I haven’t done a video in so long. Please LIKE it if you really do. Helps me keep my Channel. But this spring has been good to us. So I thought maybe my simple water management system might be a good subject. Thank you so much! Part One.
Winter hardy, challenging-soil loving, perennial vegetables that are some of our favorite foods. Perfect for the ground level of your food forest or to mix in easily with a flower garden.
Folks who want food forests in Central Wyoming ask what food perennials can be planted at ground level? These are the two are the best. I have both of these in my Refuge Garden.
The asparagus in my Refuge Garden are the first food to appear, usually in late March, over night. About the same time the ducks start laying… fresh asparagus-duck egg omelette to celebrate spring is amazing. The other amazing thing is that asparagus seems to be perfectly happy in this ancient, clay sea-bottom. That having been said, that clay needs to be kept very wet – by rain, or melting snow or you watering – or the spear tips are damaged and growth is challenged.
Asparagus from seed will take five years to build a root system and then produces tiny little spears for a year or two before you can harvest. Asparagus do not like to be transplanted and will take another few years to recover and produce. Once your roots produce spears at least the size of your little finger you can harvest 50% of the spears. Leave 50% to feed the roots for next season and to produce the beautiful, flowing fern-like leaves and tiny bright orange fruits. The first snow will lay the fronds over and they provide cover for the roots through winter, maintaining some moisture in the soil. Lady bugs love the dropped tiny dry leaf mulch as a nesting and rearing habitat for babies (and their babies are voracious bad-bug eaters!!) My ducks also love to nest under the fronds, blending so well I sometimes don’t even know they are there. But ducks like fresh asparagus too, so they go into the garden only after harvest.
Rhubarb is a vegetable but we tend to treat it like a fruit. I add it to chokecherry juice for jams and jellies. I use it to make a rhubarb liqueur that is stunningly easy to make and so warm and good on a winter night. I harvest about half of the leaves, remove the leaf part (remember that the leaves can be toxic, even leaving rashes on your bare hands), wash the stalk in cold water, slice, bag and freeze for use later. We do have a type of rust that can attack some rhubarb plants turning them bright yellow/red/organge/brown. You would need to remove the whole plant and root and surrounding soil and do not replant rhubarb in that spot. But it would still be a great spot for other plants like raspberry, currant, chokecherry. The rust likes the rhubarb. I have only lost one plant in 20 years to the rust and it came in on the inexpensive rhubarb crown I bought. Lesson Learned: quality = longevity. The crowns I will have this year are disease resistant.
Asparagus Roots 5 to a bundle $12.50 per bundle
Rhubarb Crowns $12.50 per crown
Available in the Caper Wyoming area only. To reserve your roots and crowns contact me for more information by sending a Comment with email or text phone number, or text 307.262.8043 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Special Order Plant for 2022: Elderberry ** How Do We Love Thee! : Wine, Jams, Pies, Pancake Syrup, and Floral Spring Teas: The flavors and healing properties, the form and texture of the leaves and the fragile umbrellas of white to creamy flowers – I have several plants in my gardens: native North American, Samdal and Samyal varieties. Pollination is best with different types in your food forest or garden.
Wondering about the medicinal qualities of elderberry? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a research study on polyphenols in elderberry at this site:
Be aware: Do not eat elderberries raw. They contain a toxic substance that is neutralized with cooking. This is true of many wild fruits. So before going out to harvest on the mountain or a nearby creek, do a little homework.
In good years you will collect pounds. But a day of rain or severe wind timed just as the flowers are ready will dampen production. (This is why permaculture teaches temporal and spatial planning.) The perfect spot would be an area near the house, or shed or barn, or in among established trees and shrubs, usually on the northeast side, that never has wind, has limited sun and always seems a little damp? Perfect for elderberry. In the wild it lives in the protection and partial shadow of taller, stronger shrubs and trees.
