Wild Gourmet CSA

From VPR:

For most people, a hike through the woods is just a hike. But for some Vermonters it can be like a trip to the grocery store. Wild edible foragers pull everything from the obvious mushrooms and berries, to obscure greens, roots, and barks. We talk with two foraging experts, Les Hook and Nova Kim, who supply restaurants around the state with their findings, and lead educational workshops.


Wild Organic

We collect and use only the finest, ethically, wildcrafted ingredients
(collected by ourselves).

This includes a wide range of unusual and hard-to-locate plants (yes,
mushrooms are plants, too) and, never collect more than we anticipate we
will need for ourselves, for market, membership, reserve and for gifting.

Therefore, we limit the number of memberships we will accept and keep only
a very limited supply on hand from season to season.

It has always been our policy to promote and encourage alternative
economic resources besides "just" timber or agribusiness.

We promote the use of our wild edibles while
conducting and collecting research on the various plant forms
(native and immigrants) occurring in the wild,
encouraging and educating the public to the benefits derived from
their usage, and
helping to preserve the plants' natural habitat, thus ensuring a
continuing supply for generations to come.

Please contact us directly if you would like additional information or would
like to sign up. Thank you!


Tinkering with Eden

by Kim Todd

Editorial Review - Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.

A study of birds, beasts, fish, and plants that have undone a paradisiacal New World.Todd, a Montana-based writer, knows well that the true culprits are not rats, starlings, and "Hessian flies," but the humans who knowingly or unwittingly introduced them into North American ecosystems. Lampreys, once blocked from entrance by the natural barrier of Niagara Falls, now swim in the western Great Lakes because humans built canals to bypass such impediments; nutrias and parakeets now fill the southern swamps and national skies because pet lovers were careless about their charges' whereabouts; brown trout fill rivers and lakes because wildlife managers put them there. Even so, Todd profiles not thoughtless humans but such dangerously pesky critters as the pigeon, which came to dominate the American cityscape in the 20th century (as she notes, an 1883 article on bird life in New York's Central Park "curses the flocks of noisy sparrows but doesn't mention a single pigeon"); the European honeybee, Apis mellifera, which displaced native pollinators (and is now itself being displaced by hybrids); and the mosquito, which, Todd notes, augured the extinction of countless Hawaiian bird species, the victims of avian malaria and other diseases. This study amounts in the end to a skillfully written series of natural-history sketches, but little more. In the face of the ever-quickening destruction of native ecosystems through the introduction of alien species—rabbits in Australia, pine trees in South Africa, kudzu in the southeastern US—Todd is curiously dispassionate. Peter Matthiessen's Wildlife in America, now 40 years old, is in many ways more urgent, as are more recent books like Jason and Roy van Driesche's Nature Out of Place and Harold Mooney and Richard Hobbs's Invasive Species in a Changing World. All are far more useful, too, for readers concerned with environmental issues of the sort Todd touches on.Overall, a readable but distinctly ancillary account.

Nitrogen Fixing Trees: Multipurpose Pioneers

by Craig Elevitch and Kim Wilkinson
P.O. Box 428, Holualoa, HI 96725 USA
copyright 1995,1998
(Printed originally in the Permaculture International Journal, Issue No. 56)

Nitrogen Fixing Trees for Agroforestry
Nitrogen fixation is a pattern of nutrient cycling which has successfully been used in perennial agriculture for millennia. This article focuses on legumes, which are nitrogen fixers of particular importance in agriculture. Specifically, tree legumes (nitrogen fixing trees, hereafter called NFTs) are especially valuable in subtropical and tropical agroforestry. They can be integrated into an agroforestery system to restore nutrient cycling and fertility self-reliance.

On unvegetated sites, "pioneer" plants (plants which grow and thrive in harsh, low-fertility conditions) begin the cycling of nutrients by mining and accumulating available nutrients. As more nutrients enter the biological system and vegetative cover is established, conditions for other non-pioneering species become favorable. Pioneers like nitrogen fixing trees tend to benefit other forms of life by boosting fertility and moderating harsh conditions.

NFTs are often deep rooted, which allows them to gain access to nutrients in subsoil layers. Their constant leaf drop nourishes soil life, which in turn can support more plant life. The extensive root system stabilizes soil, while constantly growing and atrophying, adding organic matter to the soil while creating channels for aeration. There are many species of NFTs that can also provide numerous useful products and functions, including food, wind protection, shade, animal fodder, fuel wood, living fence, and timber, (see chart for specific species yields) in addition to providing nitrogen to the system.

Nitrogen: From the Air to the Plants

Nitrogen is often referred to as a primary limiting nutrient in plant growth. Simply put, when nitrogen is not available plants stop growing. Although lack of nitrogen is often viewed as a problem, nature has an immense reserve of nitrogen everywhere plants grow--in the air. Air consists of approximately 80% nitrogen gas (N2), representing about 6400 kg of N above every hectare of land. However, N2 is a stable gas, normally unavailable to plants. Nitrogen fixation, a process by which certain plants "fix" or gather atmospheric N2 and make it biologically available, is an underlying pattern in nature. (See box below for details on how nitrogen fixation works).

