Frequent walkabouts help us keep track of what is going on at the farm. Spring’s showy flowers are always a hit but also an easy way to identify natives and local residents. Each time we identify something new (to us) I try and keep a mental inventory of two things. 1. What is the plant useful to us or to wildlife for, and 2. What might it indicate in the soils. Some of these fellows we want to cultivate or at least encourage. Some we just look forward to seeing each year.Bleeding heart often grows in the vicinity of a spring, but doesn’t like to be in the wet all the time. This patch we found just downhill and to the side of a seasonal spring that recently dried out until the wet season is back upon us. We’ve seen patches in other places and now I seem to put it all together that seasonal springs and surface waterflows are always nearby. Bitter cherry is a great wildlife food and not really for humans. This tree preforms well in wetter areas can be used for lumber, and the bark is rot resistant and used for basket weaving. The dried bark is an amazing fire starter. The few trees we had fall were initially difficult to split for firewood, until I was taught the trick of zipping both sides of a log’s bark with my chainsaw. The outer bark runs horizontally and the inner vertically making it a tight package. There are quite a few of these guys on the farm, and I have been eyeballing the few large leaners for lumber when we build the house. Flooring and cabinetry come to mind. As with all cherry there is a quantity of cyanide compounds in the bark and fruit stones that need to be kept out of the way of any browsing livestock. The wild bids love them and we like the birds to keep the bugs to a minimum and give us back little phosphorus packages in the mix. (poo.) Service berry is new to me. I only properly identified it this week. This one is human edible and quite sweet. It is drought tolerant, works well in the wet and in dry positions. (These were found in wet). These seem like great native additions for the chicken paddocks and also for steep hillsides like our curtain drain. Interestingly this guy will get 20ft high or more and the wood is great for tool handles. Our native elderberry has beautiful red clusters of fruit which are edible if you cook them. The birds here get first picking and we’ll probably leave it to them. They are a showy and pleasant addition to the forest edge. One of my favorites. New leaves are a tasty addition to salads or wilted greens. These were so tender I harvested them with scissors. In the summer the leaves can get bitter, so new growth or spring harvest makes for a delicious addition to a meal. These prefer shaded areas with plenty of moisture. They are a fantastic understory plant.
We ate this batch for breakfast with some leftover polenta, fried eggs, our home cured bacon, and L’s recent batch of wholegrain sourdough English muffins (or as the Brits in the office call them muffins”