Planet X Town Hall

Socrates & R.R. Book - PERMACULTURE, and methods for gathering food and water => PERMACULTURE => Topic started by: R.R. Book on March 10, 2017, 08:17:11 AM

Title: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on March 10, 2017, 08:17:11 AM
Hi all,

Socrates, thank you for your wisdom and your passionate stewardship of the earth.  This sub-thread is focused upon homesteads north of the Mason-Dixon line, but Southerners may have lots to contribute as well.

I've spent the past several years intensively studying and experimenting with Eric Toensmeier's book Perrennial Vegetables, and here is what I have learned:

Some edible species which are so invasive that they may be illegal in some Southern locations may be suitable for Northern gardens as dieback perennials.  One invasive that carries the potential to be a reliable northern starvation ration is sunchokes, aka Jerusalem artichokes, which are essentially a sunflower and one of many alternative species of potato or sweet potato.  Even a small remnant of one of these tubers may be used to amass a whole colony of plants in a short period of time.  This plant allows northerners to overwinter something more nutrient-dense than salad greens.

The Nutrition Data website gives the following nutritional profile for a cup of uncooked Sunchoke tubers: 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 26g carbohydrates including 2g fiber, 3g protein, 10% daily vitamin C and 20% daily iron. If that raw bit of sunchoke were brushed with olive oil or butter and sprinkled with sea salt, the nutritional profile would be still more enhanced.  Some fingerling potatoes are also hardy enough to be left in the ground to overwinter, and Fedco of Maine carries a selection, as well as Roninger's Potato Farm in Colorado.

Toensmeier challenges northerners to re-think the severely limited number of species that we consider to be food.  Sunchokes are in essence a northern type of potato.  Sea kale can be thought of as perpetual northern broccoli.  Lovage satisfies the cooking requirement for both parsley and celery, and is medicinal as well as being a bee magnet.  Chives replace onions in the garden, and there is a kind of patented French sorrel which forms tidy clumps and does not bolt (go to flower and then die back) that is available from Richter's in Canada or Food Forest Farm in Massachusetts which satisfies the need for perpetual greens, in addition to many other spinach-like species that will overwinter in the north.  Skirret is the northern perennial carrot/parsnip, available at Oikos Tree Crops of Michigan.

Any other thoughts?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on March 10, 2017, 05:02:21 PM
Thanks for your thoughtful post, R.R.Book.

Jerusalem Artichokes are as you describe and here's my addendum.  Here in Missouri's Ozarks in southeast MO, I grew them years ago and unfortunately planted them in our well-dug garden, where they did become invasive.  Had I realized that even in our temperate climate their potential I would have planted them outside the garden where they would be better kept in check.

So I dug and dug and finally got rid of them, and now have regretted it ever since.  I want to re-start them as I agree with everyone who taks of their high nutritient qualities.  We found they are great baked with potatoes, onions, etc., as long as they are not broken open.  But slice them open and bake them, and every single thing in the dish tastes like Jerusalem Artichokes!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Socrates on March 11, 2017, 04:38:54 AM
My focus has always been toward semi-arid 'gardening' but Paul Wheaton (http://www.permies.com) is possibly the world's most influential permaculture facilitator and he's up in cooler regions [Montana]. Listening to him i picked up a few extremely interesting facts that i'd never considered before, like
- soil holds onto it's value must longer and easier in colder regions since bacteria and other lifeforms die off or go dormant in winter. In warmer regions, everything gets eaten up much quicker [assuming you can keep it moist].
- though higher [in the Northern hemisphere] latitudes have sunlight that is a bit less intense, the fact that there are more hours in the day levels the playing field. Assuming you can take advantage of the extra hours [and your plants don't end up in the shade at some point or something], there's no reason most plants shouldn't have enough (i.e. compared to more southernly regions).

