In the Sepp article I mentioned earlier (which I think is a book excerpt?) , his main emphasis is on the angle of the beds, and the whole point is to keep them steep enough to avoid soil compaction, and allow oxygenation - he mentions too flat beds run the risk of anaerobic decomposition of the organic material- which would mean a smelly mess.
Clearly that is not always an issue, since there are many examples of folks on here using flatter beds that work fine.. I'm personally working with wood that is already quite rotted, so I think probably not a problem, maybe more so with really green wood?
As for stepping stones, at a couple of points on the bed I've been building, I've used blocks of wood- i.e. chunks of tree trunks cut for various reasons, a few fresh and green, some old and rotten to contain soil around the bottom, and secondarily, they will also provide steps to more easily access some sections of the bed (especially the non-rotten ones
BTWm Brenda, I think your bed is plenty big enough for a terrace in the sense I understood it, more of a path- I would put it a foot or so above the bottom- just enough to allow you to reach the top easily, and just creat a flat section wide enough to stand/walk on- either all around or just in periodic spots to allow access. You could even lay planks around at that point, or insert blocks of wood to stand on as I mentioned above..
Its looking good anyway, Brenda
Another thought for the top could be hardy small native shrubs like currants/gooseberries- Ribes species. Super tough and adaptable. I'm hoping not to have problems reaching the top of the bed I'm building , but was thinking of some native Ribes for stabilisation and tolerance of drought.
Yours looks like it went a lot faster than mine that I am doing by hand...lol I'll also be doing some lower beds just because I don't have that much time available again...lol
When building any kind of garden bed, I always practise reaching across during construction at various phases to make sure that every point can be reached from somewhere outside- this applies to width as well as height.
Read the ( I think it's second) article on this page, Sepp discusses some of the basic issues with hugelbeets, he talks about height and angle, and mentions a terrace on the top for really high beds- no picture of that unfortunately, so not sure if he means a path right along the ridge, or a terrace/path somewhere on the side- the latter I think would work well for you, Brenda- maybe a third of the way up....
Interesting stuff so far, Chris, looking forward to updates.
Have you seen or heard of something similar to the denim wicking? I've had vague thoughts in those directions- more thinking about using fabric etc to slow water loss from shallow reservoir areas near beds, the wicking adds another element.. curious to hear how it goes..
Our snow is mostly gone (still some big piles along the driveway in shade) especially in the areas where there are usually voles- little or no sign of them this year- I guess they must have had a natural population crash last year, so in spite of the long snow season when they usually thrive, no activity in or near any beds..
I'm not in a really dry area, but not wet either- we are in an area naturally covered with mixed boreal forest, so definitely a bit more moisture than the parkland and then grassland to the east of here. We get around 500mm/19inches average, but varies a lot from year to year. Luckily, much of our rain comes in early through mid summer when it's needed most, but a good chunk of our precip is also in snow.
I've definitely been watching snowfall/ snow collection patterns on our acreage, the farm beyond, and the area in general. I haven't figured out all of the mechanisms, but the variations are huge even in a small area, and clearly area factor in growing season moisture for specific sites.
For example, even on my just under 6 acres, which is almost completely surrounded by trees on all sides, and about half of which is forest, so wind is not much of a factor, snowcover in midwinter can vary from a couple of inches or less to well over a foot! (not counting the areas where it is piled from shovelling, where it can bee from a couple of feet to over 6 feet).
The areas with least snow are inside mostly coniferous woods, and under/near individual spruce trees in the open. Of course these are shady areas, mostly dryish in summer, and while there are native plants that grow there, including some berries and potential medicinals, they will not be the focus of intensive planting.