How to Use NFTs in a System

In the tropics, most of the available nutrients (over 75%) are not in the soil but in the organic matter. In subtropical and tropical forests, nutrients are constantly cycling through the ecosystem. Aside from enhancing overall fertility by accumulating nitrogen and other nutrients, NFTs establish readily, grow rapidly, and regrow easily from pruning. They are perfectly suited to jump-start organic matter production on a site, creating an abundant source of nutrient-rich mulch for other plants. Many fast-growing NFTs can be cut back regularly over several years for mulch production.

The NFTs may be integrated into a system in many different ways including clump plantings, alley cropping, contour hedgerows, shelter belts, or single distribution plantings. (See figure below). As part of a productive system, they can serve many functions: microclimate for shade-loving crops like coffee or citrus (cut back seasonally to encourage fruiting); trellis for vine crops like vanilla, pepper, and yam; mulch banks for home gardens; and living fence and fodder sources around animal fields.

FAO, 1984. Legume Inoculants and Their Use, FAO of the United Nations, Rome. Excellent practical handbook for inoculation.

MacDicken, Kenneth G. 1994. Selection and Management of Nitrogen-Fixing Trees. Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, Morrilton, Arkansas, USA.

National Academy of Sciences. 1979. Tropical Legumes: Resources for the Future, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C..

Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association (Currently the FACT Net). 1989-1994. NFT Highlights. Nitrogen Fixing Tree Association, Morrilton, Arkansas, USA.

Dandelions with "Wildman" Steve Brill

There are no poisonous look-alikes. Other very similar Taraxacum species, as well as chicory and wild lettuce only resemble dandelions in the early spring. All these edibles also exude a white milky sap when injured, but chicory and wild lettuce leaves have some hair, at least on the underside of the midrib, while Taraxacum leaves are bald. Unlike the other genera, Taraxacum stays in a basal rosette. It never grows a tall, central, stalk bearing flowers and leaves.
Dandelions are especially well-adapted to a modern world of "disturbed habitats," such as lawns and sunny, open places. They were even introduced into the Midwest from Europe to provide food for the imported honeybees in early spring. They now grow virtually worldwide. Dandelions spread further, are more difficult to exterminate, and grow under more under adverse circumstances than most competitors.

Most gardeners detest them, but the more you try to weed them up, the faster they grow.

The taproot is deep, twisted, and brittle.

Unless you remove it completely, it will regenerate. If you break off more pieces than you unearth, the dandelion wins. "What's a dandelion digger for?" a dandelion asked.

"Itís a human invention to help us reproduce," another dandelion replied.

Collect dandelion leaves in early spring, when they're the tastiest, before the flowers appear. Harvest again in late fall. After a frost, their protective bitterness disappears. Dandelions growing in rich, moist soil, with the broadest leaves and largest roots, are the best. Select the youngest individuals, and avoid all plants with flowers. Some people eat the greens from spring to fall, when they're very bitter. Others boil out the summer bitterness (and water-soluble vitamins) out in two changes of water. Itís all a matter of preference.

Dandelion greens are wonderful in salads, sautÈed or steamed. They taste like chicory and endive, with an intense heartiness overlying a bitter tinge.

People today shun bitter flavorsótheyíre so conditioned by overly sweet or salty processed food. But in earlier times, we distinguished between good and bad bitterness. Mixed with other flavors, as in a salad, dandelions improve the flavor.

I also love sautÈing them for about 20 minutes with onions and garlic in olive oil, adding a little home-made wine before they're done. If you're not used to the slight bitterness, cook them with sweet vegetables, especially sliced carrots and parsnips. Boiling dandelions in one or more changes of water makes them milderóa good introduction if you're new to natural foods. Early spring is also the time for the crownógreat sautÈed, pickled, or in cooked vegetable dishes.

You can also eat dandelion flowers, or use them to make wine. Collect them in a sunny meadow, just before mid-spring, when the most flowers bloom. Some continue to flower right into the fall. Use only the flowerís yellow parts. The green sepals at the flowerís base are bitter.

The flowers add color, texture, and an unusual bittersweet flavor to salads. You can also saute them, dip them in batter and fry them into fritters, or steam them with other vegetables. They have a meaty texture that contrasts with other lighter vegetables in a stir-fry dish or a casserole. A Japanese friend makes exceptionally delicious traditional dandelion flower pickles, using vinegar and spices.

The taproot is edible all year, but is best from late fall to early spring. Use it as a cooked vegetable, especially in soups. Although not as tasty as many other wild root vegetables, Itís not bad. I remember finding large dandelions with huge roots growing on the bottom of a grassy hillside. They were only mildy bitter, so I threw them into a potato stock. With the added scallions, tofu, ginger, carrots and miso, this became an excellent Japanese miso soup.

