Monday, June 26, 2017

Hardy Fuchsias with decent fruit

I will be trialing 10 varieties of Fuchsia for fruit quality and overwintering ability in Pierce County, WA (USDA zone 8, but seems to act more like zone 7 sometimes).

My initial selection criteria for these ten varieties follows:
*Hardiness rating of H3 (hardy after established with mulch only required the first year)
*Upright or semi-upright for growing in the ground
*Showy flowers (according to my tastes)
*Availability at time of order

The 10 varieties chosen:
*'Alice Hoffman'
*'Jingle Bells'
*'Santa Claus'
*'Double Otto'
*'Delta's Sarah'

These will all be small rooted starts so I will overwinter them in an unheated greenhouse for the first winter.  Then if mature enough I will plant them in the ground spring or summer of next year (2018) and mulch them heavily their first winter.  I will not fully judge their fruit quality until they have established in the ground.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plants are awesome.  Here in western Washington we can grow pretty much any of the Sarracenia (American pitcher plants) species and hybrids as well as a few others.  As a child I was fascinated with venus-fly-traps because they moved when catching prey.  In my adulthood I've discovered that some (maybe not all) of the pitcher plant species and hybrids are far better bug catchers and they have stolen my heart.  Since my "collection" of pitcher plants is growing I think I ought to keep a list of what I've got and what I think of it.  This is that list:

*S. alata var. rubrioperculata - I think this was a named cultivar, but I didn't keep track of it.  Nice red color under the hood. Primary growing points seem to get winter damage here resulting in smaller pitchers being produced from side buds.  Will be keeping in greenhouse for now on.
*S. alata forma viridescens Washington Co, AL
*S. alata 'Red/Black' x (flava var. rugelii x purpurea) - The label actually said "BB" after purpurea which as far as I can tell may mean that that parent was actually a S. montana selection which was the only reference I could find to a "purpurea" called "BB" online.  The pitchers feel very sturdy and while the external colors are less intense I find the color under the hood and veining inside the pitchers to be very vibrant.  I expect it will prove to be an excellent bug catcher!
*S. (alata red/black x flava 'Kimber') x purpurea venosa
*S. leucophylla var. alba 'Hurricane Creek White' - Seedling from a cross of clone A & D.
*S. leucophylla (1) - Seedling from cross of clone AJ01 & 07-1, so far typical appearance for the species. 
*S. leucophylla (2) - Seedling from cross of clone AJ01 & 07-1,, so far typical appearance for the species.
*S. leucophylla (3) - Seedling from cross of clone AJ01 & 07-1,, so far typical appearance for the species.
*S. leucophylla (Franklin Co clone B) x minor (pink hood) - Very cute with good strong color AND windowing!
*S. x 'Flash'
*S. flava var. cuprea 'Chocolate Top' - Similar to a copper top type, but with stronger coloring.  I like it.  I plan to let mine become a large colony.  :)
*S. flava var. ornata 'Outlaw' Bay Co, FL
*S. minor - Slightly coppery tops in full sun.  Windows not very pronounced, but present.
*S. minor var. okefenokeensis - Typical appearance for the variety.  Gets nice red cast near the top when in full sun.
*S. x moorei 'Adrian Slack'
*S. [(oreophilla 'Sand Mountain' x flava) x (rosea x flava - aka 'Redman')] 'Nereid' - A newly named hybrid from Jerry Addington which is part of a series named after Neptune's moons.  It is a medium sized plant with fat upright red pitchers with a greenish hood with red veins.  It struck me as being more productive of nectar on the neck and around the hood than the average pitcher plant.  I was lucky to get one as it wasn't for sale, but Jerry broke off a growing point from one of his stock plants for me.  Thanks Jerry!
*S. oreophila 'North Sound' x S. flava 'Chocolate Top' - Large hybrid which I bought mistakenly thinking it was S. 'Doreen's Colossus' since it looked almost identical and I didn't check the label.  It shares the same parent species (but not the same parent clones).  I had actually picked out this one thinking of the available 'Doreen's Colossus' this was the nicest looking one.  The only visible difference between the two from what I can tell is that I somehow am more drawn to this one!  :)  We'll see if it looks the same or different later in the season.
*S. oreophilla x alata - I've noticed that this particular mix of genetics has produced an amazing yellow jacket catcher; to the point I think it is having a notable impact on the local yellow jacket population.
*S. psittacina x rubra? (aka S. xgilpinii?) - Mix of semi-prostrate & upright pitchers with lots of red.  Intermediate between a lobster trap and a regular pitcher trap so it seems rather ineffective at catching bugs.  The opening is rather pinched on most pitchers with only an occasional pitcher displaying a fully open pitcher trap that could effectively catch bugs.  Its appearance is stunningly beautiful though.  Perhaps in the future it will throw an equally beautiful seedling with more effective bug catching pitchers...
*S. purpurea x minor okefenokeensis - Mostly upright red pitchers with hood slightly more folded than open.  Under the right lighting you can see faint polka-dot windows.  Possibly a named variety for which I lost the name.  Evergreen.
*S. rubra ssp. ancestral anthocyanen free form Taylor Co, GA
*S. rubra ssp. gulfensis
*S. rubra ssp. rubra - small but vigorous quickly making a nice clump. Excellent catcher of wasps.
*S. rubra ssp. wherryi 'Chatom Giant' Washington Co, AL
*S. oreophila (selection referred to as "tall & vigorous") x flava v. maxima - So far this looks like a mini version of a mostly green S. flava which is strange.  I'd say maybe it needs to mature more except it already has many growth points.  Seems to be a good clumper.
*S. (leucophylla x flava 'Chocolate Top') x 'Dana's Delight' - Seems to start out pretty light and then darkens considerably with differing aged pitchers present together creating a good contrast.
*S. leucophylla x alata - Kind of an orangey tone on the lids. 
*S. flava var. rugelii ("A"x"B"clone #2 from M. Wang) - Supposedly very fast growing.
*S. umlauftiana -
*S. flava var. rubricorpora (Liberty Co, FL via M. Wang) - One of the two unnamed clones I got from M. Wang.
*S. flava var. rubricorpora (Liberty Co, FL via M. Wang) - One of the two unnamed clones I got from M. Wang.  This one has a slightly mor upright hood.
*S. flava var. ornata - Bonus plant from M. Wang.  It's gorgeous.
*S. x 'Yellow Jacket'
*S. mystery seedling (1A) - Found as seedling growing under a S. flava 'Chocolate Top' from Jerry Addington's nursery.  Parents could be just about anything, but guesses will come as it matures.
*S. mystery seedling (1B) - Found as seedling growing under a S. flava 'Chocolate Top' from Jerry Addington's nursery.  Parents could be just about anything, but guesses will come as it matures.
*S. mystery seedling (1C) - Found as seedling growing under a S. flava 'Chocolate Top' from Jerry Addington's nursery.  Parents could be just about anything, but guesses will come as it matures.
*S. mystery seedling (2) - Found as seedling in my own collection. Starting to look like a seedling of S. purpurea ssp. venosa (which was previously in my collection). 
*S. flava var. cuprea? mystery seedling (3A) - found where I had scattered some S. f. v. c. seeds a couple years ago.  May or may not be from that group of seeds.  Time will tell.
*S. flava var. cuprea? mystery seedling (3B) - found where I had scattered some S. f. v. c. seeds a couple years ago.  May or may not be from that group of seeds.  Time will tell.
(\/\/\/Cut List\/\/\/)
*S. psittacina - typical appearance for the species.
*S. x complex hybrid - un-named hybrid with young pitchers green with red veins.  Pitchers age to full on deep dark red when the weather cools down.  Semi-evergreen, but floppy over winter.  Flowers red. 

