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5 Perennials Preppers Should Consider

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The Pro’s & Con’s of Perennials

One of the benefits of going with perennials is that they’re largely a one-time investment. Some may only last a handful of years or a decade, but most will give us 20-50 years or whole lifetimes of production once they get started.

The flip side of that is that most perennials require at least a year or two to establish, many 4-10 years, and fruit/nut perennials could need 10-20 years before they start producing a reasonable yield. A lot of the fruiting perennials are one-offs per year, as well. There are some with longer harvest seasons, but it’s not like an annual garden where in some cases we have the potential to plant four different things in a space per year, and tree and shrub fruit isn’t usually like lettuces or spinach that we can repeatedly harvest from the same plant.

On the other hand, once they’re established, most perennials don’t really need us a whole lot, unlike annuals, and trees need us even less than smaller shrubs and perennial plants. Perennials can be highly multi-function, with additional roles such as nitrogen fixation that can improve soils around them, soil stabilizing roots, pollinator habitat and food sources, livestock fodder or forage in the form of green limbs and leaves or tree hay, and medicinal value. Some can be coppiced or selectively pruned to provide us with kindling, rocket stove fuel and mulching chips.

Here I’ll stay away from trees like apples and plums that are so commonly grafted and are super susceptible to diseases and pests. They tend to need us, and they tend to be pretty recognizable. Instead, we’ll look at some other options. Most of the ones I’ll recommend are largely free of pests.

I’ll come back to the ones that can be a little less obvious as food production in another article as well. Right now, here’s a look at my top five perennials preppers should consider, selected as such due to their climate versatility, ornamental aspects, health, versatility for all stages of preparedness, and highly multi-functional landscape and production roles: pea shrub, oak, willow, wild plums, and crabapples.

Pygmy peashrub can easily fit into even small urban and suburban gardens and homes.

Pea Shrub

Pea shrub is one of the more controversial plants that we increasingly see due to permaculture’s spreading interests.

Many types of livestock can consume the leaves and pods of pea shrub, providing a fodder or forage plant that can sometimes be lacking in the cooler climates. It’s also a habitat builder for small game and small birds, and beneficial predatory insects. Because it can survive in some pretty gnarly climates and ugly soils (thin, compacted, stripped out) it’s an excellent nurse crop or soil retention and rebuilding crop for mismanaged lands, drylands, and cool or cold climates. As a nitrogen fixer, it’s ideal for production alongside trees and larger shrubs with high needs, especially those that can use the N boost later in the growing season (it takes part of the season for the legumes to start producing excess nitrogen, even the perennials).

Peashrub offers great variety in use, tolerant of manicuring to a shaped hedge or blending into a freeform native patch – both hiding food or resource production in plain sight.

It’s happier in part shade than in full sun, which makes it an excellent addition for base shrubs against a northern or eastern wall and alongside established trees.

It’s one of the few where instead of a cold-hardy ceiling, we’re bounded instead by heat. Siberian pea shrub can handle zones up to 8 if there’s water, but many varieties will only go up to 6 or 7.

Warmer areas (7-8, sometimes 6 by variety) will find less flowering with some varieties, which means fewer of the pods we can consume and feed livestock green, the tender green seeds, and the dry peas. Shaded areas can help combat this. Even at its warmer limits, it produces foliage well, with that foliage an excellent addition to our tree hays as well as nutrient-rich mulch that we can use to overwinter strawberries or cover our garden beds.

Oaks

Oaks produce acorns, although there’s more to that story than some might think. Acorns come in a number of sizes and shell thicknesses, which increases and decreases their ease for human consumption or the livestock and wildlife that can make use of them. Oaks also tend to produce in cycles, although the cycles can vary widely, from those that grow and mature the nuts in a single year, to those that might take 2-3 years to drop harvests. Some have the same boom-bust cycles found in other nut and fruit trees.

