Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 2 Review

Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 2 Review

Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 2 Review

This post cover Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 2 Review.  This is the second in a series of 14 chapter reviews on “Permaculture – A designers’ manual”.  This review covers chapter two which is titled “Concepts and Themes in Design”.  This chapter is still laying the groundwork of concepts and design that will be used in future chapters for the actual implementation.

Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 2 Review PDCManual

Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 2 Review

This chapter delves into applying laws and principles to design, resources, yields, cycles, pyramids with regard to the food web, complexity and connections, order or chaos, permitted and forced functions, diversity, stability, and time and yield.

A few of the design principles that I hear over and over again in permaculture include:

  • Work with nature, rather than against it
  • The problem is the solution
  • Make the least change for the greatest possible effect
  • The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited.

After some of the laws and principles are laid out and some other ground work he goes into farm strategies and how some of this can be used on a farm or on a property.  Each category has sub-categories that interact with other parts.  The categories include: water storage, land forming, soil reconditioning, establishing of windbreak and forage forest, selective farm reforestation, market and process strategies, social and financial, and crop techniques.

He stresses in the book the “Rules of Use of Natural Resources”, where he outlines the following: Reduce waste, hence pollution; Thoroughly replace lost minerals’ do a careful energy accounting; and eliminate negative impact on society.  The law of return states: Whatever we take, we must return.

The principle of Disorder: Any system or organism can accept only that quantity of a resource which can be used productively.  Any resource input beyond that point throws the system or organism into disorder.  Oversupply of a resource is a form of chronic pollution.

Definition of System Yield: System yield is the sum total of surplus energy produced by, stored, conserved, reused, or converted by the design.   Energy is in surplus once the system itself has available all its needs for growth, reproduction, and maintenance.

While the book may seem full of terminology and theories at this point, all of this will be used throughout the book.  The beginning chapters are just laying the groundwork for upcoming chapters.

Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual (Amazon Link) is the go to book for permaculture design.

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Comfrey Plant Information | A Permaculture Wonder-Plant

Comfrey Plant Information | A Permaculture Wonder-Plant

Comfrey Plant Information | A Permaculture Wonder-Plant

This post covers Comfrey Plant Information | A Permaculture Wonder-Plant.  Comfrey, Symphytum, is a perennial herb that grows leaves two to three feet tall and has bell shaped flowers. It is originally from Europe and now grows in temperate climates around the world.  It is a member of the borage family and has a tap root that is ten feet long or longer.  This plant is one of the go to plants for permaculture.

Comfrey Plant Information | A Permaculture Wonder-Plant

Comfrey Plant Information | A Permaculture Wonder-Plant

More Info

Comfrey is a dynamic accumulator meaning that it mines and collects a number of nutrients that other plants can’t get to.  Comfrey does this with a very long tap root by mining nutrients from very deep down that are out of reach for other plants.  The nutrients are then brought up to the top and stored in the leaves.  The leaves are used as fertilizer for other plants and is a high source of nitrogen and potassium.  The potassium is beneficial to any flowering and fruit bearing tree.  Shown in this photograph I have a comfrey plant in the ground next to an apple tree in my back yard.

The Leaves

The leaves grow very large (12”-18” long) and grow directly out of the crown.  Comfrey leaves grow very dense and shade out weeds.  The leaves are hairy and can be a skin irritant to some people. The plant is fast growing, producing huge amounts of leaves that can be harvested 4 to 5 times a year by cutting the leaves about 2 inches above the ground.

Flowers and Seeds

In early summer it produces pink bell shaped flowers (white flowers on some varieties). The plant can become invasive with seed spread.  A cultivar of Russian Comfrey was created in the 1950s that is sterile via the seeds.  This cultivar is very popular in permaculture environments.  It is known as Bocking 14 and is the variety that I have in over a dozen locations on my Pasadena property.  While the seeds are sterile on Bocking 14, the roots spread readily if dug up and replanted elsewhere.  A one to two-inch root will grow a new comfrey plant.  You can get several dozen plants via root cuttings from one original plant.

