Monday, June 25, 2012

Top 100: Prostrate Herbs (Miner's Lettuce)

This is the second of a series of posts that will cover the "Top 100" forest garden plants taken from volume 1 of the Edible Forest Gardens books. We started with the fungi and are now up to the prostrate herbs. There are a lot of useful ones so this is only the start of the list.


Miner's Lettuce - Montia perfoliata
Hardiness zone 4, full sun to part shade, clumping, self-seeds, 6-12 in. x 6-12 in., edible leaves, ground cover (image above)

Siberian Miner's Lettuce - Montia siberica
Hardiness zone 4, full sun to part shade, clumping, self-seeds, 8-12 in. x 8-12 in., edible leaves, ground cover

Greg Tilford, in his excellent Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, says, "Of all edible [wild] plants, miner's lettuce stands out as one of the most palatable . . . the leaves and stems of this group of plants taste almost identical to lettuce . . . Miner's lettuce stays tender and sweet throughout its growth cycle." In addition to its delectable status, miner's lettuce makes a fine ground cover in moist soils with partial to very dense shade. Both species listed here are native to western North America. Miner's lettuce is an annual or short-lived perennial that self-sows to form a dense carpet. This species is cultivated commercially as a salad green with a truly delicious flavor. It tolerates somewhat dry soils, unlike Siberian miner's lettuce, a clumping perennial that spreads freely by seed. Its leaves taste good, except when the plant is flowering.

Foamflower - Tiarella cordifolia
Hardiness zone 3, part to full shade, running, 6-12 in. x indefinitely spreading, ground cover, specialist nectary

This beautiful shade-loving plant is one of our best native ground covers. It forms attractive clumps and drifts, spreading indefinitely. Foamflower is a specialist nectary, attracting beneficial insects in spring. You can find foamflower in rich woods throughout our region.

White Clover - Trifolium repens
Hardiness zone 4, full sun to part shade, running, 4-10 in. x indefinitely spreading, fixes nitrogen, ground cover, edible leaves

This tireless workhorse deserves a place in virtually every forest garden. It is a fine candidate for sunny pathways, as it will tolerate substantial foot traffic. It is (somewhat) edible, and it fixes nitrogen like a champ. The stems creep and root as they go, forming mats. White clover is well suited as a ground-covering polyculture companion to accompany crop shrubs or larger herbs. It is a good generalist nectary and a preferred cover and egg-laying site for many beneficial insects. Unlike many forest garden species, white clover is widely available. You can easily start it from seed right in the ground where you want it. Inoculate to ensure nitrogen fixation.


Canada Violet - Viola canadensis
Hardiness zone 4, full sun to part shade, running, 6-16 in. x indefinitely spreading, edible leaves and flowers

Labrador Violet - Viola labradorica
Hardiness zone 3, full sun to part shade, evergreen running, 4 in. x indefinitely spreading, edible leaves and flowers

Sweet Violet - Viola odorata
Hardiness zone 4, full sun to part shade, evergreen running, 6-8 in. x indefinitely spreading, edible leaves and flowers

These attractive little flowers are excellent under-story species for forest gardens. All have edible leaves and flowers, but let us warn you, some taste much better than others do. As a rule, yellow-flowering types have more bitterness. Nonetheless, good-tasting violets exist for almost any site condition you may have. We have listed only a few; learn your own native species! In addition to the runners profiled here, there are also many nice clumping types. Labrador violet, from chilly northern New England and Canada, makes an excellent ground cover: it is semievergreen, dense, and matlike. Unfortunately, the somewhat woolly leaves are not particularly palatable. Sweet violet makes a good, vigorous, evergreen ground cover. The leaves are by far the sweetest of any violet we have tried. It functions best in areas free of scorching hot summers. Canada violet is a fine native with good-flavored leaves and flowers.