There’s an oak that can be found for every zone, 3-9 at least, with most zones having multiple species native or compatible. Oaks also cover a wide, wide range of soils and precipitation. This site http://www.wildlifegroup.com/shop-for-hardwoods/ is a sale site, but I keep it handy as a reference for oak types, from their size to their zones, soil and climate needs, to production cycles.

Oaks come in a huge variety, from leaf shape to acorn size and shape, to the climates and conditions they’ll thrive in and their cycles of production.

Oaks can create some challenges due to the jugalone they produce and the high-tannin highly acidic leaves they drop, as well as the dense shade they produce, but there are plenty of native fruits and nuts in oak forests, and even some domestic crops and ornamental edibles that can share space with them, from blueberries to paw-paw. We can also mow the leaf drop annually to mulch over annual gardens and berries that like acidity, or create leaf mold.

A number of yarrows, reed grasses, lilacs, wild-type buckwheats (Californian, coastal, Suzi’s red), woodland and mock strawberry, lavender, lupines, Californian coffeberry/buckthorn, verbena, sages, sorrel, bunching fescue-type grasses, and others can grow in close association with oaks. They allow us to create a naturalized setting or a very ornamental one, with food production for humans as well as medicinal and herbal plants, and pollinator and nurse plants all in the same area. With tailoring, they can create managed free-range grazing for birds raising their own nests, goats, and other species; small game or game bird habitat for increased hunting in cities, suburbs or rurals; and harvested-fodder from grains to soft legumes to fruits and foliage for livestock.

Willow

From the ability to make small-batch or large-plot propagation-rooting and garden-transplant boosting “tea” to the ones that can help with pain management, willow is a pretty well-known function, resource, and survival tree.

We can use its leaves as medicinal feed for most livestock, or regularly supplement with it for goats and rabbits, even chickens, and turn it into tree hay. Wands can be woven for window covers and floor mats, baskets and chair seats, and used as natural ties in some forms of construction, from plant trellises and cages to fish traps and boxes. Its rapid growth enables us to turn it into living fences and hedges with relative speed and ease. We can even use some species to help us “mop up” seasonally or annually boggy areas to allow other plants a better shot at growing.

 

Willow is adaptable to trimming and pruning to hedges, domes, arches, living fences, and small shrubs, increasing its versatility in small lots as well as large homesteads.

Overhanging ponds, creeks and rivers, willow creates excellent habitat for game birds as well as fish, and it can help stabilize banks. As with use in open yards, it can help create a flood and high-rain buffer, soaking up incredible amounts of moisture, especially as a coppiced hedgerow backed by larger trees. Willow’s absorption powers can also help create a buffer between waste-generating systems like livestock manure, outdoor kennels and pet wastes, overflowing septic systems, and runoff from composting toilets or outhouses, and nearby veggie patches or waterways (look up algal blooms for the impact on fishing and waterways).

Willow makes an excellent resource and function tree, creating shade and habitat, fodder, and wands for various uses.

Bees and other pollinator and predatory insect species use its pollen extensively. The catkins (flowers) provide a very early season nectar flower for pollinators when not much else has started blooming.

As with oaks, there’s a willow for nearly every climate. Some willows excel in a few key functions far more than others, so some research into variety can help us.

Crabapples come in a variety of sizes, flavors and textures, with varying degrees of palatability.

 

 

Wild Plum & Crabapples

Chickasaw is by far my favorite wild plum, but it’s somewhat limited as to region. Like oaks and willows, in most of the U.S. and Canada – as well as Europe – there is a wild plum that is native to our area, or from a region that very closely mimics our conditions. Those will almost always be more successful than something we’re trying to force into our conditions.

Chickasaw plum

Wild sandhill plum

 

Wild plums are highly, highly variable. Not only do varieties change hugely in fruit size, texture, and flavor, those fruits can regularly change tree-to-tree, climate-to-climate, season-to-season –even within a small yard’s space, due to microclimate. Some make larger fruits that, while pretty tart, are readily consumed raw and have enough fruit around the pit to be worth it. Some produce tiny fruits. Some really have to be juiced and turned into jelly with lots of sweetness added.