Comfrey Plant Information | A Permaculture Wonder-Plant

Comfrey Plant Information | A Permaculture Wonder-Plant

Fertilizer

Comfrey makes a wonderful fertilizer, either as an addition to compost or as a comfrey tea.  The tea is made by putting the leaves in a bucket and covering with water for four to five weeks.  I will warn you that this mixture stinks to high heaven.  I made some up this summer near the back door and had to move it far away from the door because of the stench.  It can also help plants just by being planted and left alone.  Tests have proven that nutrients in the soil get a boost just by having comfrey planted.  My guess is it is because the leaves die back each year and the leaves decompose into the ground and deposit the nutrients.  I have at least 1 comfrey plant under each of my fruit trees in Pasadena.  I will do the same at the farm here shortly.

How to Plant

Plant comfrey roots two to eight inches deep.  In clay soil go closer to two inches and in sandy soil go closer to eight inches.

*Comfrey has a long history of medicinal uses.  It has now been banned by the United States FDA for internal consumption.  There are several remedies for topical use dealing with broken bones and wounds.  Years ago the plant was known as knitbone and boneset.  The protein allantoin is what gives comfrey its reputation of healing bonds and wounds. Bocking 14 has the most allantoin of the comfrey varieties.  In looking at WebMD, they still show many uses of comfrey as a medicinal herb.  With the FDA issuing a ban, I’ll say you have to use your own judgment on how to use this plant.  I have only ever used it as a fertilizer for my trees.

Amazon Link

Amazon has Comfrey Bocking 14 for sale at the linked site.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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A Tour of the Farm

A Tour of the Farm

This blog post, Tour of the Farm,  will be brief as it is mostly embedded video from YouTube.  This past weekend I went out to the Farm and took some videos giving you a video tour of Great Escape Farms.

Video 1 below shows the field, pond, and orchard.  This is the location of a future major permaculture project.

Video 2 below shows the orchard in the front of the house.  There are over 100 fruit bearing trees and shrubs in the front of the house.

Video 3 shows the mini-food forest where there are over 170 fruit bearing trees and shrubs.

Video 4 is the final video showing the farm.  It shows where the plant propagation beds will be installed in the coming weeks and shows a little of the zone-5 forest behind the house.

I will post update videos of the farm as things change.  There will likely be a video coming in the next couple of weeks as I build out the propagation beds.

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Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants

This post provides Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants.  The Nanking Bush Cherry, Prunus tomentosa, is another unique edible plant, in bush form, that is showy in the spring with flowers and in the summer with the bright red cherries clinging closely to the branches.  It can be used as an ornamental, fruit producing shrub or as a wind break in a hedge row.

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants Nanking Cherry flower

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants

In mid-Spring the bush produces white or pink flowers that are fragrant and attract beneficial insects.  They are partially self-pollinating, but do better with another variety around.

The red fruit is sweet and tart and taste like a cherry with a pit in the center.  Since there are not a lot of named varieties in the US and most are propagated by seed, the flavors of the fruit seem to vary greatly. You can also find some plants online that have yellow or pink fruit, as I just did (and purchased.)

The fruit is very close to the stem on a very short stalk.  The stalk usually stays on the branch leaving an opening on the fruit that will cause it to leak juice.  This causes the fruit to not store well.  The fruit can be used for fresh eating, dried fruit, fruit leather, preserves, jams, jellies pies, tarts, and fruit juice.

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants nanking cherry berry

Nanking Bush Cherry Plant Information | Unique Edible Plants

In a good year it can provide yields of up to 15 pounds per bush.  The fruit is harvested in early to mid-summer depending on your location.  Harvest the fruit when it is fully colored and juicy.  The fruit that I have seen are about half the size of the cherries sold in stores.

The leaves are simple leaves that are obovate to elliptic with unequally toothed margins, dull dark green color and downy hair on the underside.

The Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa) is a deciduous shrub that has a USDA hardiness zone of 2-7.  It will grow to be 5-10 foot in height and width, prefers full sun but will tolerate a little shade and prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil. It was introduced in the US in 1892.

In the spring of 2014 I bought 10 seedlings and planed 4 in my Pasadena house and the rest on the farm.  This summer I had two of the plants at the Pasadena house produce.  Hopefully all of the plants will produce next year.

Propagation

Propagation is done by seeds, layering, and cuttings.  For seeds, clean the pulp off the pit and stratify for 2-3 months.  Laying involves burying a portion of the tip or mid branch until it roots and then cutting it away from the main plant. Cuttings can be done with hard wood in the fall/winter or soft wood in the spring.  This summer I had a 75% success rate with softwood cuttings in a mist bed.

