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Re: [pfaf] Looking for bigger seeds and flimsier cones to develop alder as a grain crop

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  • Michael Bell
    Geir Yes I am thinking of hybridising with other species, in fact I cross- polinated A. glutinosa with A. incana and A. cordata this year. A. cordata has very
    Message 1 of 10 , Sep 26, 2011
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      Geir

      Yes I am thinking of hybridising with other species, in fact I cross-
      polinated A. glutinosa with A. incana and A. cordata this year. A.
      cordata has very big cones, so the obvious hope is that it will have
      bigger seeds, but it is very difficult to get the seeds out of these
      very tough cones. It is well documented that A. glutinosa will
      hybridise with A. incana.

      In the next few weeks I will go back to the trees where I did this and
      see what I have got. I am not committing myself to A. glutinosa, but
      it grows well in Britain and you have to make a start somewhere.

      Michael Bell

      In message <CAMPY7b31KJWaaXpjNBfS_AVTnid39OnMLW4FSycLRB98950mow@mail.g
      mail.com>
      Geir Flatabø <geirf@...> wrote:

      > Is it only Alnus glutinosa you are looking at ,
      > or do you think of hybridizing / other species !?

      > Geir Flatabø

      > 2011/9/26 Michael Bell <michael@...>

      >> I have a project to develop alder (Alnus glutinosa) as a grain crop.
      >> My reasons for this are:-
      >>
      >> Britain cannot feed itself because half its land is too high and cold
      >> for grain production. This is not because this land is infertile, the
      >> tree-line is much higher than the crop line. It is because the main
      >> grain crops originated in the Mediterranean and they are at the limit
      >> of their range in Britain. To make use of this land we need to take a
      >> plant which grows well in British upland conditions and breed it into
      >> a suitable grain crop. There are many possible plants, and some sedges
      >> show potential, but it would be a huge task to even evaluate them all.
      >> Instead I have seized on the idea of alder because:-
      >>
      >> * It is a tree; it can be more productive than a herb crop.
      >> * Birds and small animals eat alder seeds and I know from many reports
      >> and personal test that they are not harmful to man. Like other seed
      >> crops, wheat, rice, oats, the taste lies in the preparation.
      >> * It fixes nitrogen. Nitrate fertilisers are expensive and a big
      >> source of CO2 production.
      >> * It is a tree, once established it is insensitive to weather
      >> variations.
      >> * It is a tree, it does not need weeding and chemical weedkilling.
      >> * The harvesting waste, chiefly cones, but also twigs, may be a useful
      >> fuel, it comes in handy-sized pieces. The fallen leaves may also be
      >> used as a fuel, they are plentiful.
      >> * It is a tree, ground does not have to prepared for it every year
      >> nor seed sown. This saves on the CO2 output of ploughing with heavy
      >> machinery.
      >> * Over its commercial life (50 years?) a tree will store a lot of
      >> carbon.
      >> * Alnus glutinosa grows in Tunisia and Algeria, the latitude of China
      >> and Northern India. For many reasons the people in mountainous regions
      >> in these countries go to the cities, abandoning terraces which erode.
      >> Alder could be useful for growing something and holding back erosion.
      >>
      >> But alder needs to be improved to become a grain crop. In particular
      >> it needs bigger seeds. I spent the whole of last autumn going round
      >> alders on Tyneside (You can't do it in the rain, so it is pleasant
      >> work.) pulling cones off trees, breaking them open by rolling and
      >> crushing them between two plates and sieving them. I found six trees
      >> with SIGNIFICANTLY bigger seeds. They obviously weren't the top end of
      >> a bell-curve, they were a STEP bigger. I germinated these bigger
      >> seeds, germination was poor, partly because of my inexperience with
      >> this species, but partly also because many bigger seeds are
      >> deformities or are stuffed with "cork". Nevertheless, some germinated
      >> and produced cotyledons which were noticeably bigger than standard,
      >> showing that they contained more food.
      >>
      >> I grafted these seedlings onto "adult" trees on places on the branches
      >> which should produce catkins and cones this year for fruiting next
      >> year, but my grafting technique was poor and none of them took. I have
      >> taken advice and I now know how to do better next year.
      >>
      >> (To hold such small stems together I found it best to use
      >> Hellermann sleeves, put over the stock end with a Hellermann
      >> tool. These are normally used in electronic wiring. I came
      >> to the belief that the usual grafting sealers contain
      >> fungicides and alcohol which actually kill such small green
      >> pieces. Vaseline seems to be the right stuff, we put it on
      >> baby's bottoms!)
      >>
      >> Grafting the products of hybridisation will shorten the breeding cycle
      >> from 7 years to 2 years.
      >>
      >> I went to the trees which had produced the bigger seeds, covered their
      >> cones with plastic bags to stop their neighbours from fertilising
      >> them, and fertilised them from the other big-seed producers. I will
      >> collect the results in the next few weeks.
      >>
      >> Bigger seeds are one thing I want, but also I look at the cones and
      >> think "They are too big. The tree wastes too much on them. I want
      >> flimsier cones, although rolling and crushing the cones is fairly
      >> efficient, I would like harvesting to be even easier." And so I would
      >> like flimsier cones, something which can be seen just walking past.
      >>
      >> I would also like trees with different growth habits. This could make
      >> a big difference to harvesting methods. In this I have been lucky, I
      >> have already found :-
      >>
      >> * Varieties with all-cone branches, producing very many more cones.
      >> * Varieties with almost all cones and no or very few catkins.
      >> * A dwarf variety. What might be the harvesting use of this?
      >> * A variety which has grown to 2.7 metres in 3 years.
      >>
      >> It would be asking too much to ask people to break open cones and
      >> sieve the seeds to find the biggest, though I would be grateful and
      >> provide equipment and help to anybody who does want to do this.
      >>
      >> What I feel I can ask is for people who walk past trees to look at
      >> them with my needs in mind;-
      >>
      >> CONES - Do they look different to usual?
      >>
      >> GROWTH HABIT - Does this tree have a different shape and branch
      >> layout?
      >>
      >> You could tell me by phone - 0191 266 6435
      >> You could tell me by e-mail - michael@...
      >> You could write to me -
      >> 20 Cambridge Avenue
      >> Forest Hall
      >> Newcastle upon Tyne
      >> NE12 8AR
      >>
      >> We could meet at an agreed place and you could take me to the tree you
      >> have found and go to a pub after.
      >>
      >> You could send the Ordnance Grid reference.
      >>
      >> Thank you for reading all this!
      >>
      >> Michael Bell
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >> ------------------------------------
      >>
      >> Yahoo! Groups Links
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>


