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Inspiration and Information for Gardeners!
Do you have a yen to grow some plants from seeds, or try some other method of propagating a favourite plant, but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Well, do we ever have the perfect book for you!
Although we do have a number of books in our library on the subject of “propagation,” the book we are particularly impressed with is called the “Plant Propagation Bible.” Author Miranda Smith leaves no seed unturned! In fact, we don’t just learn about starting plants from seeds but also how to root cuttings, split perennials, layering, and even grafting. There are lots of illustrations to help the novice.
At the back of the book there’s an index (as one would expect) but there’s also an extensive plant list, a hardiness zone map, a glossary, and an excellent plant directory (from “Abies” to “Wisteria”). The directory suggests best propagation methods in each case plus other information. . . and even potential problems!
This is one of those books that, once you have had a quick look, you are quite likely to dash out and purchase your very own copy – or maybe even get an extra one to get someone else inspired!
Native American Food Plants
It’s January now – a traditional time to settle by the fire and look through seed catalogs. Well, maybe these days we may go on line but, whatever, it’s a time for gardeners to think about the crops they intend to plant in the new year. Town dwellers may plan a couple of raised beds just to have a few early greens, or those with larger lots will be thinking in terms of rows of peas, or maybe even corn. It’s highly unlikely, however, that anyone will consider heading for the clearings, woodlands or riversides to collect a supply of foodstuffs.
Which brings us to a book we have in the HCP library called NATIVE AMERICAN FOOD PLANTS – An ethnobotanical dictionary by Daniel E. Moerman. This is a remarkable list of plants and their uses by 221 native American groups. Just a glance through the list reveals some particularly interesting information about plants the local people here on the West Coast used before the days of agriculture.
Just for instance, the Haisla used Alnus rubra, Red alder, to smoke fish and meat, and the pitch of Picea sitchensis, Sitka Spruce, was used as chewing gum. The bulbs of Allium cernuum, Nodding Onions, were cooked for eating and the tops used fresh with meat. In fact, the Hanaksiala, Hoh, Klallam, Kwakiutl and others seemed to use the Nodding Onions a good deal
The Makah also used the Sitka Spruce pitch as chewing gum, and they liked the rhizomes of Phyllospadix scouleri, Scouler’s Surfgrass, for eating raw, particularly in the springtime. Close to home, the Salish liked an onion that had strongly flavoured bulbs – the Allium acuminatum, Tapertip Onion.
Obviously, diets depended a good deal on the areas in which the various native groups lived and travelled. It is interesting to discover how they made use of the plants in their respective regions – whether cooked, eaten raw, eating only the seeds, drying for winter use, and so on.
You might find some of the 1500 plants listed in the Moerman book during one of your nature rambles. Or perhaps just a browse through the book will be quite enough to send you back to studying the seed catalogs with renewed enthusiasm!