the taproot establishes itself a bit later as most trees with taproots do not tolerate transplanting well.
Growth Rate: Medium-Fast

The fruit contains edible, but not very good, seeds.

The fruit contains edible, but not very good, seeds.

The fruit is actually a congregate fruit containing many druplets.

The fruit is actually an aggregate fruit composed of many one-seeded drupes.

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates little shade
Moisture: Dry to wet soils.
pH: 4.5-??? (tolerates a very wide range of soil conditions)

Special Considerations for Growing:

  • Osage Orange prefers moist soils, but it will grow in just about any condition.
  • It is likely that Osage Orange is tolerant of juglone (a natural growth inhibitor produced by Black Walnut and its relatives), so consider growing Osage Orange as a buffer between your Black Walnut and other plantings.

Propagation:
Fairly easy from seed… if you can get the seed! Most people soak the whole fruit in a bucket of water until it gets mushy. The seeds can be separated out of the fruit much easier then. The seeds can be sown immediately or stored for up to 3 years. Pre-soaking stored seeds for 48 hours in warm water and 6-8 weeks of cold stratification may help germination – this mimics the natural wet and cold Winter. Can also be propagated via cuttings of new growth in Summer and old growth or roots in Winter (when dormant). Osage Orange can be propagated via layering as well.

Maintenance:
Minimal. Regular pruning if desired, but Osage Orange is virtually pest and disease free.

Concerns:

  • The large fruit which are not consumed by most animals can make a large mess
  • While many people have claimed that Osage Orange fruits are poisonous and have killed their livestock, numerous studies have shown this to be false. However, there have been a number of cases where cattle or horses have choked to death on the large fruit.
  • This plant has thorns! This can be used to our advantage, but this needs to be kept in mind when planting this tree.
  • There have been a few reports of people having allergic-type skin reactions to the milky sap in the stems and fruit.
  • Dispursive – Osage Orange can grow well from seed and can spread easily.

 

 

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Photo References:

  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Osage_orange_1.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/72/Lasdon_Arboretum_-_Maclura_pomifera_-_IMG_1420.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Frutto_sconosciuto_forse_Maclura_pomifera_1.JPG
  • http://newfs.s3.amazonaws.com/taxon-images-1000s1000/Moraceae/maclura-pomifera-fr-sbaskauf-c.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Nantes_GrandBlottereau_Maclura_pomifera.jpg
  • http://botanicalillustrations.org/ILLUSTRATIONS_thumbnails/63583.jpg
  • http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/Uploads/asset_files/000/012/719/winterthur_horse_jumps.JPG
  • http://www.cirrusimage.com/Trees/Moraceae/Cudrania_tricuspidata_3.jpg
  • http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/biohires/m/hmapo–flmale-female22385.jpg
  • http://hedgerowselfbows.webs.com/osagebows.jpg
  • http://redhawk55.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/bxplo-tools-2-5-2013.jpg
  • http://www.winburn.com/Images/OsageOrangeLogs.jpg
  • http://www.baltimorebrew.com/content/uploads/2012/11/sandy-osage-druid-monument.jpg
  • http://simplestylenyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/DSC00822.jpg
  • http://pbio209.pbworks.com/f/1205107623/crown.jpg