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The One Ring Forums: Off Topic: The Pollantir:
So, who has a garden?
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Poll: So, who has a garden?
I don't garden.
I do garden, but it's in pots.
I have a vegetable garden in the ground or raised beds.
I have a flower garden in the ground or raised beds.
I have fruit trees.
View Results (68 votes)


Jul 2 2014, 11:47pm

Post #76 of 89 (561 views)
That's what I'm afraid of [In reply to] Can't Post

I hadn't been following this thread since I'm not a gardener, but in skimming it today, I was surprised to see a SW reference! Just goes to show, you never know what fun tangents theses threads can take. Smile

Tol Eressea

Jul 3 2014, 3:23am

Post #77 of 89 (566 views)
never been east of the Mississippi ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

And I don't know if they grow wild around here or not...haven't heard of them doing so.

But then again, we have huckleberries, so I guess we're even (unless you have them too?) Wink

Tol Eressea

Jul 3 2014, 3:33am

Post #78 of 89 (555 views)
Ah ok :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, if they grow in California, there MIGHT be hope for them here...unless they need a warmer climate....it can drop down to (on rare occasions) -20 here in the winter, though usually negative digits tend to stay single most of the time.

I've heard of elderberry wine, though I have never tasted it- I find the taste of ALL wines I have tried (even huckleberry, and I love pretty much ANY form of that- from the berries raw to jelly, to ice cream, to huckleberry honey (made from the pollen from the flowers) and huckleberry lye soap!) to be absolutely revolting. I am just not an alcohol fan- both taste and because step grandfather was an alcoholic.

I've heard of the immune stuff, and will need to see about things like that! Yeah, I certainly do NOT need anything with a laxative effect, though as you said I doubt I'd eat that many....Tongue

That juice idea is a good one for jam Smile I usually prefer substinence in my jellies, but I would rather not have bits of whole fruit (like strawberries- yum!) if that means it's going to be full of seeds Smile

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 3 2014, 4:04am

Post #79 of 89 (567 views)
Looks like [In reply to] Can't Post

they're hardy to zone 5.

As I was looking around a little more, I found more discussions of the toxicity issue - apparently the stems and leaves are considerably more toxic than the fruits (though still, as far as I can tell, in the "make you sick" category rather than the "kills you dead"), and so if your children are likely to chew on leaves or branches, you might prefer to leave off growing your own until they're older.

Of course, lots of common vegetable and flower garden plants are this way as well. For instance, the leaves of the nightshades (potatoes and tomatoes) and rhubarb are very dangerous, as are lots of ornamental flowers and shrubs: foxglove, delphinium, daphne, arums (calla lilies and several varieties of common houseplants), several kinds of lilies, yew trees, and out here they plant lots of oleander which is pretty and drought tolerant but very poisonous as well. Few people actually know how many of their everyday yard and garden plants are dangerous, because it never occurs to them to eat them, or at least any part of them other than the known edible parts. On the danger spectrum, I'd say elder is fairly low. But it's as well to do your research and be informed. Smile

Tol Eressea

Jul 3 2014, 4:18am

Post #80 of 89 (559 views)
We're zone 6b, according to the USDA chart [In reply to] Can't Post

So when you say hardy to zone 5, does that mean that mine is inside or outside the range?

And yes, I am familiar with some of those plants- as you said, it's more the leaves than other parts that one would eat Smile My girls don't go chewing on leaves and whatnot (though we eat romaine lettuce at home- but they haven't made that link in their minds yet). But if there are berries in the yard, they WILL eat those- yet another reason why we cut down the holly bush in the back.

We do have Rhubarb, though it was buried behind overgrown shrubs that we cut down, and in the process it got stepped on (I forgot it was back there). But the leaves were full of holes anyway, so I probably wouldn't have used the stems (I was aware that the leaves on that were poisonous though).

I am aware of foxglove, as it was used to make digitalis, a substance that will slow heart rate (it used to be used for heart attacks, but if overdosed it was deadly as it would outright stop your heart, which is why aspirin is used now). I was not aware that potato and tomato leaves were- don't grow potatoes but do have tomatoes. It would never occur to me to eat tomato leaves anyway. If I were growing potatoes I might have been tempted, as I know you can eat carrot greens, so thanks for that tip! :) I wasn't aware of the others, but since I'm trying to get rid of the ornamental plants and replace them with producing ones I don't think I would need to worry lol!