Barren Strawberry - Waldsteinia fragarioides
Hardiness zone 4-7, full sun to part shade, evergreen running, 4-8 in. x indefinitely spreading, ground cover

Barren strawberry is another fantastic native ground cover. It spreads rapidly and forms a dense carpet, and it is one of the best evergreen ground covers for full sun. The plants closely resemble strawberries, to which they are closely related, but their small, green fruit is not edible.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Mahabharata (book 1.XCVI)

In that portion of the astral plane commonly referred to as heaven, Ganga was late again for Lord Brahma’s lecture. She scrambled to pull up her lehenga and throw on her dupatta (forgetting to secure it) and then ran. When she entered the courtyard, Brahma paused in his discourse and all assembled turned to look at her. If she wasn’t yet embarrassed, the sudden gust of astral wind that blew off her dupatta leaving her exposed made certain she was.

All immediately looked away, and while she was feeling foolish, she felt a bit disappointed that no one cared to steal a glimpse. Covering herself with her arms, she turned to leave when she noticed Mahabhisha staring which lifted her spirits. She lowered her arms suggestively while puckering her lips in his direction.

"Mahabhisha! Ganga! What do the two of you think you are doing? This is heaven for God’s sake!" It was Brahma. "Cover yourself," he said to Ganga as her dupatta appeared in her hands.

"I’m quite dissappointed in you Mahabhisha. I think you need to take birth on earth and learn a lesson or two about lust. And you Ganga are going to teach him. I have spoken," concluded Brahma as he deastralized from view, returning to his abode in the causal plane before either one could argue.

Mahabhisha took Brahma’s command seriously, for he knew his inability to resist a beautiful woman was something he needed to work on. Having been a successful king during past lifetimes on earth, he submitted a request for King Pratipa of Hastinapura to be his father.

Ganga on the other hand didn’t know what to think Me teach? then decided Brahma couldn’t have been serious. She was, though, feeling somewhat aroused after her experience with Mahabhisha and thought a trip to earth might be just the right cure.

Ganga was the apsara for the river Ganges, so she materialized herself on earth in her river form, and was immediately aware of all activity in her waters and on her banks. It was early morning and most were still asleep when she noticed a fit and muscular man with greying temples sitting on her bank. His legs were tightly folded and he had his eyes closed and back straight. She rose from the water in her human form and walked quietly onto the bank to stand before him.

He remained motionless, apparently not aware he had a visitor. She then sat on his right thigh and draped her arms around him to announce her arrival. The man opened his eyes and was quite startled to see this beautiful woman on his lap, but maintained his steady posture nonetheless.

"Is there something I can do for you?" he asked.

"There most certainly is! You can marry me so that we may make passionate love right here and now," she replied enthusiastically.

"I am sorry, but I’m afraid I'll have to decline."

Stunned, Ganga replied, "Am I not beautiful beyond measure? Am I not worthy of being enjoyed in every way?" With her displeasure subsiding, she continued more positively, "I will please you in ways beyond your imagination, so how can you refuse me?"

The man then knew she was an apsara and told Ganga how he and his wife were unable to have children, so they consulted a sage for advice on whether he should take another wife. The sage told them that even a hundred wives would not produce a child, however, ascetic penances would.

"So since I’m now committed to celibacy, I cannot accept your offer." Seeing her disappointment, his heart opened to her and he continued, "But did you know it is customary for a man's wife to sit on his left lap and for his daughter to sit on the right? So since you've chosen my right lap, and if God does grant me a son, I can then accept you as my daughter-in-law instead." to which her face lit up again. She gave her father-in-law-to-be a hug, disappeared back into the river and returned to heaven in excited anticipation.

Brahma was deeply pleased with the man’s adherence to his commitment and granted him the son he desired. His wife conceived that very day, as Brahma accepted the request from a soul in heaven wishing to be this man’s son: it was Mahabhisha. When he was born nine months later, King Pratipa and the Queen named him Santanu.


1. Derived from: Adi Parva, Section XCVI, p. 207.

2. Ganga's proposal: Adi Parva, Section XCVII, p. 208.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Economic Realities (chapter 6)

In chapter 6 of the book "Earth Awakens: Prophecy 2012 - 2030" the Founders provide some practical investment recommendations for making the transition to the Golden Age.

It is our understanding that the American and European currencies will likely decline dramatically between 2012 and 2015, resulting in severe hyperinflation or depression, depending on how the central banks respond to the deepening crisis. At the same time, the value of real goods (including gold, silver and agricultural commodities) will rise significantly.

