I'm far behind in going through my photos. A bit before the Innovators Event, I moved from Allerton Abbey to Wofati 0.8. At the new place i saw a different plant community than over at the first Wofati. I took these about a month ago, so fall has advanced a bit since then.
These photos are all from the same day. The first two of the same aster in different growth stages. Still not sure on its ID.
The third photo is the massive trunk of a lamb's quarters that was growing on the roof of 0.8. It was at least 1.5 inches thick. This plant is pumping huge amounts organic matter into and onto our soil.
With the Innovators Event over, i can think about photos again.
The first photo is some of the oregano i brought from Minnesota in bloom. They started out as tiny seedlings and ended up doing pretty well growing next to the house. I kept trying to get a better picture of it, without any success. Now it is just about all done for the year. It has tons of tiny seeds which we are spreading around the lab.
The second photo is of some bear tracks on the road sorta between Wofati 0.8 and Ant Village. You can see some of the imprints the fur made in the fine dust on the road.
The third photo is a spider crossing the driveway by the berm shed. It looks like a darker version of the cat faced spider. I wonder if this one blends better with the ponderosa pine bark and the lighter spiders can hide better on the white paint of the house.
I don't think you even need to make a tincture. The milky sap is already a concentrated source of the medicinals. It is also extremely bitter, so you might want to put it in some kind of capsule. The best time to harvest is when it is flowering as the plant has the highest concentration of pain relievers at that time. I think the traditional way to harvest is to cut off the flowers while blooming and collect the sap that forms on the ends of the stalks. The plant will continue to grow new flower buds which you can continue to harvest for several weeks.
Because of the construction happening at Allerton Abbey, i moved over to wofati 0.8. There are lots of different plants growing there even though it is just a short walk away. Here i have three photos of what looks to be Cutleaf Nightshade (Solanum triflorum) that was growing outside of 0.8. It is growing as a low ground cover in some fairly sandy soil. It doesn't seem to have been bothered by the recent frosts we had. Hopefully the fruit ripens enough to save some seed. The ripe berries are edible raw or cooked. The unripe berries and leaves of this plant are mildly toxic. In the past it was used in times of food shortage, so maybe it doesn't taste that good.
The first photo is of a Valencia winter melon that was growing on the compost pile that heats the showers at basecamp. It is supposed to keep up to four months in the winter. I'm excited to try it, so i think we'll probably eat it before then.
The second photo is of a watermelon that didn't get frosted and it still holding on (also on the shower compost heater). Maybe it will ripen a bit more before it's too late.
I've been collecting materials for the upcoming Pyronauts Event. Last time i was in Missoula, i picked up the stuff in the third photo from Home ReSource, which is a cool non-profit that recycles construction materials. Some of them know of Paul and wanted to support alternative energy, so they gave us 50% off!
The first photo is the Western conifer seed bug (Leptogolossus occidentalis). These are trying to get in all the buildings to find a warm place to overwinter, similar to the massing of Box-elder bugs we had in Minnesota. The adults and nymphs feed on the sap of cone seeds and buds. When disturbed, they will produce an unpleasant defensive smell.
The second photo is of some kind of mustard growing on a berm at basecamp. Any ideas as to species? I'll try to borrow Kai's ID book to figure it out later.
The third photo is Josh with bug-eyes on. He was moving some dirt for the berm shed and it was pretty windy. He grabbed these goggles to keep the sand from his eyes, and i thought he looked pretty awesome.
The first photo is of a couple of antlion sand traps. These were under a tree at the edge of a basecamp berm. The larvae wait at the bottom of their excavations in dry sand. When an ant or other small arthropod falls into the trap, the antlion pelts it with sand to make sure it can't climb out. Once their prey is at the bottom of the trap, they grab it with their relatively large jaws and pull it under. Sometimes the larvae are called doodlebugs because of the tracks they leave as they search for a good trap location. That would explain the picture labeled IMG_1548.JPG in this earlier post.
Kai and i planted a lot of peas recently (especially Kai). They are coming up all over and the second photo is one growing on a berm at basecamp. We inoculated them to make sure they'd fix some nitrogen and grow some good mulch before winter.
The third photo is of a sunchoke flower at basecamp. The are doing really well along the top of the berms. It is drier up there, but they don't usually seem to mind. They have multiplied to form a fairly full wall, extending the height of the berms another 5 or 6 feet. I guess they didn't bloom last year, and only a few clumps are blooming this year.
The first photo is a bunch of ferments that just finished. The two jars on the left are pickled daikon radish i harvested from the berms at basecamp. I still hope to make some veggie sushi out of these. The middle jar is pickled red radishes. I love the color these turned the brine. The two jars on the right are pickled broccoli stalks (one with a little brine from pickled beets). This was the first time i've tried any of these pickles. While they all came out good, the broccoli stalks were amazing! Pretty sure this is the best use of those stems. I made all of these using only a simple brine (like this).
