Exploring sustainable options for conservation of small woodland parcels through wild-crafting crops
These are roughly in order –
1. Bought GPS unit, fencing, goldenseal and snakeroot plants, and mushroom spores. Attempted to locate fairywand – too late in the season.
2. Interviewed 2 herb growers – adapted plans from new info.
3. Made multiple calls to agencies/individuals trying to locate new herb specialist willing to do project. Found one in October.
4. Located and personally retrieved 8 newly cut hardwood logs, ID’d species, drilled spore holes, plugged with spores, soaked two days.
5. Toured all 3 locations, narrowed down planting sites.
6. Trained 5 people in planting method.
7. Planted 4 locations with herbs and mushroom logs, took GPS coordinates, sketched map of each site.
8. Set up fenced control area.
9. Took photos and notes of each stage, some of planting.
10. Prepared tabletop mushroom kits to aid in correct mushroom identification.
11. Copied all grant, herb, and mushroom info for all parties.
12. Fall inspection of all locations, with plant counts.
13. Updated notes, additional expert interviews, adapted plans in fall.
1. Ordering and planting needs to be done earlier in the year. Some items unavailable by the time the grant money was available. Current herbs suffered significant transplant shock – better to handle when dormant.
2. Planting method worked well for everyone. A special grid pattern was developed to reduce GPS errors while keeping variety within the locales.
3. Plug spores were bought instead of plain spores. Plugs are more suitable for beginners or those with limitations. Plugs are not the better choice in drought years without supervision, as they will dry out sooner. Branches/logs, despite using thinner ones that average for this purpose, were likely still too heavy after soaking, and being green, to be practical for this purpose. Hay bales will be tried as an alternative
4. An on-site herb expert IS as important as I thought. When attempts to find one failed in spring, we planted anyway following verbal advice from the growers. Plants had a high mortality rate. One location had no survivors. Possible reasons for mortality rate could include the regional drought, bad planting locations, incorrect planting times, shipping stress on plants (some developed mold). We managed to kill one type, goldenseal, that most experts felt was highly difficult to kill.
5. Planting seeds was significantly trimmed down, as results would have been too difficult to gauge before end of the project.
WORK PLAN FOR 2011
1. An herb expert has been located. Plans are being made for her to tour the sites.
2. An order has already been placed for ALL the planting material. Some older plants are included this time. They should be stronger, easier to locate, and are being shipped significantly earlier this time.
3. All areas are going to be replanted.
4. Mushroom logs will be evaluated for growth.
5. Mushroom hay bales will be attempted.
6. Advance workers may be hired to clear poison ivy. High levels in good potential sites limited planting and monitoring.
I request that we extend the project another year, due to the difficulties in getting a full, useful growing season the first year. The late start, limited plant material, and local drought prevent us from having a marketable root by spring 2012. No changes to the budget need to be made. All parties are willing on this end.
Outreach was done to the local university, local and national conservation societies, the local botanical garden, and assorted community members in 3 counties, by phone and in person. Most of them have expressed interest in the results, with possible assistance in sharing the results with their members. This next year will be focused on plant growth and survival more than outreach.