Vallis Veg Takes The 100 Species Challenge: No Contest!

I have a few posts coming up on annual and perennial plants, or more generally on the relationship between agriculture and plant growth forms. As a preface to this, I thought I might post up a list of plants (and animals) that we’ve deliberately introduced onto our site here at Vallis Veg. I was also prompted to compile the list as a result of a recent discussion with this site’s favourite Ohio-based soya expert on the number of species introduced onto our respective farms.

I don’t want to make any particular points about the list. I think there are about 140 species in it. We’ve probably established a few more that I’ve forgotten about. Not all the animal species are still on site. Some of the perennials we planted unfortunately are no longer with us. Some of the perennials we planted unfortunately are. I don’t grow all of the annuals every year. Some, like buckshorn plantain, I’ll probably never grow again. But overall I think we have in excess of 100 introduced species still onsite this year – not that there’s any particular virtue in that. I’m not an expert on systematics, so maybe some of my ‘species’ designations are suspect. And of course some of the introductions are very minor – just a few individual specimens.But there you have it.

In terms of numbers of species, the balance is roughly 50:50 between perennials and annuals. In terms of biomass, perennials are strongly in the ascendancy, particularly if you add in the ones we haven’t deliberately introduced but are still growing onsite (like the pasture grasses). In terms of our input and our fiscal income the annuals are strongly in the ascendancy…but now I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m not expecting anyone actually to read the list (troubling interior voice: Why not? It’s a lot less turgid than your usual prose). But here it is for better or worse as a written record of our plans, mistakes, and biases. My own initial reaction on looking at it was – why so few invertebrates, fungi, and fish? Doubtless there’s a bias there in modern European farming, though on the latter count maybe it’s also because we have no ponds which have the important property of actually retaining water. Another job to add to the list.

Animals

Anas platyrhynchos Duck

Anser anser Goose

Apis mellifera Bee

Bos taurus Cow

Equus ferus Horse

Felis catus Cat

Gallus gallus Chicken

Homo sapiens Human

Ovis aries Sheep

Sus scrofa Pig

 

Perennial Plants

 

Woody perennials

 

Acer campestre Field maple

Alnus viridis Green alder

Alnus incana Grey alder

Alnus cordata Italian alder

Betula pendula Silver birch

Carpinus betulus Hornbeam

Castanea sativa Sweet chestnut

Cephalotaxus Plum yew

Cornus sanguinea Common dogwood

Corylus avellana Hazel

Crataegus mongyna Hawthorn

Elaeagnus x ebbingei

Elaeagnus umbellata Autumn olive

Euonymus europaeus Spindle

Fagus sylvatica Beech

Ficus carica Fig

Fraxinus excelsior Ash

Hippophae rhamnoides Sea buckthorn

Ilex aquifolium Holly

Juglans regia Walnut

Malus sylvestris Crab apple

Malus domestica Apple

Morus nigra Black mulberry

Origanum majoranum Marjoram

Populus deltoides x Populus trichocarpa Hybrid poplar

Populus tremula Aspen

Prunus avium Wild cherry

Prunus domestica Plum

Prunus spinosa Blackthorn

Pyrus communis Pear

Quercus robur Pendunculate oak

Ribes nigrum Blackcurrant

Ribes uva-crispa Gooseberry

Rosa rugosa Ramanas rose

Rosmarinus officinale Rosemary

Rubus idaeobatus Japanese wineberry

Rubus idaeus Raspberry

Salix caprea Goat willow

Salix viminalis Osier willow

Salvia officnalis Sage

Sorbus aria Whitebeam

Sorbus aucuparia Rowan

Sorbus tormiinalis Wild service

Thymus vulgaris Thyme

Tilia cordata Small leaved lime

Ulmus glabra Wych elm

Viburnum opulus Guelder rose

Xanthoceras sorbifolium Yellowhorn

 

Herbaceous perennials

 