Hey, if the world goes into some sort of nuclear winter, it could be that people in now semi-arid regions then find themselves dealing with conditions people farther away from the equator are used to dealing with; it's good to know a few things about the differences.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on March 11, 2017, 02:19:59 PM
Hi Ilinda, I hope you get your separate sunchoke patch up and growing again, even if only for the extra peace of mind in knowing it's a reliable staple crop.  A friend of mine who farms 90 acres just keeps his on one big open mound at one end of his farm, not even in or near a garden.  I have them growing in dedicated quarantined beds at opposite ends of my little homestead, and just maintain paths around them for access.

Socrates, Thank you for all the great links that you post.  It will take me some time to digest all of your shared material.

Some other northern analog crops to share: Instead of tomatoes, there are sweet distant relatives such as cape gooseberries/ground cherries (similar growth habit to tomatilloes) that self-sow prolifically.  The pineapple flavored variety (Aunt Molly's) tastes awesome and fruits heavily the same season it's planted, but causes me to break out in hives, so allergy sufferers should be cautious. 

Alternatively, cherry tomatoes are perpetual if overwintered in a pot indoors, as are pepper plants.  Tumbling Tom cherry tomatoes make a gorgeous hanging basket both indoors and out.

Dandelion offers both a source of greens and a source of carotenes in the flower, which is a delicacy pan grilled in butter.

Although Good King Henry is touted as a kind of spinach, I find the seed head on the tops of the plants to be far more interesting and edible.  This plant is in the amaranth family and the abundant seed, which should be soaked overnight before using, is similar to quinoa, which provides a substitute for the taste of corn for dishes such as grits.  The plant makes a reliable and handsome medium-tall crop row in the garden.

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on March 22, 2017, 11:51:53 AM
Adding a few more northern perennial permaculture crops that I'm experimenting with, some of which are variants of weeds!

Garlic chives - has both the garlic and onion flavor in one convenient crop.  Richter's of Canada carries started plug packs.

Groleau chives, also available at Richter's, is a cultivar for growing indoors under low-lighting conditions.

Dandelions that have been selected for non-bitterness (though the bitterness is actually beneficial for liver and GB) -   Cultivars Vollherzigen and Full Heart are available as started plants at Oikos Tree Crops.

Miners' lettuce or Claytonia seeds from Sowtrueseed.com

Chickweed seeds from Sowtrueseed.com (A half cup contains 375 mg of vitamin C, which is several times as much as an orange contains, so it's a good non-citrus source of C for northerners - see one of my favorite websites, the Plants for a Future database, for more details).
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on March 22, 2017, 04:30:35 PM
Adding a few more northern perennial permaculture crops that I'm experimenting with, some of which are variants of weeds!

Garlic chives - has both the garlic and onion flavor in one convenient crop.  Richter's of Canada carries started plug packs.

Groleau chives, also available at Richter's, is a cultivar for growing indoors under low-lighting conditions.

Dandelions that have been selected for non-bitterness (though the bitterness is actually beneficial for liver and GB) -   Cultivars Vollherzigen and Full Heart are available as started plants at Oikos Tree Crops.

Miners' lettuce or Claytonia seeds from Sowtrueseed.com

Chickweed seeds from Sowtrueseed.com (A half cup contains 375 mg of vitamin C, which is several times as much as an orange contains, so it's a good non-citrus source of C for northerners - see one of my favorite websites, the Plants for a Future database, for more details).
And according to some goat books, chickweed is higher in copper than many plants which makes it good for goats, as copper in the system tends to be unpalatable to intestinal parasites.  It doesn't kill them, per se, but they don't like the environment.