Darlingtonia californica:
* Typical species type

*D. filiformis - Typical
*D. capensis - Typical
*D. rotundifolia - Typical

Dionaea muscipula:
*D. 'Red Dragon' - Very red form
*D. 'Pinnacle Giant'

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Russian Comfrey?

In trying to understand a naturalized population of comfrey near where I grew up in Washington state, USA I have spent days scouring the internet to find any and every tid-bit of information regarding how to distinguish which species/hybrid of comfrey it is.  Based on the obvious features of the plants I was able to quickly narrow it down to the following: Common comfrey (S. officinale), Prickly comfrey (S. asperum/asperimum) and Russian comfrey (S. uplandicum/peregrinum).  Russian comfrey is a hybrid of the common comfrey and the prickly comfrey and understandably shares a lot of traits with its parents.  The hybrid type comfrey is naturally occurring (where the parent species both exist) and could theoretically occur in endless combinations of traits between both parents.

The following are the distinguishing traits I've encountered for Common, Russian and Prickly comfrey when compared to each other:
*Common - Less vigorous, shorter, narrower leaves, flowers tending to be creamy yellow, but also found in white, red or purple, leave edges attaching to the stem and running down it like "wings", fertile seed produced allowing for natural spread
*Russian - Very vigorous, taller, wider leaves, flowers tending to be blue, purple or reddish purple, leaves lacking "wings" where attaching to the stems, but sometimes with slight "wings" in certain specimens, supposedly sterile (but see my note below) and only spreading by root division
*Prickly - The tallest of the three, seems to play better with other plants (less dense and smothering), flowers tending to be blue while buds can be more pink, leaves lacking "wings" where attached to stems or with very little "wings", spreads by seed (not excessively) as well as by root divisions.

Out of all these traits it seems that the most commonly mentioned trait across the internet to distinguish these types is that Common and Prickly (prickly usually not even being mentioned) spread by seed and the hybrid Russian does not.  This is similar to how a horse and a donkey can mate and produce a mule, but mules are considered sterile... usually...  Although we know that mismatched chromosome counts in offspring resulting from inter-species breeding often results in sterility of offspring in animals, the same isn't as reliably true for plants.  In fact nowadays you can buy strawberries with pink flowers that were the result of plants in two separate genera and with different chromosome counts being hybridized and then back-crossed with strawberries to produce plants with mostly strawberry type characteristics but with the pink flower color of the non-strawberry parent.  My point to all of this is that I think the idea that ALL Russian comfrey strains are sterile doesn't seem well founded.  It seems that most of the info available about the Russian type stems from info that's actually specifically about the Bocking cultivars (google them for more info).  There are two Bocking cultivars that are widely distributed from when they were selected in the 1950's.  The claim about Russian comfrey being sterile may be true for the two most popular cultivars of Russian comfrey since selecting for sterile seed would have been part of the process.  However, I suspect that Russian comfrey in general may not be fully sterile as an overall variable population.  I found an old identification key for comfrey that listed traits for identifying and distinguishing Russian comfrey and its two parent species as well as the varying back-crosses between the hybrid and one parent species or the other.  A Finnish website also referenced the Russian type readily back-crossing with either parent making identification very challenging.  I also encountered a reference to Russian comfrey (in general) possessing fertile pollen.

Until recently, I was under the impression that all the comfrey in my location seemed to be the Russian type and assumed it was all one singular clone, and were only spread around through soil disturbance.  I've never had a problem with comfrey seedlings popping up where roots weren't accidentally/intentionally moved to.  Now, after closer observation I have found genetic variation in some parts of the population, and now I'm wondering if there might actually be some limited genetic variation within the population as well as a separate distinct population sharing the nearby area.