The second area with lightish snow cover, and which melts the fastest (warm spells during winter as well as in spring) is the south side of a solid line of woods- esp spruce- and again, in front of individual spruce trees. So these areas will tend to be dry, but also warm far in advance of other sites- I started some advance work for new plantings already weeks ago in a strip like this, when the snow was still knee deep a few metres farther out! I plan on using this warm strip to plant crops that have difficulties in our short/cool summer, as well as some dryland species that I like to grow, and I'll have to work carefully with mulching and hugeling to conserve enough moisture for the mesic plants, trenching/swales for moisture loving plants and reservoirs of moisture for the others.
Open wooded areas of poplars, birch and scattered spruce get medium to deep snow, clearings get med to deep snow, and open areas on the north side of trees get med to deep snow which can last a really long time- many weeks after the south exposure areas are dry.
Interestingly, I've noticed the deepest snow of all is in the low, wetland areas (not talking about tiny depressions, but what we call sloughs, with small to medium woodies or only grass and sedges, areas which can span many acres). Presumably this is partly due to wind depositing snow in the lowest areas, but these sloughs are not necessarily surrounded by open land, could be forest all around, so not that much snow could be blowing in. And presumably partly because low areas receive less sun when the sun is low, but again, some of these areas are not wooded, fully exposed to sun, and still have deep snow. I feel there must be another mechanism/s that I haven't figured out yet, but the end result is that the same areas that receive spring run off and run off from heavy rains, which are lowest and wettest in summer also receive the most snow of all the local land types.
Not yet sure how these observations can amount to useful strategies, but I think it's worth noting the complexities in the water patterns even over a small area.
To get the most from snow, some of my initial thoughts would be: a snow fence as mentioned above, particularly for a windy site- noting it may do a couple of things: the slats slow the wind passing through, causing it to drop its load of snow, mostly on the lee side- that is, carry the snow through and drop it. That may be the sunny or shady side, depending where your wind comes from. If its the sunny side, I'd suggest a second fence to shade the resulting drift and help it melt more slowly (and of course, stop some more snow of its own). Once you worked out the ideal site with the fences (and ideal distance between- a metre or two?), you could plant a twin row of shrubs/hedges to slow the snow and shade it between them, trapping the moisture to support their own growth. You could most likely enhance the whole process even more by having the shrubs on hugels to raise their windstopping profile, and a swale between to hold more moisture longer. In a dry climate, that intermound swale might be the spot for trees, and of course could be used for any other more moisture loving plants, which would also benefit from reduction of dessicating wind in the growing season. I'd probably also put a depression in front of and behind the hugels/shrub lines, though you could probably reach a point where too much depression on the windward side of the first windbreak, and too high a windbreak, might stop all of the snow at the back, with none to go through....
Another thought is that if you have enough snow to need shovelling/removal you can strategise to move some of that snow to areas that need it more. We have numerous paths to shovel here, besides a lot of driveway, and I am both deliberately throwing snow onto dry areas when they are reachable, and trying to move it away from areas that I know collect excessive moisture in the spring... This could be taken further if you were using mechanical snow removal- eg piling the snow by a pond/swale or other reservoir area- I would suggest not piling the snow on the pond as it might take too long to melt, but rather piling it above/behind so the sun would hit the front of the pile and melt it down into the pond/swale.
I also have depressions dug around all of my ornamental beds- rock gardens and woodland gardens etc- besides providing soil to raise the bed, this makes it easier to mow around for one thing, and prevent grass etc from spreading into the beds, but of course after snow and rain these fill with water temporarily, keeping moisture in the vicinity of the beds to wick up. Naturally I will be doing this with edible beds I'm building as well, and in some cases I am looking at edible and medicinal plants that specifically want to grow in low/moist areas....
Hi DJ- I agree the smaller, really spiny Opuntias would be a drag to de-spine- burning would be one approach, or heavy gloves and a sharp knife. However, you should be able to grow in your zone some forms that are larger and less spiny (they all have glochids- small insignificant looking hairy fuzzy things in the areoles around the spines that will stick in your skin- never tough them bare handed even if they look spineless) and would be better. There are a lot of cactus growers in Co, so if you start googling you should be able to find some good stuff.