Pre-boiling and changing the water, or long, slow simmering mellows this root. Sweet vegetables best complement dandelion roots. Sauteing the roots in olive oil also improves them, creating a robust flavor. A little Tamari soy sauce and onions complete this unusual vegetable side dish.

The leaves are more nutritious than anything you can buy. They're higher in beta-carotene than carrots. The iron and calcium content is phenomenal, greater than spinach. You also get vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc by using a tasty, free vegetable that grows on virtually every lawn. The root contains the sugar inulin, plus many medicinal substances.

Dandelion root is one of the safest and most popular herbal remedies. The specific name, officinale, means that It's used medicinally. The decoction is a traditional tonic. Itís supposed to strengthen the entire body, especially the liver and gallbladder, where it promotes the flow of bile, reduces inflammation of the bile duct, and helps get rid of gall stones. This is due to its taraxacin. Itís good for chronic hepatitis, it reduces liver swelling and jaundice, and it helps indigestion caused by insufficient bile. Don't use it with irritable stomach or bowel, or if you have an acute inflammation.

The modern French name for this plant is pissenlit (lit means bed) because the root and leaf tea act on the kidneys as a gentle diuretic, improving the way they cleanse the blood and recycle nutrients. Unlike pharmaceuticals diuretics, this doesn't leach potassium, a vital mineral, from the body. Improved general health and clear skin result from improved kidney function. One man I spoke to even claims he avoided surgery for urinary stones by using dandelion root tea alone.

Dandelions are also good for the bladder, spleen, pancreas, stomach and intestines. Itís recommended for stressed-out, internally sluggish, and sedentary people. Anyone who's a victim of excessive fat, white flour, and concentrated sweeteners could benefit from a daily cup of dandelion tea.

Dandelion rootís inulin is a sugar that doesn't elicit the rapid production of insulin, as refined sugars do. It helps mature-onset diabetes, and I used it as part of a holistic regime for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Dandelion leaf infusion also good at dinner time. Its bitter elements encourage the production of proper levels of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes. All the digestive glands and organs respond to this herbís stimulation. Even after the plant gets bitter, a strong infusion, is rich in vitamins and minerals, and helps people who are run-down. Even at its most bitter (Taraxacum come from Arabic and Persian, meaning "bitter herb"), it never becomes intolerably so, like golden seal and gentian.

The leafís white, milky sap removes warts, moles, pimples, calluses, and sores, and soothes bee stings and blisters.

Unlike most other seeds, dandelionsí can germinate without long periods of dormancy. To further increase reproductive efficiency, the plant has given up sex: The seeds can develop without cross-fertilization, so a flower can fertilize itself. This lets it foil the gardener by dispersing seeds as early as the day after the flower opens.

Feral Hemp in Nebraska

A video featuring Dr. Dave West on the colorful history of industrial hemp in the midwest and it's feral offspring.

Burdock @ Flora Health Herb Encyclopedia

Burdock root, also known as gobo or "Poor-man's potatoes", is an important food in Japan known for it's many healing properties. Traditionally, burdock root was used in Europe, India and China to treat respiratory disorders, abscesses, joint pain, urinary problems and to overcome serious health challenges by stimulating cellular regeneration, detoxification and cleansing. The German Pharmacopoeia lists this herbal drug for treating gastrointestinal complaints, as well as joint and bone conditions. The tea is also considered to be a traditional blood purifier and diuretic. Up to seventy-five percent of the root is made up of complex carbohydrates known as fructo-oligo-saccharides (FOS), including 27-45% inulin. Based on clinical studies, intake of FOS significantly increases beneficial bifidobacteria within the gastrointestinal tract and eliminates bacterial pathogens. This ultimately stimulates the immune system and effectively suppresses abnormal cell growth. The high levels of FOS in burdock root and its water extract also help to keep blood sugar levels constant and reduce hyperglycemia. Burdock root and its tea also contain at least five powerful flavonoid-type antioxidants that are more powerful antioxidants than vitamin C. Based on many studies with animals exposed to toxic chemicals, the tea very effectively protects the body against cellular damage and abnormal growths. The tea also has powerful anti-inflammatory activity based on studies and reduces liver damage from toxic chemicals. As a mildly bitter-tasting herb, it increases saliva and bile secretion, which aids digestion and cleanses the liver. These qualities of burdock root tea support proper hormone balances within the body and this may explain its traditional use for treating acne, eczema, endometriosis, fibroids and psoriasis. Burdock root tea can also be applied externally for treating skin conditions.