The main clonal colony

At the time I'm writing this, the comfrey is in full bloom (which is beautiful), and I can see that the vast majority in the main patches where it has spread through soil disturbance look identical in every way right down to the exact color of the flowers...  Except...  Then I noticed variations in the flower color and shape in a select few individuals at the edge of the colony and elsewhere in very sparse colonies within about a quarter mile or so of the main patches.  While the main clonal type is incredibly vigorous and uniform with rounded bell shaped pinkish flowers I found two specimens with flowers so pale with just a hint of blue/pink that they were close to white.  I also found one with a much purer and more saturated pink color.  These first variations still had the same flower bud & bloom shape as the main clonal colonies and showed the same level of vigor.  Then I started noticing  that here and there along the road outside of the main area where the comfrey grows there were sparsely scattered specimens with much bluer flowers often streaked blue/pink.  When still in bud, the main clonal type have roundish buds with only a soft point, whereas the bluer flowered types were consistently displaying more pointed and narrow flower buds which opened into slightly narrower flowers.  I'm beginning to suspect these individuals may be either Prickly comfrey or Russian comfrey back-crossed to Prickly comfrey.

As a side note, I saw on a Facebook gardening post where a lady asked why her comfrey grown from a root cutting had a different flower color than the parent plant the cutting was taken from.  This reminded me of how African violets can be grown clonally from leaf cuttings, but the progeny do not always end up blooming with the same color as the parents despite being genetic clones.  I wonder if this phenotypic color change could be an explanation for the rare variants I found that otherwise seem the same as my large clonal patches...  There is so much to wonder about that it may never all be known...

This may be about as well as I'll ever figure things out for my comfrey, but I will continue to observe and learn.  I'm not sure that I would be able to afford the genetic testing required to satisfy my curiosities.  :)

I am posting this in hopes that my opinions will be challenged and refined.  Maybe I've got everything all wrong.  Your thoughts and input are welcome.

Follow-up:  After scouring the comfrey population for variants I dug a chunk out of my favorite four plants to grow on side by side for comparison.  I had to cut them back a bit for transplant, but after about a week two of them are blooming again.  He're the kicker...  The two that are blooming now were the two with the bluest flowers I could find.  Guess what color they are now...  Pure beautiful pink.  It will be interesting to see if they turn back to blue later or if the color is actually affected by the change in soil they are growing in rather than genetic variation or mutation.  Perhaps they're like hydrangeas?

These guys are representative of the majority of the population.  The following show variation, but are by far in the minority.  Some of the following pictures simply are to show the normal range of leaves and stems as well.

These two may be the Prickly comfrey or some back-cross with it.

Notice the cluster at the bottom of the picture.  It's buds are much more pointy with a greater color change between bud and bloom.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Current Species List For My Permaculture Garden (Updated Regularly)

This is a list of edible species (as well as non-edibles I find useful) that I am growing in my developing permaculture plot (Temperate climate, USDA Zone 8, Washington State, USA) which includes a small property of my own as well as two neighboring properties belonging to family members.

Looking over this list it would seem that I could feed myself with this, but in reality many of these plants are still in their early stages of establishment, and not all of them are highly productive... In addition to this list there are other edible species naturally present on the property which are not included since they do not offer any meaningful production at this time.


🍇 = producing very good quantities each year
🍇 = producing lightly each year (either from lack of maturity or lack of capability)
🌱 = acquired, but have not yet planted out
All unmarked have been planted, but are not yet producing
= potentially on the chopping block for removal for one reason or another.


Apples (Malus domestica & hybrids):

*🍇'Centennial' (Crab) - Highly productive of large crabs good for fresh eating, but I find they seem at their best slightly before they appear fully ripe. Make a nice soft mushy pickle when preserved in salt brine that is a useful addition in cooking. Fruit seems pest prone due to thin skins and soft flesh.
*🍇Columnar - Not sure which one... Either North Pole or Scarlet Sentennal. The deer keep eating it...
*🍇'Evereste' (Crab) - Highly ornamental and productive crab that is good for cooking.
*🍇'Gravenstein' - Vigorous tree with good quality fruit.
*'Liberty' - Highly disease resistant red apple.
*'Wolf River' - Extremely large red streaked apple which I grafted onto a wild volunteer seedling apple.
*'Ellisons's Orange' - An offspring of the famous English Cox's Orange Pippin.
*'Wine Crisp' - A Patented variety that is supposed to be resistant to a range of apple diseases and a very long keeper (many months).
*'William's Pride' - Ripens in August
*'Pristine' - Ripens in August
*🌱'Granny Smith' - Late Ripening
*🌱Unknown Deep Red - Grown from a friend's tree. Seemed to be producing high quality fruit.
*🌱'Black Oxford'
*🌱'Raven' - Good producer of water core quality for sweet hard ciders.
*🌱'Saltcote Pippin'
*🌱'Dutch Mignonne' - Free spurring for espalier
*🌱'Egremont Russet' - Free spurring for espalier
*🌱'Gana' or 'Ben Davis Black' - Long keeping
*🌱'Galarina' - Long keeping. Similar to 'Gala'
*🌱'Golden Harvey' - High sugar content for making strong hard ciders.
*🌱'Golden Russet' - High sugar, good keeper
*🌱'Pitmaston Pineapple' - Small with light crops, but exceptional flavor.
*🌱'Sundance' - Keeps 7 months
*🌱'Vanderpool Red'
*🌱'Belle de Boskoop'
*🌱'Hunt Russet' - Exceptional keeper.
*🌱'Stahls Winterprinz'
*🌱Apple '?'

Pears (Pyrus sp.):

*'Bosc' (P. communis) - Classic high quality pear that should keep well and have some disease resistance.
*'Rescue' (P. communis)
*'Seckel' (P. communis)
*'Shinseiki' (P. pyrifolia) - Disease resistant and good keeper.
*🌱'OHxF 87' - Rootstock

Medlar (Mespilus germanica):

*'Monstrueuse de Evreinoff' - Large fruited French variety.