And for humans, it's good to know of plants with important trace minerals, as well as good ol' vitamin C.
Title: Re: chickweed
Post by: Socrates on March 22, 2017, 06:53:13 PM
I loves me chickweed!  :P
And it's all over the place this time of year here in Holland. Thank you! for letting me know it's a good source of copper. I've actually made colloidal copper before to make sure i get enough; now i know that i just have to harvest more chickweed.  :D
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Solani on March 26, 2017, 03:08:57 PM
Not sure what sub/category to write this. Let me know where to move it if it's in the wrong place.  8)

Growing potatoes in colder climate

I REALLY need to stop typing directly online... :( and type whatever in a document on my computer first. I don’t know how many times I’ve lost everything I’ve written, before I’ve been able to push the post button… Heck! I even think about the possibility of losing whatever loooooong post I’m writing before it happens. You’d think that would give me a clue??!? *ARRRRG*

So, here’s the second version for today… :P

What I’m writing here is how I’ve grown potatoes for many years now. Having lived in Sweden, where even if it does get very cold in the winters, potatoes grow successfully in large fields or in folks’ gardens. My house/property which I left when I moved over here to Canada is built on “mountain” and I only had a foot of earth/dirt before hitting bedrock, which made it a pain in the rear to plant stuff such as potatoes, carrots and other root veggies.

Coming here to Canada last winter to live with Dan I decided to “upgrade” my way of growing potatoes. Potatoes would most likely grow directly in the earth here as well but, season is shorter than it is in Sweden. In Sweden I would grow potatoes in layers of old car tires, stacked on each other as the potato plants grew. Here at Dan’s place I not only found LOTS of car tires but also many large old rear tractor tires. Geeez, sometimes I feel that what I can’t find out here, most likely doesn’t exist!! ;) Dan is a long time “hoarder” from everything to scrap metal, machinery, vehicles, tools (new and old) and much more… Took me the better part of last year to clear the first floor of the house…  :o Not to mention all the “fights” when I wanted to junk something that hmmm… “could be good to have”. I was lucky that his sister came up from Mississippi last summer for a month long visit and she took most of the “battles”.  ;D Didn’t throw everything away but, anything that doesn’t serve a purpose inside the house, had to “move out", into one of the many buildings outside. Anyhow… got sidetracked… ;)

I chose to use the large rear tractor tires for my “potato grow-op…” Same way as I would grow in the car tires but bigger. (bigger = more potatoes without more work...  ::) ) First I put down a 1-foot layer of straw on the ground where I was going to place the tires. Hauled the tires with the tractor and laid them down on top of the straw-beds I’d made. Next I took/take straw mixed with dirt and fill the sides (inner walls) of the tires to insulate from the cold but also it helps keep the moisture and warmth in the soil where the potatoes will grow. Also that the tires are black, makes it warmer…

I pre-plant my potatoes in gallon buckets of well fertilized soil. I use a mix of chicken and 2-year-old horse poop as fertilizing agent. When the potato plants have grown to be about 4 inches tall and have sprouted a healthy set of green leaves I bring the buckets outside during the daytime and set them next to the tires when the outside temperature during the day is warm, so they can get used to being outside before I permanently plant them in the tires. I mix the soil in the bottom tire with same type of fertilizer.

I also make sure that hopefully the frosty nights have past before permanently planting the potatoes outside. I water the prepared soil in the tires the evening before I plant the “potato babies”, giving it a thorough soak. Come morning I’m up with the sun and transfer the baby potato plants to the soil in the tires. You can fit about 8 – 10 potato plants in one large rear tractor tire and 4 potatoes in a car tire. One difference if using car tires, you need to start out with 2 tires stacked on each other, since they aren’t as “deep” as a rear tractor tire. You can also do a similar variation using a big plastic rain barrel. Just make sure you have a ring of holes drilled in the bottom of the barrel so water won’t collect and rot your potatoes from the bottom up. You can also place a layer of fist size rocks in the bottom of the barrel. The barrel method is a good way for someone that lives in a city that perhaps only has a balcony to plant their own potatoes. Just make sure you have a deep platter or dish under the barrel so your neighbor under you doesn’t have a conniption due to getting “rained on”.  ;)