Real estate was hyper-inflated for many years due to speculation. In 2006 the bubble burst and it has been declining ever since. We anticipate that it will continue to drop for a while and then stabilize and eventually climb, since land and buildings are real assets. However, it is likely that by the time it appreciates significantly in value, housing and land will only be available to those who have gold, silver and precious metals as collateral.

It is recommended that you prepare for the collapse by prioritizing your investments as follows:
  • (1) buy land and grow your own food while you still can;
  • (2) buy gold, silver and other precious metals (have the metal on hand in a safe place);
  • (3) keep cash on hand rather than deposited in the bank;
  • (4) keep liquid assets, such as checking accounts and credit/debit cards;
  • (5) invest in forward-thinking companies that have excellent management and are contributing to the well-being of the world (such as alternative energy and environmental cleanup companies).
Remember, this is in order of priority. If you only have enough money for some of these, make sure items (1) and (2) are handled first.

I've written before about the importance of investing in gold, and here the Founders confirm the soundness of that advice, but even more important is buying land and growing food. While I've been growing food in my back yard as a learning exercise, I still have yet to purchase my one hectare of land as recommended by Anastasia for building a home and growing a food forest.

So while it is certainly possible to go it alone, I would much prefer to do so in a group as there is strength in numbers. I'm thinking of around 10 families buying around 100 acres or 40 hectares. If each family takes one hectare, then that still leaves plenty of space for growth as children become adults, marry and need their own hectare. The key to success though lies in having a shared vision of a Golden Age Ecovillage.

The Founders have much to say about this topic which I'll be sharing in future posts.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Conversations with God

In my opinion, the most important thing we need to know is who we are and what our purpose is. The Complete Conversations with God is my favorite source for these answers. I have mentioned this/these books in many posts, but have not quoted from them much, so I will correct that here with a lengthy excerpt.

All physical life functions in accordance with natural laws. Once you remember these laws, and apply them, you have mastered life at the physical level.

What seems like punishment to you—or what you would call evil, or bad luck—is nothing more than a natural law asserting itself.

Then if I were to know these laws, and obey them, I would never have a moment’s trouble again. Is that what you’re telling me?

You would never experience your Self as being in what you call “trouble.” You would not understand any life situation to be a problem. You would not encounter any circumstance with trepidation. You would put an end to all worry, doubt, and fear. You would live as you fantasize Adam and Eve lived—not as disembodied spirits in the realm of the absolute, but as embodied spirits in the realm of the relative. Yet you would have all the freedom, all the joy, all the peace, and all the wisdom, understanding and power of the Spirit you are. You would be a fully realized being.

This is the goal of your soul. This is its purpose—to fully realize itself while in the body; to become the embodiment of all that it really is.

This is My plan for you. This is My ideal: that I should become realized through you. That thus, concept is turned into experience, that I might know my Self experientially.

The Laws of the Universe are laws that I laid down. They are perfect laws, creating perfect function of the physical.

Have you ever seen anything more perfect than a snowflake? Its intricacy, its design, its symmetry, its conformity to itself and originality from all else—all are a mystery. You wonder at the miracle of this awesome display of Nature. Yet if I can do this with a single snowflake, what think you I can do—have done—with the universe?

Were you to see the symmetry of it, the perfection of its design—from the largest body to the smallest particle—you would not be able to hold the truth of it in your reality. Even now, as you get glimpses of it, you cannot yet imagine or understand its implications. Yet you can know there are implications—far more complex and far more extraordinary than your present comprehension can embrace. Your Shakespeare said it wonderfully: There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Then how can I know these laws? How can I learn them?

It is not a question of learning, but of remembering.

How can I remember them?

Begin by being still. Quiet the outer world, so that the inner world might bring you sight. This in-sight is what you seek, yet you cannot have it while you are so deeply concerned with your outer reality. Seek, therefore, to go within as much as possible. And when you are not going within, come from within as you deal with the outside world. Remember this axiom:

If you do not go within, you go without.

Put it in the first person as you repeat it, to make it more personal:
If I do not
go within
go without

You have been going without all your life. Yet you do not have to, and never did.

There is nothing you cannot be, there is nothing you cannot do. There is nothing you cannot have.