We don't have the hot days, so we can often grow cooler weather crops all summer, but definitely long season things have a hard time ripening here, and I wouldn't even consider planting things in the fall unless they are hardy enough to live over winter- the season is not long enough to accomplish anything, so I can relate to you on that!
As a non-meat eater, I've come to the conclusion that, as romantic as the 'food forest' idea sounds, I have yet to see any realistic set of plants that could fuel a filling and balanced diet in a cold winter forest garden without including animal foods (which I'm not going to) or some annual crops on a permanent basis. There are interesting nut possibilities for sure- we discuss them in the thread above..
Re: cold and dry regions- my area is probably colder in winter than most of Colorado, but also cooler in summer, and less dry. However, there are chestnuts that are hardy here, so that could be an option. Also, as annuals, I don't think Quinoa was mentioned above- a great staple option which is not a cereal (grass) and also provides greens. Maybe Amaranth as well, if your summer nights aren't a problem- here short/cool night summers are a real issue for any of those hot summer crops, but I'm hoping some heat trapping hugel designs may help!
Outside of those staples, tons of native plants that provide berries, greens and some roots-- we need to look outside the veggie seed catalogues and develop selections from some of the native plants
You could look at Camassia ( a beautiful 'lily' with edible bulbs), Hedysarum ( a pea relative with edible root), there is an Astragalus also, from the prairies, (another pea relative) with edible seedpods, etc etc..
Neowerdermannia is not going to be a fast grower (understatement!), so even if they are hardy enough for Colorado (not a whole lot of South American cacti are hardy enough for North America) you would be waiting many years to get a plant the size of one potato. If they were hardy, I'd be putting them in a rock garden and never eating them...lol but that's me as a cactus lover Frankly, I'd have the same problme with Camassia- if I were ever to get a big patch going, I'd hate to dig any! No such qualms with daylilies
However, cacti is not a bad idea- you'd want mostly Opuntia/pricky pear of which there are many species, and quite a few growable in various parts of Colorado. Not all have juicy fruits, but many do, as well as edible pads- lots of info available on that subject, and many of them will grow quite abundantly, giving you a good harvest once you get a patch going.
Hi, DJ, I guess translation will depend on the browser you use- I use the free google chrome, and right at the top of any page not in english (or probably whatever language you have it set to) is a bar you can click on to translate the page. Usually not perfect translations, but enough with this kind of page to give you an idea. You can also open a google search page and click the drop down menu 'more' to the right at the top of the page, translate is one of the options, and then you can paste in sentences or paragraphs (?) to translate.
I haven't tried this yet myself, though I have done lots of mulching with leaves and grass, but my property is quite (not 100%) sheltered from wind. In the pics it seems they covered the soil in straw, then laid long branches with green leaves on top- these branches seem to go from bottom to top and should really help hold the straw in place. Then the 'spikes' driven in and cross pieces laid, to further hold the slope in place. I think if needed, you could even throw more branches on top while you wait for plants to sprout.. Are you able to wet your mulch? seems like that would make it less vulnerable to the wind...
I also think (I looked at so many pages the other day, they blur..lol) I read someone suggesting rooting currants or other vining/sprawling woodies at the beginning to help anchor the thing and provide shelter for seedlings. Wherever I got that idea, I am going to try this with a variety of our native currants and gooseberries, all of which have fairly open growth, so they will be easy to have other plants around, and several commonly grow on brushpiles etc here, so the habitat will be great for them...
The suggestion (assuming the translation and my interpretation of it are accurate) seems to be to tramp on the bottom of the hill only, to provide a solid base. I think (?) I also read somewhere to tramp down the inner layers- logs and other organic material, so it doesn't all collapse right away...
Lots of good stuff in this thread- I think I'm on about page 11!