Hmmm… back to the tractor potatoes…   :P
 
OK, so now we have the potato babies planted in the tires… Make sure to have a big pile of straw ready just in case it looks like it’s going to freeze during the night, so you can pile that straw on top of your potato plants during the night. Potatoes are quite hardy once they’ve adapted to being outside but don’t do all that well with frost during the first week or so when newly planted outside. The straw will protect from the brunt of a nightly freeze but if it looks like it’s going to be more than just a light drop in temperature, you can also add a tarp on top of the straw. Once the potatoes/leafage have grown to be about a foot above the soil, add more soil. (no need for more fertilizer) Just make sure that you don’t cover the plants completely. You need to have at least 6 inches of leafage above soil. Adding soil like this as they grow, will create room for more potatoes to grow under the soil. When needed, add another tire and keep adding soil as the potato plants grow. (insulate those tires with straw too) Last year I had 2 big 4 tire high stacks full of potatoes. Come time for harvest (after the first frost) “just knock the tire stack over…” Hmm… if you don’t have a tractor or a 4-wheel drive truck that you can attach a cable of sort to the stack or top tire to pull them down, go with the regular car tires. Those big tires are HEAVY… but well worth it. But do one layer of tire at a time if possible. (Which ever method you use to pull the tires down, make sure you or anyone else is nowhere near them and absolutely not downhill from them... That goes for your truck, tractor, house etc. as well. A runaway/rollaway tractor tire that has a mind of its own, can be downright evil!) All you do then is sort through the soil, basket the potatoes and store them somewhere well ventilated and cool. Don’t wash the dirt off of the potatoes until you are ready to use them.

I would plant my potatoes this way even if I did live in a warmer climate. I’m lazy and it sure saves your back not having to harvest from a field… Make sure you water your tire potatoes, depending on what your climate is like.

When you get down to the bottom tire, you can leave those potatoes in the dirt if you want, topping off with a thick layer of straw and a tarp. I have a friend that just heaps a thick layer of straw on top of the bottom layer/tire and a tarp on top of everything and come spring, she removes the tarp first and a few weeks later the straw and whatever potatoes that were left in the dirt sprout and that’s the start of her next year crop… I haven’t gotten that to work yet but I’ve seen hers.

//Solani
Title: Re: chickweed
Post by: Yowbarb on March 26, 2017, 04:36:37 PM
I loves me chickweed!  :P
And it's all over the place this time of year here in Holland. Thank you! for letting me know it's a good source of copper. I've actually made colloidal copper before to make sure i get enough; now i know that i just have to harvest more chickweed.  :D
Coffee beverage made of dandelions, chickweed... This kind of product probably plentiful in Europe... my understanding is, these plants are good for the liver. :)

https://www.amazon.com/Chickweed-Herbal-Coffee-Stellaria-Caffeine/dp/B00N6M3K6K
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Yowbarb on March 26, 2017, 04:37:45 PM
Solani, what great tips! Thanks for sharing!
 8)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on March 28, 2017, 10:33:25 AM
Hi Solani,

Seems as if those big tractor tires might also allow you a spot to sit while working, to some degree, which could help to spare your back as well as your energy in the summer heat.  Would love to see photos when your garden comes up this year!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on March 28, 2017, 10:50:18 AM
Yowbarb,

Thank you for the chickweed coffee link!  I consulted the Plants for a Future database, and was surprised to see how many species they're calling "coffee":

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Search_Use.aspx?glossary=Coffee
Title: Re: chickweed
Post by: ilinda on March 28, 2017, 05:24:30 PM
I loves me chickweed!  :P
And it's all over the place this time of year here in Holland. Thank you! for letting me know it's a good source of copper. I've actually made colloidal copper before to make sure i get enough; now i know that i just have to harvest more chickweed.  :D
Coffee beverage made of dandelions, chickweed... This kind of product probably plentiful in Europe... my understanding is, these plants are good for the liver. :)

