Ruis (wombbat) wrote,

What I wanna grow under my black walnut tree

Under our walnut trees here I currently grow hosta, black cohosh, cinnamon ferns, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, a small native hydrangea, and that's about it. Sweet woodruff has struggled and finally succumbed to the depredations of dog feet, dog shit, and the environment created by the walnut. I would like to have some of the following (said to be able to withstand the toxicity of the black walnut): jewelweed, American germander, wild white bergamot, downy wood mint, stinging nettle (immediately counteracted by jewelweed but probably not a great yard idea), yellow wingstem, Canada rye, honewort, wild geranium, woodland sunflower, some of the spring ephemeral woodland wildflowers. Perhaps also wild ginger and ferns (possibly woodsia sp) with a few flowers would be lovely. Jacob's Ladder is very nice. A field of violets would also be nice (mix some white and yellows with the more common purples). Some have suggested red bud or hemlocks are very happy beneath walnuts, as is the Black Hills spruce. Further thoughts for the ground layer include: wild geranium, mountain mint, white snakeroot, blue stem goldenrod, zig-zag goldenrod, false Solomon's seal and Virginia creeper.

I was pleased to discover that the black cohosh -- good medicine for us 'pausing women -- has not only seemed to limp through the above-stated conditions, but thrived. Since it looked so unhappy, wilted and spotty when I transplanted it last fall, I thought it was a goner. Likewise for the Jacks -- while they have never increased greatly (as I have seen them do in others' gardens), they do seem to steadily reproduce themselves year after year, mostly, it seems, from the fresh seed that I drop after they bloom, despite the presence of the walnut. I noticed a few Jacks unfurling when I was on shit patrol last night. Wheeeeee!

In keeping with my expectation that someday we may need all the foraging skills we can foster for survival, I've been trying to learn to use the black walnut in place of English walnuts. However, it is uphill work. They are so oily, it's like a double dose of Crisco when you put them in cookies. And they are notoriously difficult to loosen from their rinds. But I'm grateful my tree is prolific... someday I may become a BIG fan of black walnuts.

With that fear/expectation in mind, I've been trying to learn as much about sustaining gathered wild foods as I can. More on that, and what's good in "Gather Ye Wild Things" next time.
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