Samdal and Samyal
Five gallon $22.50
Two gallon $17.50
To reserve your plants for Spring 2022 you will need to place a deposit of half the cost
Contact me through Comments here, or Messenger, or Text a message to 307.262.8043
It seems too soon. It still gets dark so early. And with these higher-than-normal temperatures, we know winter weather could descend upon us any day or night. We live in Wyoming. The only way to know the weather is to frequently look out the window. The garden may still look like Autumn. We have been so distracted with so many other things. We have all had moments of anxiety or frustration about income, prices, food, shopping, and health.
I want you to feel more in control, to feel productive, to feel joy, to feel less helpless in this world.
It is as easy as harvesting this fruit, simmering it, adding very little fruit pectin and sugar ~ this fruit ripens on the shrub or vine ~ and covering your pancakes with rhubarb-raspberry preserves, serving homemade grape juice, or elderberry syrup spiced with turmeric or cinnamon for common colds and flu.
All of the varieties of plants listed here have been grown at The Refuge Permaculture Center for at least ten years. They have proven hardy in both drought and Arctic cold, in salty clay and deep sand. They are long term low maintenance.
The plants sold from the Refuge Nursery here are of two kinds: plants grown from seed, cuttings or root starts from plants established here at The Refuge, and bare root stock from long-time primary suppliers. In both cases the varieties are proven and highly productive. I add varieties to increase successful pollination. As with all nurseries, the available plants are a little different every year, especially as I start new babies every spring.
In this season I have Gift Certificates available for Refuge Plants, Garden Visits and Permaculture Design and Plans.
Gift Certificates: If you buy a Certificate for plants in the Spring you choose the amount you wish to give.
Garden Visit Certificate: $50.00 ~ I really enjoy meeting with people who love their gardens and landscapes. I love brain-storming ideas, offering suggestions and resources, and problem-solving. These visits are scheduled for an hour but we generally spend more time.
$100.00 Garden Visit Certificate ~ This Certificate includes a written brief of the visit with suggestions and resources. This Certificate includes the 10% discount on plants from The Refuge Nursery.
Garden / Landscape Permaculture Evaluation: $ 200.00 This includes two onsite visits and a written report. A 10% discount on plants from The Refuge Nursery is included with this Certificate.
Permaculture Design or Plan: $400.00 Certificate. This Certificate includes four site visits, landscape or garden evaluation, design concept, implementation plan and 20% discount on plants purchased from The Refuge Nursery.
Tara Farm and Nursery Plants for 2022:
Folks with Gift Certificates will be invited to come to The Refuge west of Casper to select their plants when everything is awake, happy and healthy. The following plants may be available for purchase with the Gift Certificates by the end of June. As with every year, the weather and Mother Nature have a lot to do with what plants will be available.
Fruit Shrubs: Add these to that windbreak or privacy hedge to begin to create your own Food Forest.
Western Wild Rose, Chokecherry, Elderberry, Red Raspberry, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Currants (Red, Pink and Black), Gooseberry, Grape Vine
Flowers and Grasses: These plants are usually available the end of July, adding some color just before fall and producing seeds to build your “Native Prairie” example garden or to fill in a former lawn area.
Rocky Mountain Penstemon (excellent for rock gardens), Prairie Coneflower ( Yellow, Yellow/Orange, Burgundy), Echinacea (Purple Coneflower), Blue Spirea (very good for late season pollinators), Big Blue Stem Native Bunchgrass (Ornamental), Prairie Drop Seed Native Bunchgrass (Ornamental)
One Gallon Pot: $8.00 / Two Gallon Pot: $15.00 / Five Gallon Pot $24.50
Special Orders for Spring 2022:
Special Orders can be made now through March. For bare root stock or established young plants, a deposit of 50% of the order is required to hold the plants. I deliver plants when I know that they have come out of dormancy healthy and happy.
Asparagus Roots (5 / Bundle), Rhubarb Crown, Grape Vines, Gooseberry, Raspberry, Elderberry (two varieties are recommended for best pollination; I offer a discount on two or more plants ordered)
To buy Certificates or reserve your Special Order plants contact me:
Call or text to 307.262.8043
Message from this Website
Message on Facebook
Please enjoy the season, dream your garden, collect recipes and seeds and pictures.