Animals in Vineyards from Jim Clark

"It’s no mistake that an animal noted for its nose has become wine’s mascot. In California, that nose is being put to use to sniff out disease in the vines. Vintners donated $33,000 to a project to train golden retrievers to sniff out and identify the vine mealybug, which can contaminate grape clusters with larvae and egg sacs, killing the vine itself within five years. The dogs are being trained to detect the pest early by smelling out its sex pheromones; once trained, they are expected to bark when they encounter the smell in the vineyards.

Dogs aren’t the only animals helping out in the vineyards, though. As I mentioned before, winegrowers in California and New Zealand are using falcons and other predatory birds to protect their grapes from other birds such as starlings, which like to eat grapes. The more traditional alternatives include expensive netting over the vines, visual repellents (scarecrows, of a sort) that startle invasive birds, or even loud noises or recordings of birds in distress. Using falcons is a natural, organic approach, especially in Marlborough’s case, where the birds themselves need the help to repopulate.

In California Getty Pollard’s company B-1RD has developed the Vineyard Falcon Crop Protection program, which uses trained falcons. The falcons don’t hunt down and kill starlings in the vineyards; their very presence is enough to discourage the starlings from swooping down and landing for a meal. The falcons got their first test at Gallo’s Two Rock Vineyard in Sonoma in 2004; Dennis Devitt, the winegrowing manager, considered them very effective and successful.

Other animals can contribute as well. Some of the biodynamic vineyards in Alsace are grazed by sheep, controlling the cover crop and fertilizing at the same time. Many sheep also roam the vineyards of New Zealand; some growers let them remain there during the growing season, when they nibble at the vines’ leaves, thereby trimming back the canopy and exposing the grapes to direct sunlight. Biodynamic theory holds that monocultural farms – farms with only one crop – are naturally imbalanced; the mixture of different crops and animals makes a better, healthier ecosystem. Grazing sheep and horse-driven plows help redress the imbalance (The horse-driven plow reduces compaction of the soil.)."

Feral GMO ?

Today we feature an summary of a chapter from the book "Biological Invasion" that poses an interesting question about a lesser known invasive species . . .


Rosie Hails and Tracey Timms-Wilson

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Pathogen Population Ecology, OX1 3SR, Oxford, UK

The release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a controversial subject. Some perceive it to be the single most important development in biology since the discovery of natural selection. Others are concerned that the movement of genes with no reference to natural species boundaries could pose new ecological risks. One conjectural risk is that transgenes will either cause the host species to become invasive or they will escape from the original host species and cause other species to become invasive. Gene flow between species occurs naturally, although the frequency varies within and across kingdoms. Such gene flow is responsible for creating new combinations of genes, with the potential for introgression or speciation. Hybridisation has been proposed as a stimulus for the evolution of invasiveness in plants (Ellstrand and Schierenbeck 2000), suggesting that new combinations can create genotypes with different, and perhaps surprising ecological behaviours. Do transgenes pose particular risks in this respect? Is it possible to predict the probability that transgenes will cause invasiveness in recipient organisms?

hog wild or wild hog

Hog Wild
Look out, Vermont — feral pigs are on the loose

for original article see:

Ah, Vermont, where one is rarely far from nature and its wildlife: the hermit thrush and the brook trout, the moose and the mink, the wild pig and the white-tailed deer, the…

Wait a minute.

Wild pig? As in boars?

Yup, they’re here. Not many of them, not everywhere, and not a breeding population. Not yet.

But Vermont is now one of 44 states in which at least a few feral pigs live, according to the generally recognized authority on the subject, John J. Mayer Jr. A research scientist and manager at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, S.C., he says the nation could be on the verge of a “pig bomb” as the voracious animals expand their range. Boars have a habit of churning up farms and gardens and devouring every lamb, calf or kitten they can find.

According to Mayer, wild pigs will eat almost anything, animal or vegetable. They don’t actually eat mineral, but so voracious are they that, when thirsty, they’ll dig up a yard to get to its underground sprinkler system and chew right through the PVC pipe.

Wild pigs also damage trout fisheries. By rooting, eating and excreting along riverbanks, they pollute the water, and by removing vegetation, they cause erosion that covers trout redds (spawning areas) with silt.

But don’t panic, at least not yet. First of all, Vermont’s feral pigs are probably not full-fledged boars (Sus scrofa) but some combination of boar and regular old pig (Sus domestica), visible on the farm and edible on the plate.

Furthermore, wild pigs do not routinely attack humans. Unless the human is walking his or her dog. Wild pigs do routinely attack dogs.

Boars are not native to Vermont. Whence do they come? New Hampshire. The animals are not native to that state, either, but they were imported from Germany more than 100 years ago to be hunted in Corbin Park. Austin Corbin, founder of the Long Island Rail Road, created the roughly 20,000-acre fenced impoundment in 1886.

The fence is supposedly boar proof. It is not, however, people proof, and in and around Cornish and Croydon, about eight miles east of Windsor County, Vt., some of the locals — perhaps unhappy about being excluded from all that land while millionaires paid thousands for exotic hunts — cut holes in the fence. Some are so big, Mayer says, “You could drive a truck through.”

