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

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  • 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 1 of 10 , Sep 26, 2011
      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 2 of 10 , Sep 26, 2011
        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 3 of 10 , Sep 27, 2011
          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 4 of 10 , Sep 27, 2011
            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 5 of 10 , Sep 28, 2011
              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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