Archive for plants

Misunderstood but Beautiful – Flowers as People

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by Drogo
Much of the beauty and value of the natural world will be missed,
and lost, if it is constantly condemned as unimportant, and destroyed.“
– from Garden Ramblings

In a very real way, flowers are a lot like people. Fragile, they are born vulnerable, and if fortunate to receive the proper care, will thrive and bear much goodness. However, many people, like flowers, are misunderstood. Some of us are late bloomers and get cut down while struggling to grow, while others of us may express ourselves in the wrong way, or the wrong place, and are criticized.

True, it is about the world of plants and flowers that I mostly write, but the connection between humans and the natural world being what it is – ever constant and essential—it is ofttimes impossible to separate the two. Many of our greatest writers and teachers refer to nature, recognizing the wisdom that is to be gained if we but open our hearts and our minds to it. Many of these people have been misunderstood as well.

Four of my very favorite wildflowers are the lavender bergamot, rarely seen anymore due to mowing, the shy blue chicory, the wild asters of which I have 4 species on my property, and the tall rarely seen white and yellow wild sweet clovers (which look nothing like clovers, but are in that family). Both chicory and bergamot are blooming profusely right now here at my Mystic Meadows and I can never see them enough. The wild bergamot has cross pollinated with its relative the gorgeous red monarda, creating two new shades of purple and maroon. I am blown away by their beauty and their usefulness. Standing very still by each large cluster of flowers which are shoulder high, the hundreds of flowers seem literally in motion with the activity of hummingbird moths, various butterflies, and bumble bees large and small. Of course, even a hummingbird cruises by for a nip on the way to its favorite mimosa tree. Sadly, I see very few honey bees this year.

Chicory is the most tenacious wildflower I know. It tends to grow right up against the country roads people drive down in their early morning rush to work or school, gracing our journeys with their joyful blue color, brightening our moods if we but see them. Even when mowed down, they grow right back, undeterred. If permitted, they will bloom right through the summer into fall, providing nectar for bees and later, essential seeds for small birds like finch. They usually close their blue petals during the heat of the day, and so are seen as ugly by most people as they have tiny leaves and look spindly when their petals are closed. But oh, when the day is cooler and the flowers are open, behold the powdery blue profusion !

Wild asters spend the entire summer growing slowly into tall, elegant plants full of elongated leaves. There are 4 varieties which I grow throughout my gardens, and the reward for my patience is a glorious, end-of -summer show of tiny, daisy-like flowers, a final bust of white and purple beauty which goes well into the fall. These plants, besides being a welcome source of inspiration for me before the long, cold days of winter, serve as essential nectar and pollen for our bees. Without these wildflowers the bees could easily starve in their hives. Goldenrod, which I will write about in a sequel to this article, is also significant for bees, and even butterflies, to stave off starvation. It is and has been mostly misunderstood as well.

Many years ago I was enjoying the beauty of my back road where, unfortunately, the white and yellow wild sweet clovers were growing embarrassingly close to the road. They are somewhat guilty of looking gangly, like some people I know, and were very tall. I knew they would eventually be mowed, so I decided to cut them with more care by myself. So, I went home and came back laden with an arsenal of cutting tools, only to loose my resolve when I put the blade to their stalks. I thought to myself “what is more important, the flowers or the road”. I had observed very few of these particular flowers being permitted to grow anywhere, so I put down my weapons and joined the ranks of the misunderstood. After that day, they moved themselves to a safer place. They now grow, undisturbed, in various spots on my property. Plants come to me that way, and I welcome them with open arms !

I love the late bloomers and the misunderstood ones, be they human or flower. Perhaps our biggest challenge in life is to embrace these ones, to accept them as amazing creations on this miraculous planet which is full to bursting with diversity. I leave you with an ancient Indian quotation I love which reflects the awesomeness of it all…” Flowers are the footprints of the dancing steps of God.”

Now off I go to enjoy the rest of this glorious summer !!

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Christine is a Master Naturalist in the State of MD.. She welcomes any questions and feedback at songbirdschant@gmail.org

SCOD Site Flora

Posted in Environmentalism with tags , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2015 by Drogo

The trees (20-70 years old) form woods that follow the rolling hills. Often the woods are sparse, but thorns and shrub bushes make dense thicket patches. Spiral trunks occur on one young tree per acre (apx.). Spiral trees seem to result from the influence of parasitic vines, like honey-suckle, but some trees out-live their vines. There are more young trees than old trees on the site. Although it is difficult to tell the age of a tree from the outside size, inside trunk rings are more accurate because growth rates vary.

