Sylvain Picker

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since Dec 16, 2011
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Recent posts by Sylvain Picker

Cassandra Mieslik wrote:Also I noted a reply that "edible" has to do with each person's taste, some berries that are listed as edible taste terrible! I agree with that, has happened to me lots of time when I've picked different berries from wild plants.



What I have noted from my experience of one year of eating Raw is that our taste is something that is heavily "disturbed" by junk food. Taste is something that have to be trained. The best advice I think, if you want to appreciate wild plants tastes is to eat small quantities of them on a regular basis. A good example would be wild mushrooms: it took me a long time to appreciate their taste raw, the first trials where not pleasant and it took months before I could have pleasure eating them.

Most importantly, the point that I want to make here is that the taste of wild food will give you a superior pleasure than the one you would get from any industrial food, but your tatste buds have to be trained back, or kind of cleaned of the damage that chemical foods has done to them.
It's not that wild fruit taste terrible, it's just that our taste buds have been trained into thinking that the totally horrible taste of modern industrial food is good !
7 years ago
I have eaten Aralia Racemosa fruits many times and me and my friends have found it to be super delicious. This is a magnificent perennial that grow in rocky hardwood forests, its make a very nice landscaping element. This plant is easy to grow from seeds that you sow in the fall to naturally get the needed stratification during winter. It is a ginseng family plant and I think the roots where once used as an ingredient for root-beer. It grows at the edge of forests and you will also find it along trails.
7 years ago
Slowly but surely new planters are built. I was quite busy searching for a new job, quite happy to now work in a vineyard. I planted a lot of lentil seeds in my backyard and front yard because I have to plant only cheap seeds as my roommate has a golden retriever breeding business and the dogs are quite destructive of any green stuff. So the planter is used mostly for green manure experiments and I am beginning to like them more and more. These tools could be used for greening places with very hard soil like old mine sites or industrial sites. From the "immense" success of this post I have to think that a planter like that is not really needed by permaculturists and that it would be more adapted to farmers. Anyway this tool can be made with ordinary electrical tubing and some stainless steel sheet. If someone wants to make one I can post precise photo here if needed, tell me. I am really persuaded that no-till planting tools (not just mine) could be the start of a new revolution in the way we grow our food and medicine, and that we could use wild plants for that to restore the biodiversity of a lot of forests...

Here is a photo kindly taken by Kota Dubois when he came to take the planter he generously bought from me:

7 years ago
Chris, there is no native plants dogma here,

Just looking to find treasures that could be very useful and incorporating them with our usual crops. And if everybody began to find wild plants that we can use and exchange that information with others, it is in my opinion a very good insurance against food shortages and a very good source of medicinal. The fact is that we need more biodiversity and one of the most efficient way for that is incorporating as much as we can of the nature around us because so much of it have already been lost. I have seen many very delicious edible plants being destroyed and now I want them propagated instead. And they cost nothing to use.
7 years ago
You could make an inventory of the wild plants that are already growing at the edges of your property. They could be some treasure there that you will want to use and propagate. Also look for mushrooms as you may make them disappear if you make to much land draining or over-harvest them, it happened to me with a nice patch of chanterelle mushrooms. They may come back but it takes years.
I think that if we really want to gain food independence we really have to take a hard look at incorporating at least some wild plants in our diets. These plants have high content of phytochemicals that are so essential to our well being. And they are locally adapted to soil and weather conditions. That is what the Amerindians where doing in their Food Forests: domesticating the ecosystem as a whole as opposed to what we are doing by overbreeding individual plants.
7 years ago
I am a big fan of Seedballs for planting all kind of plants. I especially like the fact that they can incorporate mushroom spores and mycelium as well as clay in their mix. They inoculate the soil with a mix of beneficial microorganisms that will help building fertility. The problem with Seedballs is that this seeding technique often fails. This is why I started a project at Ogfor.com to design "Open Source" planter prototypes to plant mix of seeds, clay and compost enriched with mushroom spores and mycelium, mycorrhizae... in forest conditions, where the soil is not worked. These designs could also be used to plant Seedballs but there is no need to makes them, just using Seedball mix is enough.
There is a lot of testing that is needed for these planters. Presently here in Quebec the soil is frozen solid.
I would also like to learn more about Seedballs mixes that works, do you have any recipes?



7 years ago

John Polk wrote:I would try mowing the grass as short as possible, then sow a fairly thick blanket of buckwheat.  It grows so fast, the grass may not get enough sun to regrow.  Buckwheat is neither a grass, nor cereal, but grows like them, tall and erect.  It is often grown as a smothering crop.


In non plowed land the buckwheat may or may not grow. I once tried growing buckwheat on ΒΌ acre by mowing the grass very low, broadcasting buckwheat seeds and then rolling them with a heavy roller (never had success with buckwheat Seedballs). The buckwheat came beautifully and it was amazing to see that carpet of young seedlings. But they never grew more than 6 inches... It is probably because the land was very acidic and the results could have been different on other types of soil.
However I think that this thread on growing edible plants in tall grasses using Seedballs is a fantastic idea if we want to get out of the agro-industrial world we are currently living in. We should definitively explore wilder plants as a food source because these wild plants have much more power to fight against the tall grasses and succeed when sown broadcast or in Seedballs.
7 years ago
You can try "Frost Seeding", an old farming method used with small seeds (it does not work with large seeds like peas). It consist of direct seeding very late in the fall or very early in the spring over damaged pastureland in order to rejuvenate them. You can do a google search about "Frost Seeding", there is a lot of documentation about the method. Some big seeds like peas or buckwheat could be sowed without burying them if you walk or use a heavy roller over them to bury them a little bit. Many plants like the cold weather, soil humidity and hot sun of spring and will grow very fast in those conditions and compete successfully with weeds. The beauty of "Frost Seeding" is that you are seeding in soil conditions that are too wet to use any kind of tools or machines, so you are getting a jump in the season and that give more time to your seeds to grow at a time when the weeds are small.
Leaf lettuce, radish, alfalfa, clover, dandelion (yes I do plant dandelion), chicory and probably many others are not harmed at all by the cold and even seem to enjoy when some snow falls over them, even if they have already germinated. I would explore the "Flower Meadow" methods as some of these flowers could probably be used to supplement chicken forage and at the same time give the eggs that really incredible free range taste. May be you could also explore the butterfly flowers too as chickens are very happy when they can find some insects to eat.
7 years ago
Welcome Toby,

I really liked your article about "Seeing the garden in the jungle" that opened my mind about Amerindian agriculture and the naive way we often look at "Nature" and the possibilities of using Food Forests extensively to get out of the destructive cycle humans are stuck into.
7 years ago

Sylvain Picker wrote:Planting on recently logged land seems attractive but there is two points that could cause problems: very high rate of "weeds" growth and Honey fungus, or Armillaria. I have been told that Armillaria could severely damage new orchard plantings done on logged land. Does anybody heard about it ?



By the way some strains of Honey fungus, or Armillaria are very edible when boiled then fried, once boiled they take very little room and can be stored frozen. Honey fungus was heavily harvested in Rougemont (Quebec) for family use and there is a commercial potential in that very common specie of mushrooms in Italian and other markets. Honey mushrooms can be delicious when grown on logs of fallen specimen of bicentennials oaks and maples still abundant in small spots, at least in the little mountains south of Montreal. And one advantage is that this mushroom seem to be growing somewhat like a weed and abundantly nearly everywhere, no need to take those heavy and awkward looking Ogfor "Seeds and Compost Planters", take some Seedball mix full of microorganisms and mushroom spores and mycelium , mix it with some seeds and punch holes everywhere in forests throwing that mix in small holes or may I say poquets of seeds and fertilizer (the Incas used their own feces and some are theorizing that it may have caused their rapid decline by disease transmission...).
With Honey fungus there is no need to do the hard work of inoculation that is needed for example with "Sheetake" Mushroom growing. The Honey mushroom could be something able to create some nice small businesses may be !
7 years ago