Crabapples tend even further toward the “needs processing” side of the line, but sometimes a hybrid or cultivar can be found that isn’t too bad fresh or only baked, or can be aged in cool storage like a Braeburn apple or mayhop to totally sweeten the flavor and soften the texture.

Wild plums and crabapples have a number of uses even with the drawbacks.

They tend to be hardier and a little more resistant to the diseases our domestic rubus fruits face. In some cases they might act as a carrier for pest and disease, but in many cases, the wild cousins can actually help us by forming a “windbreak” of sorts, except for pests. Pests and disease carriers hit them, and the wild fruits keep the disease or insect from jumping from apple to peach to plum to roses to berry brambles.

Wild plums and crabapples tolerate heavy pruning and pleaching, providing the potential of food, fodder, and cross-pollination for domestics in any environment.

 

They can also regularly serve as cross-pollinating partners for domestics. Wild cousins tend to also be broken into early, mid and late seasons, but they regularly have much longer flowering seasons. As a result, if we lose an ideal partner, our wild cousins may be close enough to fill that role not just for one cultivar, but for several.

Wild plums are highly variable in fruit size and flavor, with a long flowering period that results in longer harvest periods.

 

The extended flowering translates into extended fruiting as well, whereas domestics tend to have a 2-4 week window for harvest, by variety. Wild plums and crabapples can be ripening for as much as a 2-3 month period. That can let us spread out the workload, help cover gaps if we missed the harvest season due to injury or a travel, and it can allow us to harvest some of the later fruits or earlier fruits, and run livestock under them for the rest.

Just like domestic apple and plum limbs can be fed in small amounts green or larger amounts when cut and dried for hay, so can wild cousins. The cousins tend to be lower, bushier and even faster-growing, which can increase the ease and amount of fodder harvests.

Some wild plums are thorny, like pea shrub can be, and the woody trunks and branches have the ability to form living fences with the bonus of harvests.

Crabapples share the hedge-tolerant and woody growth advantages. Both also create habitat for edge-dwelling wildlife like quail and rabbits, increasing hunting capabilities whether we’re using a pellet gun in the ‘burbs or a low-load saboted .30-06 on a large spread.

Mixed crabapple hedge

Perennial Foods

There can be some huge benefits to creating a food forest and forage meadow around our homes. Even if we don’t own homes or don’t own much land, we might consider picking up a hardhat and road guard vest, and putting in some perennial shrubs and trees near us, or indulging in some seed bombs (do NOT throw invasives like bishop’s weed or kudzu anywhere; in fact, stick to wild edibles that are native to your area or the habitat-building natives that increase edible wildlife).

In many cases, the plants we choose can be beautiful and provide other services like shade and pest insect reductions, while giving us a resilient, permanent backup food source should we need it. They can provide feed for livestock, or they can create habitat and food sources to increase our game populations. Whether we’re rural or renting, increasing game means increasing food sources.

Planting natives is becoming ever more popular, so they’re increasing in availability. To fill in the areas around these perennials – and any others – look to not only the native species around you, but also to some of the nostalgia fruits like gooseberry, chokecherry and garden huckleberry that fewer folks recognize these days, and natives from similar areas or foods from Africa, Asia and South America that put up with inclement climates and are equally less known such as teff, amaranth, Asian yams, and quinoa. They tend to have fewer U.S. and Canadian pests, and can help make sure we’re the ones harvesting, not passersby.

19 Comments

  1. peter wehrmeyer

    January 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I have never heard of most of this, so I just felt left out.

    • R. Ann

      January 16, 2017 at 9:35 pm

      Sorry you felt left out.
      What hadn’t you heard of?

      The general terms used sometimes? Most of them?
      Stuff like numbered zones (USDA growing zones) or how hardy a tree is, how flexible or resilient to pruning and shaping?
      The more specific concepts for function instead resource or production perennials (plants that are doing a job for us, instead of giving us something to harvest for food, livestock fodder/forage/hay, or wood/leaves)?

