Generosity & Abundance

I begin each day meditating on the Daily Word and its associated affirmations. Today’s word, Generous, came with a message that relates directly to Abundance: “As I give, I share God’s abundance… I always have all that I need to live abundantly, and I share my abundance with others joyfully and freely. I give generously of my resources, talents, and skills,.. I am generous with praise, gratitude, and encouragement. Whenever I give without thought of reciprocation, I center myself in the divine flow.”

I’m thinking about how generosity can flow from my association with Food Forest Abundance. I dream of growing a forest garden full of fruit to share with everyone around me. Considering the example I can set through this endeavor, I begin writing about my own garden adventures to inspire others and show them simple actions they can take to begin growing their own joyful abundance.

Over the past few years, I have struggled to grow a conventional vegetable garden in our front yard. Chipmunks and rabbits wriggled through the fence to nibble away at the bush bean sprouts. Deer reached over the fence to chomp on the kale and cucumbers. Bugs chewed holes in the cabbage and lettuce leaves. At the end of each season, my meager harvest was hardly worth all the time I put into planting, watering and weeding. And so, last year I let the garden “go to weed,” and began reading books about food forest gardening.

This summer the mint runners have run rampant and displaced many of the weeds. In fact, I have an overabundance of mint. What can I do with it? I steep bunches of mint in hot water and then chill it down, and the result is “the most refreshing summer iced tea ever.” Mint freshens the breath and releases compounds that have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, making this an ideal herb aiding both digestive and immune systems.

I can also welcome neighbors to come grab some mint and pull it up by the roots. Take it home and transplant it into pots to keep it under control. But come quick! I will be taking down the fence and covering the ground with sheet mulching to get rid of the weeds and the mint that has grown beyond my control.

I will layer damp corrugated cardboard, compost, dead leaves and wood chips over the area. I will smother away the weeds and improve the quality of the soil, as well as the soil’s ability to retain water. Then I will plant, grow and propagate a variety of perennial herbs and berries in this very same space. When they grow out of control, my plan is to share generously with friends and neighbors.

I am an Abundance Ambassador for Food Forest Abundance. I invite you to follow my journey around and into the forest, here and through my Story Walking Radio Hour podcasts. Check out my latest podcast The Enchanted Edible Forest with guest Dani Baker, author of The Home-Scale Forest Garden.

Norway Maple vs Sugar Maple

We decided it would be a good idea to thin out the trees in our wooded lot, to allow more sunlight in to support the growth of understory fruit trees and berry bushes. Arborist Matthew “Twig” Largess came to look over the situation and make some recommendations. Matt pointed out a number of Norway Maple trees. He explained that they were invasive and removing them should be a priority.

Non-native Norway Maples can be easily mistaken for native Sugar Maples. Imported from England in the early 1700’s to use as a shade tree, Norway maple is a popular urban tree. Unfortunately, Norway trees are harmful to the environment. They grow faster than native maples and displace them. Norway Maple canopies are more dense. They leaf out earlier in the spring and drop foliage later in the fall. Native species are unable to survive under the Norway maple’s dense shade.

In addition, Norway Maple leaves contain a toxic latex that harms insects and pollinators. They also have dense, shallow root systems, which release poisonous chemicals into the soil. This makes it difficult for native seedlings to take root and thrive.

So how does one tell the difference between the two types of maple tree?

  • Norway maple leaves have more lobes, typically 5-7, compared with the sugar maple’s 3-5.
  • The front 3 lobes of the Norway Maple leaves are often wider at the base, and the front three lobes of the Sugar Maple often widen toward the tip.
  • Norway Maple leaves are a darker green.

The leaf differences are subtle, so the best way to identify the tree is to remove a leaf, stalk and all, from its stem. Norway Maple leaf stalks exude a milky white sap if cut or plucked.

  • Norway Maple flowers appear in rounded upright clusters. Sugar Maple flowers droop down.
  • Norway Maple’s winged pair of seeds, samaras, spread more horizontally when hanging, and the seed flat. The Sugar Maple’s samaras are downward-oriented when hanging, and the seed is round rather than flat.
  • Sugar Maples are more colorful in the autumn than Norway Maples.

I took a walk around to neighborhood in search of a Sugar Maple and saw not a one. I did, however, see dozens of Norway Maple trees. I finally found a Sugar Maple at nearby Goddard State Park.

Sugar Maple is tapped for maple syrup, making it a likely candidate for a food forest. Furthermore, the plump seeds of the Sugar Maple samaras are edible. Seeds harvested during spring will be sweeter than those harvested later. If the seeds are bitter in their raw form, they can be roasted with a coating of oil or boiled in water (~15 min) to dissipate the bitterness.

Once the Norway Maples are removed, I’m thinking it would be nice to plant some Sugar Maples at the roadside edge of the wooded lot. I checked the Arbor Day website, and, as a member, I can order 3-4′ saplings for $15.99 each. Sounds like a plan.

I am an Abundance Ambassador for Food Forest Abundance. I invite you to follow my journey around and into the forest, here and through my Story Walking Radio Hour podcasts.

Raspberry & Rosemary

Thursday, July 7, 2022 – I’ve been waiting patiently, and, lo’ and behold, the first wild raspberry of the season popped out today, with a promise of culinary abundance to come.

What’s more, my Rosemary is in flower. Raspberry and Rosemary, sweet and savory, pair well together. I found recipes online for Raspberry-Rosemary Lemonade, Raspberry-Rosemary Scones and Raspberry-Rosemary Jam Bars. While awaiting the fruition of this years raspberry harvest, I decided to infuse some olive oil with rosemary flowers and buds. And, since my garlic scapes are also in flower, I added some of those.

After pouring olive oil in a double boiler, I added the flowers, rolling the rosemary between my palms to release the oils and crumbling the garlic scape flowers apart with my fingers. I heated the oil and flower/bud mixture for ten minutes, and then turned off the heat and to let it all sit for an hour. Then I strained out the herbs and decanted the infusion into a clean bottle. Once I can gather a cup of raspberries, I will use them to make raspberry vinegar from scratch. The ultimate goal here is Raspberry-Rosemary Salad Dressing.

Besides being a versatile culinary ingredient, rosemary is a natural insect repellent, making it valuable for food forest and organic gardening. Aromatic plants are a safer alternative than chemical pesticides. They are better for health and better for the environment.

Raspberry and Rosemary are only the beginning of my Food Forest Adventure. I am an Abundance Ambassador for Food Forest Abundance. This week we received our blueprint to replace our front lawn with forest full of natural culinary abundance, and THAT is just the beginning. I invite you to follow my journey around and into the forest, here and through my Story Walking Radio Hour.