That does bring to interest Bard's healing herb selection- he mentions nightshade and fever few, before Oin asks for the kingsfoil ;) Yeah, Bard- might not want to give Kili nightshade! ;P

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 3 2014, 4:58am

Post #81 of 89 (568 views)
Sometimes there's a fine line between poisonous/medicinal. [In reply to] Can't Post

Many medicinal plants would indeed be deadly if eaten in quantity, precisely because of the effect they have on the body. Digitalis is a perfect example; in very small doses, it can help some heart conditions. But those same properties, in large quantities, will kill you - being literally an overdose.

Nightshade (aka belladonna) has a sedative effect similar to some opiates and can subdue certain body systems' functions. It's been used as medicine for centuries, but in large doses, it will subdue those systems to the point of failure. Tomatoes and potatoes are in the nightshade family (as are eggplants and bell/chili peppers and tobacco is a more distant relative), but the cultivated varieties don't carry the toxic alkaloids in their fruit or tubers, just in the green parts of the plant (this, btw, is why you do not eat potatoes that have gone green).

Feverfew (another thing we've got growing all over the yard) can help migraines because it relaxes muscle spasms, but if you took large amounts would have other side effects, such as stomach problems or bad interactions with blood thinners. But you wouldn't want to eat it, because the sap does not smell appealing (seriously, the flowers look like cute daisies but stink up the whole house if you try to use them as cut flowers).

So yes, a herbalist of the time might use nightshade to sedate/relax Kili and feverfew to bring down his fever, but they'd never cook up a batch and feed it to him as a meal, just like you'd never try to snack on the contents of your medicine cabinet.

Rhubarb leaves, on the other hand, are just plain poisonous, because they contain oxalate crystals and some other compounds which severely irritate or injure mucous membranes. But again, those compounds form in the green parts and not the red stems, which are what we eat. Other decorative plants, such as the delphiniums/monkshood (aconites) and the oleander are just deadly all over.

In case you're wondering why I know this stuff - in my 20s I led an outdoor club for homeschooled kids, and as part of our program, I taught them about native plants - and they had to learn to identify the most common poisonous plants before they could learn about the edibles, which naturally involved a lot of research on my part. Native plants are a bit of a hobby for my mother and myself, and we've planted as many edible and ornamental natives as we could in our yard.

About planting zones - the lower the number, the colder it gets in the winter. So if a plant is hardy to a zone lower than your own number, it can handle colder-than-your-average temps in the winter and should be fine. By the same token, a plant that can't handle the summer heat will do less well in higher-number zones. Here's a map of the US zones - if you click on your region, it will bring up a more detailed region map to help you see exactly what zone you fall into. It's usually pretty easy to Google a plant to find out its optimal growing zones.

Tol Eressea

Jul 3 2014, 5:31am

Post #82 of 89 (556 views)
wow- that is great stuff (and might even help with my fan fiction ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

Is there any way you could give me the titles of the books you used during your research? I love learning about how plants have been used through history as herbal medicines, and would also love to be able to learn more about what is and is not fit to eat in the wild Smile Being a very outdoors type person, I enjoy learning about survival things and wild edibles too Smile

I also plan on homeschooling, and would like to pass this sort of stuff on to my girls Smile

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 3 2014, 5:53am

Post #83 of 89 (553 views)
It's been a long time... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll have to pull out my old club handbook and see if I still have the bibliography notes from that section. I'll PM you with anything I find, and feel free to PM me anytime with questions. Smile


Jul 3 2014, 11:58am

Post #84 of 89 (555 views)
Huckleberries [In reply to] Can't Post

Apparently, the name huckleberry is applied to several different plants. We seem to have several varieties native to our area, especially the one known as the Black Huckleberry. I would probably mistake most of them for blueberries. According to Wikipedia, red huckleberries are common in your neck of the woods.

Tol Eressea

Jul 3 2014, 6:14pm

Post #85 of 89 (550 views)
wikipedia is not accurate [In reply to] Can't Post

We get deep purple, sweet huckleberries in the Rockies around here in the higher elevations Smile The red huckleberries have been found in the area around Mt. St. Helens in the Cascades (five hours' drive away at least, if not six- it's been a long while since I've been around there) probably due to the changes in the soil after the 1980 eruption from the ash. They are in the blueberry family, but the purple huckleberries around here taste sweeter and more flavorful than blueberries do (I tolerate blueberries fresh but prefer them baked in something or mixed in with other fruit, but huckleberries are by far my favorite fruit and I love them alone or mixed in with other things). The red huckleberries are more tart. Huckleberries ONLY grow wild, and my theory is that it's due to the higher acidity in the soil around the pine trees, or being pollinated by a wild flowering plant or something. They can grow as ornamental shrubs domestically, but they won't bear fruit or flowers.