It is through those gaps, he notes, that several wild hogs have escaped and swum across the Connecticut, probably making landfall somewhere between Windsor and Hartland.

Boars reside in a similar, if smaller, impoundment in Vermont, Wild Hill Preserve in Fairlee, where either the fences are stronger or the neighbors are calmer, and there have been no reports of porcine getaways.

Right now, Mayer estimates, there are fewer than 100 feral pigs in Vermont, and the weather may prevent them from ever establishing themselves here. “Piglets may not be able to survive a cold winter,” he suggests.

But this past winter was mild, and there are established boar populations in Michigan and four western Canadian provinces, which are as cold as if not colder than Vermont. What can be done if a breeding population does establish itself? Basically, nothing, Mayer says. Extirpation is all but impossible.

Besides, it’s likely that hunters, a potent lobby in Montpelier, would fight extirpation efforts. They want enough boars to survive to be hunted. Among other consequences, then, a wild boar population could create a long-term political squabble pitting gardeners, anglers, farmers, hikers and environmentalists against hunters.

Political boars. Now, there’s a concept.

The three sisters and their feral polyculture friends

It's time to start gardening here in Vermont, and although my indoor starts were not as successful as I might have liked, there is still hope for a bountiful garden, much of which is already growing from a combination of wild weeds being left fallow for a year, reseeding annuals from the garden in years passed and surprise perennials. I have included a rough draft guide to how I might lay out some of this garden after some double digging. As this is my first season in this garden plot (and Vermont in general), I don't quite know what to expect. However, I am familiar with the three sisters, and I happen to have some corn bean and squash seeds laying around, so if you have never heard of this ancient polyculture, practiced by many indigenous groups in the Americas, please read on in this excerpt from Toby Hemmenways book, Gaia's Garden, from
Chealsea Green Publishing . . .

Nature binds plants into interdependent communities and associations. Indigenous people, too, have crafted plant combinations that weave synergies among species. In the past two decades, ecological designers also have blended plants into communities that contain partnerships. Permaculturists call these imitations of natural associations guilds.* Formally defined, a guild is a group of plants and animals harmoniously interwoven into a pattern of mutual support, often centered around one major species, that benefits humans while creating habitat.

Guilds are one way to bridge the broad gap between conventional vegetable gardens and wildlife gardens by creating plant communities that act and feel like natural landscapes but that include humans in their webwork. Vegetable gardens benefit only humans, while wildlife or natural gardens specifically exclude people from their ecological patterns.

Gardens for wildlife are immensely valuable, but they are only a partial answer to habitat loss. As I’ve said before, if we ignore the material needs of humans in our urban and suburban landscapes, we’re doomed to continue our voracious consumption of wild land for factory farms and tree plantations. Ecological gardens, using guilds and the other tools described in this book, help our developed land to blossom into nourishing places for both humans and wildlife.

The Three Sisters

Let’s begin our exploration of guilds with a very simple example that illustrates some essential principles. Then we can proceed to more complex guilds—ones that go beyond vegetables.

Familiar to many gardeners is the Native American triad of corn, beans, and squash, a combination often called the Three Sisters. The trio qualifies as a guild because each of these plants supports and benefits the others. The beans draw nitrogen from the air and, via symbiotic bacteria, convert the nitrogen to plant-available form, boosting the growth of all three vegetables. The cornstalks form a trellis for the bean vines to climb. The rambling squash, with its broad leaves, forms a living parasol that densely covers the ground, inhibiting weeds and keeping the soil cool and moist. Further cementing this trio together comes the news from scientists that the roots of the corn ooze specific sugars that are the perfect nourishment for the nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Together, the Three Sisters produce more food, with less water and fertilizer, than a similar area planted to any one of these three crops in isolation. Jane Mt. Pleasant, an agronomist at Cornell University who has blended her Iroquois heritage with her research, has shown that total yields of this guild, measured in calories, are about 20 percent higher than comparable yields of corn grown alone in an equal-sized plot.

Look at how many interconnections this guild bears. Beans furnish nitrogenous fertility for themselves, the corn, and the squash; squash shades soil for the benefit of all three; corn feeds the bean-hugging bacterial nodules and creates a trellis for the beans. Three plants, weaving at least eight connections. The Three Sisters guild is a perfect place to begin creating a richly connected garden.
Growing the Three Sisters Guild

Mark out a series of planting mounds about three feet apart, a couple of inches high, and a foot or so in diameter. (To calculate how many mounds you need, figure that you’ll get about four or five ears of corn per hole.) Then poke three or four kernels of corn into each mound. Your favorite sweet corn variety will do, although Native Americans developed shorter, multi-stalked cultivars specifically for this guild, such as Black Aztec, Hopi White, or Tarahumara sweet corn, so you might consider a similar many-stalked variety. When the corn sprouts, start mounding the soil up around the young stalks. Don’t cover the sprouts; just build up earth around the base. These mounds, by exposing soil to the air and sun, will warm the sprouts, speeding their growth. The mounds also improve drainage. Don’t thin the corn—you want two or three stalks per mound, hence the greater-than-usual distance between mounds.

