Wow. 10 days and 3500 miles with 2 toddlers and 7 adults in an epic memory fest week of driving, wildlife and some of the most scenic country our nation has to offer. It was fantastic to see Yellowstone again after almost 6 years-the pines have had almost 20 years to recover from the fire and their success was a fantastic backdrop in succession and disturbance recovery to my reading for the trip (Edible Forest Gardening, by David Jacke). The pines seemed small for 20 years old, until my research turned up that Lodgepole Pines take at least 100 years to reach “commercial” diameter. Why in god’s name do we log in the Rockies again? The trees that were spared are beautiful-majestic and exuding history and wisdom with every needle.
We didn’t hike much and didn’t camp at all, this was a car trip, but the payoff in wildlife was amazing. We saw so many pronghorn that I am embarrassed to say they became almost ho-hum-literally 500-1000 in 4 days. Bison in abundance-including 100 calves. We even saw a “parade” of 60 bison ambling down the road as we headed out the west entrance. That was an amazing 30 minutes as we stopped to watch them march past within arms reach. We saw at least 20 moose and a myriad of elk, mule and whitetail deer and even several big horn sheep. Though it was a cub, I did see my first grizzly and we either saw the biggest coyote ever or a small wolf (60-70lbs). Regardless, we did hear a wolf howl the morning after the canine sighting during our stay in Flagg Ranch Wyoming which was as hauntingly beautiful as I had dreamed it would be. Some of the mistakes made by the Dept of Interior in their Forest Management were erased in the moment. Pictures will be available on Mia’s Blog shortly I am sure (she took over 3000… editing will take awhile!)
But now we have returned, the lawn was literally over a foot tall and I quick harvested 2 lbs of radishes before dark before they split. My hastily transplanted peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, mache, and melons all survived. The prairie is 2-3′ tall and the potato plants are a foot above their holes and the strawberry crop looks to be incredible. With 48 transplants awaiting on the porch from Seed Savers to cover my losses from the windstorm that killed 2 flats and also to bulk up for my restaurant sales, 3 weeks of weeding to catch up on, and a shoebox of seeds to get in 2 weeks late I have a busy day ahead of me!
Finished vol 1 of Edible Forest Gardening and will be placing my tree orders for the “canopy” layer of my guilds this week. Paw-Paw, Alder, Locust, Pear, Persimmon, Plums will all be in attendance with an understory of shrubs and edible forbs and herbs with a thick groundcover of edibles to round things off. Vines will be trained along the fences (Fox Grapes and Hardy Kiwi)- there is an immense amount of work in the next 2 weeks, but Someday Gardens has cashflow and this is what it was designed to do-fund my horticultural experiments.
Finally, I will begin inoculating my wood chip mulches with edible mushroom spawn. I know very little about this right now but resources like ATTRA and Fungi.com are allowing me to fill the gap very quickly. My biggest initial take away from Edible Forest Gardening was the wealth of knowledge of the soil ecosystem and its critical importance to garden success. Basically if you ain’t got fungus you ain’t got a healthy garden. A healthy soil will be fine, but a farm field that has been brought to its knees by chemical sprays, or my subsoil backfill subdivision will need some intervention to catch up.
Time to inoculate!