Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The planet desperately needs..

Permies Definition: An ever growing group of healers and restorers who care deeply about the health of the all beings in their lives.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sea Buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides (Seaberry)

Today, let's talk about another awesome shrub that we will be growing this year. This one is full of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals.
Sea Buckthorn shrub

Sea Buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides - Sea buckthorn, or seaberry is a hardy (to zone 2!), thorny shrub with edible fruit that also packs a punch. It has been used medicinally for at least 1200 years. These miracle bushes provide vitamins C, A, K, and E, beta-carotene, amino acids, organic acids, tannins, omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9, folic acid, 42 lipids, phenols, terpenes, copper, iron, gallic acid, magnesium, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, riboflavin, salicylic acid, sterols, boron, astralagin, glucosides, selenium, catechins, calcuim, ferulic acid, manganese, superoxide dismutase, carotenoids, lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetins, zeaxanthin, and fatty acids. All parts of the plant are full of nutrients.

Sea buckthorn is used to boost immunity, lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, help the heart and blood vessels, prevent diabetes, anti-inflammatory, protect against radiation, and help control weight. Your body will actually stop storing fat. By helping to control weight, it will prevent many of the aforementioned issues from developing. Sea buckthorn will help keep you regular and treat all sorts of GI issues, including upset stomach, GERD, ulcers, and heartburn. Can be used as an expectorant and is good for mucus membranes. Heals asthma and other lung issues. Protects the liver and used to treat arthritis. Sun burns, rashes, eczema, bed sores, wounds and other skin irritations are relieved by teas made from berries, flowers or leaves. It helps give you beautiful skin, hair and nails. Not only will you look and physically feel younger, your brain will function faster as well. Dr Oz boasted about the health benefits of sea buckthorn. It has been said to help prevent cancer and help reduce the side effects of harsh cancer treatments. 

Just like the Elderberry, the raw berries are very tart. Cooking the berries changes them to a tropical citrusy flavor. If you prefer raw, you can mix the juice with sweet juices such as pear, carrot, or grape. You may also sweeten juice, syrups and teas with honey, stevia or agave.    

Sea buckthorn berries are used to make oils, teas, extracts, syrups, juices, jellies and jams, salsa, cooking sauces, vinegars, vinaigrette, wine, candies, pies, sorbet, cookies, etc. They can also be dried or frozen to be used later.

The leaves are full of protein. Powerful teas can be made from the them. The leaves make very healthy fodder for animals. Be careful feeding them to horses though, as Pegasus was said to get his power of flight from sea buckthorn leaves! 

Seaberry, part of the Elaeagnaceae family, is a nitrogen fixer, which means that it pulls nitrogen out of the air. Nitrogen is not readily available to most plants. Seaberry sends the nitrogen down to it's roots where soil microorganisms process it in exchange for sugars and nutrients, converting it to a form of nitrogen that is available for uptake. This nitrogen is also shared with nearby plants, especially as leaves, berries and twigs fall and begin to decompose. 

Sea buckthorn grows 6 to 20 feet. Coppicing every few years will keep the berries at a reasonable height and replenish the soil with all that nutrient rich biomass. It grows well in most soil types and conditions. Known to grow near the coast (get it? "sea" berry), so it is even ok with salty and sandy soil. Even though it prefers full sun, it will still produce plenty of berries in full shade. The shrubs provide wildlife habitat and make excellent hedges. Male and female plants are needed to produce berries. Between it's nitrogen fixation, multiple functions, and willingness to grow in shade, sea buckthorn is especially suited for guilds. 

Bright orange berries and silvery leaves

If you are interested in purchasing sea buckthorn seedlings this spring, let me know and I will try to propagate extras for you.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Free Mobile Compost Hot Water Design

Similar in design to the compost pile I have set up to eventually heat the ducks' swimming pool throughout the winter, the following article shows how easy it can be to get free (minus cost to construct) hot water from a compost pile. This design is especially interesting because it is mobile, where most compost water heaters (especially Jean Pain styles) are not.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

American Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis

In addition to the many trees/shrubs/vines I have ordered for Spring, I have found some incredible seeds. Considering that young plants cost anywhere from $6 to $40 each, I am super excited to have a lot of seeds to work with. 

Today I am going to feature:

American Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis

American Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis - Elderberry is a hardy (to zone 3!) fruit producing shrub that is packed with  more vitamin C than an orange. Elderberries are also full of antioxidants, vitamins A and B, tannins, flavonoids including quercetin and anthocyanins, rutin, viburnic acid, carotenoids, and amino acids. Elderberry syrup is superb for boosting the immune system, and fending off colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections, tonsillitis, and coughs. As nature intended, elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama during 1995. Elderberry is also good for the eyes, the heart, and lowers cholesterol levels. Different parts of the plant and preparations become mildly laxative, diuretic, and/or diaphoretic (makes you sweat).  

In addition to medicinal value, it also can be used for dye (berries, leaves & inner bark), pies, tea, jelly and wine. Wikipedia suggests hollowing the stems for use as toys, spouts (maple syrup taps have been suggested) or musical instruments. Wild birds are fond of the little purple to black colored berries. The tiny, white flower clusters are reminiscent of Valerian, butterflies love them. Native here in Maine, it is especially suited to growing in our food forest. Although in my research I have yet to find issues with poultry eating the berries, they are listed as toxic to them in many places. Since I have seen plenty of wild elderberry growing near water, which ducks tend to frequent (lol), I am going to trust their discretion on eating any fresh berries that fall. Animals usually avoid toxic species. My spoiled ducks may be too picky to even try them! All parts of the part are supposed to be toxic to humans, except the COOKED berries. Some people do not seem to be bothered by elderberry, and even suggest consuming the flowers. Grows in full sun to part shade (great for guilds!), and not too particular about moisture level of the soil, although moist areas will make them happy.

Blackish purple berries

Pretty white flowers