      The plants? (Which, actually, I’ll consider that a good thing – if you haven’t heard of them and their benefits and uses, somebody else hasn’t either, and they’re useful plants in a lot of ways.)

      If you’ll hit me with some terms or things you didn’t get, I’ll answer them or I’ll hit you with links that explain way better than I could. If there’s enough others who got lost with you, I’ll try to do an article for this spring with those terms and concepts as they apply.

      Pat does link for things like permaculture and I think he linked to an article I did about alternative livestock fodder. There’s also a link for several of the plants taking you to a site that gives even more detail about it, or about the different varieties and cultivars available.

      Sorry it was hard for you to understand.

      Stick with me, though, okay? I don’t want you to feel left out. That’s not cool. Plus, some of the terms and concepts can be really important for efficient production, especially if you’re going to try to be self-sufficient or even have a self-sufficient garden in a small yard or lot. I really want you to not be lost, so seriously, hit me with those terms and concepts you didn’t get.

      Meanwhile, you can go up and click on my name at the top. It’ll bring up a list of articles. Some of what you don’t understand might be in the one about dwarf trees, castle gardens, site planning for homesteads, and the two centered around livestock feeds.

      -Rebecca Ann

    • R. Ann

      January 17, 2017 at 6:45 am

      This morning it occurred to me to offer you an email – rebeccaatpreppergroupsdotcom – @ and . – if you’re more comfortable with that, and I’ll shoot you to a forum where I’m active and where there’s a ton of information, where you might be more comfortable asking questions since it’s not open-web visible (you have to log in to see content).

      I will say, there are things that will be easier to explain there with the bigger screens and others who can explain as well, but there are also things that will be easier to explain here since I can embed images with text (there attachments will be at the bottom of each).

      (Pat, I’m totally okay with you deleting this if it crosses the line. Have a good one!)

  2. RevIdahoSpud3

    January 16, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    I thought this was one of the better articles so far. Well constructed with good information and the combination of article to the pictures is very good as well. Not too wordy, gets right to the point. Well Done! I’ve never left a more positive response. The topic and the subject usefulness is very seldom addressed.

    • Huples

      January 17, 2017 at 3:23 am

      But where were the pictures of guns? Cannot eat bullets!
      Excellent article and made me think good and hard about our garden. I have a black walnut (drops a lot every other year) but I really should plant a couple of oaks. Thanks R. Ann. Great article

      • R. Ann

        January 17, 2017 at 6:39 am

        Thanks, H.
        You’re always good for my ego. 🙂

        -Rebecca Ann

        P.S. Those pea shrubs are from cold-cold parts of Russia. If your weather lines up with the Zones 3-4-5-6 of the USDA maps, they might be something to consider including where we were talking about building your soil from the ground UP instead of trying to till-in mitigate. There’s a cat that gave me The Look when I started to get up, but I’ll make a mental note and sketch a couple of ideas for you later, one for spoking beds around it and one for where the smaller versions might go on a southern or eastern side of various trees. 🙂

      • R. Ann

        January 17, 2017 at 10:35 am

        Huples,
        I did the sketches – Not my best work. In a hurry, so don’t judge, eh?
        Also: Don’t make fun of my handwriting – that’s as pro as it gets, which is why I import and add text.

