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Donit

Feral Food

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I hope this is okay to put this here. I read in the pinned pioneer living ideas that this was of interest. My idea applies to people who have "wild" areas on their properties or places that they "utilize". Of course, one should always ask permission to use another's property.

 

Masanobu Fukuoka (author of One Straw Revolution) became relatively famous amongst a small group of people for developing the idea of "seed balls" and growing food without lots of work....hahahaha. (there are videos on YouTube). I have seen these seedballs marketed now by other people using his idea. Basically, you take as many different kinds of seeds as possible, including fruit, berry, vegetable, herbs, flowers and anything else fit for your area and climate. You mix the seeds all up, mix in a bunch of dried clay, then mix in water and stir until smallish lumps (seeds and clay) are formed. These are then dried. When dried, you take them out and scatter them around. The clay draws up moisture and provides a good place for the seeds to germinate. Basically the theory is that whatever is suited to the exact place the seedball falls will grow. Everything else will fail to grow. It does work. That said, there is no PREDICTABLE harvest.

 

I am thinking that this practice would be great in and amongst and on the edges of wild (uncultivated)areas. There are many people who wouldn't know a vegetable if it jumped out of the bushes and bit them....okay maybe if it was wearing a plastic disguise. So......vegetables growing in and amongst wild spots or simply uncared for land, anything overgrown, creeksides, etc. in Townburbia would have a chance of being there should the need arise. There is a children's book about "The Lupine Lady" who goes around planting lupines. I think we all could take on the role of "Foody" ladies, going around by night sowing the half-wild seeds of tomorrow's desperation foods by the light of the moon. This would apply equally to rural people who might find their "recognizable gardens" umm......utilizedby someone else??? One midnight trip to purchase $20 worth of the end of the season's 1/2 price vegetable seeds would be enough to plant at least one's days 45 minute walk. You could examine your veggies as you walk your everyday route and go back to pick them at the dawn's earliest light. Being a little bit off the beaten path could make the difference between "finding" a lot of food. Incorporating foods that are wild-crafted in your area is also a good idea. As I've read in other threads here, sometimes the best hiding place is in plain sight.

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This is a subject dear to a lot of hearts on Mrs S Donit. I, too, have read about the seed balls though I've never tried them myself. One of the problem I find with them is that the resulting vegetables would most likely be found by animals and birds before humans would find them.

 

Still, if some of the veggies were to become naturalized it would be a wonderful bonus for would-be foragers. If the seeds were to contain such unusual vegetables as Hawian tomatoes or vining spinach that will reseed itself again and again it would be even better. Few people would truly know what they are.

 

You can find a lot of info here on Mrs. S under such threads as Stealth Gardening or hidden gardens. If I find the links I'll post them here. Great subject Donit. Thanks for bringing it up.

:bighug2:

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Hi mother...

 

I did search like you said. Stealth gardens showed nothing. Hidden garden showed only four. One was this thread, one was about night-caps, and the other two were the two pinned threads at the top of this forum. Maybe they are all in the cave.......

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Anyone who wants to consider stealth gardening or feral food should look at root crops. Taro. Sweet potato. Irish potato. Radish. Turnip. Horse Radish. Radish. Beets. Sugar beets. Onions. Garlic. sunchoke/Girasole/Jerusalem artichoke, peanuts, quamash, biscuit root (Lomatium cous), oxalis, yucca, yacon, bread root,salsify, jicama, etc etc etc. Anyone who looks at one of these and immediately thinks "food!" is probably worth recruiting instead of shooing away.

 

Consider also artichokes, cardoon, chives, and other weedy-looking plants.

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Okay, mother....

 

I found stealth gardens in a cave. :blush: Ooops...What I meant was over the Edge about a third of the way down on a ledge. I gotta go to bed. I am way toooooo tired. All prepping and no sleeping makes Jill a tired girl. I can't wait to investigate what has already been written further though.

 

Thanks for the link NMchick. How did you find that? All I knew how to do was type "hidden gardens" or "stealth gardens" into the search area. Is there another way to find things??? I am learning computer stuff, but my skills are in different areas...

 

Ambergris, the root veggies are an excellent idea. I especially like using a "stealth garden" as a tool to find potential co-workers. :)

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Donit, I remembered that CookieJar was talking about doing stealth gardening in a golf course, so I searched on golf course. Golf is not a terribly big topic around here, so it wasn't too hard to find the right thread. Obvious, right? :lol: I also had no luck with searching on stealth gardening.

Edited by nmchick

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There are many edible plants that are used as vegetables in some parts of the world but look like 'weeds' to those who are unfamiliar with them.

 

To mention a few:

 

Orach...

 

Lamb's Quarters (Magentaspreen)

 

Calaloo (vegetable amaranth, Carribean type) ...I'm growing it this year and it is delicious and pretty as an ornamental!

 

All are available from Johnny's Seeds. http://www.johnnyseeds.com

 

Edited by PureCajunSunshine

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I use wild Lamb's Quarter (Chenopodium Album) a lot as a substitute for spinach. It's available in early spring and I can usually find small plants yet in summer and fall. I planted seeds, taken from wild plants, in my small unheated greenhouse early in the fall a few years back. They self sew every year and the resulting plants have been very useful in the middle of winter and especially very early spring. Once the outside wild ones begin to show I let the ones in the greenhouse go to seed once again.

