Re: [fukuoka_farming] flower names
- Hi Willeke,
I don't know much about Erigeron canadensis except that it is also called "fleabane" and "horseweed" and contains volatile oils that some old herbals say help remove intestinal parasites. I would never try such a remedy unless I confirmed it with a reliable modern herbalist.
Ulex europaeus, also called "gorse," "furse," and "whin" in English, is another matter. This plant has nitrogen fixing bacteria in the nodules of its roots. Gorse fixes nitrogen best in dry climates and decreases nitrogen fixing as the moisture level of the soil increases. Gorse is so flammable and has such a high oil content that it has been used by bakers in England for many years to fuel their furnaces. Gorse is a good "biomass" material for burning. Its great disadvantage is that a wide field of gorse can become a serious fire hazard. In 1936, the town of Bandon, Oregon was burned to the ground because gorse had infested much of the open field space there. Many traditional farmers have deliberately set fire to gorse fields to return the mineral-rich ashes to the ground. But even this practice can be questioned because of the following property: Gorse naturally increases the acid content of the soil by removing bases. If the gorse is returned to the soil either as "raw" organic matter or burnt ashes, I would suppose that the bases would be returned and the soil's acid content would again decrease, but I don't know of any studies to confirm this. At any rate, gorse certainly regulates the pH levels of the soil.
All legumes fix nitrogen, and most do not consititue the fire hazard that gorse does, because they do not contain enough oil to sustain combustion. Fukuoka actually worked hard to establish short New Zealand white clover as a primary nitrogen fixer on his farm. He did not find it growing wild there. He describes how this legume is hard to establish, tends to grow in dissapointing patches at first, but is worth the effort. (This is something of a departure from his usual "no effort" approach.) He also used cowpeas, which are widely adaptable but may require some persistence before they are established. I'm not sure how enthusiastic he would be about a wild-fire breeder like gorse as a nitrogen-fixer.
It might be well to consult local fire departments before encouraging large plots of super-combustible plants like gorse to cover your fields. Erigeron canadensis should also be checked out with forest service and fire people to see how flammable it might be, owing to the volatile oils it contains.
A great deal of information about Ulex europaeus or gorse is available from the University of California, Davis, by going to the www.google.com search engine and typing in "Elements of Stewardship Abstract for Ulex europaeus." Two other sources are A Modern Herbal at www.botanical.com and the google entry "King County--Gourse--Noxious Weed Identification."
All oily and high-calorie plants would add carbon to the soil. The wild sunflower that Gloria asked about would provide both phosphorus and carbon. Despite their high oil content, sunflowers (and pseudo-sunflowers) do not seem to be implicated in serious field fires the way that gorse has been. But more research is needed on that too. The most attractive characteristic of the wild sunflower is that it decomposes quickly and thoroughly without a need for animal manure to push the process along. (This is a very compelling attribute that vegan gardeners like me consider of primary importance.)
Bob Monie, watching the Mardi Gras parades in wet South Louisiana
We Connect <we.connect@...> wrote: Hello group,
Since the translation program doesn't help me at all, maybe it's possible
to mention the latin name of the flowers end/or vegetables. I for instance
don't know what "gorse" is, jamie is talking about, and I really like to
know the healing capacities of the flowers (for the ground), especially the
ones we often overlook.
In our garden, when we returned in june last year the Erigeron Canadensis
was standing 5 FT (1,5 meters) long, all through the vineyard. Even though
we agrre about the helaing capacities, we pulled them out and returned them
to the ground. On other parts, however, we let them stand. It is a
flower/herb that originates form Canada and loves to live on disturbed,
sandy ground. It helps agains diarrhea and internal bleedings and gout. But
what does it for the ground? Anyone?
Love Willeke (from Holland)
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