Erik Barbarosa

+ Follow
since Nov 06, 2017
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Erik Barbarosa

Animals (esp. ruminants) metabolize foods differently, but for humans, the aerial parts (leaves and flowers) of Viola species are perfectly good food (not at 100% of your diet, of course, just that they are nontoxic unless you are sensitive to trace methyl salicylate [oil of wintergreen]), but the roots are considered toxic.

Lori Whit wrote:
I don't want to hijack the thread, but does planting mint actually discourage pests?

In my experience, it does stop rabbits/rodents from girdling the stems by chewing bark (often human or dog hair or even stinky soap will also work at least short term).  It did nothing to repulse aphids/ants (wet weather plague) and red spider mite (dry weather) from mineral deficient (iron?) plums.  I did not try spraying mint tea, just proximal planting. Spraying the vulnerable leaves might indeed work, but if you are going to that effort, you don't need the plants near each other at all.

True mint (Mentha sp.) is too weedy for most people.  Keep it constrained in a tub, periodically harvesting shoots (NO roots/runners) to drape among the branches of things you value, to repulse mammalian pests.  Or use similar smelling, less weedy Pycnanthemum (mountain mint).  Possibly other members of the mint family would work (ground-hugging, weedy Glechoma hederacea, though I sure smell it, does not) though mint and lemon balm are probably the most (partial) shade tolerant conventional mint family crops.  Weedy self-seeding, annual genip/perilla will grow in shade, if you like Korean/Japanese food, though I don't know if it scares bunnies.

It is my understanding that the purpose of daffodils  (maybe other Amaryllids in the Deep South) is to repel similar *underground* gnawing damage by things like voles.  They sense that it is there, and toxic.  But you need a tight ring of bulbs since they aren't smelly and smell probably doesn't travel far in dirt.

-------- other thoughts on the original topic, rather than answering you:----------
BTW, guilds depend on climate.  Neither comfrey nor apples do well in FL.  Alley crops of prairie acacia might, but perennial Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) is the usual "dynamic accumulator"/biomass generator and locally adapted fruit instead of apples.  Indigenous legumes, cowpeas where vines are safe, or pigeon peas are more reliable nitrogen fixers (wax myrtle is fine on woodlots but too big and competitive elsewhere) than clover in areas with negligible winters.  Many steppe/prairie species (alfalfa, prairie clover; [Petalostemon/Dalea sp.] non-N-fixing Silphium species & big bluestem grass) are also very deep rooted though not necessarily tap rooted.  Unless you have clay, I doubt a taproot would matter. In sunny areas with suitable temperature & rainfall patterns, deep rooted N fixers would seem ideal.

For those who think comfrey is edible, beware that pyrrolizidine alkaloids can irreversibly and asymptomatically (until it is too late) harm your liver, though this usually takes chronic use over many years.  I've seen studies that show it gets into honey (via pollen; if comfrey is bumblebee pollinated like Mertensia, I wouldn't worry but I am now worried about Echium vulgare), eggs and milk, but not muscle tissue.  Therefore comfrey might have value as fodder for short-lived meat animals like domestic rabbits (or cavies if you live in Peru and it is socially acceptable to eat them), assuming that you are like me and can't stomach liver.  Comfrey IS good external medicine as well as the fertilizer function.
3 years ago
By " winterberry" do you mean wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)?  It usually refers to a heavily fruiting (on females), deciduous holly that is helpful for birds but toxic to people.   The leaves of some hollies (especially yaupon, not sure about winterberry)  can be brewed into a caffeinated tea, but all have toxic (for humans) fruit (unless male bushes, then no fruit of course).  If you do want tea and are north of the laurel wilt area, I suggest Lindera benzoin (spicebush).  The oily fruit of its females was supposedly used instead of allspice, but reminds me more of black pepper.  All above ground parts of either gender make a spicy tea, and you might attract some beautiful butterflies (spicebush and tiger swallowtails).  No caffeine though.