      --
    • Elaine Sommers
      In herbalism the bark and leaves of alnus glutinosa can be used as a decoction for sore throats, pharyngitis and, with golden seal, for dyspepsia. Blessings,
      Message 2 of 10 , Sep 26, 2011
      • 0 Attachment
        In herbalism the bark and leaves of alnus glutinosa can be used as a decoction for sore throats, pharyngitis and, with golden seal, for dyspepsia.

        Blessings,
        Elaine.

         
         
         
         
         
        ". . . the greatest peril of life lies in the fact that human food consists entirely of souls. All the creatures that we have to kill to eat, all those that we have to strike down and destroy to make clothes for ourselves, have souls, souls that do not perish with the body . . . All that exists lives."
         
        from 'Shaman, the wounded healer' by J. Halifax, 1982





        To: pfaf@yahoogroups.com
        From: geirf@...
        Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 09:24:36 +0200
        Subject: Re: [pfaf] Looking for bigger seeds and flimsier cones to develop alder as a grain crop

         
        Is it only Alnus glutinosa you are looking at , 
        or do you think of hybridizing  / other species !?

        Geir Flatabø

        2011/9/26 Michael Bell <michael@...>
        I have a project to develop alder (Alnus glutinosa) as a grain crop.
        My reasons for this are:-

        Britain cannot feed itself because half its land is too high and cold
        for grain production. This is not because this land is infertile, the
        tree-line is much higher than the crop line. It is because the main
        grain crops originated in the Mediterranean and they are at the limit
        of their range in Britain. To make use of this land we need to take a
        plant which grows well in British upland conditions and breed it into
        a suitable grain crop. There are many possible plants, and some sedges
        show potential, but it would be a huge task to even evaluate them all.
        Instead I have seized on the idea of alder because:-