Armoracia rusticana Horse radish

Asparagus officinalis Asparagus

Cynara scolymus Globe artichoke

Dactylis glomerta Cocksfoot

Festuca rubra Red fescue

Helianthus tuberosus Jerusalem artichoke

Holcus lanatus Yorkshire fog

Iris pseudacorus Flag iris

Levisticum officinale Lovage

Lolium multiflorum Italian ryegrass

Lolium perenne Perennial ryegrass

Medicago sativa Lucerne

Phleum pratense Timothy

Plantago lanceolata Buckshorn plantain

Rheum x hybridum Rhubarb

Rumex acetosa Sorrel

Symphytum x uplandicum Comfrey

Trifolium pratense Red clover

Trifolium repens White clover

 

 

Annuals & Biennials

 

 Allium cepa Onion

Allium porrum Leek

Allium sativum Garlic

Amaranthus cruentus Amaranth

Anethum graveolens Dill

Apium graveolens Celery/celeriac

Atriplex hortensis Orache

Beta vulgaris Beetroot, chard, fodder beet, leaf beet

Borago officinalis Borage

Brassica carinata Texel greens

Brassica juncea Oriental mustards

Brassica napus Swede/turnip/radish etc

Brassica oleracea Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, calabrese, kale, kohlrabi etc

Brassica rapa Pak choi, Komatsuna, Mizuna, Mibuna etc

Calendula officinalis Pot marigold

Capiscum annuum Pepper

Centaurea cyanus Cornflower

Chichorium endivia Endive

Chichorium intybus Chicory

Cicer arietinum Chickpea

Cucumis sativus Cucumber

Cucurbita pepo Squash/courgette

Daucus carota Carrot

Eruca sativa Rocket

Fagopyrum esculentum Buckwheat

Foeniculum vulgare Fennel

Helianthus annuus Sunflower

Hordeum vulgare Barley

Lactuca sativa Lettuce

Limnanthes douglasii Poached egg plant

Lupinus spp Lupin

Lycopersicon esculentum Tomato

Medicago lupulina Black medick

Montia perfoliata Winter purslane

Myosotis spp Forget-me-not

Ocimum basilicum Basil

Pastinaca sativa Parsnip

Petroselinum crispum Parsley

Phacelia spp Phacelia

Phaseolus vulgaris French bean

Phaseolus coccineus Runner bean

Physalis peruviana Cape gooseberry

Pisum sativum Pea

Raphanus sativus Radish

Salsola spp Salsola

Scorzonera hispanica Scorzonera

Secale cereale Rye

Sinapsis alba Mustard

 

Solanum melongena Aubergine

Solanum tuberosum Potato

Spinacia oleracea Spinach

Tagetes erecta African marigold

Tagetes patula French marigold

Tragopogon porrifolius Salsify

Trifolium incarnatum Crimson clover

Triticum aestivum Wheat

Tropaeolum spp Nasturtium

Valerianella locusta Corn salad

Vicia faba Broad bean

Vicia sativa Vetch

Xanthophthalmum coronarium Shungiku

Zea mays Maize

 

Fungi

 

Lentinula edodes Shiitake

30 thoughts on “Vallis Veg Takes The 100 Species Challenge: No Contest!

  1. I was blushing until… until my ‘troubling interior voice’ reminded me that being Chris’ ‘favourite’ Ohio-based soya expert isn’t much of an honor when I also qualify as the ‘only’ OBSE on the premises. But still, one needs to respect the notion that another adjective may have been inserted (and quite deservedly)… so I’ll happily go with favourite (even though the spell checker wants something else).

    All this aside, I first want to congratulate you on the list. IT is impressive. And before all the laurels have a chance to dry I’ll also make note of a couple items [what, you think I won’t quibble???] I noticed the inclusion of a certain animal species… from the genus Homo… and I do respect that this one belongs on the list, but it smacks a bit of self-citation. An air of humility could persuade it’s omission – but no, you chose to include us. So congratulations!! I actually consider the nod to Homo sapiens as a member of the natural community a philosophical accomplishment. And thank you very much. 🙂 Rambunctious gardens on planet Earth.

    I missed the potato on the first pass through…and couldn’t believe the intrepid Spudman could allow such an oversight. With such a potentially glaring omission on the table I had to go back and make sure – and such a sigh of relief passed over me when I found it there in its rightful place.

    Congratulations are also in order for passing on the opportunity to pile on the list with multiple crop members of a single species. You’re cole crop list is respectful in this regard.

    I am surprised there is no mention of a dog – Canis lupus familiaris – I’d have imagined a guard for the sheep might be worth a try.

    And there may be a whole host of smaller animalians one could append – worms, butterflies, moths, birds, beetles and other insects (flies for example), and of course – snails; most of which can occur in your region naturally but are present at unnaturally high concentrations on the farm due to attractions of the introduced species and the omission of poisons to prevent them. And before I retire from piling on, I would also give a nod to microbes that surely appreciate all you’re up to and who, like the animals just mentioned, must be much more plentiful on your plot than on neighboring landscapes. The resident members of Homo sapiens are so guilty of all this biodiversity – perhaps a warning sign might be posted along the right-of-way: WARNING: Extreme Biodiversity, next 500 meters!

  2. Oops, I nearly forgot to offer that as the resident OBSE I could do the honorable thing and suggest that if you want to include soybean (Glycine max) on your list in the future I could be persuaded to assist in seed procurement. And I can guarantee GMO free seedstocks if such are essential. I do hesitate in making this offer however – because I’d really not want to be responsible for a Glycine takeover once you witness just how productive and profitable the little guys can be 🙂

  3. Could you recommend a soy variety for a site in SE Australia, Clem? We’d like to grow some small quantities of various grains, legumes, etc on some of the flatter parts of our block. Soils in the creek flats are various nice heavy clays – grows some excellent pasture – and on the other reasonably flat parts suitable for cropping some very fertile volcanic ferrosols. We’re at 200m altitude at close enough to 38S, so we get some frosts in winter down to a few degrees below 0C, summer can get to high 30’s. Annual rainfall is 900-1500mm with usually good summer rainfall.

    • The environment you’re describing should work well for soybean. In fact Australia is home to many wild relatives of the cultivated soybean. There are commercially available sources of seed there as well. If you can’t find any locally, get back to me here or at Gulliver’s Pulse and I can get you some contact information.

      The growing season there is winding down now – yes? So you have plenty of time to get ready for the next season.

      I took a peak at your blog, and it looks interesting. Will try to stop back and take another look sometime.

      All the best,
      Clem

      • Thanks, Clem. I’ll check with local seed suppliers. The farmer we bought the block off while mostly using the property for grazing had grown oats and I think some other grains. There’s a very good local market for oat hay for horse feed as well as the oats. Be interesting to try some soy just on general principles to see what works.

        The blog is mainly by my wife with a focus on urban beekeeping and what we do in sustainability at our house. We have been thinking about adding some posts about the block.

  4. Now then Clem, you’d be surprised at how many Ohio-based soybean experts I encounter in my day to day life. And, believe me, you’re right up there with the best of them.

    I might just have to take you up on your Glycine offer. I’m glad that Small Farm Future is linking up legume enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. Perhaps future archaeobotanists will conclude that Somerset must have been a centre of soybean diversity. And talking of diversity, I loved your suggestion of an extreme biodiversity warning sign. Maybe not though, my neighbours already think I’m crazy.

    I put Homo sapiens on the list because, as you’ll know from my reports on Spudman’s entanglements with bureaucracy, establishing that species as a permanent resident on the site has been pretty much the hardest introduction of the lot. I take your point on humility, but I’m happy to accept your plaudits for the underlying philosophy…

    I’m more of a Felis catus than a Canis lupus kind of a guy, though I must admit that since we’ve moved onto the farm the idea of a Canis lupus has become much more appealing than it ever did before. We have a little Homo sapiens in the household who’d certainly be delighted if we went down that route. Meanwhile Felis catus has thrived since her switch from town to country cat: snoozing in the seedling tunnel and the hay store to keep the rats and mice at bay, and out in all weathers hunting down field voles. The farm seems like the life cats were meant to have. Maybe humans too…

    Best not get me started on the subject of annuals and perennials. Oh, I already have…

    • Dear Sir:
      Our HR folks are in the process of updating personnel business cards. I thought I might add a credential to my card… OBSE. They demurred, but I offered to cite an agricultural expert of international fame as my source for said credential. Next they asked if I could point to any other respected scientist who holds the same credential. So here’s my dilemma – you either need to be telling the truth above, or I need to create some other OBSE types out of thin air [and I’m not above the latter, but thought I’d check with you first 🙂 ].

      Gulliver is fine, thanks for asking…

      • Sorry, but the other OBSEs are very secretive, so it’s strictly no names – I can’t say too much, but we’re working on a crop introduction that may just revolutionize British agriculture. But good luck with your HR folks – we’re rooting for you here.

  5. I noticed you had the European honey bee on the list, Chris. Do you keep bees? Have you picked some of your plants for their bee fodder characteristics?

    My wife is a keen beekeeper. We are planning to put some hives at the block. We’ve had bee fodder as one design element for what we’re planting in the way of trees although of course pasture species and crops can also contribute nectar and pollen. We have been using Mark Leech’s book (see our blog post http://pragmaticsustainability.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/landcare-brings-together-beekeepers-and.html) and several other references for suitable trees. But there’s no local guide or much in the way of experience for designing integrated melliferous agricultural systems including a range of pasture species, trees, crops etc I have the feeling that there might be a lot of relevant vernacular knowledge from traditional European smallholding farms. Which we could learn from and adapt to local conditions. Have you come across any useful guides along these lines?

    Thanks

    David

    • Thanks David. I did keep bees and there’s still a hive on our site, but I started getting allergic to their stings and found myself focusing on other things. I’ve had other people locally looking after the hive – I’d be interested to shift them into a top bar hive. I planted the goat willow as a bee fodder tree but I didn’t otherwise develop a specific bee fodder plan. There are some folks I know locally who may know some things about ‘integrated melliferous agricultural systems’ – what a great phrase! – so I’ll ask around.

      • Look forwards to what you find from your local contacts, Chris. This reference has some interesting things to say about the importance of hedgerows and weeds for pollinator support:

        http://food.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/nicholls-altieri-pollinators.pdf

        Mark Leech mentioned similar opinions about the weeds in Tasmania. But this, of course, is counter to various weed control initiatives. Reflecting the UK settlement past, it’s common to see hawthorn hedges in parts of rural Victoria and Tasmania. Noted for its bee fodder and some other uses such as excellent timber. But this is a declared weed.

        We have an opportunity to pursue this line on our block. Other than a few blackwoods and silver wattles there wasn’t a tree on the place 12 years ago. The previous owners planted some trees, mainly around springs, seeps and the creeks. And a few shelterbelts. We have something of a blank canvas to develop agroforestry systems. On two boundaries we have grazing properties and on the other two boundaries pine and eucalypt plantations. That I’m aware of, there’s no horticulture within 10km or so. So other than farmers getting out with the backpack to whack a few weeds with some Roundup we’re in a good spot with respect to drift contaminants. And, of course, we have lashings of bracing fresh air, sometimes it feels like straight from Antarctica.

        We found three wild honeybee colonies within 20m or so in hollows in dead blackwoods on one boundary. So they’re finding fodder.

    • Not planning on getting the cat to guard the sheep – though it’s interesting to note how watchful they are around her, she obviously pushes their predator alert buttons. One advantage I suppose of Britain’s long historical onslaught against every imaginable predatory animal is that there’s not much need to guard the sheep…apart from against domestic dogs. Slippery slope, that one. I guess the lambs are at risk from foxes and some of the birds, though.

      Maybe Clem could comment on UK soya. I’ve grown chick peas here…though not with huge success. How neat it would be if we could pull off a non-GM soya crop here though eh? Then we wouldn’t have to put up with the ridicule of American pro-GM bloggers concerning EU soya imports.

      • Hmmm, a non-GMO Pan-Euro soy crop. Interesting. I should get right on that.

        There already is a fledgling soy crop in the EU, though not perhaps on your island. Latitude makes most of the difference. But I’ve heard there is still a possibility that soy may one day be raised profitably in the UK. What would it take? Direct human consumption would probably make the biggest contribution. Growing soy for livestock feed probably won’t get the job done. But if a fondness for soymilk, tofu, or edamame could be instilled (or for that matter even a soybean hummus) then the path toward adaptation to your latitude would be lined properly (follow the yellow brick road – or gold brick in this case).

        As for putting up with American pro-GMO bloggers – seriously? Does anyone really care? Talk about your echo chamber.

        • Interesting – there’s plenty of soy eaters around, at least judging by the contents of the health food shops. I wonder if that market is big enough…

          • I’ve a buddy holding down space in Swindon – not TOO far from your farm (at least by Midwest US standards). Anyway, he and I were in different parts of a large company back in the day… and we would talk of trying to establish a soy agriculture on your fair island. It should be possible, but Tom’s reservations are not mere idle notions. From where I sit it may come down to market realities such as costs to import from somewhere like, well, here… vs cost to grow local with an unadapted type until such time as a more adapted type can be bred and multiplied. Almost a chicken v. the egg sort of puzzle. OR, if some intrepid market gardener with very deep pockets could be persuaded…

  6. I’m surprised that you don’t have trouble with foxes at lambing season. They cause terrible damage here. Next door put out 200 baits on her two properties. They were all taken. Farmers will regularly tell of how they had shooters in and the numbers they shot. The foxes were introduced by early settlers. Unfortunately, they’ve cut a swathe through much of the local wildlife and cause a lot of stock problems.

    And crows do all sorts of damage to newborns. The alpaca farm up the road in Mirboo North:

    http://pragmaticsustainability.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/alpaca-farm-visit.html

    has to bring newborn alpacas into a shed or they end up with eyeless alpacas.

    Wild dogs are another problem in Australia. There’s some speculation that there is effectively a native wolf developing. Again, they cause awful stock losses.

    • Well I’m a novice shepherd, but yes you’re right – foxes do take lambs, and crows are a nuisance. Not sure how much a dog will help, but it’s worth considering. Still, at least we don’t have to worry about year-round protection.

      • Interesting. The picture of a fox in England conjures notions of nobility dressed in weird outfits with funny hats, sitting astride mammoth equine beasts and blowing on a small horn. Beagles running all about, sniffing here and yon. Is this no longer the case? What has the world come to??

        • Well the last Labour government banned fox hunting, earning the undying enmity of said nobility in funny hats (though the enmity was already there – Labour and the nobility have previous). Then they went in with Bush’s Iraq adventure, earning the undying enmity of just about everyone else. So then we got a coalition of Conservatives and Lib Dems, with the nobility still wearing the funny hats and pretending not to hunt foxes. Will be interesting to see what happens in May – a Green/UKIP power share could be entertaining. Meanwhile, I rather doubt that the funny-hatted crew have ever had much effect on fox numbers. Farmers with rifles, maybe. Perhaps under the circumstances a dog is my best option…

          • I have been reading the comments with interest, always fun to see the turns they take. I was impressed with not only the detailed list but that you made one. Kudos!

            But as to the fox hunting, our farm buts up onto a couple of hundred acre fox hunting preserve. The foxes are released and hunted…at night. Here in the foothills of Appalachia hunting foxes, bear and raccoons always is a nighttime activity. No mounted nobility in funny hats, just down home boys stomping through the woods with their Plott hounds. I can hear them hollering back and forth to the dogs on cold December nights.

            Occasionally a dog gets lost. These dogs always have a collar with a name and address. On two occasions we have delivered the dog back to the owner in the middle of the night. The poor hunter returned at daybreak after searching for his all night to find them beast tied to his porch.

            But we have never lost any lambs to foxes, or crows for that matter. Coyotes are becoming a nuisance. But they mainly grab the wandering goose or chicken. Our dogs seem to keep most of them at bay. Skunks and black rat snakes are our worst predators, again poultry are the targets. One rat snake can kill a dozen chicks in the space of an hour.
            Cheers,

          • Boy, now I’m stuck with the image of a rat snake with 3 to 4 chick size bulges along its length.

            If said rat snake ventured home across the pasture and ended up prey to an eagle… (eagle abundance in East Tennessee not withstanding) it would help me sleep tonight.

          • Hello, Brian. Enjoy reading your blog.