        – Pea shrub in 40×40 conventional garden
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9d029d52fea24fd7d5823344522be27112b6d75cbd0952d9400f8d2174d07561.jpg

        A – Pea shrubs – purchased (initial or building by stages)
        B – Pea shrubs – from cuttings/self-propagated (that’s misspelled on the last one)

        C – Compost bins, with or without a nighttime bird coop or rabbit hutches over them
        D – Growing beds (bounded, unbounded; raised or ground-plane)

        E – Variable placement, for ease – against the bed or against the boundary of the plot (just showing tailoring options for the hypothetical)

        F – Pea shrub, purchased with initial set(s) or self-propagated
        G – Small-small shed with x2 water catchment (P) or trellised/arbor fruit with water catchment
        H – larger plot – straw, mulch production, grains, beans, tiny temp duck run (they’d need the rest of the garden daily), area for additional perennials, whatever
        I – Nutrient-hungry tall crop and-or shrub(s) – The compost bin will leak good stuff out; might as well catch and use it
        J – Walk-over groundcover for compost bin access – Comfrey that also makes good compost or chop-n-drop mulch for beds was my initial thought, also taking advantage of leachate from compost bins, but wilds like henbit, low clover, anything can work there
        K – NW corner- another shrub, perennial bed, whatever (It’s right there by compost AND mulch resources, or it can be a tall one or to shelter);

        K – S-ctr- Strawberries with room on sides to propagate from runnersand with companions mixed in

        L – Small shrubs or perennials (access from both sides, or halve # and expand to boundary)
        M – Dwarf or small fruit tree (8′)
        N – comfrey or clover ring near base – mulch and suppress weeds; wallflower and lupine – companions for pests and soil

        O – bulb, onion, and chive ring directly against trunk and out 1-2′ (suppress weeds, eliminate damage from mowing, provide harvest, suppress pests) – same can go around established shrubs and pea shrub

        P – Water catchment

        – Pea shrub in use with foundation plantings or beds (1), and as part of a “yard” fruit guild (2), and an orchard with alleys (3).

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6294793cae7e1daa0ea7024a97f67e4bce63a6ee4bab674e63e77b9c4b1c9943.jpg

        – The expansion of a fertility island using pea and the bare-bones “ground up” methods

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/89aa9a4fc3d588276acd690977f67911fdb1137890bf2ee677751e6e6a9d82ac.jpg

        We’d talked about building fertility islands and soil-up bed creations to mitigate clay and sand soils, vice the amount of inputs (cost PLUS labor) of amending soil directly.

        Cheers!
        R. A.

        • R. Ann

          January 17, 2017 at 10:48 am

          A point I failed to make:
          All of the designs are so that the pea shrub is improving the soil right around it, feeding things underground, but also…
          ***The pea shrub is located so that nutrient-rich leaf mulch can be collected and dropped on the bed(s) or shrubs – collect, turn, toss.
          It’s a permie trend – Plant to limit labor/time costs.

          Another point:
          The house-yard (1 & 2 of middle) are separate, but readily combined. Rainwater follows the slope down, ground covers and additional mulches, edible herbs, strawberry bed all catch runoff from pea shrub mulch around the foundation plantings and beds and the strawberry beds.

          Water in the conventional veg garden – rolling trashcan or fill buckets for further beds, but 25′ hose reaches half the beds, to include the upper pea shrubs that are vulnerable to dry, high heat growing zones. (The designs could pretty much be plucked up and dropped anywhere from AZ to AL, OR to ONT.) 🙂

          Cheers!

          • Huples

            January 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm

            Value add in these articles as always R. Ann. Thank you

            • R. Ann

              January 17, 2017 at 5:06 pm

              Thank you!

    • R. Ann

      January 17, 2017 at 6:33 am

      Thanks, boss man.
      High praise, indeed.

      I do need to write for the general audience, though, and coming in cold, after a review there ARE a lot of concepts and terms more appropriate for Ag/Hort classes, garden clubs and peer publications. There’s concepts in there that those of us who look at whole systems and the various settings for them would get that might totally flummox or evade somebody who sees things separately or is just getting started.

      I appreciate you leaving a comment!
      Rebecca Ann

  3. Khaze59

    January 17, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I’m a novice…big time novice. But the only dumb question is the question not asked, right? Can you transplant a wild plum thicket/bush? And if so, what are the do’s and dont’s? We have lots of them at our farm in western OK. But we are city dwellers and don’t make it to the farm as often as we would like. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. And thank you for the insightful article. I always love reading your stuff R .Ann.