        * It is a tree; it can be more productive than a herb crop.
        * Birds and small animals eat alder seeds and I know from many reports
        and personal test that they are not harmful to man. Like other seed
        crops, wheat, rice, oats, the taste lies in the preparation.
        * It fixes nitrogen. Nitrate fertilisers are expensive and a big
        source of CO2 production.
        * It is a tree, once established it is insensitive to weather
        variations.
        * It is a tree, it does not need weeding and chemical weedkilling.
        * The harvesting waste, chiefly cones, but also twigs, may be a useful
        fuel, it comes in handy-sized pieces. The fallen leaves may also be
        used as a fuel, they are plentiful.
        * It is a tree,  ground does not have to prepared for it every year
        nor seed sown. This saves on the CO2 output of ploughing with heavy
        machinery.
        * Over its commercial life (50 years?) a tree will store a lot of
        carbon.
        * Alnus glutinosa grows in Tunisia and Algeria, the latitude of China
        and Northern India. For many reasons the people in mountainous regions
        in these countries go to the cities, abandoning terraces which erode.
        Alder could be useful for growing something and holding back erosion.

        But alder needs to be improved to become a grain crop. In particular
        it needs bigger seeds. I spent the whole of last autumn going round
        alders on Tyneside (You can't do it in the rain, so it is pleasant
        work.) pulling cones off trees, breaking them open by rolling and
        crushing them between two plates and sieving them. I found six trees
        with SIGNIFICANTLY bigger seeds. They obviously weren't the top end of
        a bell-curve, they were a STEP bigger. I germinated these bigger
        seeds, germination was poor, partly because of my inexperience with
        this species, but partly also because many bigger seeds are
        deformities or are stuffed with "cork". Nevertheless, some germinated
        and produced cotyledons which were noticeably bigger than standard,
        showing that they contained more food.

        I grafted these seedlings onto "adult" trees on places on the branches
        which should produce catkins and cones this year for fruiting next
        year, but my grafting technique was poor and none of them took. I have
        taken advice and I now know how to do better next year.

            (To hold such small stems together I found it best to use
            Hellermann sleeves, put over the stock end with a Hellermann
            tool. These are normally used in electronic wiring. I came
            to the belief that the usual grafting sealers contain
            fungicides and alcohol which actually kill such small green
            pieces. Vaseline seems to be the right stuff, we put it on
            baby's bottoms!)

        Grafting the products of hybridisation will shorten the breeding cycle
        from 7 years to 2 years.

        I went to the trees which had produced the bigger seeds, covered their
        cones with plastic bags to stop their neighbours from fertilising
        them, and fertilised them from the other big-seed producers. I will
        collect the results in the next few weeks.

        Bigger seeds are one thing I want, but also I look at the cones and
        think "They are too big. The tree wastes too much on them. I want
        flimsier cones, although rolling and crushing the cones is fairly
        efficient, I would like harvesting to be even easier." And so I would
        like flimsier cones, something which can be seen just walking past.

        I would also like trees with different growth habits. This could make
        a big difference to harvesting methods. In this I have been lucky, I
        have already found :-

        * Varieties with all-cone branches, producing very many more cones.
        * Varieties with almost all cones and no or very few catkins.
        * A dwarf variety. What might be the harvesting use of this?
        * A variety which has grown to 2.7 metres in 3 years.

        It would be asking too much to ask people to break open cones and
        sieve the seeds to find the biggest, though I would be grateful and
        provide equipment and help to anybody who does want to do this.

        What I feel I can ask is for people who walk past trees to look at
        them with my needs in mind;-

        CONES - Do they look different to usual?

        GROWTH HABIT - Does this tree have a different shape and branch
        layout?

        You could tell me by phone - 0191 266 6435
        You could tell me by e-mail - michael@...
        You could write to me -
            20 Cambridge Avenue
            Forest Hall
            Newcastle upon Tyne
            NE12 8AR

        We could meet at an agreed place and you could take me to the tree you
        have found and go to a pub after.

        You could send the Ordnance Grid reference.

        Thank you for reading all this!

        Michael Bell






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      • Michael Bell
        Elaine I did know this, the main objective is to feed people and for that we need BIGGER. But other qualities are important too. Is it possible to cut off and
        Message 3 of 10 , Sep 26, 2011
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          Elaine

          I did know this, the main objective is to feed people and for that we
          need BIGGER.