Just thought there might be some others who find these links useful-
The first is a site which has pdfs on a range of related topcis, but of particular interest on this thread is one entitled 'Hugelkultur Raised Beds' which includes a couple of short articles and a longer one which I guess is an excerpt from one of Sepp Holzer's books- some good stuff in there, for those of us who have not seen the books, clarifying some of his approaches.
Second is a Romanian page with photos from an SH supervised hugel build in Ukraine. Text is in Romanian, and while many photos are self explanatory, google chrome was able to more or less translate the page, and some of the comments are helpful- dealing with the angle of the slope, bracing etc and some idea of what was seeded where..
Here's another link I came across while searching, I was thinking I should post this on the hugel thread, since the slope is something that comes up often.
This page is in Romanian, but google translate gave a rough idea of what is going on- most of the pics are pretty self- explanatory, but there are some notes also about what is seeded where, for example:
One comment says "Hill slope angle is 60-70 degrees. To do this, while deposit soil on the ridge, stepping up the middle hill to seal the bottom and the top will not collapse." I think this means you are tramping down the base to the middle heights to make the base strong. Also, it is mulched immediately after the soil is piled, to support the surface, and it seems there are vine/bramble cuttings layed on right after the mulch, as well as other branches laid vertically to help support. Then, at one point we see SH hammering pieces of wood into the mound, and then long pieces are supported on those- this seems to be to form an outer support about halfway down-it says"Submit long sticks, branches, logs thin, they will keep mulch and enhance slope."
Then it is all seeded right away! There is no timeline given, might have been all in one day? The project was in the Ukraine (more comments at the top of page) even though the text is in Romanian.
On this site (lots of good info- pdfs to download, follow all the links on the left)
http://permaculturetools.wikispaces.com/Earthworks+%26+Water Open the pdf entitled Hugelkulture Raised Beds, scroll down a couple of pages (great stuff above that too) and there is some info from/about Sepp Holzer (I think it's an excerpt from one of his books) covering a lot of detail about building and managing hugelbeets. Here is part of what he says about weeds:
I deal with any unwanted plants as
I wander around the farm. I simply pull
them up and leave them there with their
roots facing up. If the weather is very
dry and it is around midday, then this is
even more effective, because the plants
dry out and do not take root again.
Mulching, in other words spreading
straw, hay, leaves or similar organic
matter, is a good way to keep these
unwanted plants in check; it also keeps
the soil covered and retains moisture.
If it's the native species, it isn't invasive. (natives belong, so they can't invade).
Mowing isn't always effective for Opuntia, since, depending on conditions, the cut up pieces are quite capable of rooting and growing more plants. Also anything that doesn't actually remove the plants physically runs the risk of leaving spines in place to get you down the road sometime..
Hugelkultur would work- they will not grow up through a thick layer of wood and soil- as long as you will never be sticking your hands into the layers that have the cacti (see previous note!)
The plants grow from seed as well as rooted pieces, but neither way is fast to establish- if you dig up all the pieces they can't grow back any time soon, it will not come back from roots, and seeds take years to reach any size.
Definitely if you could waterlog the area, cacti do not like prolonged wet, but you'd still need to get rid of the spiney corpses.. The only thing I can think of getting rid of the plant entirely without digging might be a long hot fire..
Why not advertise for local cactus lovers to come rescue them? Many people treasure their native cacti and have beautiful gardens built around the locals and many other species.
A couple of comments (without specifically researching what you actually sowed):
First, there is a lot of misinformation and conflicting information out there about germination, so it its not surprising to find something germinate at warm or without stratification that you read /heard needed strat. Often what has been passed down as gospel is what worked for someone somewhere- doesn't mean it was necessary or the only option.
Second, stratification of many kinds is meant to break seed dormancy, and that dormancy can be variable even within geographical varieties of the same species, and at different ages of the same seed batch- some seeds will germinate easily if fresh, and not at all if not fresh or may need stratification, or temperature cycling if not fresh (some woodlanders, for example) , and others are the opposite- fresh seed is hard to germinate, but older seed germinates easily (this is true of some cacti). Some things are erratic germinators no matter what you do. So, numerous reports of different results for the same species could all be true.