Recipe

Maple Whisky & Nanking Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Purchase Nanking Cherry plants at Great Escape Nursery

(Recipe from http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2011/08/16/grilled-ribs-nanking-cherry-recipe/)

8 cups Nanking cherries, washed and stemmed
½ cup sugar
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard powder (or 1 Tbsp grainy mustard)
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups maple whiskey (from Highwood Distillers in Alberta)

In a large saucepan combine cherries and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cherries have given up their juice. Remove from heat and push through a sieve to remove skins and pits. Return cherry juice to saucepan over medium heat, add all the dry ingredients, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add 1 cup maple whiskey. Continue to simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the final 1/2 cup whiskey. Cool and refrigerate in a sealed container.

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Purchase Nanking Cherry plants at Great Escape Nursery

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Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

This post covers Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible. Three weeks ago I wrote an article called cornus-kousa-benthamidia-kousa-kousa-dogwood.  Since then I have received feedback from two people about that article.  The first was Kyle a person I Wwopfed with.  He told me that he spotted these at his apartment complex and identified them based on the article.  I’m not sure if he is going to do anything with them or not.

The second person is my mother’s neighbor, Debbie.  Debbie went over to my mother’s house and filled a pail with the fruit from the Kousa dogwood tree.  Then she went home and made Kousa Dogwood Jam.  I have the recipe and pictures that she shared with me below.

Last Thursday Debbie brought a jar of the jam over and we sampled it.  My daughter liked it.  I liked it, but it was a little on the sweet side.  Now I was tasting it straight out of the jar with a spoon, so it may not be as sweet on toast or bread.  If I made this, I’d likely dial the sugar back some as I’m not a fan of super sweet jellies and jams.  Debbie said that her neighbor’s and their kids liked the jam as well.

Thank you Debbie for sharing your experience with us, letting us taste your creation, and agreeing to be named in this article.  I grew up with this tree in the yard for 25 years and this is the first time that I’m aware of that anyone did anything with the fruit.

I love hearing from you and receiving your thoughts.  Please comment on a post or email me with any stories you have or thoughts you have on these articles.  It is nice to know that people are reading them and interested.  And now for the recipe.

Recipe

(Debbie found this on InspireWildIdeas.com)

use 4 packed cups of ripe Kousa fruit (measured after it is run through a food processor.)

1 ½ cups of water

7 cups of sugar

1 packet of powdered pectin for 2 quarts

½ tsp cinnamon

4 cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp of pure vanilla extract

4 – 8oz canning jars

fine mesh strainer

Directions: Set fruit and water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat.  When fruit and water mix is at a boil, turn heat down.  Mix sugar and pectin powder together into a bowl, then pour into fruit mixture while stirring.  Stir until sugar and pectin powder are fully incorporated.   Add spices and vanilla.  Bring temperature back up and boil hard for 1 minute more – no MORE than a minute or it won’t set.

Strain fruit mixture through fine mesh strainer into a large bowl and press on the fruit solids to remove as much liquid as you can.  Ladle jelly liquid into sterilized canning jars.  To clarify the jelly further, you can use cheesecloth or a small strainer as you ladle the liquid into the canning gars at this step.  Immediately as you fill each jar, wipe each jar rim with a clean moist cloth kitchen towel and twist the lids just into place.  Wipe the jars down of any jelly liquid which as dripped on the outside.

As the jars cool, continue to gently tighten the lids.  Some of the jars may seal on their own by popping but I always give them a 15-minute water bath to seal them well.  Be sure to refrigerate and use any jars that do not seal.  Cool on the counter for 30 minutes before storing.

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible Kousa Dogwood canned and ready to go

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible Kousa Dogwood prepped for canning

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

Kousa Dogwood berriesKousa Dogwood berries in blenderKousa Dogwood berries blendedKousa Dogwood berry sauceKousa Dogwood mixtureKousa Dogwood mixture with spicesKousa Dogwood spicesKousa Dogwood first strainLast Strain

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50% off Plants at Home Depot

50% off Plants at Home Depot

If you are in the market for some cheap plants, head on over to Home Depot.  Most of their trees, shrubs and perennials are 50% off.  Yesterday I bought a $50 nectarine tree for $25 at the Pasadena, MD Home Depot.  The Pasadena store is pretty picked over on fruit trees right now.