Stay safe and well and I will see you here and in your gardens in Spring 2022 ~ Laurel
Why Natives? The Wyoming Sunflower
Helianthus maximilani or the Perennial Sunflower will soon be gracing every
open space, every road barrow pit, and my garden. Why my garden?
- Nothing is like the warm, golden color of these natives.
- Fast Food for the Road: The flowers feed late pollinators, preparing them
for migration, hibernation or egg-laying. Seeded flower heads feed migrating
song birds as they head south for winter.
- Disguised: The “flower head” is actually hundreds of tiny flowers. Look
- The Good Bugs: Our native sunflower attracts one very special pollinator:
the bee fly (I love this name ~ Bombyliidae). You’ve seen them. Fuzzy little
flies with a long proboscis that looks like a stinger, but is used to take nectar.
These little insects will fill the centers of the sunflowers, their legs and fuzzy
bodies packed with golden pollen. And here is the ecological role of these
peaceful creatures: The Bomby is able to detect small holes in the soil where
grasshoppers have laid their eggs. The Bomby bee fly hovers over the hole
and drops its own eggs into that hole. The Bomby larva hatch first and
consume the grasshopper eggs. I love native team members. The first and
most important practice in permaculture is observation. Observation is done
to understand and apply what nature has developed over tens of thousands
of years. This reduces waste of resources and introduction of toxins or other
human long-term damage. As practitioners we support, even encourage natural processes. And so every year I collect the native sunflower seeds and
strategically plant them in the gardens near the fruit shrubs, and I offer them
water so that they will grow strong.
- Yummy: Collect the little sunflower heads when they have gone to seed.
Remove the sepals, or leaves, from around the flower head. Brush oil – like
olive flavored with garlic or sesame oil. Bake or grill the entire flower head.
The flower head will soften and then it can be eaten whole.
My cows are less appreciative of the gifts of the sunflower. They simply put the entire flowerhead in their mouth and pull the crunchiness in, crushing the sweet oily goodness.
My heroine & guruette:Alicia Bay Laurel #AliciaBayLaurel . In 1970 she wrote the handwritten, hand-drawn Living On The Earth. In recently re-reading it I became very unhappy with myself. So today I sought redemption. I split Russian olive firewood. I had forgotten the Zen of wood chopping, hurt my shoulder, regrouped and finished in the breath of it. I turned off the furnace and the fire is built and ready. Humble but proud, I then made my first attempt at homemade hummus…it turned out amazing!! Im adding avocado and will try very hard to not eat the entire batch for dinner!!! Next: making flatbread from scratch. Don’t get me wrong; there will always be a grocery list (especially with our growing season!!) This was a really good day. Tomorrow: More wood; buffaloberry jam; plumbing new rain/irrigation barrels… as the next sub-freezing snow event floats in. (My deepest thanks to Don who replaced the old busted ax handle and sharpened the blade.🙏)
“Each plant in each specific location under each specific moment of conditions responds specifically. You can work to create the best set of circumstances to support and encourage the best ecology for that plant even to its best death. Study in-depth or take a seed and stick it in the ground and water it. Then observe, learn, try again. When you figure it out the 8 year cycle of grasshoppers will pop. You will do everything you can and still be overwhelmed. You will wait a year and start over. Thus is nature. Live IN it. Don’t get too cerebral. Stay light on your feet and ready to learn. Or else you will miss the important stuff. Then pick that sweet ripe berry or grape, eat it and smile. The End… and The Beginning.”
The life of plants is not a mystery, but it is completely enmeshing. I believe that all approaches to horticulture should be held up to a very wise bit of advice:”Do not believe in what you have heard; do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations; do not believe anything because it is rumored and spoken of by many; do not believe merely because the written statement of some old sage is produced; do not believe in conjectures; do not believe merely in the authority of your teachers and elders. After observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it”. Who knew Gautama Buddha was a gardener… in other words, take that seed, stick it in the soil, tend to it and see what happens. Oh and don’t wash your hands right away. Moon or no moon.