I highly recommend buffalo currant (Ribes odoratum, related R. aureum is probably worth trial too).  In the middle Midwest (Ohio, Illinois, etc), domesticated cultivars of the native black raspberry (& its hybrid with the mainly European reds, purple raspberry) are very good (& ornamental in winter, though the flowers and fall color disappoint).  However they are prickly and all brambles are pioneer species--you need to prune them properly (blacks tip layer so need to be pinched when their canes elongate; red raspberries and many blackberries need root barriers) or they will become weeds roving across  your landscape where not shaded out by the advancing forest of taller trees.

A clump of pawpaws (Asimina triloba) will eventually make a fine focal point (most reliable in zone 5--9). I think chokeberries are great landscape shrubs, but their fruit is so tannic that it must be cooked with sugar, and probably mixed with other fruit.  I don't make wine, but all that astringency might be an asset for that.  If you are willing to mess with Aronia, and don't have black knot problems, why not try chokecherries (Prunus virginiana)?  It makes good syrups, pemmican, and preserves, is ornamental, and great for butterflies and birds. "Garretson" is hard to find but supposedly stays below 8', making hand harvesting much easier (though you need a pollinator).

Nannyberry has decent flavor, but the drupelet is mostly the inedible seed.  Highbush cranberry might give you more food.

Near native: Hybrid plums (usually a mix of Asian & American species), beach plums (Prunus maritima, native to the east coast, and often short)
3 years ago
I have planted pears, arctic kiwi, and plums that seem to coexist fine with that weed.  Your neighbors are more likely to be offended by it than your trees, but it won't help them much either.  Dutch clover is better (very long nectar season, nitrogen fixing, leaves used by livestock and wildlife even though foreign, though produces similarly negligible biomass).  However "creeping Charlie" does seem to grow through wood chip mulches (which trees often like) very well.  If you like Glechoma for tea or somesuch, you might be able to control it in a hanging basket.  If you are thinking the smell of the foliage might deter pests that attack your trees, in my experience the scent protects Glechoma alone.
3 years ago

Kimberly Wolfe wrote:

John Weiland wrote:This may have been brought up before but was wondering of any successes in moving Paw Paw's up north...

I'm in Seattle.  I thought I heard we used to have a native PawPaw around these parts. Anyone know anything about it? Or its name?  Also,  I got a cutting from a neighbor that is now growing in a pot. She doesn't know if it's a male or female.  At one time, she had 1 plant & a neighbor had the other & they used to get fruit. But years ago the new owner of the neighbor's house ripped their's out & she doesn't remember which tree fruited - hers or the neighbor's.  

How do I figure out if the tree I've got is a male or female so I can get another of the opposite gender?

Kimberly, No.  The genus Asimina is native only east of the Rockies.  Asimina triloba (whose range map John Weiland included at the top of this thread) has the largest range (& best fruit).  The rest are limited to the SE Coastal Plain.  Your winters are mild enough even for most of the (very inferior in fruit, but incana and some others have nice flowers; all are shorter than A. triloba) Deep South natives.  The difficulty in your area would be insufficient summer heat to get many varieties to properly ripen fruit.  Early ripening types will probably work.  Of course you will get no Zebra (kite) Swallowtails, since neither the tree nor the insect is found in your area.  Even if they don't ripen, you will have toxic vegetation (annonaceous acetogenins) to play with as pesticides, I guess, unless someone managed to patent that.

All Asimina have "perfect" (bisexual) flowers, though nearly all are self-incompatible (i.e. you need 2 different clones blooming at the same time but both will fruit) and even the pretty (nearly inedible) ones don't seem to attract many pollinators (flies & beetles for the maroon ones like A. triloba and parviflora, possibly even for the cream ones--I grew up with incana but never caught a pollinator in the act).  Most people resort to hand pollination (or placing roadkill beneath the trees in a rural areas), though planting 2 different types in the same hole often works.