Quince (Cydonia oblonga):

*'Van Deman'

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles sp):

*'Toyo Nishiki' (C. speciosa) - Multi colored flowers.
*Seed Grown (C. cathayensis) - More tree like with larger fruit than common flowering quince. Not commonly available.

Stone Fruits (Prunus sp. & hybrids):

*🍇'Early Golden' Plum (P. salicina) - Excellent yellow plum. When fully ripe has a texture reminiscent of apricots with flavor suggesting peach.
*🍇Probable St. Julien (P. insititia)- Very sweet green plum that turned out not to be anything like the variety supposedly planted. Probably a rootstock tree due to graft failure in the nursery before purchase.
*Unknown Sweet Plum (P. sp) - Very sugary variety planted from a root sucker from a clonal patch at a friend's house.
*'Jam Session' Plum (P. sp.) - Damson type.
*🍇Cherry Plums (P. cerasifera) - Non-native volunteer with each tree having slightly different flavor and overall quality. Some with deep purple/red leaves and some with green leaves. Fruit small, but abundant. Some specimens tend to bear biannually.
*Un-named Cherry Plum (P. cerasifera) - Name worthy selection found along a roadside, this specimen has heavy production (every year) of small, dense/meaty, good flavored plums that are great for fresh eating even before fully ripe which gives them a longer season of harvest for fresh eating. I've gotten a handful of cuttings to root and will be planting at least one for myself and sharing some as well as saving one for stool propagation for further sharing.
*🍇Sour Cherries (P. cerasus), 'Surefire' - Highly disease resistant cultivar with tart fruit that still has enough sugar for fresh eating or cooking.
*'Black Boy' Peach (P. persica) - Very dark fleshed peach with resistance to peach leaf curl.
*🌱Sweet Pit Hunza Apricot Seedling (P. armeniaca)

Aronia (Aronia melanocarpa):

*🍇Seed grown - Productive dark berries good for winemaking.

Service Berry (Amelanchier alnifolia):

*🍇'Regent' - a stoloniferous variety that flowers and fruits havily. I strongly suspect that although listed as A. alnifolia, it is quite likely to be either A. stolonifera or a hybrid.
*🍇'Northline' - Native edible fruit similar to blueberries, but biologically like mini apples.
*Unkown - from Cascadia Edible Landscapes in Seattle.
*🌱Running Serviceberry Seedling (Parent - 'Success')

Strawberries (Fragaria sp. & hybrids):

*🍇Alpine (F. vesca) - Clumping, and readily growing from seed. Both red and white berry forms setting fruit whenever weather is warm enough for pollinators.
*🍇'Totem' (F. ananasa) - June bearing with very upright stems on vigorous plants. Great flavor.
*🍇Pink variety (F. ananasa x Comarum sp.), also growing seeds out from this variety - Pink flowers almost year round with fruit set during warmer months. Clumping and not highly productive.
*🍇'Albion' (F. ananasa)
*Musk Strawberry (Fragaria moschata)

Blackberries & Raspberries (Rubus sp.):

*🍇Red Raspberries, 'NR7' (R. idaeus) - Compact, dwarf and thornless. Produces on both new and second year stems.
*🍇Red Raspberries, unknown variety (R. idaeus) - Originally from Tolstoy Farm in Eastern Washington.
*Red Raspberries, 'Tulameen' (R. idaeus)
*🍇Black Raspberries, 'Ohio Treasure' (R. occidentalis) - Bears on both first and second year growth.
*🍇'Triple Crown' (R. fruticosus)- Vigorous, thornless.
*🍇'Wild Treasure' Blackberry (R. sp.) - Thornless hybrid of native dewberry and Waldo blackberry.
*🍇'Ouachita' (probably) Blackberry (R. fruticosus) - Upright, thornless.
*🍇Thimbleberry (R. parviflorus) - Native, variable productivity. Very tasty when ripe and well watered.
*Nagoon Berry (R. articus) - Deciduous fruiting groundcover. Self-fertile.
*All Field Berry 'Valentina' (R. articus x stellarticus) - Deciduous fruiting groundcover.
*All Field Berry 'Sophia' (R. articus x stellarticus) - Deciduous fruiting groundcover.

Rose Hips (Rosa sp. & Hybrids):

*🍇'MEIdomonac' aka "Bonica" - Heavy blooming pale pink rose that was planted as an ornamental and surprised me with a nice crop of rose hips. I did try making tea from them which was pleasant so I will continue using it for hips.


(Eleagnus sp.):

*'Fruitlandii' Silverberry (E. pungens x?) - Evergreen with tasty red fruit in spring. Winter blooming. Doesn't seem to set fruit without a pollinator.
*'Golden Silverberry' (E. pungens) - Evergreen with variegated leaves. Hopefully will be a good pollinator for Fruitlandii.
*🍇Seedling Goumi (E. multiflora) - Seed grown to help with cross-pollination.
*'Sweet Scarlet' Goumi (E. multiflora) - Selected variety with high quality fruit.
*'Garnet' Autumn Olive (E. umbellata) - Small red tasty berries late in the season.

Seaberries (Hippophae rhamnoides):

*Male - Needed to wind pollinate female cultivars.
*Female, 'Goldensweet' - Sweeter than average. Not sure if this is due to higher sugar content or simply lower acid content.
*Female, 'Otradnaya' - Large fruit.


Figs (Ficus carica):

*🍇'Desert King' - Green exterior. Productive of large breba crop.
*🍇'Violette de Bordeaux' - Dark exterior. Bifare.
*'Stella'/'Cordi' - Green exterior, red interior. Bifare.
*🍇'Olympian' - Dark exterior. Bifare.
*🍇'Atreano' - Green exterior. Bifare. Very productive of main crop.
*🌱🍇'Florea' - Aledgedly increadibly cold hardy and also productive. I'm mostly interested in using this to share rooted starts with people in colder parts of the state. Bifare.
*'Hardy Chicago' - Dark exterior. Main.
*🌱'Verte/Green Ischia' - Green exterior.