About two weeks after planting the corn, select some pole beans, rather than a bush variety. Common pole bean varieties such as Blue Lake work well enough, although I’ve been told that very vigorous hybrid pole beans clambering up skinny hybrid corn stalks can pull the spindly corn down. Again, old-style varieties used traditionally in the Three Sisters work best. These include less-vigorous climbers such as Four Corners Gold and Hopi Light Yellow. But plants are forgiving, and most varieties will do well enough.

If you can, coat the bean seeds with a legume inoculant specific for beans (available from many seed suppliers). This ensures that the all-important nitrogen-fixing bacteria will find a happy home among the bean roots. Plant two or three bean seeds near the edges of each corn mound.

At the same time you start the beans, plant squash or pumpkins between each mound. Don’t use zucchini, as their tall stems will push the corn aside. Grow a vining squash variety that will sprawl over the soil.

Aside from these trio-specific instructions, grow the Three Sisters by following the cultural guidelines on each vegetable’s seed packet. After harvest, leave the stalks, vines, and other organic debris on the ground to compost in place. This returns some of the extracted fertility to the soil and protects the ground from erosion. Although much of the bacterially fixed nitrogen will be concentrated into the protein-rich bean pods, plenty will remain in the vines and roots, ready to go back to the earth.

Taken from:

new blog to follow . . .

As I have moved to Vermont to finish school at Sterling College < sterlingcollege.edu i have started a new blog about Vermont and all things Feral in nature check it out . . . feralvermont.blogspot.com

INVASION of the ALIENS! Science or Pseudoscience? by David I. Theodoropoulos

Las Sombras Biological Preserve, Box 337, La Honda, CA

"Alien invaders" are a hot topic. In his book "Alien Invasion" Robert Devine vilifies botanic gardens- Quote:

"Kanapaha, like almost all botanic gardens, is loaded with invasive exotics…By helping fuel the alien invasion, botanical gardens give legitimacy to the dangerous status quo… most botanic gardens are oblivious to the issue of invasive species…"

He claims that you have "a reluctance to discontinue sales of exotic plants that have been big moneymakers" for botanic gardens (Devine 1998:206-208).

Unfortunately, invasion biology, with its irrational fear of the movement of species, is a century out of step with ecological science.

Natural dispersal has been frequent, long-distance, and beneficial (Section Title Slide) (Axelrod 1959; Clark 1988; Clark et al. 1989; Crow et al. 1988; Darlington 1957; Darwin 1948; Davis 1983; Davis 1988; Elias 1994; Elliott-Fisk 1988; Gleason & Cronquist 1964; Kuc 1995; Menard 1974; Munz & Keck 1959; Neill 1969; Orban 1995; Paus 1995; Peglar et al. 1989; Simpson 1942; Thornton 1971). Dispersal is essential to maintaining biodiversity, and has been a powerful driving force of evolution (1).

(Text Slide) Contrary to the antiquated and discredited ecology on which invasion biology rests, natural biota are not coevolved, tightly-integrated, perfectly balanced systems. (Text Slide) All evidence from modern ecology and paleobiology indicates that current species assemblages are recent, non-coevolved aggregations, that species disperse independently, and species interactions form and dissolve readily (Davis 1983; Kellman 1980; Lawton 1998). (Text Slide) All extant species assemblages are resilient and are accustomed to integrating new members (Vermeij 1991). The fossil record is clear (Text Slide) - invasion increases biodiversity (2), and the experimental record indicates that the greater the rate of invasion, the higher the diversity of the resulting assemblages (Robinson & Edgemon 1988). As Turner (1996) stated, "life evolves at the edge of chaos, the area of maximum vitality and change."

(Text Slide) Invasion is identical to entirely natural processes - note this dense, invading monoculture (Photo Slide) - this is our native bracken fern [Pteridium aquilinum] (3). No scientific model can distinguish this from an "alien" invasion. (Text Slide) Again and again, we find "invaders" to be disturbance indicators only, symptoms of industrial abuse of the land (4), integrating ecologically, and with many beneficial effects that are carefully ignored by those promoting a "crisis" (Colwell & Dodd 1995; Essink & Dekker 2000; Francour et al. 1995; Holland et al. 1995; Kuuispalo et al. 1995; Marshall 1991; Peles et al. 1995; Sagoff 1999; Stewart & Samways 1998).