Many things have an ideal germination trigger, but will germinate a few individuals under other circumstances.
Definitely there is nothing so simple as most perennials either needing or not needing stratification-- some families such as Asteraceae or Brassicaceae have relatively few perennial species needing strat (but they do have them!), other families like Liliaceae or Ranunculaceae seem to have few spp that don't need stratification, and often more complicated things like warm cold warm etc. i grow a lot of seed of natives, alpines, woodlanders, drylanders etc-- tons wont do anything with strat or cycling, tons of others will germinate easily at warm or coo with no strat.. not a few take a couple of years of outdoor temperature cycling.
So, you really need to research each individual species as much as possible, and some things you just have to try.. no generalisations will get you far at all...
Some people give unknown things a a few weeks at warm to see if they will germinate, and if they don't, they get cold. If doing that, you might want to give them only the average 4C recommended for strat ( some things need freeze/thaw cycles, but that is a different category, and time spent frozen solid is not really strat) since if your seed has been absorbing water for a couple of weeks and on the edge of germinating, freezing could kill it, some say.
If you have or can acquire the skills, there are various fine arts and crafts that can be made from and inspired by the forest without any large scale/destructive harvesting..
To add to the wild harvest idea, depending on how intact your native flora is, there are many possibilities for harvesting wild herbs and crafting into edible, medicinal and cosmetic products...
There is something that is getting more attention lately- based at least in part on a Japanese practise: forest therapy- the person in need of the therapy (aren't we all? I wont get into the promoted benefits here, you can google) simply needs to spend a modest time in the forest setting- doing nothing particular! I think one could easily set up an environment for this kind of therapy- some seating, viewpoints, easy trails, and of course some modest marketing in a hopefully nearby urban area. Farther from an urban area you might need to think of accomodations, and in any setting value added services/products could include refreshments, and any of the sort of craft/herbal/edible products mentioned above, or to take it to another level, healing/spirituality/ widlcrafting etc classes/ meetings so on....
Of course that leads us to general sorts of ecotourism, guest houses, etc....
Depending on your terrain, another sort of angle could be creating trails for offroad cycling, cross country skiiing etc..
The thing that always amazes me most in these discussions of weeds and cover crops is folks encouraging or even planting clover! White clover is very common here, presumably as an escape from agriculture- this is a farming area, and I assume clovers have been heavily sown as forage. I'm quite sure that if left to its own devices in the vegetable garden, there wouldn't be much growing except clover, it seems way to vigorous to grow with anything other than maybe shrubs and trees, forming densely matted growth that excludes much of anything else.. I'll certainly never get rid of it here and no point tryng (there are large swathes of it in our mowed areas, mixed with grasses, native plants and other invasives like dandelions and Cerastium arvense etc.). So, it will never be gone, but I try to discourage it (and even more so the tall red clover), in areas of native vegetation, and try to keep them out of areas where I am specifically growing something- seems like way too much competition to me! Do other people really find you can grow crops through clover?
I'm looking at caraway also- it grows here as a garden escape on farmsteads etc, and while presumably biennial, it forms permanent communities. Also, plants which are mowed do not come to flower and then presumbably live longer, not sure if the roots remain good or get tough on non-flowering plants. Roots are small compared to carrot and parsnip, but some like them, so I will have to try and see if it's worth the effort- they are already growing here, so might as well try!
Most recently I mentioned caraway- common here as a garden escape around farmyards etc; grown originally here for seed, the roots are also supposed to be edible, and young leaves as well... will be trying it- we have lots which I've mostly just been trying to control as it is a foreign invasive, and we have a lot of native plants here... if it's worthwhile, I'll probably want to grow some in a spot with looser soil so its easier to harvest..