    • R. Ann

      January 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      x2 on questions – Questions are how beginners lessen screwups on the path to expertise. And sometimes, how we learn to fix our screwups. Always ask questions.

      You can absolutely transplant them. There’s another method called layering I’m going to get to later on.

      Insights:
      Go small, and take as much of the root as possible. If it’s a tiny sprouting twig, it needs at least a five-gallon bucket around it dug to keep as many roots as possible.There’s a long tap root that gets snapped/torn off with almost all transplanted trees – home-done or commercial. It affects resiliency to weather and stabilization.

      To transplant larger, you can do the same thing they do in field nurseries. It’s a 3-phase process, though. Some plants can do it in a year, some need 2-3 years. Find a young start, 2-3′ tall. Come out 6-12″ (radius) and define a circle. On the OPPOSITE SIDE of where the wind most usually blows, use a deep shovel (post hole shovel) to stab a third of the circle. Repeat to make sure it’s clean and deep. Next season on a spring-autumn-spring cycle, come back and do another third, and redefine that first third. Next spring, come back and cut the last third, and redefine the rest of the circle.
      A season later, come out another 6″ to dig ‘er up. You can shake some of the soils off and you will likely have to cut roots underneath. Bring a wheelbarrow or half-barrel and dolly with you. Keep the roots in a damp blanket while it’s waiting to get re-dug.

      Roots grow like the leaves and tips do, and like the leaves are what sucks in sunlight for the plant, the tiny root hairs at the tips of roots are what draw in nutrients.
      Cutting the circle cuts the tree off from those at a sustainable rate. The tree resprouts new ones near the ends. You redefine the circle to keep those from suddenly getting severed at once.

      There’s a practice called air layering I greatly prefer for non-grafted trees of any kind. You can work with a Pokemon ball and a pencil-sized twig, or go up to a half-inch and a milk jug if you can support the milk jug from the ground (up on a bucket, stake tripod, barrel) or from another branch.
      Key points there:
      – Near a node
      – Fully get through the green layer of bark in a full one-inch ring all the way around
      – Keep it moist
      – DO NOT stick aluminum foil on an air layer that gets over 85 degrees or she’ll cook. Those people are not in AL and TX.
      It requires periodic checks. Wild plums and crabapples are hardy, adaptable beasts and can handle it well. Do it in spring if your winters freeze-freeze hard, so that it’s growing through summer.
      Most wild rubus done in an April-May thaw will be ready July-Aug, but it might take until Sept-Oct if the tree is stressed. If it’s July-Aug, baby it in a kitty litter bucket of soil until temperatures come back down. July-Aug-Sept yard dirt is hard, dry and shocking for baby plants.

      If you’re a frequent visitor to the farm, air layering can give you a much bigger tree start (2-6’ instead of 6-10″ in a five gallon bucket) and there’s no digging.

      Simple layering
      There are two types of simple layering, one where you just bend green growth down, peg it, and come back in autumn to cut it off. That’s pretty easy, especially if instead of pegging it into the dirt, you peg it right off into a bucket you’re going to walk away with; again, no digging.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/749cf8707ffaf4ae93e7d0310427eeb081e2a0e8f675a027806d69fc27ce5bca.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6a13998e7414f64af7c9b2b5851f66d42d99cf0a0168ffd0d5ebba955035a747.gif https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e07a9db388567dab84dac77bd1b16a0e353a07587067aa2eb6fba399d8b3165c.jpg

      Another way is to basically wound a branch or cut a swath near a node the way you would for air layering, but you bend THAT and peg it down (into a bucket still is fine) so the wound is buried but the tip of the plant is above the surface. They you cut the original thick side off and walk away with the tip in autumn.

      It’s really common for cane/bramble fruit, too, if there are any blackberries also on that farm (Oklahoma, wild plum … you got blackberries somewhere, and wild black berries are the most vicious, tasty, disease-resistant rubus out there.) 🙂

      That’s actually what I would do if it’s maybe monthly, maybe 6 weeks between visits and you don’t want to dig up a five gallon bucket worth for the baby.
      Mother nature waters it, still no digging, ready for transplant.