(Text Slide) The data indicate that in all cases, including even the oceanic islands, anthropogenic dispersal has increased biological diversity (Baskin et al. 1995; Harrison 1999; Harty 1993; Hickman 1993; Klick et al. 1989; Moulton & Pimm 1986; Simberloff 1986) (5). The alpha diversity of species counts has risen, beta and gamma diversity have increased, and phylogenetic omega diversity has risen. Novel assemblages have formed, new functional and structural elements have been added to landscapes, and entirely new ecological interactions have arisen.

Anthropogenic dispersal is an essential conservation strategy - at-risk clades need to be naturalized in new regions to prevent extinction, and hyperdiverse preserves established (Theodoropoulos 1993, 1999). There are no theoretical limits to diversity (Cornell & Lawton 1992).

see : http://dtheo.org/AABGAPaper.htm for full text


Raspberries are a widespread group of plants in the rose family that grow as perennials in all the lower 48 states and Alaska except the states of the south along the gulf coast between Texas to Florida. In colder areas, the canes often die back to the root completely to overwinter. Nevertheless, they produce canes every year that flower and bear fruit on secondary branches when the canes are two years old. There is some debate as to whether the species found in North America differs from it's European and Asian counterparts. Many varieties in cultivation are hybrids of the European (Rubus idaeus) and the North America variety (Rubus strigosus). Vermont is noted for it's diversity of raspberry species in particular. It is possible that the raspberries in Bear Swamp are a variety of species and could include Black Raspberries (Rubus occidentals), purple raspberries (Rubus odorous), European (Rubus ideas), North American Raspberries (Rubus strigosus) or a rare wild hybrid of Black and Red Raspberries known unofficially and with adulation as (Rubus Neglectus). They play an important ecological role in the wild as browse for an number of fauna including multiple species of bears, deer, birds and smaller mammals such as raccoons, coyotes, squirrels, skunks, chipmunks and host insects and larve in the short lived Raspberry season of the early summer.

Raspberries play an important role as a flower crop for domestic and wild bees. Humans have also found the raspberry to be a highly lucrative and delicious food crop, sold fresh, dried, frozen and prepared in jams, they are also made into liqueurs and dyes. Russia is the world's top producer, harvesting 95,000 tons in the 2003 - 2004 season, while Serbia grew 79,000 tons and the United States sold 48,000 tons (FAO). For centuries, humans have also used the leaves of Raspberries to make teas that are widely used by women during pregnancy (KA Petrie 2000). There is evidence to support that the fruits have numerous beneficial health properties, including a high count of oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and posses nearly twice the amount of antioxidants as apples (Wu X 2004). However, this source of information has been produced by a highly monetized and politicized body of private enterprises and government organizations, and may be of questionable quality or misleading. They have been hybridized into countless varieties to suit a wide range of climatic conditions. Raspberries have been considered invasive as they can be spread in numerous ways, including propagation by bird droppings, human cultivation in the form of transplanting dormant canes, plug plants produced from tissue culture, and from their own form of reproduction, suckers, technically referred to as basal shoots that can spread in gardens if they are not maintained.

Rejuvenating the Bear Swamp Trails. Troy Janusz. Sterling College ASRP. 2008

The Boreal Ecosystem. James A. Larsen. Academic Press. 1980

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Food Fact. 2003

Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. KA Petrie, MR Peck. Elsevier. 2000

Wetland, Woodland, Wildland: A guide to the Natural Communities of Vermont. Thompson EH, Sorenson ER. The Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2005

Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL. Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center and Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2004

Happy Dogs in Nice Gardens By Tanya Kucak

From a dog's point of view, your backyard is a smorgasbord. Every dog
I've known has enjoyed finding new edible foodlike substances. To
make your garden safe for your dog to explore, you can eliminate the
most obvious dangers.

In the long run, it's more effective to fence off selected areas of
the garden than to cage the dog. Bear in mind that dogs are pack
animals who want to be wherever their people are, not isolated in a
far corner or left alone for too long.

Most dog owners know chocolate is toxic to dogs, but they may not
realize they need to avoid using cocoa mulch. Grapes (and raisins)
are also toxic to dogs, so keep dogs out of the vineyard. Emergency
vets point to snail bait (metaldehyde) and rat bait, as well as
antifreeze, as the most dangerous household poisons for dogs. Snail
bait based on iron phosphate, such as Sluggo, is nontoxic to dogs and

Another hazard is fertilizers, whether in open bags or freshly added
to the garden. Dogs are irresistibly attracted to the odor of manures
and organic amendments, but they can get diarrhea or worse when they
eat some. In my experience, it doesn't help to bury the organics a
few inches deep or mix them with soil. Alfalfa meal is a dog's idea
of a special treat. With access to the garden within a day or so
after amendments have been added, I've known a dog who feasted on the
whole shebang, including mulch, lava rock, and any chemicals that
were used (the proof came out over the next couple days).

If you can't keep your dog out of the garden for a couple days, use
compost tea as a liquid fertilizer. Once it's added to soil, its odor
is less likely to attract dogs. You can find recipes for either
fermented or aerated compost teas.

