Sumac, Water Hyacinth, Sweet Potato Vine for Food YCH #58

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SUMAC:

     I remember a while back reading about a plant that tasted like lemons.  I knew it wasn’t a mint or lemon balm.  But I knew I had read about a substitute for lemons.  I am in zone 8.  Maybe I could raise a small lemon tree (along with my lime and kumquats); but how many lemons could I get from that?  Not enough.  So I set out to find a lemony plant for seasoning and lemonade!  Now the only sumac I have heard of is poison sumac;  eeek – related to poison ivy.  Being highly allergic to poison ivy I was very skeptical.  But after a little Google  searching, I came upon Green Dean’s site (You know “Eat The Weeds”).  He has a wonderful video on sumac.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPH-IDwVmrM

http://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/natural-healing-snack-on-sumac-berries.aspx#axzz35guV9vTG

http://www.aihd.ku.edu/foods/smooth_sumac.html

 

  But the fun doesn’t stop there.  Sumac is actually used as a seasoning in Middle Eastern foods. 

Sumac can also be used in place of candle wax for smokeless candles, as a dye and tanning agent, to make smoke in a beekeepers smoker.

It also has medicinal properties

And miscellaneous uses

Eating Sweet Potato Leaves and Vines:

Are you kidding me?  Nope, When we lived in Hawaii we made a nice salad.  I picked the shoots and dropped them in boiling water for a few seconds.  Then plunged them in cold water.  We then mixed them with tomato, sweet onion (like Georgia Vidalia or Maui Sweet Onion) and a little Patis (fermented fish seasoning – really!)

http://foodtech.uonbi.ac.ke/node/1164

 

 http://marcsala.blogspot.com/2006/06/unusual-greens-part-3.html

 

Water Hyacinth:

Invasive plant that destroys Florida’s waterways.  But I will talk about easy ways to control it and use it as a great benefit!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1kkn5Sz4MI

 

 

 

 

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Azolla, Biofertilisers, Homestead Updates YCH#57

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  • I have been doing a lot of reading about bio fertilizers and am very impressed with the many uses of azolla.
  • Azolla is a fresh water fern that is one of the fastest growing plants in the world.
  • Azolla can double it’s biomass in 2 days.
  • It has a symbiotic relationship with a cyanobacterium (blue green algae) called Anabaena.  Oxygen is poisonous to cyanobacteria.  Within it’s leaves cyanobacteria is able to live in an oxygen free environment.  Anabaena in turn sequesters nitrogen from the atmosphere which is then available to Azolla for growth.  It can then live without soil.
  • The oldest fossils are nearly 70 million years old.  This would have been during the time of the dinosaurs. This makes it one of the oldest plants with the longest marriage on earth.
  • Azolla grows in the water and is able to get nitrogen from the air instead of the soil.
  • This means it can produce bio fertilizer, livestock feed, food, biofuel and sequester large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.

 

 

I discuss this in detail on the podcast.

A lot is going on around here:  the garden is finally getting going.

I talk about what I planted in my garden and some things I am trying out in the fields.

Comfrey as fertilizer.  Compost tea.

Rotational grazing is going very well with the sheep and goats.

We have a new male goat and I can hardly wait for him to breed with the girls.

The goats and their antics (who needs tv)

The baby sheep are growing up fast and still look great.

We are bottle feeding the little ram and how we did it.

Timber rattler and “Guard Pig”.

Ideas an things we have done to get more water to the plants; especially the ones way out there in the fields.

Best way we have found for sprouting seed.  We went from 20 to 30% viability to 90 to 100.

Can 3 year old mushroom spawn still be viable?

Ideas and changes for the podcast.

Book review:  “Remind Yourself”  by Jim Samuels

 

Ramps, Skirret, Water Celery, Taro, Wasabi, Baby Sheep YCH # 54

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  • Aquatic Plants Continued

  • Ramps  (Allium tricoccum)
  • Skirret  (Sium sisarum)
  • Taro (Colocasia esculenta)
  • Wasabi  (Wasabi japonica)
  • Water celery  (Oenanthe javanica)

MORE EDIBLE WATER GARDEN PLANTS

Ramps:  Allium trioccum  AKA: Ramps, Spring Onion, Wild Leek, Wood Leek, Wild Garlic.

Ramps are an early spring perennial.  This is well-known with a strong garlic smell and onion like flavor.  They are found in much of the eastern US and Canada.

They are common in the traditional cuisines of these areas and are gaining popularity in upscale restaurants across North America.The mountain people of Appalachia celebrate the ramp with festivals and much folklore surrounds this plant.  It was believed.to have  power to ward.off many winter ailments and in the celebration of spring. It was used as a tonic for winter ailments.  It is high In vitamins and minerals.

The city of Chicago actually got it’s name from ramps. Near Lake Michigan in Illinois during the 17th century there was a dense growth of ramps.  The native tribes.called the plant shikaakwa (Chicago).

The flavor is of onions and strong garlic.  Food writer Jane Snow described it as “fried green onions with a dash of funky feet”

Ramps are celebrated in multiple festivals across Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina,  and Pennsylvania.