      Glad the article got you thinking!
      Rebecca Ann

      • Jay Gardner

        January 20, 2017 at 5:18 pm

        Just a 2 cents thingie. The buckets are genius to someone who has been pinning branches to the ground since there was ground. Use buckets and pots for planting, this escaped me.
        Rooting hormone. Whenever I nick a branch or set a cutting, I use it. Some don’t like it for whatever reason. It’s a good deal of effort to manipulate plants, even just a dozen or so. So I improve my odds. There is powder or liquid. I use the dry. I think the wet may be easier to use. But I have a lot of dry, so….
        Anyway, thanks for the bucket idea. Less bending over.
        That’s it!
        Jay

  4. Jay Gardner

    January 19, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    I root prune not only for moving plants but to slow some down like redbuds, (love the flowers on salads), and autumn olives, (introduced by conservation dept. 30 years ago, now on the invasive species list, bad call), incredibly fragrant, nice berry, (olive), for overwintering birds, but will become junglesque if left to their own devices. Excellent windbreak, thickly branched, first to leaf out, last to drop.
    For moving plants/trees, I root prune the downwind side in winter, allow for recovery the following season, then complete the move the following dormant season. I have moved plants in all seasons, but the risks are obviously greater.
    We have oak trees of all varieties, from white oaks with an acorn weighing up to an ounce, to an oak I can’t recall the name of with an acorn not much larger than a chickpea. Among these oaks, the hickorys, blueberrys, persimmons, and such thrive.
    Was unaware the willow was used for a livestock medicinal. I have a couple varieties by the ponds and now wonder if in the fall if I’m brewing 60000 gallons of herbal tea.
    Have seen the ‘peashrub’ in some pretty faraway corners of the world, rarely cultivated, but yet to try it here. Maybe I can find some this spring.
    Thanks for the insight, Jay

    • R. Ann

      January 19, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      EXCELLENT point about the root pruning!

      (Circling over-competitive plants or plants we want to stunt for dwarfing purposes with something to cut their roots, like the shovel trick mentioned for transplanting larger specimens).

      I’m tempted to delve into various types of pruning, root controls, and propagation, but they’re such huge topics, and so many are case-by-case and setting-by-setting.

      Nature Hills Nursery sells nice plants, healthy, fair sized, reliable, but you pay for the pleasure.
      Burnt Ridge Nursery and Orchards give you some size and larger pricing options on their bare roots.

      If you can’t find some pea shrub through somebody near you or a grower with the same climate, they might be worth it.

      You can stick ’em over by the elaeagnus to fight it out. 😉
      You can jelly your elaeagnus as well – not just a bird plant: http://rurification.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2012-09-13T04:00:00-04:00&max-results=20&start=414&by-date=false#uds-search-results

      Here’s a few sites for your willow uses:
      http://www.countrysmallholding.com/land/the_wonder_of_willow_1_3493236
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2202332/
      http://www.medicaldaily.com/miracle-tree-6-health-benefits-willow-bark-get-you-chomping-bit-330070
      http://joybileefarm.com/herbal-medicine-dealing-with-parasites-in-goats-and-sheep-part-1/
      https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/home-made-plant-rooting-hormone-willow-water/
      (Don’t just compost the leaves as suggested in that last one. Spread them out to dry – you can add it with hay for your rabbits and goats or sheep, and even cattle, although you won’t get as far with the harvest for them. Use as feed with health benefits, then compost the manure with all the fabs micronutrients – It’s the permie in me; can’t help but reuse as often as possible.)

      Have you ever tried coppiced or repeatedly prune the apical buds and leaders of any of your redbud, to form more like the shape of a sprawling
      forsythia or bottle brush, to see what affects it has on bud production and harvest reach?
      I’ve gotten mixed results, and haven’t yet defined a climate-soil pattern 100%, so I’d be interested in your zone, primary soil, and contact relationships data if it’s something you’ve given a shot (or are willing to).