The back gate on the big dump trailer here was torn off recently while someone was moving dirt for some berms. I used a plasma cutter to cut some new (stonger) parts and welded them on the the back of the trailer. I forgot to take pictures during the repair, but here is the finished pivot point before the gate was re-installed.
The third photo is of a sunflower i planted at basecamp with some long droopy petals.
Julia, i hope you were talking about the broccoli. I'm sure Jocelyn will make something yummy out of it.
Cassie, thanks for cross posting those photos. Thanks to Madison for taking them!
Evan thanks for catching me on top of the berm!
Today i have two photos of a mystery weed. It grows pretty low along the ground on the sides of some of the roads at basecamp. Its fuzziness is great for catching seeds from prickly lettuce, salsify, stork's bill, fireweed, spreading dog's bane, and whatever else might blow in. It has squarish stems, so maybe something in the mint family?
The third photo is wild mint (Mentha arvensis). Fresh or dried it makes a nice tea. Fresh they can be added to salads or drinks.
Gary, according to MT F&W: "Adult mountain lions vary in weight from 85-120 pounds for females to 120-180 pounds for males, and may reach seven to eight feet in length from their nose to the tip of their tail. Mountain lions typically are two to three feet high at the shoulder." So, pretty powerful little kitties. Luckily they are not fond of hanging around humans.
First is an owl that i saw hanging out just outside Allerton Abbey. Evan tried to move in closer for a better picture and it took off. My good camera was down in basecamp, so all i have is this pretty blurry photo. Maybe it will be back, as there are plenty of small rodents in the area.
The second photo is of a Short-tailed Weasel (Mustela erminea), also know as a stoat. I found it near one of the berms at basecamp. Not sure what got it. I'm guessing it moved into the area because of the abundance of chipmunks and rabbits, both of which are prey for this mid-sized weasel. In the winter its coat will change to white (except the dark tip of the tail). It will hunt under the snow and specializes in hunting voles. It will nest in rock piles, brush piles, rotting stumps, and in the burrows of rodents it has killed. It will line its nest cavity with fur from prey.
The third photo is a little broccoli that is growing on the berms at basecamp.
Bill, that first track was only an inch or two, so maybe something like a skunk or something weasel-y? I think the second one was too small for a raccoon and more like the size of a chipmunk or squirrel. The third one i added the tape measure because i thought it might help differentiate between a fox and coyote. Thanks for the input!
Today's photos are all of some ladybugs (in different stages) that were on some lamb's quarters. As a larva, a ladybug can consume as many as 700 aphids. As an adult, they can eat 5000 aphids. There weren't too many aphids on the lamb's quarters (and quite a few ladybugs), so they must have had quite a meal.
I finally remembered to bring down the Scat and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains to compare it to some tracks i had seen earlier. It's a good book but the tracks are so variable i'm still not sure on the ID's for these tracks. Any ideas?
Cam, i just used the recipe from Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation. It is a great book that tells you how to ferment lots of different things.
First is a photo of a flower i found growing by the back gate at basecamp. Not sure how it got there. Looks like it might be Wild Petunia (Petunia integrifolia). The flowers are so vibrant!
The second is another daikon radish (Raphanus sativus) ready to harvest. I might have to try making pickled daikon. Veggie sushi, here we come. If only i could find an avocado tree around here.
The last photo is the flower from garlic chives (Allium tuberosum). I brought several clumps of these with me from Minnesota. I thought they mostly didn't make it. But, now i'm seeing their blooms around the berms at basecamp. These are a very hardy perennial allium. They will divide and the clumps will grow, but they will also spread easily by seed. I hope we get some seeds off these to spread them around the Lab. They are one of first green things in the spring and they are deliciously edible. I would often grab some and throw it into a sandwich or salad. In Minnesota, they always seemed to have lush growth no matter how much we harvested, or how little it rained.
The pressure canner has been getting some more use.
I canned a couple of batches of beans. This will make it way faster to have a healthy dinner. Now all i have to do is open a jar and mix it with the other food i'm cooking (usually brown rice and some veggies) instead of waiting for beans to cook. Thanks to the awesome person that sent the canner!
The first two photos are two more unidentified spiders from basecamp. The first had a lot of debris from previous meals decorating its web. All of the ones like this were pretty small. The second one was rather large and is missing one leg and was slowly climbing the wall.
The third photo is some kimchi that i made using daikon and garlic from basecamp. Yum, spicy ferments!
All of today's photos are of some orb weaver spiders living around the house at basecamp. They are the Cat-Faced Spider (Araneus gemmoides). These spiders hide out during the day. Like most orb weavers, they seem to build a new web each night (after eating the old one). They have a pattern on their back that with two protruding bumps resembles a cat face. The female will lay a big egg sac in the fall with hundreds of eggs inside. In the spring the eggs will hatch and the spiders will let our a line of silk to go ballooning to a new location.
If you look close at the underside view, you can see the spinnerets.
Sorry i haven't been posting much. Everything has been shrouded in smoke from fires in the region and i haven't taken that many photos. We got a little rain the last couple of days, and now the air is clear.