It occurred to me to wonder about caraway roots- supposedly biennial, but in this climate it is rather invasive around farm yards etc where it was planted, and it definitely has permanent communities.
Indeed they are edible and supposed to be quite nice - pre flowering plants supposed to provide the best roots, In areas where they have been mowed and not allowed to flower the plants must be a number of years old, not sure how those roots will be... I'll have to do some experimenting with them...
My original interest in any kind of gardening is in the plants themselves, so I will have fun trying some of the less common food plants. I suspect nothing is going to compete with staples that have been bred for high yields, but if nothing else, a much greater variety of food plants is a very healthy thing for our diet as well as our ecosystems, and I think there is some work to be done selecting for the best varieties of wild foods.
My property has lots of native plants and I have every intention to let them grow all around/among my food plants, whether or not they have any food value, but I will be trying lots of those also.
For other readers, here are a couple more threads where we are talking about northern foods and wild foods:
There are squirrels everywhere here, and probably more near the houses- they know their predators are less able to spend as much time close by as they do- even though owls come right in and I'm sure coyotes do, but they are not that fond of people! Squirrels don't care...lol Still no doubt easier to get the nuts than the berries- birds outnumber the squirrels...
Thanks, Wyll. I'd pretty much agree with you about bees and chickens. I'm not comfortable to raise bees myself (!) but I'm okay with organic honey Ditto- ethically- with well treated free range chickens, though I presume the majority of egg vendors are also killing/eating chickens? It's actually something I wondered about - if you were to raise chickens for eggs, my (un-researched) understanding is that they only lay for a couple of years but then live much longer? How soon before you'd be overrun with non-laying hens? I know they have other value in the yard and garden but just curious about the arithmetic..
In my case it just might not be practical anyway- we'd to invest some serious effort and materials in building a safe home for them- my mom tried them years ago, and a little log cabin (converted from a project of my brother's) with a tall chicken wire fence was not enough- they were all eaten by wildlife in a relatively short time.. so I'm not sure how easy it would be to have them roaming around to help in the garden without them becoming prey, or at least having to round them all up and into lockdown at night; Then 6 months of snow on the ground when they'd have to be completely fed and kept warm at night...
Thanks for the input, Mary, I will check out Grimo for sure. I probably wont be ordering anything this year anyway, but it is good to know what is available.
How easy is it to process the hazelnuts- either hybrid or wild? Is it just a matter of cracking like the ones you'd buy for eating, or are there other steps?
I'm officially in z3, (check my signature at bottom- I'm more or less between Edmonton and Calgary in both geography and climate) though I'm not convinced we wont still have some z2 winters..
Alder- that is something I wonder about all of the large nut trees (and large fruit trees!)- how are you supposed to get the nuts from 80 foot trees? I'm happy to have various native trees for birds and other wildlife and windbreak, but I have no urge to have any cropping trees i can't reach from the ground. I did notice at the site I mentioned that they had at least one dwarf pine, growing more like a mugo pine- that seems much more reasonable to me. He also mentioned some of them having very thin skins easily broken/rubbed off by hand- though I suppose that's still after you get them out of the cone.. Bet the squirrels would be really good at it- though we don't have pines right here, they start about 20-30 miles west of here, so the local squirrels eat mostly spruce cones..
Here's an interesting page on pine nuts- geared toward U.S. but they mention P sibiricus has been successful in Canada, P koraiensis less so. Usual caveats I guess with nut bearing trees- long period before bearing- at least 20 years in plantations, 30-40 yrs in natural stands; very labour intensive harvest; erratic cropping with peak every 3-5 years.. Again, I imagine these are expected concerns amongst permaculturists offset with integrated systems of various cropping..
Next I found this page, with some very encouraging information- they are in Canada, list Korean pine to z 2, and mention some hybrid seedlings (though it wasn't clear if that was what they were selling, I need to look more) bearing at 6 years...