          But other qualities are important too. Is it possible to cut off and
          analyse part of a seed without killing the seed? Surely if the seed is
          big enough. For the rather distant future I have in mind a vibratory
          feeder, such as you get in factories for presenting screws and bolt,
          which presents the seed, 1/second, lined up, the machine lowers a tiny
          hot plate onto the tip (not the root) of the cotyledon and cooks it. A
          mass spectrometer detects whether anything unusual has been found, and
          if it has, it puts that seed aside. With chilled seeds, it might work.
          There is no way of knowing what might be found.

          Thank you for your blessings. Are you a Wicca?

          Michael Bell

          In message <BAY151-W14C5E5D5D0AC7554116D77D1F00@...>
          Elaine Sommers <elainesommers@...> wrote:

          > In herbalism the bark and leaves of alnus glutinosa can be used as a
          > decoction for sore throats, pharyngitis and, with golden seal, for
          > dyspepsia.

          > Blessings,
          > Elaine.


          > ". . . the greatest peril of life lies in the fact that human food
          > consists entirely of souls. All the creatures that we have to kill to
          > eat, all those that we have to strike down and destroy to make clothes
          > for ourselves, have souls, souls that do not perish with the body . .
          > . All that exists lives."

          > from 'Shaman, the wounded healer' by J. Halifax, 1982

          New Scientist discusses the possibility of cultured, laboratory-grown
          meant. Including human meat!

          Michael Bell


          --
        • inverse
          ... Hi Michael, I find your project fascinating. I wish you success! ... * It fixes nitrogen. Nitrate fertilisers are expensive and a big ... chemistry and
          Message 4 of 10 , Sep 27, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
            On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 8:27 AM, Michael Bell <michael@...> wrote:
             

            I have a project to develop alder (Alnus glutinosa) as a grain crop.
            My reasons for this are:-

            Britain cannot feed itself because half its land is too high and cold
            for grain production. This is not because this land is infertile, the
            tree-line is much higher than the crop line. It is because the main
            grain crops originated in the Mediterranean and they are at the limit

            Hi Michael,

            I find your project fascinating. I wish you success!


            * It is a tree; it can be more productive than a herb crop.


            * It fixes nitrogen. Nitrate fertilisers are expensive and a big
            source of CO2 production.
            * It is a tree, once established it is insensitive to weather
            variations.
            * It is a tree, it does not need weeding and chemical weedkilling.


            I've got to agree with you. My problem is growing food without the aid of chemistry and fossil fuels (most nitrogen-based fertilisers require methane for their synthesis), chestnuts grow fine at my premises but are being hit by dryocosmus kuriphilus.
            I still don't know if my particular trees are resistant enough to survive the infestation, this year they did fine and produced a lot but I can't trust them too much. I've already noticed two smaller dead branches.
            Therefore I'm looking forward to growing annual and perennial herbaceous plants too.

            One question, does chenopodium album grow fine on the highlands too? 
            I've found it in the Alps up to 1200-1500m.


            Regards,
            Inverse



          • Michael Bell
            In message ... Thank you! ... My methods sift through very large numbers. That s
            Message 5 of 10 , Sep 27, 2011
            • 0 Attachment
              In message <CAM1dQ5mjJmYGJtvFFzU4JhnFm6WDX3NhSOaNA4HyjxLWERa60w@mail.g
              mail.com>
              inverse <inverse@...> wrote:

              > On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 8:27 AM, Michael Bell
              > <michael@...>wrote:

              >> **
              >>
              >>
              >> I have a project to develop alder (Alnus glutinosa) as a grain crop.
              >> My reasons for this are:-
              >>
              >> Britain cannot feed itself because half its land is too high and cold
              >> for grain production. This is not because this land is infertile, the
              >> tree-line is much higher than the crop line. It is because the main
              >> grain crops originated in the Mediterranean and they are at the limit
              >>
              > Hi Michael,

              > I find your project fascinating. I wish you success!

              Thank you!