The first photo is of one of the berms at basecamp. Usually, behind the berm you can see mountains behind mountains, behind mountains. It was so smokey we could hardly see the closest mountain!
The second photo is some bulbils from Egyptian walking onions that my friend sent me from Minnesota. Thanks Mike! Now we can multiply the numbers of this great onion faster. Some of these were already getting little roots - they can't wait to grow!
I took advantage of Paul and Jocelyn's kitchen vacancy during their trip to Seattle and made a big batch of strawberry jam. These strawberries had such an intense flavor, the jam is perfect.
The good thing about plants that pull salt from the soil is that you don't have to remove them from the property to reduce salinity. The plant locks up the salt within it's cells and leaving them as a mulch layer can help reduce salinity further by reducing evaporation. One of the best ways to remediate salty soil is to add tons of organic matter. Both kochia and foxtail are salt tolerant plants. (I'm not sure if you're getting them both in the same area.) Letting them grow and die there will add organic matter. Eventually these plants will improve the soil to the point that something else can grow there. If you are adding salty irrigation water from a well, you might be perpetuating the problem.
If you have animals to eat the foxtail before it forms seed heads, that's good (it will occasionally injure animals after that). If you mow or scythe it, that will be good too. If you do nothing, that will do good, it'll just take longer. Foxtail (Horbeum jerbatum) has an extensive root system and is great for preventing erosion.
Animals can eat a small amount of kochia (Bassia scoparia), but if that is their only forage, they will become sick because of the high oxalate levels. The young leaves and shoots are edible when cooked, but the same applies to us humans - don't eat too much. The seeds are edible and a delicacy in Japan and can also be ground into a flour. Here is Green Deane's take on it.
If you want something else to grow in that area, you can speed up the process by adding tons of mulch.
The first photo is of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) or lucerne if you are not in the US. This is a great perennial nitrogen fixer. Most of the time it will live between four and eight years. This drought resistant plant has an incredibly deep root system. Usually the taproots are 6 to 12 feet deep, but under ideal conditions they can easily grow to 30 ft and sometimes more than 60! There is a plant at a Nevada mine tunnel that was found to have 130 ft deep roots! They are an insectary plant and attract many beneficial insects. The seeds can be easily sprouted and eaten, though they are small and might not be worth the trouble of collecting and cleaning.
The second and third photos are of Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium). The seeds are spread by wind and can last in the soil for many years. When a site is disturbed (by humans, or fire) fireweed is one of the first pioneers to show up. After trees and shrubs get established fireweed doesn't compete well and will die off. The young shoots are edible but become tough and bitter as they get older. A fiber from the stems can be used to make cordage. Fireweed is used by many species of wildlife.
It makes sense that the rat-tailed maggots would be in your seaweed water, Sue, as i read about people getting them in their comfrey tea. We have obviously made that water pretty foul and they are trying to help clean up.
Today i've got something nicer to look at: growies!
The first is a watermelon growing at the teepee. Will it make it in time? I hope so, though it did get a bit of a late start.
The second and third are a squash that is growing by Allerton Abbey. It has been putting on tons of lush growth. I'm sure no sunlight is reaching the ground beneath it. It has layers of leaves over layers of leaves (not to mention several inches of mulch). It finally got a few female flowers, so we might get some food out of it after all.
Today's photos are all of the Rat-tailed maggot/Drone fly (most commonly Eristalis tenax). These showed up in a garbage can of cow pies that has been soaking in water to soften for cob making. If you see these in a natural body of water, it means there is a serious pollution issue. They are only attracted to stagnant water with an abundance of organic matter (usually manure). If these weren't in a plastic garbage can, then pretty foul stuff would be leaching into the ground water. They use their tail as an extendable breathing tube so they can live and feed underwater. The pupae usually are found somewhere drier and have some little horns sticking out. The adults mimic honey bees, but have only one pair of wings and will usually have a more darting and hovering flight pattern. The adults feed on nectar and act as beneficial pollinators. This adult has just emerged from the pupal case and its wings and exoskeleton aren't quite stiff yet and the coloring is dull (sorry the focus is a bit off).
First photo is another crawler crossing the road at night. I saw the tracks in the sand and when i followed them up the road a bit, i found another Rubber Boa (Charina bottae). This one was far enough from the last one to be sure it is a different snake. They have a surprisingly small range (as small as 100 sq yards). They feel so neat, it's always nice to find one of these.
More ferments! The second photo is some sauerkraut i made (this time with only green cabbage and a little caraway mixed in) and some pickled parsnips (with a little carrot and ginger). I bartered for the cabbage, and found the parsnips in town.
The third photo is me next to one of the huge Lamb's quaters (Chenopodium) growing outside Allerton Abbey. We have been regularly harvesting leaves from these plants and soon it will be time to harvest the seed. I don't know if i'll bother trying to harvest any to eat, but i'll certainly collect some for distribution around the Lab. PM me if you want a packet of seeds from plants that can grow this big in rather poor soil with no irrigation and way below normal rainfall. (It might not look so big if Paul was standing next to it)