https://www.amazon.com/Chickweed-Herbal-Coffee-Stellaria-Caffeine/dp/B00N6M3K6K
Wow, that's a new one--chickweed and dandelion coffee.  Do you like it? 
Title: Re: coffee
Post by: Socrates on March 28, 2017, 07:27:17 PM
A collegue of mine is going to the Philippines in April [i.e. 2017];
ANYONE INTERESTED IN ORDERING COCAO OR COFFEE BEANS, ORDER (through me) NOW...
And, in case you hadn't noticed, it is extremely hard to come by live coffee or cocao beans as the producers of said beans are wary of competition...
Hey, i searched through Ebay and found zilch. Take advantage.
But of course it's good to know how to make other kinds. Can you recognize the chicory plant...?
Title: Re: chickweed
Post by: Yowbarb on March 28, 2017, 11:08:50 PM
I loves me chickweed!  :P
And it's all over the place this time of year here in Holland. Thank you! for letting me know it's a good source of copper. I've actually made colloidal copper before to make sure i get enough; now i know that i just have to harvest more chickweed.  :D
Coffee beverage made of dandelions, chickweed... This kind of product probably plentiful in Europe... my understanding is, these plants are good for the liver. :)

https://www.amazon.com/Chickweed-Herbal-Coffee-Stellaria-Caffeine/dp/B00N6M3K6K
Wow, that's a new one--chickweed and dandelion coffee.  Do you like it?

Years ago I bought "coffee subs" many from Germany. Some did have dandelion and I think the chickweed as well... I consider them a food... Fresher would be better of course. Update, no the main brands I see do not have the chickweed.
I am going to shop for some, even though I do drink coffee now, my body liked those sub drinks... Weren't very expensive, either.  http://commonsensehome.com/herbal-coffee-alternatives/  this site ahs good stuff not seeing chickweed in this one.

Update Here's one product I just found... has the chickweed!

https://www.amazon.com/Chickweed-Herbal-Coffee-Stellaria-Caffeine/dp/B00N6M3K6K

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Yowbarb on March 28, 2017, 11:16:22 PM
Chickweed seeds

https://www.amazon.com/HEIRLOOM-NON-GMO-Chickweed-seeds/dp/B00KPGJQ5O

Dandelion  http://heirloomseeds.com/herb-seeds-heirloom/dandelion-certified-organic.html

Chicory
http://heirloomseeds.com/herb-seeds-heirloom/dandelion-certified-organic.htmlChicory
Title: Re: edible herbs
Post by: Socrates on March 29, 2017, 03:42:34 AM
these kind of edible herbs are everywhere here in Holland right now [though, to be truthful, no so much chicory as i would like].
However, when i was down in the Canary Islands, there was none of all that and very little to be found in the way of edible herbs. A few seeds of edible herbs would certainly not hurt...  8)

I remember running into a tiny purslane plant on La Gomera...
(http://worldcrops.org/sites/worldcrops.org/files/crops/DSCN1054.jpg)
... and thinking: "Oh, sh!t! I have GOT to enclose this plant, water it, and save it from any goats that happen by!"... [purslane is tasty and offers great amounts of omega 3 fatty acids]
But, of course, wouldn't it just be wonderful to possess purslane seeds instead? I.E. instead of just hoping you run into something edible?
I'm just sayin'
Title: Re: coffee
Post by: ilinda on March 29, 2017, 05:40:25 PM
A collegue of mine is going to the Philippines in April [i.e. 2017];
ANYONE INTERESTED IN ORDERING COCAO OR COFFEE BEANS, ORDER (through me) NOW...
And, in case you hadn't noticed, it is extremely hard to come by live coffee or cocao beans as the producers of said beans are wary of competition...
Hey, i searched through Ebay and found zilch. Take advantage.
But of course it's good to know how to make other kinds. Can you recognize the chicory plant...?
Chicory when small resembles dandelion leaves, although rougher and slightly larger.  But as chicory grows it's obviously something different and sends up a rather tall spike with blue flowers.  It's the root that is often used as a coffee substitute.  Maybe everyone knows that....
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on March 31, 2017, 10:58:51 AM
Chicory grows in masses along the roadside here, blended with crown vetch, red clover and dame's rocket.  It's a really pretty mass of pastels in late spring (and full of deer ticks) :(