Ideally trees provide shelter, food (fruits and nuts), and fuel for cooking and heating our fires. In turn humans should plant, care for, cultivate, and protect trees. Failure to look after each-other results in us cutting too many trees down, using poisons that hurt every-thing, and trees falling on houses and branches and sap falling on cars. Increased awareness of our trees is phenomenological respect for life. Respecting trees has a beneficial effect on our ecology. Sages know the wisdom of tree stewardship. Some trees have been alive for thousands of years. Fire-wood should be gathered mostly from dead-fall logs, branches, and twigs. Reducing dead-fall on forest floors can reduce wild fires.

Here is a list of local plant and tree types, most of which can be found on the SCOD Thesis property site. All the families listed here are at least currently regional, if not native. Obviously not all types of vegetation are listed here, but it is a reasonable list: maple trees, box-elder trees, sycamore trees, oak trees, ailanthus trees, mulberry trees, apple trees, evergreen trees, elm trees, willow trees, catalpa trees, princess trees, ginkgo trees, walnut trees, beech trees, sumac trees, mosses, mushrooms, shelf-fungi, lichen, herbs, vegetables (wild leafy-greens and planted crops), berries, roots, vines, grasses, shrubs, ferns, thorns, nettles.

SCOD Food Cooperative Concept

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Economics, Organic Agriculture & Horticulture, Organic Gardens, Services, Sales or Trade, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2014 by Drogo

SCOD Food Cooperative ideas by JF & JT based on our post-bubble recession economic reality and independent personal finances:

“I have been exploring the idea of a virtual cooperative for the trade of services, labor, skills, and instruction similar to a cross between Ebay, Bit-Coin, and Linked-in with maybe a little bit of a D&D style.

I’m thinking it would work something like this:

A merchant would setup a standard merchant style account showcasing their skills, wares etc… in an online profile where they could search other merchant profiles. This account can be further refined as membership evolves to the trade guild level. Services or wares can be brokered directly or they can go into a bidding pool.Services or offering could be bid upon by others to determine a fair market exchange for labor, goods, and services as well as establishing a found for a virtual economic system.

Every account starts out with 100 ‘trust point’ credits to purchase the service, etc… from another merchant offering a different service and some other desirable arrangement. Once the transaction is completed by the service provider, the receipt of the service transfers a previously agreed upon amount of credits to the service providers account. Problems or disagreements will be mediated by guild leaders.

The virtual cooperative only works if people continuously participate to retain credits in their account.No money ever changes hands and credit cannot be bought directly through the web application. Every member is initially set up in the ‘commons’ until they have acquired enough proficiency to join a guild. Prospectus must be invited and approved by members of the guild they are seeking membership from. Guilds will be broken down into the various subtypes Artisan, Teacher, etc…”

 – JF

*

We aren’t really left with any options. It’s at the point if we want health in our lives, we have to work for it. What we need to do is sit down and figure out the dietary needs of everyone who wants to be involved, plot out who will be in charge of what, and figure out an effective timeline that will keep everyone fed through the winter months. I’ll set up a wiki and link it to the SCOD group.

I’ll be hunting a fair bit this season. I can work to provide deer and turkey at the least. I’m good for beans and corn as well. the more the merrier. I’m going to create this as a private wiki, so I just need email addresses for those to be added.

So who (around here) would like to buckle down with me in a cooperative to feed all our families on organic, home-grown, locally raised, or locally hunted food? We’ll need to cover all areas – protein (meat and non-meat sources), eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Mushroom growers are also welcome!”

– JT

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(see modern economic theory article – Post-Bubble Recession Economics)

Mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris)

Posted in Nature Studies, Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by Drogo

Smooth Garden Tobacco

Historically Mugwort was also called Sailor’s Tobacco. It can be smoked, chewed, eaten, brewed in water for tea, cooked as an herb, or used as potpourri. Mugwort leaf is similar to Mums, Wormwood, Sweet Annie, and Monkshood. The flowers are small white or magenta clusters that easily reseed themselves annually, and spread with multiple individual root bases and stems nearby (not as a unified root group clusters like catmint or lemon balm). It is smoother and more mild than tobacco or pot, so it blends nicely with those.

