In the meantime though it's time to plan what we are going to do with our land for this year. I'm all for living in the now and not abandoning half projects, just because of some future plan which may or may not come to fruition. I have now decided to turn our 18 crumbling terraces into a permaculture woodland garden, planting at least 30 more trees and shrubs. The roots should therefore help keep the hill from sliding down, minimising erosion and self-fertilise the soil. Everything I am planning to grow will have some edible use to it. I doodled around a bit making a little collage of plants I'd like to plant:
As those of you who follow my blog regularly may know, we already have quite a few permanent features on our land, some 100 trees and shrubs. Apart from the usual suspects of olive, apple, pear, peach, cherry, plum trees etc, I'd like to grow a few exotics. I've done a bit of research, many of the following will be difficult to find in Italy, as Italians don't go much for the unusual. So if anyone out there can help me obtain cuttings, seeds or knows where I could get hold of plants, please let me know.
Here's a list of what I'm looking for:
For the canopy level:
- A mulberry tree. Never seen one here, but should be able to find one.
- Japanese Dogwood. Don't know this tree, but it is said to grow to 10m and produce some nice fruit.
- Hawthorn: Leaves and berries are edible (see my haw ketchup and haw jelly) as well as hugely medicinal as a heart tonic.
- Elder: for the flowers and berries
- A lime tree: Apparently the young leaves are really tasty in salads.
- Black and redcurrants
- Flowering Maple (abutilon vitifolium): This small tree flowers abundantly and the flowers are edible with a pleasant mild flavour used in salads.
- Juneberry (amelanchier): a 2-3 m shrub bearing small currant like fruit in mid-summer
- Strawberry tree
- Autumn Olive trees: I saved some seeds from the last wild harvest
- Myrtle: With the previous two the fruit of this makes my delicious Christmas jam!
- Salt bush: The leaves and young shoots of this plant make a tasty spinach substitute or can be added to salads.
- Tree collards and daubenton: These are two varieties of perennial brassica, the latter from the kale family. I understand they quite tricky to find, so if anyone has any seeds of these...?
- Dwarf quince: Not a true quince, but the flavour of the fruit of this small tree is very similar to quince
- Cornelian cherry: A 5m shrub flowering bright yellow in winter and producing some cherry-like fruit in summer
- Blue Sausage Tree: Now this has got to be my favourite! I've never seen this, but this 4m tall shrub bears blue sausage shaped fruits, which looks disgusting but tastes good. Anyone know where I can find one of those?
- Eleagnus: A genus of evergreen or deciduous shrubs producing delicious fruit with edible seeds
- Fuchsia: Not sure how well this would do with us, but the flowers are actually edible.
- Wolfberry or gojiberry: I've heard a lot about the nutritious values of this little berry. I'd love to get hold of a few shrubs
- Oregon grape: Medium -sized shrub with blue edible berries
- Chilean guava: Not a true guava producing small deliciously aromatic fruit in flavour somewhere between a wild strawberry and a guava
On top of that of course a herbaceous layer as well as some climbers such as some additional kiwis, some ground nut (edible roots) and Schisandra rubiflora (tall fruit bearing climber).
Apart from the fact that many of the above plants will not be easily obtainable in Italy we have one other problem, our perennial shortage of money to buy these plants. A recent blog post from Jeremy on Make Wealth History gave me an idea though. He blogs about many issues surrounding the threat of global warming and tries to offer solutions to the problem we face on earth. He himself strives to keep his own carbon footprint low and has recently been wondering how to off-set his rest carbon emission.
So if anyone out there would like to make a positive impact to counter-balance their direct or indirect emissions, you could donate to the 'Pathtoselfsufficiency Tree Planting Fund'. Ok I'm not certified and I can't tell you exactly how much you reduce your carbon by, but I promise I will give you a full report on exactly the trees your money has helped to plant. I will even individually name the tree, as some concerned friends of mine have already found out when I showed them around introducing them to trees by name (Stan the plum, Ollie the olive tree, Simon the cherry tree, Bela you can call him Edgar the olive tree, Walter the walnut tree, Al and Capone the almond trees, Ronny the rennet apple tree etc...). Any donations would be very welcome. :) Tree planting will start in early spring.