Sunday, May 20, 2012

Garry Oak Gardening

Giant Camas in a restored meadow at Padden Lagoon, Bellingham
Late last fall Mom, Katrina, and I seeded several wonderfully edible Garry Oak Ecosystem species.  So far, the Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana), Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), Common Camas (Camassia quamash), and Giant Camas (C. leichtlinii) have all come up.  Garry Oaks are a strongly taprooted species and the roots had already made it down to the bottom of the pint-sized pots and started to circle around (which probably isn't too good for the trees).  Mom transferred them into 3-gallon pots where they will continue to grow until next year.  I want them to be large enough that we can put tubes around their trunks to protect the bark from voles, which often girdle trees planted in grassy fields.

The twisted tepals of Giant Camas (left) and disheveled tepals of Common Camas (right)

Starts of Miner's Lettuce (left), Common Camas (middle) and Giant Camas (right)
Our Miner's Lettuce germinated decently from seed.  It is almost done flowering now, so I wanted to get it transplanted someplace that it can reseed itself for next year.  I decided to plant the Miner's Lettuce in with normal garden vegetables so it can provide a winter cover crop.  Both the Common and Giant Camas germinated very well.  You can already tell them apart.  The grass-like leaves of the Giant Camas are twice as thick as the Common Camas.  Katrina and I planted the Camas in garden rows so that they can continue to grow until we are ready to establish a more permanent Garry Oak garden.

Acorn Bread
To celebrate, Katrina cooked up our first batch of leavened acorn bread.  She just substituted leached acorns for corn in a cornbread recipe (acorn flour, wheat flour, eggs, maple syrup, oil, baking powder, and homemade sea salt) and the result was phenominal!  I can't wait to share it with others.  It has a chocolate color like brownies with a rich, nutty flavor, soft fluffy texture, and NO bitterness.  I don't think I'll go back to flat bread for a while.
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