Check out this website:  http://www.kingofstink.com/

Interesting things about ramps:

Resembles lily of the valley with broader leaves
Can be found in colonies covering miles of the forest floor
Come up in spring before trees and shrubs leaf out taking advantage of the light.
Leaves and bulbs can be eaten.
When cooked they become a mild tasting gourmet vegetable.
Outranks garlic for causing bad breath.
It is said the smell will come through the pores of ones skin.
Called spring tonic by the older folk of Appalachia.
Added to printers ink as a joke.
A cooking wine is made from ramps by Kirkwood winery.
Ramp festivals are found in upland Southeastern United States for more than 70 years.
Keeps varmits out of your gardens.
And maybe… it could keep vampires or zombies away…..
SKIRRET:  Sium sisarum
HARDINESS ZONES 3-8
Family is Apiaceae which includes:
Skirret is a small to medium  herbaceous perennial  root crop with long thin roots. It can grow to about 4 ft high.  It is low maintenance and has few pest problems.  It is said to have a flavor between potato and parsnip.  Most varieties have a hard inedible core.  Some better varieties are without this core. It is known to be resistant to pests and diseases.  The flowers are very attractive to bees and other pollinators.
The name skirret (suikerwortel in Dutch) means “sugar root”.  Used as carrots, parsnips, potatoes or salsify in cooking.  From Sturtevant’s Notes on Edible Plants:  skirret roots are “among the sweetest, whitest, and most pleasant of roots”.  Skirret is thought to have originated in China, made it’s way to Europe and then to North America.  It was once a well know crop in North America and Europe; but now is mostly replaced by the potato.  It is still an important crop in Northeastern Asia.  It was found on the table of ancient Romans.
The best and easiest way to grow it is from roots.  Eat some and plant some.  Seeds may not be true to the parent.  If a good variety is found without the woody core.  A clone from the parent instead of seed would be better.  I has a large amount of flowers in an umbel shape  (looks similar to Queen Anne’s Lace –wild carrot).
WATER CELERY: Oenanthe javanica   AKA:  Japanese parsley, Chinese celery, water dropwort.  It originates from East Asia.
HARDY TO ZONE 6 as a perennial
Many other species of water dropwort are extremely toxic.  Oenanthe javanica is not only edible but cultivated China, India, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Italy.  It is also popular in Hawaii.   The raw stems and leaves taste similar to celery or parsley.  They become milder with cooking. There is a dwarf variety called Flamingo which is  variegated leaves of green, pink and white.  It is less aggressive than larger varieties and could make for a beautiful groundcover.  It like most water plants should not be released into natural masses of water; as it can be very invasive.
It’s flowers attract beneficial insects, and it has few pest problems.  The leaves and stems are best used fresh or lightly cooked in cooked dishes.
WASABI:  Wasabi japonica  AKA:  Japanese horseradish
Wasabi is that wonderful green you eat with sushi that is pungent, spicy, and hot.  Unfortunately most of us have never had real wasabi.  It seems most “wasabi”  you get is actually horseradish and green food coloring.  It is in the bassicaceae family – same as cabbages, mustard, and horseradish.  It actually affect your nasal passages more than your tongue is sensing the hotness.  The root is dried and turned into powder or ready to use paste.  It loses its flavor within 15 minutes if left uncovered after grating.  The leaves can also be eaten and taste similar to the root.  It is also used in salads and pickled in sake.
It is rather difficult to cultivate.  It likes climates similar to the rainforest on the Oregon coast.  Also parts of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina and Tenessee.  It is very particular about it’s environment and can take 3 years to mature.  All parts are used and prized.
Fresh wasabi roots are priced at $150.00 per pound currently.  This is a good reason to try and cultivate wasabi.

TARO:  Colocasia esculenta
These are the large elephant ear looking plants in the Araceae family.  They are native to South India and Southeast Asia.  The taro root has many name around the world from West Africa, Asia, Central America, South America and the Caribbean and Polynesian islands.  It is known as taro, dasheen, eddo, and kalo for example.
This plant is used around the world for it’s edible tubers, stems and leaves.  The root is hairy on the outside, and must be cleaned and cooked befor eating.
Taro can grow on irrigated land or in flooded areas.  It produces twice as much tubers when flooded; such as in a rice paddy.  The plant cannot be eaten raw due to  calcium oxalate crystals.  Cooking will decrease the calcium oxalate.
The root can be cooked like potatoes, baked, boiled, fried, roasted, steamed, added to soups or stews, made into chips or pounded into a paste.   Taro chips are crunchier and nuttier tasting than potato chips.  The staple food of the Hawaiians (poi) is made from taro.  The leaves can be cooked as greens.  My favorite way is lau lau.  Lau lau is a piece of salty butterfish and other meat such as a chunk of beef, sprinkled with sea salt, rolled up in taro leaves, then wrapped in ti leaves, tied with a string  and steamed.
Many cultures all over the world have their own special way of using taro.  I like it just boiled with salt too.  It is tastier and creamier than potatoes.

http://www.hawaiihistory.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ig.page&PageID=533

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