Mulberries (Morus sp.):

*Dwarf Black Issai (Morus alba) - Small growing bush type rather than tree like.
*🌱'Shangri La'


Blueberries/Huckleberries/Cranberries (Vaccinium sp.):

*🍇Red Huckleberry (V. parvifolium) - Native grows on rotting red cedar stumps.
*🌱🍇Blueberry, 'Libery' (V. sp) - Grows up to 7 feet high. Being planted as part of a mixed hedge.
*🍇Blueberry, Assorted varieties (V. sp)
*🍇Blueberry, 'Pink Lemonade' (V. sp)
*🍇Evergreen Huckleberry (V. ovatum)
*Cranberries (V. macrocarpum) - Seed grown, plus one of the cultivar 'Stevens'.
*🌱Lingonberry 'Koralle' (V. vitis-idaea)

Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo):

*🍇'Compacta' - Attractive evergreen with ornamental and tasty fruit. Best flavor/texture is just before they look fully ripe while they transition between orange and red.

(Gaultheria sp.):

*🍇Salal (G. shallon) - Native evergreen understory shrub with tasty purple berries.
*🍇Miquel's Wintergreen (G. miqueliana) - Spreading low evergreen with fragrant leaves and white berries.


Gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa & hybrids):

*🍇Unknown - Highly productive from a young age. Green berries take on reddish color when at their peak of ripeness
*🍇Unknown (probably 'Poorman') - Very tasty and not too tart, but very little production for the first few years. Now as it's very well established it is beginning to bear heavily.
*🍇'Hinnomaki Yellow' - Low growing. Productive. My favorite for fresh eating, sweet and fruity.
*🍇'Black Velvet' - Upright growth habit. Intensely flavored small berries.
*🌱'Hinnomaki Red'
*🌱'Invicta' - Parent plant was probably close to eight feet tall and a thorny mass.  This cultivar could be useful in creating impermeable hedges.

Currants (Ribes sp):

*🍇Red, Unknown (R. rubrum)
*🌱Red, 'Rovada'
*🌱Red, 'Rosetta'
*🌱Red, 'Jonkheer Van Tets'
*🌱🍇White, Unknown (R. rubrum)
*🌱White, 'Primus'
*🌱White, 'Imperial' (R. rubrum)
*🌱Pink, Gloire de Sablons (R. rubrum)
*🍇Black, Unknown (R. nigrum x ussuriense) - Probably the variety called Consort.  Self-fertile.
*🍇Black, 'Hill's Kiev Select' (R. nigrum x) - Hybrid black currant.
*🌱Black, 'Titania' (R. nigrum x ussuriense)
*🌱Black, Bonus
*Clove Currant (R. odoratum)
*Golden Currant (R. aureum)


Hedgehog Cacti (Echinocereus sp.):

*🌱E. triglochidiatus v. inermis - Growing in terra-cotta pots for now
*🌱E. triglochidiatus v. gonacanthus 'White Sands' - Growing in terra-cotta pots for now

Prickly Pear Cacti (Opuntia sp.):

*🌱O. phaeacantha v. woodsii 'Brilliant Orange' - Growing in terra-cotta pots for now
*🌱O. phaeacantha 'Plum' - Growing in terra-cotta pots for now
*🌱O. phaeacantha 'Mesa Sky' - Growing in terra-cotta pots for now
*🌱O. macrocentra - Growing in terra-cotta pots for now. Seems to be vigorous. Started growing pads way faster than the O. phaeacantha cultivars planted at the same time. Very promising.
*O. humifusa v. inermis - Easily overwinters despite our wet winters. Grows well if watered in the summer.
*🌱O. sp. - Spineless
*O. sp. (probably O. polyacantha)- Originally from Tolstoy Farm in Eastern WA.


Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum):

*🍇'Crimson Star' ('Ningxia #1') - Commercial cultivar from northern China.  Reddish orange berries.

(Solanum sp.):

*🍇Tomatoes (S. lycopersicon) - naturalized in greenhouse.


Chilean Guava (Ugni molinae):

*🌱Generic - Probably seed grown, or perhaps cutting grown without a cultivar name.

Feijoa (Acca sellowiana):

*🌱Seed grown


Elderberries (Sambucus sp.):

*'Emerald Lace' Black Elderberry (S. nigra var. laciniata)
*'Black Lace' Black Elderberry (S. nigra var. laciniata)
*'Eiffel 1' Black Elderberry (S. nigra) - Fastigiate
*🌱'Samdal' Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
*🌱'Landslide' Blue Elderberry (Sambucus caerulea) - Selected from a wild specimen due to its compact form and productive habit.  Found growing on a landslide prone slope.  The original specimen appeared to be self pruning which restricted height.
*🍇Blue Elderberry (S. cerulea)

Viburnum (Viburnum sp.):

*🌱Manchurian Viburnum (Viburnum burejaeticum)


Five Leaf Akebia (Akebia quinata):

*🌱Unconfirmed ID - Cutting grown from an established specimen growing on a fence in the greater Seattle area. Seems to be the generic purple type often sold without a varietal name. Will need an additional variety for cross-pollination.

Blue Bean Shrub (Decaisnea fargesii)\

*🌱Blue Bean Shrub - Typical

Other Fruits:

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba):

*🌱Seedlings - Seed grown from two batches of seed (both from ebay). One batch was wild collected from the best tasting fruit found while someone traveled through multiple states. The other batch is seed from selected commercial varieties.
*'Allegheny' - Variety selected for heavy production.

Persimmons (Diospyros sp.):

*'Nikita's Gift' (D. kaki x virginiana) - Hardy hybrid persimmon grafted onto american rootstock.