Mugwort grows as an annual from Spring to Fall, dies, and grows back next year from its own dropped seeds. My experience chewing it is that it numbs the tongue, and its taste is mildly bitter like tea leaves. Inhaling Mugwort smoke has a Thujone chemical effect on the mind, somewhere between Nicotine (tobacco) and THC (pot). I have had very vivid dreams after ingesting and smoking a few pinches of crunched Mugwort leaf. Mugwort remains very magical.

I highly recommend trying Mugwort if you like Tobacco or Cannabis (pot). The side effects do not seem to be worse than either of those; however those with allergy to pollen may have an allergic reaction; additionally there is some evidence that it somehow over-stimulates the uterus in pregnant women which can lead to abortion. Testing is not conclusive yet. Further more Mugwort is completely FREE and LEGAL and not lethally toxic or poisonous (with possible exception of fetuses). To be safe, women should not use mugwort while pregnant*.

Other names for Mugwort:  Artemisia Vulgaris, Witch Herb, Old Man, Old Uncle Harry, Artemis Herb, Muggons, Muggins, Mugger, Sailors Tobacco, Apple Pie, Smotherwort, Felon Herb, St Johns Plant, Cingulum Sancti, Johannis, Mother’s Wort, Maiden Wort, etc..

* Some claim it can cause miscarriages because it stimulates menstruation, so it should be avoided during pregnancy.

Cannabis is American and Patriotic

Posted in Environmentalism, Nature Studies, Organic Agriculture & Horticulture, Pagan, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by Drogo

Cannabis is American and Patriotic!
Hemp for Ethanol Fuel, Cloth, Paper, Oils, etc.

Few plants are as useful as Cannabis. Hemp and Marijuana are both varieties of the same species, Cannabis. Hemp provides natural, renewable, biodegradable, and non-polluting solutions for many human products. It has an edible seed, nutritious edible oil (usable also as a combustible fuel), strong quality fiber, and a natural medicine all of which have been important for America and the World over the years.

Before the Mid 1800’s most ships were rigged with Hemp rope and sails. Hemp was used in the oakum that sealed the ships boards, in the cloth for sailor and soldier uniforms, and in flags and paper. Our pioneer wagons were covered in hemp canvas. The word ‘canvas’ comes from the name cannabis, from ancient Sumerian and Babylonian languages. America’s founding fathers including George Washington were keen growers of hemp, and Thomas Jefferson was probably the first Hemp activist. Realizing its value to the health and prosperity of the nation, Jefferson encouraged farmers to grow hemp instead of tobacco.

Hemp was the material for European paper makers and made into some of the finest books ever made; including the Guttenberg and King James bibles, and many other famous works. America’s first Declaration of Independence was also printed on hemp paper. Deforestation for paper-making is a problem that could be greatly relieved by us growing hemp and using its superior pulp. Hemp does not require pesticides or herbicides agriculturally. Cannabis can be grown in many different climates in the world. It grows like a ‘weed’ with a long tap root, long stalk, and thick foliage.

The original Levi’s jeans were made from recycled canvas made from hemp fiber. Henry Ford used hemp and other natural fibers to make his cars in 1941. “Reefer Madness” was a theatrical murder-drama filmed as propaganda against Cannabis by Petrol Chemical (Oil related) Companies. A patriotic film called “Hemp for Victory” was positive propaganda for Hemp and WWII, but like other pro-hemp references it was hidden because Cannabis is illegal.

Although corn used to make ethanol has presented many problems, hemp used for ethanol is ideal in our climate. Brazil uses ethanol from sugar cane on a mass scale for most of their vehicles, so for us hemp is most comparable. The emissions from ethanol are far less than from crude oil. Ethanol is not as fuel efficient in the tank, but it burns much cleaner and from cultivation to refinement it is more energy efficient than Oil drilling, piping, and refining combined.

Hemp Cannabis as an agricultural crop has very low THC, unlike the “Pot” Marijuana variety of Cannabis cultivated as a medicinal and recreational drug version. Hemp may have a cute name, like Pot, but neither one is really a joke because they are both a serious resource. Cannabis in all its forms should not be feared either. Cannabis is not just for “druggies”, as many seem inclined to believe. Hemp is a true alternative to using crude oil which is a polluting fossil fuel, and toxic even in all its refined petroleum and plastic bi-products, many of which could also be replaced with hemp based materials. Slowly through better education, we are becoming aware that Cannabis is one of the most natural drugs and renewable resources that we could ever hope for.