As far as the alternative coffees, I've only ever tasted the Dandyblend.  Was making soap in my Amish neighbor's kitchen on an especially foul-weather day, and she made me a hot cup of it with a drop of stevia and some fresh raw cream - it was even more yummy than hot chocolate! 
Title: Re: Dandyblend
Post by: Socrates on March 31, 2017, 11:37:46 AM
Was making soap in my Amish neighbor's kitchen on an especially foul-weather day, and she made me a hot cup of it with a drop of stevia and some fresh raw cream - it was even more yummy than hot chocolate!
PLEASE..., more details. It is for this kind of gold nuggets that i visit Planet X Townhall daily!

How do i exactly make a Dandyblend?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on March 31, 2017, 12:09:44 PM
Hi Socrates,

It's available in most health food stores in the U.S., and even available in Walmart I believe.  Here's a link for it on Amazon - a bit pricey, but might make a really good long-term storage drink/supplement/food for bringing into the Aftertime.

https://www.amazon.com/Dandy-Blend-Instant-Beverage-Dandelion/dp/B000SMN0DO/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1490987230&sr=8-1&keywords=dandy%2Bblend&th=1

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 05, 2017, 02:21:20 PM
More about skirret (perennial northern "carrots"):

The first time that I attempted to grow this crop, I made the mistake of planting them in a deep cedar box with no bottom, in other words a raised bed.  If you have any burrowing animals, there will need to be a bottom layer of stones between the planting soil and the ground surface.  My skirret had grown to full size over that whole first summer, but when I went to harvest some in the fall, everything below the crown of the plant was gone, and it could not have been due to rotting, as there was excellent drainage in the deep box.

Both fortunately and unfortunately, groundhogs are plentiful here: Unfortunate for the skirret, but maybe fortunate for the meat in the aftertimes, as I just learned that it tastes delicious when roasted and is not at all gamey. :)  Am now using a series of 2x4 galvanized troughs that have been punctured for drainage, instead of raised beds.

(http://)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 05, 2017, 03:58:49 PM
Skirret is offered in the listings with Seed Savers Exchange and I've often wanted to plant it.  Had no idea the roots were so long.  Do you bake it or shred it for salads or?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 05, 2017, 04:29:51 PM
Hi Ilinda,

It's very sweet, with the name meaning "sugar root," and can be used in any way that carrots can be used.

I should clarify that skirret is usually not harvested the first year while the plant is becoming established.  That first summer that I grew it, I was planning to harvest a little the first year because they were purchased as older plants.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 06, 2017, 05:59:10 AM
Recipe for skirret pie

(http://)

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 06, 2017, 06:16:58 AM
Recipe for Skirret Fritters:
(http://)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 06, 2017, 04:15:33 PM
Both recipes sound really delicious, like a dessert right out of the garden.  Since skirret so sweet, it might resemble parsnips, which I grow and which are so sweet that it's more like eating dessert in the middle of the meal.

I grate them and mix with other diced or grated veggies such as shallots, sweet red pepper, potatoes, carrots, sweet potato, and stir fry it all together in olive oil in a cast iron skillet.  You can even throw in broccoli.  OMG, it is truly delicious.

Am thinking of grating some parsnips to substitute for carrots in carrot cake, well... parsnip cake.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 06, 2017, 04:21:07 PM
Not sure what sub/category to write this. Let me know where to move it if it's in the wrong place.  8)

Growing potatoes in colder climate

I REALLY need to stop typing directly online... :( and type whatever in a document on my computer first. I don’t know how many times I’ve lost everything I’ve written, before I’ve been able to push the post button… Heck! I even think about the possibility of losing whatever loooooong post I’m writing before it happens. You’d think that would give me a clue??!? *ARRRRG*

So, here’s the second version for today… :P

What I’m writing here is how I’ve grown potatoes for many years now. Having lived in Sweden, where even if it does get very cold in the winters, potatoes grow successfully in large fields or in folks’ gardens. My house/property which I left when I moved over here to Canada is built on “mountain” and I only had a foot of earth/dirt before hitting bedrock, which made it a pain in the rear to plant stuff such as potatoes, carrots and other root veggies.