This morning on my way into work I stopped by the Columbia, MD home depot.  They have about a dozen 4 in 1 apple trees for around $30.00 after the discount.  A 4 in 1 apple is four different types of apple trees grafted onto one trunk.  This is a great sale for a plant like this.

If this is something you are interested in, I’d recommend going today because they will likely all go by the end of the weekend.

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Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 1 Review

Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 1 Review

Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 1 Review

This post covers Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 1 Review. As discussed in the article So What is this Permaculture Stuff I plan on doing a review on each chapter in the book “Permaculture – A designers’ manual”.  The book is a hard cover book consisting of just shy of 600 pages and is written in small print.  It absolutely looks like a college text book to me.  I must admit that some sections of this book are long and I find it hard to keep my focus on exactly what is being covered from time to time.  However, the book is a masterpiece and covers so much information that each chapter can almost be a book unto itself. This post will cover chapter 1 of this manual by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.

Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 1 Review PDCManual

Permaculture A designers’ manual Chapter 1 Review

Chapter 1 is titled “Introduction” and covers basic permaculture design philosophy.  On page one it covers The Prime Directive of Permaculture: “The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.”  This prime directive and the text around it in the book is basically stating that we humans have not taken care of the earth or our future generations.  We need to take better care of the earth, ourselves and future generations and the only way to do that is to take responsibility for our actions and that of our future generations (children).

Bill and David talk about The Principle of Cooperation: “Cooperation, not competition, is the very basis of existing life systems and the future of survival.” They are talking about divergence of scientific beliefs.

There are three primary Ethics of Permaculture called out in chapter 1.  They are: “CARE OF THE EARTH: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply”, “CARE OF PEOPLE: Provision for people to access those resources necessary to their existence”, and “SETTING LIMITS TO POPULATION AND CONSUMPTION: By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.”

They have several diagrams and graphs on how to, at a high level, transition from contemporary or western agriculture to permaculture.  In the description of the diagrams they talk about accounting the costs farming.  These include cash (dollar) accounting, energy accounting, environmental accounting, and conservation accounting.

They talk a little about permaculture in landscape and society and go over some of the ways we can start to repair the land.  They go on to say that permaculture is not a new design system but only arranges thing in a more sustainable way.  The way that nature designed it before we came in and redesigned it to our liking.

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Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant

This post covers Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant.  Sassafras is a deciduous tree that can be found natively as far north as southern Canada and from the east coast out west to Texas.  It is a tree you will find at forest edges and is easily identifiable with its three different shaped leaves on the tree.  While it was a unique edible plant for many years by the Native Indians and others, it is now banned from being sold as a medicinal or flavoring.

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Tree

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Tree

The plant likes rich loamy to sandy soil and prefers slightly acidic soils.  The tree grows best in full sun.  If you plant one tree it creates a colony by sending up new shoots from its roots as it spreads out.  These shoots can come up as far away as four feet from a tree.  Sassafras is a medium size deciduous tree with a max height from 45 to 60 feet.

The leaves are very unique on this plant.  There are two lobed, three lobed and no lobed leaves.  On rare occasions you can find a tree that has a leaf with more than three lobes.  I was first introduced to this plant at an outdoor and survival boot camp two years ago.

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Leaves

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Leaves

I noted the unusual leaves and swore that I had never seen this plant before.  Now as I look around I see them all over and just found two growing in one of my flower beds.  I now think I had my eyes closed because there are quite a few around.

The tree has greenish yellow flowers in the spring before the leaves appear.  It is dioecious with male trees and female trees relying on small insects to cross pollinate the trees. In late-summer there is a fruit with a seed in the center surrounded by a blue-black fruit. Fruit and seed production starts at about 10 years of age.

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Berry

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Berry

Sassafras is used as a thickener and flavoring in a Louisiana creole dish called gumbo. The leaves are dried and ground to make filé powder, a spicy herb used for making gumbo. Do you like Root Beer?  Sassafras was at one time the main ingredient in making root beer.  If you pull the roots up and give them a chew, you will have a root beer flavor in your mouth.  The leaves and stems have a citrus flavor to them.  Sassafras oil was also used as as a fragrance at one time.