Grapes (Vitis sp.):

*🍇Unknown - Productive. Good enough to eat, but would willingly replace if I find better varieties for the area.
*🍇Unknown - Good flavor in flesh, but seeds slightly bitter. Good enough to eat, but would willingly replace if I find better varieties for the area.
*🍇Unknown - Lacks vigor, but small pale greenish berries are very sweet and tasty. Delicious, but would willingly replace if I find better varieties for the area.
*V. labrusca 'Island Belle'/'Campbell's Early'
*V. labrusca 'Interlaken' - Small green/golden grapes.
*V. vinifera 'Venus' - Patented large blue grape from University of Arkansas breeding program.
*V. vinifera 'Black Monukka'
*🌱V. vinifera 'Pixie Cabernet Franc' - Dwarf fine that is supposedly still productive.
*🌱'Centennial' grape (Vitis vinifera)
*🌱'Delight' grape (Vitis sp.)
*🌱'Suffolk Red'
*🌱'Petite Jewel'
*🌱'Sweet Shelly' (NY 47616)

Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia sp.):

*'Ken's Red' (A. arguta x melanandra)
*'Ananasnaya' (A. arguta) - Great yellow fall color
*🌱'Cordifolia' (A. arguta) - High in sugars
*'Issai' (A. arguta) - Semi-self fertile. Lacks vigor, but I'm using it in a spot where I don't want an overly aggressive vine.
*🌱'Meader' Hardy Male (A. arguta)

Pomegranate (Punica granatum):

*🌱'Parfianka' - Well rated for flavor.
*🌱'Eversweet' - Non-staining. Edible even if not fully ripe.
*🌱'Desertnyi' - Juice has orange flavor.

Olives (Olea europaea):

*'Arbequina' - currently growing in ground in the greenhouse. I plan to move it out to a permanent spot once it's a little older and has more mass to withstand the winters around here...

Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba):

*'Tigertooth' - Not sure if it will ripen its late season fruit here, but it should be hardy at least. There are earlier ripening varieties, but I chose Tigertooth because it was the only variety which was available on its own roots. Since I want to allow it to sucker and form a clonal colony over time a self rooted cultivar was a must.

Bitter Orange (Poncirus trifoliata):

*Generic - Accidental addition after a citrus failed to overwinter in my greenhouse and the rootstock took over. It's an attractive shrub and I look forward to experimenting with it's future fruits.

Magnolia Vine (Schisandra chinensis):

*'Eastern Prince' - Self-fertile cultivar. Shade tolerant.

Mahonia (Mahonia sp.):

*🍇Mahonia repens
*🍇Mahonia aquifolium 'Compacta' - Compact form of tall oregon grape. When I saw them in the nursery I was struck at how heavy their fruit set was.
*🍇Mahonia x media 'Charity' - Produces large clusters of fruit making it worthwhile for processing.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis):

*Standard type (is there any other?)

Passionfruit (Passiflora sp.):

*🌱Passiflora incarnata - Normal purple flowered Maypop.
*🌱Passiflora incarnata 'Alba' - White flowered form of Maypop.

Honeyberry (Lonicera carulea):

*🌱'Czech #17'
*🌱'Sinyaya Ptitsa'
*🌱Lost label variety


*Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria araucana) Seed grown from two batches of seed. One batch was shipped from South America.
*Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) - Seed grown from seed shipped from Korea.
*English Walnut (Juglans regia) - Seed grown, plus one grafted.
*🌱Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) - Seed grown from 'Weschke' parent tree, a cultivar selected for thin shells/easy cracking.
*Hardy Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) - Seed grown from open pollinated 'Kanza' cultivar.
*Chestnut (Castanea crenata) - Seed grown from 'Silverleaf'/'Eurobella' mother tree.
*🌱Chestnut (Castanea crenata) - Seed grown from 'Layeroka' mother tree.
*🌱Jefferson Hazel Seedlings (Corylus avellana) - Seed grown European hazels with parentage showing resistance to the hazelnut blight which damages European hazel trees.
*🌱Dwarf Pine (Pinus pumila)

Bulbs, Corms, Roots, Tubers, Etc.:

*Camas (Camassia quamash) - Native edible bulb that was historically a major food crop.
*(Crocus sieberi) - Mix of two cultivars, 'Firefly' and 'Tricolor'. Edible corm supposedly tastes like hazelnuts.
*🍇Sun-snaps (Helianthus tuberosus) - Pinkish/reddish tuber type.
*🍇Hopniss (Apios americana) - Improved variety from Louisiana State University breeding program.
*🍇Hardneck Garlic, 'Susan Delafield' Porcelain type (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) - Huge cloves, very hot flavor!
*Hardneck Garlic, Unknown Rocambole type (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) - Grown from an unusually rose pink bulb found among a bag of Spanish Roja type garlic. Exceptional beauty.
*🍇Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia)
*Renkon/Lotus Root (Nelumbo nucifera) 'Space Lotus 36/Taikong Lian 36' - Variety selected for rhizome and seed production.
*Renkon/Lotus Root (Nelumbo nucifera) 'Pink and Gold/Jen Fin Shi Jia #3' - Dwarf variety selected for flower and seed production.
*Sweet Potatoes: 'Garnet' - Redish-brown skin, orange flesh.
*Tiger Lilies (Lilium lancifolium)

Misc. Vegetables:

*🍇Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)
*🍇Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
*🍇Asparagus (Asparagus officinales)
*Rhubarb 'Crimson Cherry' (Rheum rhabarbarum/Rheum x cultorum) and other unknown varieties.
*🍇Elephant Garlic/Perennial Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) - I use for the greens not the bulbs.
*🍇Welsh Bunching Onions (Allium fistulosum) - I don't pull these. I simply cut at ground level and let them regrow. I can harvest each bulb a couple times a year.
*🍇Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium sp.) - Tasty greens, but not common volunteer on disturbed soils.
*🍇French Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) - I've got starts of two different clones (unsure if they are named). One seems to have larger wavy edged leaves and produces flowers in the summer which slows down leaf production temporarily. The other has smaller, but more abundant leaves and seems to not flower which keeps it in leaf production during the summer. On visual and flavor appeal I'm preferring the flowering type so far.
*🍇Redwood Sorrel 'Klamath Ruby' (Oxalis oregona) - Groundcover for shade with sour tasty leaves. This cultivar has a red underside to the leaves making them a little bit more ornate.
*Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva, H. lilioasphodelus, x 'Hyperion' and other assorted hybrids) - Edible buds.
*🌱🍇Fragrant Spring Tree (Cedrela sinensis)
*🍇Dandelion Root (Taraxicum officinale) - Good wine from the flowers, great for the bees.  Roasted root makes excellent beverage base.
*🍇Cattail (Typha lattifolia)
*🍇Delicata Squash (Cucurbita pepo) - Growing and saving seeds to develop my own land race best adapted to my conditions with minimal supplemental watering. First planted in 2016.
*🌱Chinese Mountain Yam (Dioscorea batatas)
*🌱Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
*Yucca filamentosa - Tasty flowers, great boiled whole as a veggie dish.


*🍇Sage (Salvia officinalis), probably 'Berggarten' - Regular flavor, but doesn't seem inclined to flower.
*🍇Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
*🍇Thyme (Thymnus sp.) - Mixed species.
*🍇Mint (Mentha sp.)- 'Spearmint', 'Scotchmint', 'Peppermint', 'Applemint', 'Wintergreen mint'
*🍇'Bronze' Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
*🍇'Florence' Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum)
*🍇Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum)
*🍇Bay Laurel/Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis)
*🍇Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
*🍇Nodding Onions (Allium cernuum)
*Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
*🍇Russian Comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum) - Sterile hybrid comfrey for mostly external use as well as for green mulch and pulling nutrients from deep in the soil.
*Plantain (Plantago major) - naturalized. Green form common, and purple leaved form also present.
*🌱🍇Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon' - I have it and have tasted it, but am still debating whether I want to plant it as it can spread quite well...


*🌱🍇(Salix koriyanagi var. 'Rubikins') - Basketry willow with very fine flexible branches. Attractive in the landscape.
*🌱🍇(Salix viminalis) - Basketry willow with yellow branches. Attractive in the landscape.  Irresistible to the sheep and goats.


*🍇Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria sp.) - Wild, seasonally abundant. Best fresh, but abundant harvests can be dried for later use.
*🍇Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor) - Wild, common and abundant over an extended period of time. Too tough for eating, but can be used to make a mushroom stock and is reported to have anti-viral properties.
*🍇Mica Inky Caps (Coprinellus micaceous) - Wild, small, but seasonally abundant. Great flavor and easy to dry for later use.
*🍇Winecaps (Stropharia rugosoannulata) - Introduced. Seasonally available, growing in wood chip mulch.
*🍇Shaggy Mane/Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus) - Only spotted on a few occasions, but I hope to encourage it. It's delishous!
*Yellow Morels (Morchella esculenta or other similar) - Introduced. Amazing harvest the first year, mediocre harvest the second year, no sign of them the third year. :/
*Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) - Introduced into standing deadwood snags.
*Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) - Introduced into standing deadwood snags.

Animal Products:

*🍇Meat (Ovis aries, 'Piebald' sheep) - Help manage the land and the annual harvest of meat from the lambs is the dominant form of meat in my diet these days.
*🍇Wool (Ovis aries, 'Piebald' sheep) - In the past the wool has been so full of thorns and such that I haven't bothered with it, but as the land gets more tame the workability of the wool is improving. This year I bought a spinning wheel and was able to make some cozy cold weather hats as well as some dish cloths/hot pads for kitchen use. Interested in doing more...
*🍇Fat (Ovis aries, 'Piebald' sheep) - The lambs don't have much fat, but occasionally I harvest an older sheep and it will have enough fat to save for soap making.
*🍇Honey (Apis melifera) - Delicious, and I'm finally getting the hang of keeping them around. The key seems to be to just provide housing for local bees rather than purchasing and bringing in bees from elsewhere.
*🍇Wax (Apis mellifera) - As a byproduct of honey harvesting I get a bit of bees' wax which I have found useful here and there. I've used it to seal terracotta saucers as well as to make wood treatments.

Seed, cutting, ect. Acquired, but not yet growing:

*Pindo Palm (Butia capitata) seeds
*Sweet Potatoes: 'Hannah' - Light tan skin, pale flesh.
*Sweet Potatoes: 'Satsumaimo' - Dark Purple Skin Pale Fleshed
*🌱Moringa oleifera 'STX-1' strain seeds - most cold hardy strain available so worth trialing as a die-back perennial.
*Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Ordered, but not yet received:


Possible Future Additions Under Consideration:

*'Gillette' DIED, but will try again - Edible male variety. Bifare.
*Pigeons (Columba livia domestica)
*Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)
*Morus alba x rubra 'Illinois Everbearing' - Own root only, not grafted
*'Thomasville' Citrangequat (Fortunella x Citrus x Poncirus) - Hardy to 5°F
*Stonecrop (Sedum oregonum) - edible leaves
*Sweet Potatoes: 'Okinawan' - White skin, purple flesh darkens when cooked.  Dense, sweet.

If you're in Washington State and would like to chat about permaculture and/or trade materials then please join my Facebook group: Permaculture Swap - Washington State

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Teas for brewing Kombucha

For the past year I have been running a fermentation group over on Facebook.  With the large number of people to share with and learn from, I have been able to compile a list of teas which people have vouched for as effective for brewing kombucha.  This list is intended to inspire the adventurous.  It is not intended to imply that teas not on this list can't work.  If you find an unlisted tea that works well for you then please visit Wild Fermentation Uncensored on Facebook and share your experience with us.  :)

Disclaimer: Sometimes a tea is reported as working well by some while not working well for others.  I believe there are a couple of reasons for this... 

