Thursday, June 30, 2016

Edible Umbelliferae - seedlings.

Umbelliferaceae is quite a varied family of plants. Many are edible, some are violently toxic and many are ornamental. They also provide wonderful nectar and pollen for beneficial insects, that like to land on the umbels of flowers for a feed and a rest.

When they are young, it can be a bit difficult to tell which seedling is which. I happen to have a few at the moment so here are a few pictures to help. 

Of course, if you can't tell, then have a little nibble.

Dill. Fine leaves, not as fine as fennel.

Dill. A slightly more dull green.

Carrot - wider than dill or fennel, pointed tips on each bit of the leaf.

Carrots. Quite pointy at the tips

Celery. Rounder ends to leaf tips than parsley. Stems are flatter too, even at this young stage.

Flat leaf/Italian parsley. Leaf tips are slightly more divied than the celery leaf.

Florence fennel/bulb fennel. See the tiny bulb developing on this seedling.

Fennel foliage. Very fine, tends to droop a little.

Coriander. More obvious leaf venation and larger surface area undivided.

Chervil. Very fine leaf and very divided. Larger gaps between the three leaflets than coriander or parsley.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Permaculture tales: Trees too big for backyards.

Our little sanctuary on the hill has been rented by us for almost 20 years..  in that time we have planted a LOT of different plants, including a LOT of different trees. Most were Acacias, so they came and went fairly easily, mulched or turned into firewood.

Then there were the two large, deciduous trees we planted early on when we moved in. Paulownia and Gleditsia are both excellent trees with many uses. Beautiful shade and flowers and the leaves drop, letting in winter sun and feeding the soil, but wow, did they get big quick!

After a few years of way too much shade and the trees stealing all the water from our vegetable patch came the realisation that they had to go.  We knew there would be issues with suckering so had that to look forward to for at least a year before it stops trying to fill the entire garden with itself. The Paulownia can also sucker but seemed less likely to cause problems.

We invited a friend to come and cut them down for us. He had some chainsaws he had found at the swap meet and fixed so was keen to test them.

Once we had the stump of the honey locust (Gleditsia) we decided to try a tactic someone had suggested for killing off a suckering tree.

The idea is to cover the stump with charcoal and let it burn as far down as you can. Normally more likely done with dry stumps but we wantted to mess it up as much as we could without using herbicide (that comes later).

Fresh Gleditsia stump
Cutting a grid to leat heat in.
The grid
BBQ coals
These things burnt for hours.
Next morning after fire.
Still lots there. Not sure if it really did much.

Then there were the suckers that came up everywhere. Some we chopped, easy ones we pulled. Difficult or thick ones I cut and dabbed with glyphosate, using it for it's best use, precision application. 
Not all over crops.

Suckering suckerers
Little suckers.

About a year later.

Fungi on the stump.
Not looking too happy.

There are now three different kinds of fungus growing on the stump, starting to decompose it.

Now we wait and see what it does next spring and summer, see if they pop up anywhere unexpected.