 

I'm not sure if that can be done inside but I have used the seed for sprouts. Nettles are another wild herb that makes a fairly good pot herb or tea and almost no one wants to mess with them even if they DO know what they are. Most do not know they are edible.

 

In the past, almost everyone knew about spring greens and at least some wild edibles. The farm wife especially knew that the spring greens were a tonic for the system after a diet of winter roots and vegetables. When I was working at an Historical Museum I always got a kick out of the looks people gave me when I foraged in the woods near the summer kitchen or 1860's house or log cabin with a basket and knife. The question usually was, "you aren't really going to eat those, are you?" If the greens were clean I usually just stuck one in my mouth and chewed away in answer.

 

Cookiejar did have a thread on an abandoned golf course in her area. She was attempting to ID some of the plants there. AHEMMMM,,,, She DID ask if potatoes would grow in the sand traps I sure miss that gal ......A LOT!!!! She has some really good posts so be sure to check them out. The ones on finding water are especially educational and fun.

 

:bighug2:

 

 

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Mother, that's brilliant. I knew there was a reason I wasn't pulling up all those lamb quarters going to seed in the garden. I'll try the sprouts as soon as they make seed and sprinkle some seeds in the cold frames. I dried a bunch of lambs quarters this year, BTW. They are nice sprinkled on baked potatoes.

 

Donit, since I live in a fairly harsh climate, wild seeding of traditional garden plants isn't very practical. No typical garden plant will grow here without water. So, in addition to gardening, I've been trying to figure which weeds are edible. That way, if I get stuck without anything, at least I can forage us a snack. (Harder in winter!) I have a friend who even waters some of her more useful weeds.

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That link leads to The Edge, as Darlene pulled 2 of the forums over into it.

 

Is there any way that thread could be brought back out of The Edge? I don't believe there was anything untoward in it.

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The lambs quarter seeds themselves are usable if dried and ground into flour but you will need to winnow the chaff from them. It takes a LOT of work to get enough for flour but they taste good as an additive and are high in nutrition.

 

That is the problem with a lot of wild crafted foods, especially in winter weather. A person expends a lot of energy/calories in foraging enough food to sustain with wild food alone. The idea of deliberately planting them nearby is a good idea, one that I've done a few times with foods that were too far a-field for me. Day lilies look just like any flower bed when blooming as well :D

 

I've often played a scene in my head where I harvest as much wild food as possible, processing it so that I would have food through the winter months if ever I was without a traditional garden. A person can do that with many different wild fruits and nuts. Lot's of greens can be dried or canned, even lamb's quarter but in taking stock of the foragable foods close to our area I realized that it would be very difficult to harvest and process enough to totally replace a diet. It might not be worth it in the long run but it would be a lot better than starving. I have played the game of beat the squirrels to the acorns and walnuts before and they almost always win more than I do. Still, the squirrel would be protein!!!! :rolleyes:

 

Now comes another thought on foraging for sustainable foods. You would have to do it very secretly or whoever saw you harvesting would know to do so also and it wouldn't take long for the food supply to disappear.

 

 

:bighug2:

 

 

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Now I have another reason to bless my mother...she taught us to eat foraged foods from the cradle. Lambs quarters, when pulled out of flower beds were saved for lunch. I have also identified many wild foods growing in my area. Nettles are delicious, when you cook them the sting disappears. They are also reputed to be high in iron.

Purslane is a weed that is tasty, but the texture comes out like okra, sort of slimy. Great in soups, they have a lemony zing to them. Chicory roots are roasted and ground for coffee extending, a little bitter alone for my taste, but some like their coffee strong & bitter. Chick weed makes a good potherb, but they are tiny. I also have wild mustard growing in my ditches, and the dandelions, picked young are tastey too. I have managed to save wild grape seeds and have sprouted some to grow on my fence line. Many don't consider wild grapes edible, they make good jellies & juices (and wines), and can be tasty. Acorns from the white oaks have less tannin and require less leaching to get the tannin (and resulting bitterness - real mouth puckering!) out. They are leached, and when the tannin is gone are dried and can be eaten like chestnuts, or ground into flour. Amaranths can be grown as ornamentals, and eaten. Some are good for leaves, some for seeds.

Mulberries are not recognized by many folk around here as edible, but they are delicious, tho messy to pick (very soft and can stain things purple!!).

I have plans to plant on my land when we find our permanent house the following landscape foods: seaberries, service berries, elderberries (flu fighters), hawthorne (good for cramps), and in the "wild" areas: motherwort (for high blood pressure), assorted mints, yarrows (for colds), the migraine chrysanthemum (darn it, the name escapes me),

calendula, mullein (anti-bacterial flowers), well....you get the idea. Yes, the neighbors think I am weird. Been wierd so long it no longer bothers me. Good thread!!

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I got a 20-pack lot of winter garden seeds on eBay for a friend's birthday. Most of the plants are purple, so she and her young daughters (who do a little bit of gardening every spring/summer) should have a blast with them. Their garden always looks so decorative already; I really don't think anyone will glance at a purple garden (nearly half of which is root crops) and see groceries.

 

These seeds are also all open pollinated.

 

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