Leaves and twigs are eaten by deer, rabbits, and ground hogs.  Birds love the fruit and do a great job of propagating them (like the two now growing in my flower bed).

According to the USDA[1] the Native Americans used sassafras for a variety of medicinal uses.* According to drugs.com[2] sassafras has been banned from use for medicinal purposes as well as flavoring or fragrance.

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[1] – http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_saal5.pdf

[2] – http://www.drugs.com/npp/sassafras.html

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Winterize the Estate | Getting Ready for Winter

Winterize the Estate | Getting Ready for Winter

Winterize the Estate | Getting Ready for Winter

This article is about how to Winterize the Estate | Getting Ready for Winter.  I will cover what I do to winterize my pond, pool, outside cold sensitive plants, garden, and what I do with the leaves from my dozen + oak trees.  This post is talking about what I do in suburbia Pasadena, MD.  This post would be quite different for my farm in Romney, WV.  I may write a post about that next year.

Pond

I have a 12-foot by 7-foot pond that is 2-foot deep stocked with Koi and gold fish.  You are supposed to stop feeding the fish when the water temperature drops below 55 degrees.  The fish overwinter just find with the cold weather but there are other hazards that come with winter.

First, the lily pads die back after a few frosts and when the water temperature drops to a certain point. The lily pads protected the fish all summer long from the nasty blue herring that wants to eat all of the fish for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time.

Then there is the leaf litter from all the oak trees.  The leaves will all fall into and be blown into the pond and settle at the bottom.  That’s fine until next spring when the plants start to decay.  The decay causes a nitrogen explosion which acts as fertilizer for the algae. The algae will go crazy and you can’t see the fish.  Not seeing the fish is the least of the problems though.  Algae can suck oxygen out of the water and causes the fish to suffocate.

An easy solution to both of these problems is to put a net over the pond.  I made a PVC A-frame house that goes into the pond and holds a net up and allows the leaves to fall to the outer sides of the pond.  This keeps the pond leaf free and the net keeps the predators out as well.  See the embedded YouTube video of the pond net.

Pool

The pool would be subject to the following issues: leaves, algae, chemical imbalance, and freezing.  The majority of the issues are solved by covering the pool.  A cover keeps the leaves out, prevents sun light from growing algae in the water and lack of sunlight also prevents the chemical from burning off.  If you put an air pillow in the center of the cover, then when the pool freezes the ice will break in the center of the pool and not expand out and ruin the sides of the pool.  The picture shows the pool covered up.  I still need to drain some water off the top and add the air “pillow”.  I also need to do the step below dealing with the pipes.

Winterize the Estate | Getting Ready for Winter - WinterizedPool

Winterize the Estate | Getting Ready for Winter

The only thing not solved here are the pipes.  I use a shop vac and blow or suck all of the water out of the pipes and then put pool anti-freeze in the pipes and seal them up.  Pool anti-freeze can be bought at a pool store.  I just looked at Amazon on it can be purchased there as well: Prestone AF222 RV Waterline Antifreeze. Even though it says RV, the directions say it is good for pool lines as well.

Cold Sensitive Plants

Cold sensitive plants that you want to overwinter need to be protected.  You can bring them in the house or put them in a garage in some cases.  My garage is connected to the house and would probably overwinter most plants.  I just put mine in the basement near the door which has a window to let light in.  I water them about every two weeks.

Leaves

Living in suburbia, I used to bag my leaves and put them out by the curb.  Last year I bagged all my leaves and took them to West Virginia.  I spread them out over the garden, about 18” thick.  This kept the weeds down and soil moisture up as well as helped the soil microbes and worms.  See the video for more details.

Garden

Do NOT cut all of your old plants down and get rid of them leaving bare soil.  Either use your old plants as mulch or find something else to use as mulch.  Leaving bare exposed soil over the winter kills beneficial soil microbes and promotes weed growth.  Maybe grab some of the leaves if you have some and just lay them over the garden bed.

I will be cutting down my old plants and just dropping them on top of the soil. They will mostly decompose by next year.

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Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow

This post, titled Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow, provides information on propagation and edibility of this medicinal shrub.