Coming here to Canada last winter to live with Dan I decided to “upgrade” my way of growing potatoes. Potatoes would most likely grow directly in the earth here as well but, season is shorter than it is in Sweden. In Sweden I would grow potatoes in layers of old car tires, stacked on each other as the potato plants grew. Here at Dan’s place I not only found LOTS of car tires but also many large old rear tractor tires. Geeez, sometimes I feel that what I can’t find out here, most likely doesn’t exist!! ;) Dan is a long time “hoarder” from everything to scrap metal, machinery, vehicles, tools (new and old) and much more… Took me the better part of last year to clear the first floor of the house…  :o Not to mention all the “fights” when I wanted to junk something that hmmm… “could be good to have”. I was lucky that his sister came up from Mississippi last summer for a month long visit and she took most of the “battles”.  ;D Didn’t throw everything away but, anything that doesn’t serve a purpose inside the house, had to “move out", into one of the many buildings outside. Anyhow… got sidetracked… ;)

I chose to use the large rear tractor tires for my “potato grow-op…” Same way as I would grow in the car tires but bigger. (bigger = more potatoes without more work...  ::) ) First I put down a 1-foot layer of straw on the ground where I was going to place the tires. Hauled the tires with the tractor and laid them down on top of the straw-beds I’d made. Next I took/take straw mixed with dirt and fill the sides (inner walls) of the tires to insulate from the cold but also it helps keep the moisture and warmth in the soil where the potatoes will grow. Also that the tires are black, makes it warmer…

I pre-plant my potatoes in gallon buckets of well fertilized soil. I use a mix of chicken and 2-year-old horse poop as fertilizing agent. When the potato plants have grown to be about 4 inches tall and have sprouted a healthy set of green leaves I bring the buckets outside during the daytime and set them next to the tires when the outside temperature during the day is warm, so they can get used to being outside before I permanently plant them in the tires. I mix the soil in the bottom tire with same type of fertilizer.

I also make sure that hopefully the frosty nights have past before permanently planting the potatoes outside. I water the prepared soil in the tires the evening before I plant the “potato babies”, giving it a thorough soak. Come morning I’m up with the sun and transfer the baby potato plants to the soil in the tires. You can fit about 8 – 10 potato plants in one large rear tractor tire and 4 potatoes in a car tire. One difference if using car tires, you need to start out with 2 tires stacked on each other, since they aren’t as “deep” as a rear tractor tire. You can also do a similar variation using a big plastic rain barrel. Just make sure you have a ring of holes drilled in the bottom of the barrel so water won’t collect and rot your potatoes from the bottom up. You can also place a layer of fist size rocks in the bottom of the barrel. The barrel method is a good way for someone that lives in a city that perhaps only has a balcony to plant their own potatoes. Just make sure you have a deep platter or dish under the barrel so your neighbor under you doesn’t have a conniption due to getting “rained on”.  ;)

