We made the plan that nothing new goes into our homestead that isn’t productive. Well what is productive? We had originally thought you can eat it. There are hundreds of plant species you can eat. Some you use for other properties, but not eating, for example medicinal herbs. Some are only for skin, or tinctures, and are not for consumption. My wife loves her roses. So are they productive? Yes.
Roses actually produce a fruit. Rose hips. Look at many of the herbal teas. At least a few on the shelf contain rose hips. It is the round ball like fruit that comes after a rose bloom has fallen off. You can also use it to make rose hip jelly. The petals can be dries and used in potpourri, you can sugar and eat the petals, you san make rose water from the petals, a nice aromatic. Put in a spray bottle and you have a nice scent to spray on bed linins or even on yourself.
What about a clematis?
Again yes, to a point. While we only had it to disguise a light pole, it attracts and brings in beneficial insects such as bees and other pollinators.
In the American Old West the Western white clematis, Clematis ligusticifolia, was called pepper vine by early travelers and pioneers of the American Old West, who took a tip from Spanish colonials and used seeds and the acrid leaves of yerba de chivato as a pepper substitute. The entire genus contains essential oils and compounds which are extremely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. Unlike black pepper or Capsicum, however, the compounds in clematis cause internal bleeding of the digestive tract if ingested in large amounts. C. ligusticifolia is essentially toxic. Despite its toxicity, Native Americans used very small amounts of clematis as an effective treatment for migraine headaches and nervous disorders. It was also used as an effective treatment of skin infections.Clematis is also a constituent of Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Leaf extracts from two Ethiopian species (Clematis longicauda steud ex A. Rich. and Clematis burgensis Engl.) are used locally to treat ear disorders and eczema. Phytochemical screening of the extracts from both of these species showed antibacterial and antifungal activity.
So we redefined what productive plants are. We now say that it must a beneficial plant to our homestead and property. We now carefully select plants and the available space before getting any new species or seeds. Can we eat it? Can our animals eat it? Does it have any medicinal properties? What insects does it attract or repel? Can we use it for something, cordage, climbing trellis, or will it amend soil conditions. The permaculture courses have really opened our eyes to just beyond what is on our plate.