Australians call papaya (Carica species and related genera) "pawpaw."  Those (native to tropical America, not the PNW) can be male, female, or bisexual.  As with most/all such plants, you have to wait till they bloom, then look for the appropriate floral parts (or start with known cultivars rather than seedlings).  Unlike grapes (muscadines are typically male/female), you won't need magnification.
3 years ago

J.D. Ray wrote:OSU is trying the grafting of blueberries onto sparkleberries, the latter of which isn't edible but in the same family (?):

Well, good as an ornamental but harder to harvest.  I think shrub types are fine.  I guess a mechanized (using saskatoon harvesters) monoculture with deer trouble, or a silvopasture, might benefit by getting the leaves and fruit more out of reach, but usually the main pests are rodents gnawing winter bark and birds stealing berries, which will not be stopped by this at all.

Does silvopasture even work for acidophyllic plants?  Won't the manure bring the soil closer to neutral pH?

Same genus, actually.  I grew up in sparkleberry country and they are in fact "edible" (but better for wildlife: deer, certain butterflies, birds), just not very eatable.  We called them "farkleberries" because they make you fart.  Boys use them for practical jokes, not flavor.
3 years ago
As this is an ornamental, not a crop, I wouldn't expect much information.  What species is it? The wild ones I saw in Alachua County, FL, were wetland trees in "bays" (hardwood hammocks) & gum swamps (growing with water tupelo, sweetbay Magnolia, swamp bay [this was before Laurel Wilt invaded], and smaller numbers of baldcypress).  As wetland is bad for houses and rife with mosquitoes, I assume you have another, probably Asian, species that prefers mesic conditions.

My suggestion is to look up what grows in its native habitat, stays low, tolerates the modest shade (?--well, the ones in FL were very columnar, though evergreen; it may depend on the species) and plant that (if also interesting or beneficial to you).

I will guess that like all other tea family plants I know, it needs acidic soil, at least some moisture, and prefers woodland organic matter if possible.  Small types of Azalea (not indica) and Kalmia (not latifolia unless a dwarf type) also need that and are pretty at least in bloom (but very toxic).  If the Stewartia is tall enough, you might try Lindera benzoin (spicebush) for tea and butterflies, but keep it full of small diameter twigs (unattractive to wood boring beetles) by pruning, since it is vulnerable to Laurel Wilt. Lowbush blueberries probably can't take the South, but Vaccinium darrowi (sp?), from the Southeast, is of similar size and cute though not productive (berries are edible).  Gaultheria procumbens is a pretty evergreen groundcover, for wintergreen berries & tea.  Gaylussaccia (sp?) baccata (eastern black huckleberry) is another low shrub type berry bush (large-seeded hence "grittier" blueberry, but bigger than V. darrowwi).  Eastern dewberries (Rubus trivialis in the south, others like flagellaris northward) can be grown as fruiting (but prickly and aggressive) groundcovers.  I know for trivialis you need two different clones for fruit.  Many woodland/savannah wildflowers from the SE, unless they are specialists that grow on limestone outcrops, also like acidic conditions (pay attention to moisture difference though, which is where knowing the Stewartia species would help--the SE has wetlands but also sandhills full of cactus).  Mertensia virginica is a very adaptable spring ephemeral that is a very helpful food source for bumblebee queens (you need bumblebees for pollinating anything in the tomato family later in the year).  Avoid Conradina ssp.(Cumberland or FL rosemary) because they seem to be allelopathic.  Mimosa/Schranckia strigulosa etc (catclaw mimosa) is a prickly but cute N fixing groundcover that kids like because the leaves snap shut if touched).  If your soil is sandy, partridge pea (a self seeding annual) feeds the caterpillars of sulfur butterflies, fixes nitrogen, and feeds quail.  Once the Stewartia is big enough, Centrosema virginiana (native butterfly pea, inedible) is a good way to extend the floral season--it is a lightweight with fairly sparse foliage so "shrub safe" and has large (for bean) lilac flowers over a long time through summer into early fall. But I am not sure acid-soil plants are really heavy nitrogen consumers.  If you can get specific information (as opposed to "native to China/Japan," which is no more helpful than "native to the US")  you could expand the options to what normally grows next door in Asia.