Also Marijuana Cannabis has benefits like anger management, pain relief, calming, relaxing, meditation, healing, working out, etc….

Cannabinoids (CBs) are a class of 400 natural chemical protein compounds. CB Endogenous ligands or ‘endo-cannabinoids’ are produced in our bodies, and naturally activate CB receptors in our brains. Some cannabinoids like anandamide (AEA) are also found in plants. Plant cannabinoids or ‘phyto-cannabinoids’ are found in cannabis (THC), echinacea (alkylamides), acmella oleracea, heli-chrysum umbra-culigerum, black truffles, and radula marginata. THC emulates AEA when it binds to receptors.

85 CBs are found in cannabis, one of which is THC. THC suppresses neuro-transmitter release; with a variety of effects in various parts of the brain. Mostly THC stimulates and inhibits mental and physical functions in odd ways. In the hippo-campus area it disrupts regular short-term memory patterns. All of the THC effects alter consciousness which can be used for relaxation, meditation, and other purposes, without damaging brain cells. Many people find THC effective for managing stress, pain, anger, and some can even achieve a ‘zone’ of concentration.

– From the documentaries Hemp Revolution, American Weed, Weed Wars, and other free online sources that cite scientific studies

 

List of Edible Berries

Posted in Nature Studies, Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2011 by Drogo

Wild Berries

List for The Great Plains & East-Coast America

(eat with caution)

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Blue-berry Bush

Mul-berry Tree

Black-berry Bush

Rasp-berry Bush  (Wineberry)

Straw-berry Patch

Snake-berry Patch

Cran-berry Bog  (New England)

Mayapple-berry (American Mandrake)

Nanny-berry

Ground Cherry Plant (Chinese Lantern, Wild Tomato)

Elder-berry Bush

Wild Grape Vine

Bear-berry Shrub

Rosehip-berry plant

Sea Buckthorn plant

Thimble-berry Bush

Goose-berry Bush

Fig Bush

Hack-berry Tree

*

Nannyberry

*


Ground Cherry (Wild Tomato in Chinese Lantern Husk)

Garden Plants

Posted in Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by Drogo

Garden Plants

6 types: Flowers, Leafy Plants, Herbs, Vegetables, Fruits, Berries

Gardens can be made of many things. There are rock gardens, sculpture gardens, vegetable gardens, herb gardens, and flower gardens to name a few types. They can also range in size from a small patch to almost farm field size. Also the variety of combinations is endless.

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FLOWERS

Wild Flowers

Violets, Blue Chicory, Tansy, Dandelions

Dandelions….thats a big one for me, its so insane how people are brainwashed to hate them and seek to poison and kill all of them, like clovers, violets, wild spinaches etc etc; also the complexity of biodiversity studies to me is more important than how “neat and clean” the garden looks. To me the species of plants, their relationships with themselves, bugs, animals, and how self sustaining they are is much more important to me than conventional aesthetics. How we are taught to look at an “unweeded” garden in disgust, and say it needs work, even though while looking more natural, the weeding is done subtly and selectively for maximum efficiency of time and effort and to make it look less manicured and more independent.

Bees

Pollination

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LEAFY PLANTS (Green and Ornamental types)

grasses, weeds, bushes, dwarf trees, hostas, ferns, hemp

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HERBS

10 most common herbs:

mints, oregano,  frankincense, myrrh, lavender,  parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil

other herbs (some are also considered flowers, spices or vegetables):

anise, artemisia, angelica, bay laurel, borage, burnet,   calendula, caraway, chamomile, chervil, chives, clove tree, coriander, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, ferns, fennel, feverfew, garlic, geranium, germander, hesperis, horehound, hyssop, lovage, licorice, lamb’s ear, mullein, marjoram, marijuana, nasturtium, nutmeg, perilla, santolina, sorrl, spices, pepper (black), rue, savory, tansy, tarragon, valerian, verbena, queen anne’s lace, woodruff, wormwood, yarrow

 

Peppermint

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VEGETABLES

Beans, potatoes, carrots, beets, squash, (to be continued…)

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FRUIT

Apples, Pears, Melons, Cherries, Plums, Pawpaw, Figs, Tropical fruits (not for outdoor areas that get snow)

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BERRIES (edible)

Raspberries, snake berries, strawberries, blackberries, mulberries, blueberries,

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*** THIS ARTICLE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION ***