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The Siberian elm and our new ecosystem Home Steading

When I write about the use of invasives, I can usually expect a lot of hate. Therefore, I say that in advance: I know the terrible side of the Siberian Elm, Ulmus Pumila, very well. It invariably infiltrates, grows tirelessly, absorbs the groundwater needed by our beautiful native poplars and is generally regarded as a garbage tree. It has changed the entire ecology of the Rio Grande Bosque. I understand all this.

But here's the thing: while brochures and online sites are dedicated to the fight against the Siberian elm, the fight is over and this tree has already won the war. It is everywhere and can not be eradicated. The way I see it, we might as well test whether we can use it well. And since I'm just writing about my own little home, I'm not looking at how to use hundreds of acres of it well, but how to use it in half an acre. It grows lustily even in our dry desert climate, and there are large areas where it's the only green thing, so I'm a little thankful to him. But I do not allow it in my garden because I want to have other trees there and because it is everywhere as soon as I step in front of my gate.

For me, the uses of food are limited. I've written about edible Samaras or seed pods before, and I will not go into it here except that they have a pleasant green-mild taste and are made in incredible amounts every spring, and the chickens like them just like me. As I continue to study permaculture, I experiment more with tree leaves that are used for culinary purposes, but I can only find plenty of Siberian elm leaves in the beautiful spot Eat the weedswhere I find that the young leaves are edible cooked. I admit that this does not sound enterprising for me, but I have not tried it yet. I have so many other green things to eat that it will probably take some time for me to do this experiment. I can not find any nutritional value analysis on their use as feed, though I have found a clue that says they could be a potential source of high protein feed for animals.

But when it comes to nutritious food, I usually let my beloved old dairy goat Magnolia make its own decisions. And there's no question that Siberian elm is her favorite food and one of the few foods she'll never get full. So over the years, I let Siberian elms grow at my longest fence and cut them back over the top of the fence. New branches grow below the cuts at astonishing speed, and Maggie eats them throughout the summer as an almost exclusive diet. She is thin by nature, but loses no weight during the 6-7 months of her elm diet, and her enthusiasm never goes away. The usual life expectancy of a domestic goat is 9 to 11 years and it pushes to 13, so I do not think that it has harmed her anything. The food is free, as local as it gets, and provides me with a lot of mostly unwanted exercises in cutting and pulling. The suitcases occupy the room along the hot oven of the open space and I do not give them water to survive what they can find for themselves. There's no doubt they look scratched between the cuttings, but I can tolerate that to make Maggie so happy. And if I ever get hungry enough, I'll try to eat it myself.

The chickens also love the leaves when they are young and tender. You could eat the harder late summer leaves when cut, but I do not bother if there are so many other greens for them.

I'm mainly talking about animal feed here, but when I talk about possible human uses, I feel compelled to say a few sensible things about wild and unknown foods:

1. Never assume that you can eat it because an animal can eat it. In particular, goats are able to eat some plants that are toxic to other animals, including humans. The metabolism of Magnolia is wired differently than mine.

2. Never assume that the entire plant is edible, as part of it is edible. Robinia flowers and elderflower are delicious, but the leaves and stems are poisonous. There is no substitute for the study of reliable authorities.

3. Never assume that you can eat it because other people, including reliable authorities, can eat it. Try a small amount of new food and wait a day before trying any more.

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