Use cardboard & woodchips to knock out the grass before planting anything new.  Low stuff competes poorly with grass, and anything new usually  competes poorly with established weeds.
3 years ago
If you google "basketry willow cuttings" you will find places that sell osiers in bulk. Many of these have colorful stems if coppiced/young, which could be a side business  (basketry, flower arrangements, even willow houses if you are into the farm-as-tourism-for-kids thing that surrounds Chicago and probably other major cities) if your livestock only eat the leaves (though normally osiers for basketry and wattle & daub construction are collected before they leaf out, to maximize the time for them to grow back for next year's harvest and the stem color is likewise mainly a winter thing--most are green in the summer)  I found:        (Iowa)     (Washington)
Hope that helps.  I am not sure which ones the livestock prefer but clearly goats must be fond of Salix caprea (European pussy willow) since "caprea" means goat, as in food for goats.
3 years ago
Pros: tall and stately, attractive in bloom and fall, excellent host plant for some nice butterflies (tiger swallowtail, red spotted purple, spring azure, maybe some hairstreaks too), good for birds (fruit and a top insect habitat tree), beautiful high value timber and small branches give a nice scent to barbeque, nice honey fragrance in bloom and a good short-season nectar plant for both honeybees and butterflies

Cons: (wilted at least) foliage is harmful to mammals if eaten, birds will spread it by pooping seeds, wrong framework (compared to southern live oaks at least) for climbing and installing swing sets, subject to ugly "black knot" fungus (as are chokecherries and European plums, but you're not going to reach the canopy to prune it out with this tree) which is always an aesthetic problem if it is in your area but really bad news if you are also growing crops afflicted by it since you now have a source of spores, shade intolerant pioneer species, compared to say hickories you're not going to reach the edible crop (the tiny cherries) but at least as a street tree that means bird poop not the hail of falling nuts to damage your car, and one of the moths that use it as a host is the dreaded Eastern Tent Caterpillar.  

Doesn't fix nitrogen nor is it readily harvestable for food, so really an ornamental, wildlife, and timber tree, not a high-density food forest tree.

(Based on Prunus serotina aside from its tropical capulin cherry subspecies [which differs in adaptation and by being shorter, evergreen, and in domesticated cultivars more realistic as a fruit source.  Prunus avium--sweet cherry--is also called "black cherry" at least in Europe.  It also grows really tall, but you will get fruit from the lower branches. However that larger fruit is messier.)
3 years ago
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but avocados may not be safe east of the Rockies and Sierra Madre.  Try a pair as "pets" but depend on other things for your income and feeding your family.  Because the US doesn't require wood products and packing to be cooked or otherwise sterilized, many pests are invading from Eurasia (mainly China): Emerald Ash Borer up north, and relevant in this case, an ambrosia beetle spreading Laurel Wilt Disease through the Southeast (first found near Savannah, GA, but has now crossed the Mississippi)  Other than the tall mountains that run down the spine of our continent, and cold weather at some indeterminate line up north that may spare the northernmost sassafras and spicebush plants, I am unaware of any geographic barriers to its spread.  There is nothing to stop it before reaching Texas, and even (eastern) Mexico is likely eventually at risk.  The once ubiquitous red bay (Persea borbonia) is rapidly going functionally extinct (dying before they can reproduce), and the apparently every member of the laurel family is vulnerable to the disease.  (However, Lindera is sometimes spared because its wood is too twiggy to make a satisfying meal for the beetles, and some Asian laurels like camphor may have adaptations to mitigate the damage.)  However avocados are in the same genus as the primary North American hosts/victims (Persea borbonia & palustris) and are neotropical thus naive to the Asian pest.  The are dying in Florida.  Florida is spending a lot of money to learn how to combat this beetle/fungal blight in hopes of saving its own avocado industry, but for now we are losing the battle.  Best of luck.
3 years ago