  • Kombucha strain used (the exact mix of culture species and their vigor varies)
  • Differing definitions of success; success meaning vigorous scoby growth to some, while simply meaning great flavor to others. 

*Assam Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Barley Tea (Hordeum vulgare
*Black Tea, generic (including decaf) (Camellia sinensis
*Bugapoop Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Butterfly Pea Tea (Clitoria ternatea
*Cannabis Leaf Tea (Cannabis sp.) 
*Chaga Mushroom Tea (Inonotus obliquus
*Chicory Root Tea (Cichorium intybus var. sativum
*Cleavers Tea (Galium aparine
*Coffee (Coffea arabica, Coffea canephora
*Darjeeling Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Dragon Pearls Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Earl Gray Tea (flavored Camellia sinensis
*Ginger Tea (Zingiber officinale
*Green Tea, generic (including decaf) (Camellia sinensis
*Gunpowder Tea  (Camellia sinensis
*Hibiscus Flower Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa
*Hibiscus Leaf Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa
*Houjica Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Jasmine Tea (flavored Camellia sinensis
*Lapsang Souchong Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Mauby Bark Tea (Colubrina arborescens)  
*Mulberry Leaf Tea (Morus sp.) 
*Nettle Tea (Urtica dioica
*Oolong Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Pu-erh Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Raspberry Leaf Tea (Rubus idaeus
*Rooibos Tea (Red and Green) (Aspalathus linearis
*Sencha Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Tulsi Tea (Ocimum sanctum
*Turmeric Tea (Curcuma longa
*White Tea (Camellia sinensis
*Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis)

Additionally, I’ve heard about a number of tea blends which work successfully, but I can’t be sure if the individual ingredients in them all work if brewed separately or only in combination with the other ingredients.  The following for sure work in blends, but further feedback is needed to determine if they can be used alone when brewing kombucha.

+Blackberry Leaf (Rubus uva-ursi
+Chai (Camellia sinensis with a range of spices added) 
+Chamomile (Matricaria recutita
+Cinnamon (Cinnamomum sp.)
+Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon
+Elderberries (fruit steeped with tea and then strained prior to 1F) (Sambucus sp.) 
+Elderflowers (Sambucus sp.) 
+Lavender (Lavandula sp.) 
+Lemon (Citrus x limon
+Lemonbalm Leaf (Melissa officinalis
+Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus
+Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis
+Peppermint Leaf (Mentha × piperita
+Rose Hips (Rosa sp.) 
+Rose Petals (Rosa sp.)  
+Silver Birch Bark with Wood (Betula pendula
+Stevia Leaf (not as a substitute for real sugar) (Stevia rebaudiana
+Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)

Special thanks to contributing members from Tibetan Temple Kombucha, Kombucha Nation, and Wild Fermentation Uncensored for contributing experiences to help create this list.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Wild Flock System (Modified Multi-Sire Management)

I have never been one to do things the way people say to. This has shown itself in multiple aspects of my life. For the last seven or eight years now I have been keeping a small flock of Jacob sheep to help with land management while providing meat for the freezer, beautiful sheepskin rugs, and wool. Actually I made a tiny block of cheese this year from some Jacob milk, but that's besides the point! :) For the last few years I have been trying a system where I don't pick who gets to breed with who. All the current season ram lambs (provided they meet breed standards) get a chance to compete for breeding with the ewes before heading off to the freezer in January. For a couple years I didn't even keep a mature ram around, but this past year I changed that as I increased the size of my pasture area.  
I have been struggling to find information about this style of management as most breeders hand pick each ram for each group of ewes to be bred. I have been struggling with what to even call this style of management until recently. After a long conversation with a number of people in a sheep forum I was able to put my thoughts together and describe what exactly my system is.

Following is the "Wild Flock System" or what could also be called "Modified Multi-Sire Management".

What it is:

  • Ram(s) and ewes are kept together year round .
  • Ram lambs which meet breed standards are not separated or castrated thus allowing them a chance to breed even if they aren't a part of the permanent breeding flock. 
  • Rams in this system can be a mix of any number of mature rams + the current season's quality ram lambs, or the current season's ram lambs only in the case that space can not be afforded to keeping adult rams in addition to adult ewes in the flock.
  • A way to ensure that natural selection pressures will be supplementing artificial selection pressures from the shepherd. A dominant ram may father a greater percentage of the lambs.
  • A way to minimize having too many lambs sired by the same sire and thus slowing inbreeding in closed flocks where offspring will be kept as breeding replacements.
  • A system which involves culling any individuals which do not meet breed standards or breeder's goals.

What it is NOT:

  • A way to maintain registered sheep.
  • A way to maintain highly selected, high production commercial sheep.
  • A lack of management or selection.
  • A lack of control in other management aspects of animal husbandry.
  • Lazy or neglectful management.
  • Feral or un-managed.
  • An attack against single-sire breeding systems (they have been proven effective).
  • A way to achieve maximum uniformity between individuals.

I'm really hoping to find a community of people who are interested in this and even better if they have experience with this or something like it to share our observations and experiences with this style of management. I am not trying to promote it as anything better than the single-sire system which seems to be the norm. It is simply a different system. If you'd like to join me I've set up a small forum on Facebook to talk about this system or similar systems with sheep or other livestock to which this may apply. The forum is a group called "Wild Flock System (Modified Multi-Sire Management)"

Monday, March 7, 2016

Making Sparkling Cider or Hard Cider with Zero Specialized Equipment!

Check out this fun short video about making sparkling cider and hard cider.  If you've been intimidated by this sort of thing in the past, and thought it was too complicated then this is gonna set you free!  If you like what you see then you should pop on over to the Wild Fermentation Uncensored group on Facebook to share in the collective learning and sharing of information on all things fermented.  :)
See you there soon!