              >> * It is a tree; it can be more productive than a herb crop.
              >>

              > * It fixes nitrogen. Nitrate fertilisers are expensive and a big
              >> source of CO2 production.
              >> * It is a tree, once established it is insensitive to weather
              >> variations.
              >> * It is a tree, it does not need weeding and chemical weedkilling.
              >>
              >>
              >> I've got to agree with you. My problem is growing food without the aid of
              > chemistry and fossil fuels (most nitrogen-based fertilisers require methane
              > for their synthesis), chestnuts grow fine at my premises but are being hit
              > by dryocosmus kuriphilus.
              > I still don't know if my particular trees are resistant enough to survive
              > the infestation, this year they did fine and produced a lot but I can't
              > trust them too much. I've already noticed two smaller dead branches.
              > Therefore I'm looking forward to growing annual and perennial herbaceous
              > plants too.

              My methods sift through very large numbers. That's important for
              breeding purposes.

              > One question, does chenopodium album grow fine on the highlands too?
              > I've found it in the Alps up to 1200-1500m.


              > Regards,
              > Inverse

              Chenopodium album http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chenopodium_album does
              grow on ploughed land at 180 M in the Cheviot hills (the hills which
              form the border between England and Scotland) but I've never seen it
              higher, but that is probably because land any higher is not usually
              ploughed and the ground is normally thickly covered by grass and
              heather. But now you have put the point to me, I do know of farms at
              320 M, so next time I go past I will have a look. Britain is not a
              country of mountains, rather it has a lot of hills.

              Regards

              Michael Bell



              --
            • Elaine Sommers
              Hi Michael, I understand what you say about the main purpose being to feed people. But when you listed all the qualities of the alder you didn t just include
              Message 6 of 10 , Sep 28, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                Hi Michael, I understand what you say about the main purpose being to feed people. But when you listed all the qualities of the alder you didn't just include the aspect of food, so I thought I would add some more. The more qualities a plant has the more valuable a resourse it becomes. In the future we may all have to hark back to less used methods of healing ourselves. If, as a by-product of alder production, you can you other aspects of the tree then that is all to the good.

                I class myself more as animist / shamanic rather than wiccan, but I seem to be gathering quite a few friends who support and / or practise various aspects of the wiccan religion. I hope that in all my interactions with other people I wish upon them blessings and peace, regardless of my or their spiritual beliefs.

                Blessings,
                Elaine.

                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                ". . . the greatest peril of life lies in the fact that human food consists entirely of souls. All the creatures that we have to kill to eat, all those that we have to strike down and destroy to make clothes for ourselves, have souls, souls that do not perish with the body . . . All that exists lives."
                 
                from 'Shaman, the wounded healer' by J. Halifax, 1982





                To: pfaf@yahoogroups.com
                From: michael@...
                Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011 07:36:58 +0100
                Subject: RE: [pfaf] Looking for bigger seeds and flimsier cones to develop alder as a grain crop

                 
                Elaine

                I did know this, the main objective is to feed people and for that we
                need BIGGER.

                But other qualities are important too. Is it possible to cut off and
                analyse part of a seed without killing the seed? Surely if the seed is
                big enough. For the rather distant future I have in mind a vibratory
                feeder, such as you get in factories for presenting screws and bolt,
                which presents the seed, 1/second, lined up, the machine lowers a tiny
                hot plate onto the tip (not the root) of the cotyledon and cooks it. A
                mass spectrometer detects whether anything unusual has been found, and
                if it has, it puts that seed aside. With chilled seeds, it might work.
                There is no way of knowing what might be found.

                Thank you for your blessings. Are you a Wicca?

                Michael Bell

                In message <BAY151-W14C5E5D5D0AC7554116D77D1F00@...>
                Elaine Sommers <elainesommers@...> wrote:

                > In herbalism the bark and leaves of alnus glutinosa can be used as a
                > decoction for sore throats, pharyngitis and, with golden seal, for
                > dyspepsia.

                > Blessings,
                > Elaine.

                > ". . . the greatest peril of life lies in the fact that human food
                > consists entirely of souls. All the creatures that we have to kill to
                > eat, all those that we have to strike down and destroy to make clothes
                > for ourselves, have souls, souls that do not perish with the body . .
                > . All that exists lives."

                > from 'Shaman, the wounded healer' by J. Halifax, 1982

                New Scientist discusses the possibility of cultured, laboratory-grown
                meant. Including human meat!

                Michael Bell

                --

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