We have a wild hazelnut in Alberta, not in my immediate area, but not super far away- oddly enough, farther north and east, which means it doesn't like the mountains to the west or prairies to the south/east of me, but should be quite growable here. It's C cornuta, and I have seen (online) some vendors in the province offering it, I'd have to look around more to see if anyone is offering any improved cultivars, or the straight wild plant.
I'll take a look at the place you mention. For my very small scale purposes, mechanical harvest would not be an issue, and bringing live plants across the border can be tricky/expensive- though much more doable if someone were actually doing it on a larger scale.
Wild rice is an interesting thought- I'd never heard of it being grown in Alberta, but found this article:
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/health/Alberta+wild+rice+wetland+wonder/5018213/story.html Sounds like its a sometimes-ish crop in Alberta- though maybe it is everywhere, and then again, what crop isn't? ( they mention it being killed by early frost some years, though that site is much farther north than me even)
Wetlands we have in abundance, though they say 3-4 feet of water, another category altogether.. there are small slough/lakes around here that might indeed be suitable, assuming one could afford the equipment- they mention airboats, though I'm sure a small operation could use any sort of small boat as the native harvesters would have used traditionally...
Interestingly, it sounds like they don't know much about the plant's requirements ' If you want to know if a lake will grow rice, throw some rice in it and see what happens'. Many people here make 'dugouts' on lowish land to water cattle, there is normally no attention to soil quality, but I wonder if one could replace the topsoil (not usually done for cows..) and make it a useful wild rice habitat.. not something I have the property to be trying, but very interesting idea.. Of course it is an annual so not really furthering the cause of perennial staples But it does seem like a sustainable crop since - these growers at least- are not doing anything to change the lake apart from sowing the rice..
To my surprise it (Northern wild rice, same as growin in Manitoba and Minnesota) is actually native to northern Alberta, I had assumed they brought it in from the famous locales to the East..
No doubt an overall societal shift in attitudes is necessary..
As far as I have seen to date, chestnuts and oaks are out for me- I think there may be a small oak or two that are marginally hardy here, would be interesting to see if they could make it- I've already thought of them as ornamentals, not sure if they have usable acorns.. I have read about the native cultures which used acorns as a staple.
As to high yields we've been accustomed to- that is surely an issue to be carefully considered- I haven't seen any sign of population densities decreasing; even where I live, an area that only changed from 'improvement district' to county a few years back, has probably at least doubled in population since I left after highschool in 1982.
Actually, if there were useful nuts that could grow here and a non-labour intensive harvesting method (we have labour shortages and this is expected to get worse) this area could be a prime area for such development, since there is a lot of land that is technically farmed, but only lightly used- for forage or hay with large chunks of native shrubs and forest... Adding some forest crops could be a great additional use, but they'd have to compete with beef, dairy, canola and oil industry jobs!
While looking at some seed lists, I came across crosnes- which is Stachys affinis. Originally a Chinese vegetable, it came via France.
That reminded me we have a locat Stachys- palustris- which is also edible, and sounds like it might be easier to deal with than crosnes. I might grow both, but for sure the local one
I hope we will hear about your results
Skirret (Sium sisarum) was new to me-
http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.ca/2012/02/permaculture-plants-skirret.html would be nice to try, will have to look for seed; the genus name was familiar- we have Sium suave wild, here, called water parsnip, but you have to be very careful as it is similar looking to Cicuta spp (water hemlock) which are very poisonous. I may try to look for wild seed sometime if I can be sure of my identification!
I`ve heard of Apios, but never seen them in person, thought to try for years, really must!
Here is the first seed source I saw, but haven`t looked for others yet:
http://www.sandmountainherbs.com/ground_nut.html (looked a bit, only found U.S. sources selling tubers)
silverberry I guess you mean some Elaeagnus sp? I think I sowed seed this year of an Alberta sp. Do you have Shepherdia canadensis there? Not something you could eat a lot of, probably, but tough and I think it's a nitrogen fixer. Birds love it.
juneberry- Amelanchier? We have A alnifolius very common here. Berries are like blueberries only better but hard to get them before the birds do. We also have Prunus pennsylvanica and virginiana wild.