            Fox hunting in Australia appears to be a somewhat more prosaic activity in Australia than in the US or the UK. It generally involves a spotlight and a rifle and cartridge combination capable of a nice flat trajectory out to 200m or so. Any hollering between hunters is likely to be over the relative merits of a .243 or a .223 and how many grains of propellant in the cartridge, bullet weight etc 🙂

            I’m very surprised to hear that crows and foxes aren’t a problem with lambs in your area. You would think that Corvus species would have similar dietary preferences north and south hemispheres. The fox species we have so much trouble with in Australia is the European Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes. From a quick WWW search it looks like there’s a number of fox species in the US. Maybe there’s some differences in their preferred diet. Or perhaps the hunting pressure in the US keeps their numbers down. I can remember 20 years ago seeing serried ranks of hunters along the road bordering a game area near the north rim of the Grand Canyon at the start of deer season. Not sure what the life expectancy of a deer showing an antler would have been but not long, I suspect.

  7. Clem,
    You have the right image. The rat snake is an opportunistic killer. It will get into a brooder and kill a half dozen or more. Then it begins eating. We catch them when we go to feed. It will have two to three clearly visible chicks in its length. At that point it can’t get back out the hole. I don’t mind most snakes around the barn. They are clearly beneficial. But the rat snakes have such a nasty temper. So I bring out the .410 and dispose of them.
    I’ll have to repost a blog from the archives that had me trying to catch a rat snake and Cindy screaming each time I tried to grab it. Now, that scream echoing in your head would keep you up at night.

    • Rat snake addendum: little matches the atavistic horror of collecting eggs after dark and reaching ones hand into a dark nesting box to find only the thick slowly moving coils of a black rat snake.

  8. Have you ever heard of Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea)?? I hadn’t, but based on native range (Northern, NA – esp Canada) I’m guessing it might work for you. It appears to be a non-leguminous N-Fixer (yes Tom, I’m thinking of you). A small shrub, so I’m guessing perennial as well. And with a genus name like Shepherdia… how can you go wrong?

    Fruits are edible but sour: jellies, jams, syrup and sauce (ala cranberry) are possible. Bears appear to like them… a recommendation that commands some attention.

    Two hundred species the next goal??

  9. Thanks for the further deliberations above. Buffaloberry indeed sounds interesting. And how much more interesting would it be if I also introduced some bears around here to eat them? The last local bears alas were poor creatures that were used for bear-baiting in a pit not so far from my site, but that was a few hundred years ago.

    Of snakes, foxes and crows – all very interesting. Crows steal our hen & duck eggs (impressive how they fit them in their beaks), but we have no snake attacks in the hen house. I’ve seen a couple of grass snakes on our site of quite impressive size – though impressive size for a snake here probably isn’t so big. It’s tough being a snake in Britain…

    And on bees, this from a beekeeping friend:

    I’ve never planted specifically for bees other than in small scale gardening. I recently noticed the bees returning to our hive with very bright orange pollen. When I googled this I found a website which suggests plant sources for different pollen types which gave snow drops and grey alder as possibilities. The interesting thing about this is that alder is wind pollinated and yet bees still help themselves. Armed with the possibility of learning something about which plants are being used by my bees it occurs to me that I could match the bees behavior to my plantings. i.e fill in lean times and bolster flows. Another idea would be to plant for the type of honey that you want. Given a blank canvas manuka would be a smart commercial move in Australia.

    • Thanks, Chris. A regular, dependable flow of pollen and nectar is what we’re designing for. Although, one of the old men of the bees at my wife’s bee club says that nectar in winter can be a problem as the honey might not get dried to the correct moisture content and capped in which case it will ferment. See http://www.honeybeesuite.com/uncapped-honey-fermenting-in-the-comb/ and http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/443709/Removing-honey-from-the-hive.pdf.

      Many Australian tree species have large but irregular nectar flows. So, to borrow a term from the world of finance, a portfolio of nectar producers is useful. And pollen is important to the hive as protein.

      That’s probably about enough on bees from me but I’ll finish up by saying that they do attract a lot of academic research, often by well known scientists. My wife trained as a zoologist. She’s a keen amateur beekeeper and does a bit of citizen science on our hive. She’s come across some very clever, quirky studies in apiculture.

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