Dogs lick and taste everything, so if you use any pesticides, your
dog will get a dose. Eliminating all pesticides will make your garden
bird-friendly as well as dog-friendly. You need a variety of insects
to attract birds. Putting birds in charge of controlling insects
saves you money, improves your soundscape, is more sustainable, and
adds entertainment value.

The long list of poisonous plants includes oleander (don't use the
twigs as chew toys) and lily bulbs (for dogs who like to dig). If
you're putting in a new landscape or have a new puppy, consult a
handbook of poisonous plants to figure out which ones are worth the
(usually minor) risk. But remember that pesticides are a far greater
hazard and toxic at smaller dosages.

My idea of a dog-friendly garden doesn't include agaves with
needle-sharp leaves or grasses with sharp awns that can be inhaled or
embedded between toes (weedy foxtails are the biggest offenders;
native needlegrasses may pose a small risk). But dogs can peacefully
coexist with prickly bird-sheltering plants such as barberries or
gooseberries, and even thorny roses, in a well-designed garden.

The key to having a nice garden and a happy dog is training. Just as
you have to teach your dog how to behave indoors, you have to
establish the ground rules outdoors. Some dogs catch on right away;
others need consistent reminders.

A dog-friendly garden has play space, access to drinking water, a
designated "bathroom" area, and rules about where the dog is allowed.
Play space can be a small area for tug of war, a big meadow for
retrieving a frisbee or ball, or running paths that include
dog-sculpted tunnels in the shrubbery. To make cleanup easier, train
your dog to use an unplanted mulched area for elimination. You can
even buy or build a system for composting pet waste.

Each dog is different. Observe your dog to discover her favorite
sun/shade napping places, if she likes to dig or likes water, if she
likes to run the fence lines or sit by the gate to watch the world go
by, or has a favorite squirrel-watching post. Provide more of what
the dog likes so that when unsupervised, the dog will respect your

If your dog's idea of a good time is digging, you can provide a sand
pit and bury dog toys in it, instead of patching up your garden beds.
I've discouraged infrequent diggers by covering the soil with mulch.

If your dog overindulges in fallen apples or picks tomatoes on his
own, you may need to keep up with harvesting or fence off the edibles.

Tanya Kucak has lived with doberman pinschers, a cockerpoo, a golden
retriever, a saluki, a beagle, and a rat terrier (not all at the same


Checklist for a dog-friendly garden

* eliminate all pesticides

* avoid cocoa mulch, grapes, oleander

* keep dangerous items inaccessible

* use compost teas to fertilize

* plan training time

* cage plants, not dogs

* offer napping places in sun and shade

* allow play space

* provide fresh water

* designate "bathroom" area and manage poop

* add diversions

Invasive Feces

Humans and countless other migratory animals have traveled long distances, and often transported other species within their migratory movements as they expand their territory. In evolutionary biology, species recede and advance in pulsing patterns as climatic changes occur more rapidly than their ability to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances. Natural storm events such as hurricanes and floods have been known to redistribute species thousands of miles, often as seeds and spores surviving in water. As we approach the sixth mass extinction of planet earth, and the dispersal of exotic species have been primarily attributed primarily to anthropogenic disturbances, is it logical to label certain highly adaptable species as “invasive”, “noxious” or “alien” when they may be the best suited for survival in some areas?
The use of the term invasive species was first coined by Charles Elton in 1953. Elton was highly influenced by a fellow Oxford student, Alexander Carr Saunders, secretary of the Eugenics Education Society, which promoted the study and practice of selective breeding in humans. Eugenics also suggested pseudo-scientific notions of racial and ethnic superiority and was crucial to Nazi scientists who justified genocide and human experimentation through this subject. Much of this prejudiced mentality towards living organisms migrated into the sub discipline of invasion biology. Terms such as genetic pollution, which are still used today, have the heritage of a hate-based philosophy, but recently has come to be associated with Genetically Modified Organisms and their spread into organic crops and wildlands and may pose the greatest threat of any “invasive species”.
This sub discipline is controversial within ecology and has far reaching ecological and economic results. Many of the species responsible for the highest loss of diversity, and covering the largest areas of earth with monocultures are factory farms and monoculture crops, most notably, corn, soy and wheat have displaced more native speies than any other organism. Some figures suggest that invasive species cost Americans $136 billion annually, about a third of which comes from herbicide use in conventional agriculture and raises the price of food. In Canada alone the herbicide industry grossed over 26 billion in 2004. Chemical corporations stand to lose billions if a more relaxed stance is taken towards invasive species, and governmental eradication programs could loose funding and lay off staff.
Recently there has been some research into the possible benefits of of some introduced species. Beneficial relationships between introduced species and native have often been overlooked and understated. They may provide forage for both native and domesticated animals, cover exposed soils preventing erosion or remove toxins and algae from human sources of pollution.