      Cheers!

      • Jay Gardner

        January 19, 2017 at 6:25 pm

        Anything that improves reach is a win, I’m pretty short ya know. I have 2 soft maples, a hickory, and a pear all coppiced and re-growing pretty well. The pear is 4 years in and is well budded this year. Pear bush. These trees all throw suckers either from pruning or cause they just feel like it. I ‘hack’ on the redbuds, no fear. No suckers. I have to keep them pruned up to clear the rider and me. The bare trunks rarely, if ever, throw suckers. Coppiced fail most likely, but I have a crokey one I might try. Pruning leaders has little to no effect, except they like it. They think it’s a game. I try to keep them in a kinda natural looking umbrella you can get under.
        They like being with their own. I’ve seen some huge colonies in ‘bottomish’ but not wet, south facing woods edges. I over planted and had to remove two from a serpentine garden. Set them out in singles along drive and they have not done nearly as well as the ones in the group, and they get 2x the attention. I need to plant around them.
        The remaining pairs are among flowering quince, yucca, prickly pear cactus, (made jam last year), echinacea, (coneflowers, love em), mums, and Missouri star flower, (native). It’s kind of gladeish, full sun. I keep it covered in wood mulch.
        I’m on the Ozarks Plateau, 1200′, little 6a-b island surrounded by 7a-b zone, so weather is squirrely.
        The soil is a crap shoot. Large tillable acres with a decent topsoil and areas that push up reddish rocks every winter. Even the rocky reddish stuff grows pretty well. I have a small orchard and some blueberries doing fairly well in it. Just keep it continually mulched. Not very scientific, as usual, but those are my impressions regarding the redbud in SW Missouri.
        Now about that olive jelly. Wow, it looks pretty darn good. (Also a neat site.) If I can get past the bird guilt, (picture “The Birds” with a cast of cardinals), not like I can’t find enough to eat without eating their winter chow. I’ll surely try a little though.
        The olives don’t care much about soil, they’ll grow in a dirty ear.

        That’s it!

  5. overit

    January 23, 2017 at 8:15 am

    olives!!!! fruit, oil, wood and wind break , soil improver long lived and not many pests n bugs.
    tagasaste (treelucerne) seems similar to your peabush?
    be warned that eating the green pods which are super high nitrogen stage might well harm animals
    dont know if yours is that close but it is a risk for many treelike legume fodder alternate type crops

    • R. Ann

      January 27, 2017 at 6:53 am

      Hi, overit!
      They’re both perennial legumes, but tagasaste is a cystus sp. and pea shrub is a carangana sp..
      Pea shrub and some other legume bushes is equivalent to soybeans in a lot of ways and stages, but yes, they’re rich (10-12% fat, 30-35% protein v. 20-25% protein in soy).

      Green pods of all kinds of legumes aren’t recommended for certain livestock (horses & rabbits especially), while other livestock can handle them, and handle them in quantity – so long as they’re not the sole food.

      Protein itself is a double-edged sword. While it’s instrumental in livestock production and performance, there’s too much of a good thing that can come into play. Protein tends to be one of the lacking components and one of the expensive components in feed, and one of the ones most sought after by wildlife when we plant it, so it tends to be a focus.

      Total DM and fiber-to-bodyweight are also important.

      Just like we wouldn’t try to feed horses or goats pure *grass* alfalfa hay or graze them solely on a heavy-clover field with nothing else palatable available, we wouldn’t want to solely feed them any of the perennial proteins.

      There are a number of studies out with successful trials, and plenty of examples in Africa of herds on locust trees, tree lucerne and others. If you can’t find any, let me know. I’ll dig up some of the online ones that are bookmarked to link.

      Cheers!
      Sorry I missed this and didn’t respond for a while!
      -R. Ann

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