Speaking of Prunus, I wonder if the P tomentosa cultivars would grow for you? there are some bred for tough prairie winters, very tough here and nice crops of juicy tart fruit. Not large bushes which I think is good in your climate.
siberian pea- Caragana? They used to be used a lot here in windbreaks, less so now. I never heard of anyone eating anything from them, though I heard of it more recently, I think. Can be invasive here, though I think that is more in drier spots, and almost impossible to remove if you change your mind.
I also want to plant honey locust , have some seeds- Gleditsia- just because I love the trees and remind me of locusts from when I lived in Toronto...lol.
maypops- Passiflora? Interesting, I wouldn't have thought of these as that hardy? Would you grow them outside, or partly inside?
kiwi- I sowed some seed of those this year too.
nuts- I have too many big trees to plant walnuts, but want to get our native hazelnut- I've never seen them right here, but they are in Alberta, and some people selling them. I'd probably have to fight with the squirrels...lol
Interesting about sunchokes- I would think the tubers would develop all season, not wait for fall... is your bed raised? maybe they need a higher soil temperature? I don't have any yet, but hope to start some...
Not sure how much consensus you will get in anything diet and food related
For sure there will be clusters of people with certain sets of criteria, but many other clusters of different ideas.
As to your question, I think you`d need to identify your motivation:
For example, on the nutritarian approach outlined above, the view is practical, based on nutrition alone- by that view, eggs would be kept to a minimum as being animal protein which (according to citations in the book I mentioned) is damaging to health at any significant amount- so one or two once a week or less. Honey still being a sugar would likewise be kept limited.
Another person might look at the handling of the animals and might say eggs free range sustainably raised chickens would be okay, and similar for natural honey from naturally raised bees (I have no idea whether there are unnaturally raised bees). (clearly it`s not much of a leap from here to sustainable dairy, though that again comes with its own set of nutritional debates)
Yet another might object to the subjugation of any animals to human servitude regardless of nutritional issues or cultural modifications...
Thanks for the comments, DJ. No worries, I am pragmatic and will use whatever combination of techniques makes sense to me in my situation and don't involve toxic inputs. I'll surely be using some annual crops, though exploring much more interesting ways to do that, as well as keeping my eyes open for different perennial crops and looking closely at native plants that have been used for food- I think there is some real work to be done with selecting the best forms of wild food plants..
My confusion just stems from reading a number of accounts food forest aims and case studies, and apart from those who are incorporating some food forest principles into a mixed approach, there seems to be a kind of scorn for any annual crops being grown by anyone anywhere, and an ideal that all farmland in the world should become savannah. Of course I'm sure no one believes it's going to happen anytime soon, but that is the tone I get.
I do know of the interesting substitutions being made in gluten free foods, and even for many who just want to avoid modern wheat hybrids- I'm in that camp myself, and don't generally eat bread, but use modest amounts of Kamut and oats, as well as coconut, buckwheat, etc. Modest use of oils, but mostly olive and coconut. You may notice a small problem there- no way I can ever grow those tropical oils and flours in my climate! Ditto for things like coiffee, which I've reduced a lot anyway (starting to feel like the vegan thread here There too, I'm pragmatic for the moment- international commerce is in place currently, and if you try to buy carefully from sustainable and organic producers you can help individuals in another place- or so I hope, anyway..
I also don't expect to grow all of my own food anytime soon, but would like to make a nice dent in it- besides getting much nicer veg in (my very short) season, it would be nice to get some good things like dried beans and peas and quinoa.
Of course another issue in a sustainable food forest has been suggested and/or hinted at a bit in other threads-- maybe my forest doesn't supply all of my needs, but I may also have skills/arts to trade with those growing other things....