Elderberry is another unique edible plant to grow.  It is a deciduous shrub, in USDA zone 7b at least. Its scientific name is Sambucus. It loves full sun and moist but well drained soil.  The varieties I have grow in USDA zones 4 to 9.

The Basics

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow - ElderberryLeaves2

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow

The leaves are almost feather like with five to nine leaflets.  I have pictures showing 5 and 9 leaflets from two varieties I have in my yard.  I also have a Black Lace variety pictured that shows 7 leaflets.

Elderberry bear large clusters of white and sometimes white and pink flowers in late spring followed by berries in the mid-summer.  The berries can be red, blue, or black.  According to the USDA the red berries are toxic but the blue and black berries are safe to eat. [1]

Elderberries attract wildlife.  Butterflies and humming birds enjoy the flowers and birds enjoy the berries.  Molly and Murphy (my rat terriers) also love to eat any berries that fall to the ground.

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow - ElderberryLeaves

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow

The flowers of some varieties can be used to make juices and syrups and in some cases the umbels are coated in batter and fried.  The berries can be used to make wines, syrups, pies, relishes and jams.  The plants are commercially cultivated for fruit production in Oregon.

Propagation

Elderberry can be propagated by seed or cuttings.  Seed needs to be stratified.  Propagation by cutting produces fragile roots initially, so care needs to be taken when transplanting.  Plants mature quicker from cutting than by seed.  Plants can flower in as little as 2 to 3 years and can reach full size in 3 to 4 years.  I planted mine and had berries the following year.  After two years I had more berries than I could use.

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow BlackLace

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow

I have the following varieties: Nova, Johns, Adams, American, Thundercloud, Korsor, Haschberg, Blue, and Black Lace.  I will provide individual write-ups on any that I plan to sell in the nursery.  I know I will be selling Nova, Johns, and Adams in the future.  These have been producing large fruit and lots of it for a few years now.

Nutrition and Medicinal

According to Wikipedia it contains 10% or higher of the USDA recommended value of Vitamin C, B6, and Iron in 3.5 oz. and has traces of other vitamins and minerals. [2]

“Elderberry flowers contain flavenoids and rutin, which are known to improve immune function, particularly in combination with vitamin “C.” The flowers also contain tannins, which account for its traditional use to reduce bleeding, diarrhea, and congestion.” [2] *

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow Berries

Elderberry Plant Information | A Unique Edible Plant to Grow

I use caution with any claims of medicinal value.  Therefore, I copied the below bulleted section from the University of Maryland Medical Center [3] *

  • Elderberry, or elder, has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin. It is also taken by mouth to treat respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. In many countries, including Germany, elder flower is used to treat colds and flu. Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.
  • Elderberry also contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and may help prevent damage to the body’s cells. However, very few studies have been done in humans, so researchers don’t know how effective elder may be.
  • There are several species of elder, but Sambucus nigra, or European elder (also called black elder), is the one used most often for medicinal purposes. Avoid dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus), which can be toxic. Use a trusted preparation of elder because raw or unripe fruit — as well as the leaves, seeds, and bark — contain a chemical related to cyanide, which is poisonous.

The product known as Sambucol is maid from black elderberry extract and makes many claims about its health benefits.

Recipe

Here is a recipe that I have made before and will be making this year.  I have two 1-gallon bags of elderberries in the freezer.  I harvested them several times this past summer and put them away for processing when I have more time in the fall.  When I do process them, I’ll video some of the process and make a good detailed blog post for everyone.

  • Elderberry Syrup with Honey and Cinnamon Recipe

    • Ingredients
      • 1 quart elderberry juice
      • 2 cups honey
      • 2 sticks cinnamon
    • Directions
      • Sterilize three 16-ounce jars, keep hot. Heat lids and rings in hot water. Fill water bath canner and bring to boil. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot. Heat and stir until all honey is dissolved. Bring to boil and boil for ten minutes. Ladle hot syrup into sterilized jars leaving 1/4′′ headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on the lids. Process for 10 minutes in water bath canner (add 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level). Makes around 3 pints of syrup.

I made 6 pints last year and took a teaspoon a day throughout the winter.  I did get a cold once and I took a teaspoon 3 times a day.  I was over the cold in a few days. *

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References

[1] – http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_sanic4.pdf

[2] – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambucus

[3] – https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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