I've gone huckleberry picking several summers of my life, and used to eat them straight off the bush as a kid. Got thunderstormed out last year (it's a BAD idea to be in a forest during a thunderstorm) so this year we've planned on having each of my husband's two days off for four weeks straight to be berry picking days, so that hopefully the weather will cooperate for at least one of them Smile

They're not cheap either- a gallon sized bag at a farm stand cost fifty bucks, and that was a GOOD price. So this year we're hoping to find a very well filled spot and bring lots of five gallon buckets with us. They can be easily frozen in ziplock bags, and last in the freezer for years even (my grandmother just a couple years ago finally used up the last of hers, and she hadn't been berry picking in a LONG time).

It's neat that you have some too- I wasn't sure how far the huckleberry territory spread, but then again I've never been back east, Closest I've gotten is Arkansas, so never even crossed the Mississippi river Evil Best berry ever, IMO Cool


Jul 3 2014, 6:50pm

Post #86 of 89 (550 views)
Yeah... [In reply to] Can't Post

Wikipedia does not make for the most reliable source, but it does come in handy from time to time. Myself, I have lived in Texas for a time (in my active-duty days in the Air Force) and I've visited California (traveling from San Antonio by car). I was also stationed in Misawa, Japan for a bit; that was fun (I once drove around a crater lake with some buddies in the little, brown Toyota I dubbed the Millennium Sparrow), but I never went looking for wild berries over there either.

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 3 2014, 6:55pm)

Tol Eressea

Jul 3 2014, 7:10pm

Post #87 of 89 (531 views)
nice! [In reply to] Can't Post

So I'm guessing that was a play on words to the millenium falcon? Tongue

It does, but my instructors in school wouldn't let me use it as a resource precisely because anyone can go in there and change things. It's good for a quick reference, but not great if one's goal is 100% accuracy and no less Smile

Regional berries can be hard to pinpoint, especially if they only grow wild.

Grey Havens

Jul 3 2014, 8:43pm

Post #88 of 89 (526 views)
We're Zone 5, and elderberries seem to do okay here [In reply to] Can't Post

Your 6b is bit milder than us, so you should be fine. The main thing is that your elderberries probably wouldn't grow as big as the ones in California.

As for currants and gooseberries, you'll probably be fine with them. I have a big ol' gooseberry that I planted and a flowering currant that the birds planted, and they're quite hardy. In fact, we have a native flowering currant that grows in the foothills - definitely a colder climate than here on the Front Range.

You might try raspberries - smaller, less poky thorns than blackberries, and they're easy to maintain once established - at least, ours have been, for over 25 years. And fruit trees that might work for you include apples, cherries (pie cherries for sure, but you might be okay with sweet cherries), pears, possibly peaches (they don't like late frosts, though).

Have fun!

Tol Eressea

Jul 3 2014, 8:59pm

Post #89 of 89 (569 views)
raspberries are great up here [In reply to] Can't Post

My mother in law's raspberry patch went nuts, and they eventually had to rototill it because it got so overgrown with the raspberries that it was hard to get in there to pick them.

Apples do well, if you spray for apple maggots (there's a big problem with those here) and we planted a self pollinating one (four in one- grafted together) a month ago. We also got a self pollinating cherry and plum- my husband planted one the other day, but hadn't gotten to the last one and I don't know which one of those is in the ground- haven't checked yet. The last one is leaning against the fence within the sprinkler system so it's still fine, but needs to get planted soon and he plans to do so tomorrow.

Pears grow well too- my mother in law has one, and we plan on acquiring one too. I've wanted to try peach, but we can get late frosts here so I'm leery- when we got married on June 7, 2008, it snowed (not stuck, but snowed) two days before our wedding. It's not common to snow that late, but the frosts usually aren't done til mid to late April at the earliest. I planted my seeds in the ground in May, and though the last 1/3 of our garden space took a while to get all the big rocks picked out, we finally got it and will plant my pumpkin seeds tomorrow. But we're cutting it close with them germinating completely before first frost.

Generally our growing season goes from mid April to mid October. But there is still a slight risk of frost into May, and at the beginning of Oct. My cantaloupes died, and I was told I would probably need to grow cantaloupes and watermelons in a heated greenhouse if I wanted them to succeed because it's too cold here. My pumpkins might make it, or they might not (hoping they have a sixty day germ, rather than 90 otherwise I will be cutting it SO close!) and I will be sure to plant them earlier next year. Hadn't planned on family sans husband being sick all June though, otherwise they would have been done a LOT earlier than now! Crazy

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