Hmmm… back to the tractor potatoes…   :P
 
OK, so now we have the potato babies planted in the tires… Make sure to have a big pile of straw ready just in case it looks like it’s going to freeze during the night, so you can pile that straw on top of your potato plants during the night. Potatoes are quite hardy once they’ve adapted to being outside but don’t do all that well with frost during the first week or so when newly planted outside. The straw will protect from the brunt of a nightly freeze but if it looks like it’s going to be more than just a light drop in temperature, you can also add a tarp on top of the straw. Once the potatoes/leafage have grown to be about a foot above the soil, add more soil. (no need for more fertilizer) Just make sure that you don’t cover the plants completely. You need to have at least 6 inches of leafage above soil. Adding soil like this as they grow, will create room for more potatoes to grow under the soil. When needed, add another tire and keep adding soil as the potato plants grow. (insulate those tires with straw too) Last year I had 2 big 4 tire high stacks full of potatoes. Come time for harvest (after the first frost) “just knock the tire stack over…” Hmm… if you don’t have a tractor or a 4-wheel drive truck that you can attach a cable of sort to the stack or top tire to pull them down, go with the regular car tires. Those big tires are HEAVY… but well worth it. But do one layer of tire at a time if possible. (Which ever method you use to pull the tires down, make sure you or anyone else is nowhere near them and absolutely not downhill from them... That goes for your truck, tractor, house etc. as well. A runaway/rollaway tractor tire that has a mind of its own, can be downright evil!) All you do then is sort through the soil, basket the potatoes and store them somewhere well ventilated and cool. Don’t wash the dirt off of the potatoes until you are ready to use them.

I would plant my potatoes this way even if I did live in a warmer climate. I’m lazy and it sure saves your back not having to harvest from a field… Make sure you water your tire potatoes, depending on what your climate is like.

When you get down to the bottom tire, you can leave those potatoes in the dirt if you want, topping off with a thick layer of straw and a tarp. I have a friend that just heaps a thick layer of straw on top of the bottom layer/tire and a tarp on top of everything and come spring, she removes the tarp first and a few weeks later the straw and whatever potatoes that were left in the dirt sprout and that’s the start of her next year crop… I haven’t gotten that to work yet but I’ve seen hers.

//Solani
When did you plant your potatoes this year, assuming you already did.  BTW, thanks for the detailed explanations, which some farther south probably wouldn't need to do, but with such unpredictable weather, who knows.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 06, 2017, 05:41:51 PM
Ilinda, your parsnip dish sounds wonderful!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 25, 2017, 03:43:30 PM
Uploading a diagram of one of our permaculture areas that my sons helped me create over the years as a home-school project.  All on less than two acres that is more than half wooded.  More diagrams soon.  Many thanks once again to Barb Townsend for the link to info on Siberian Pea.


Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 25, 2017, 06:37:21 PM
Uploading diagram of south yard, an integrated fenced area combining critters, compost and crops, with gates to let critters out to forage.  All another former home school project.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 26, 2017, 05:14:14 AM
Uploading diagram of north yard.  None of our gardens are this neat and tidy in real life!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 27, 2017, 03:12:26 PM
Updated east yard diagram -
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 15, 2017, 08:04:33 AM
Adding the common weed Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule) to the list of temperate-climate edibles.  Even though it's not perennial, it is a cold-weather annual that self-sows prolifically and is packed with nutrition for both people and poultry.  It is also an important bee nectary plant in the north. 

Here is a disambiguation of henbit, creeping Charlie, and purple dead nettle: http://identifythatplant.com/three-easily-mixed-up-early-spring-plants/

According to Ediblewildfood.com: "Edible parts: Henbit can be consumed fresh or cooked as an edible herb, and it can be used in teas. The stem, flowers, and leaves are edible, and although this is in the mint family, many people say it tastes slightly like raw kale, not like mint. Henbit is very nutritious, high in iron, vitamins and fibre. You can add raw henbit to salads, soups, wraps, or green smoothies. According to Natural Medicinal Herbs (dot net) this plant is anti-rheumatic, diaphoretic, an excitant, febrifuge, a laxative and a stimulant."

PFAF says: "Edible Uses: Young leaves - raw or cooked; added to salads or used as a potherb."

In looking for specific nutritional content, I came across this interesting chart from Mother Earth: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/wild-foods-zmaz86jazgoe .  As mentioned above, henbit is more closely related to mints with its square stem than to nettles, so a comparable nutritional profile might be 32 calories per 100 grams, 3g protein, .7g fat, 194 mg calcium, 48 mg phosphorus, 3.8 mg iron, 2 mg sodium, 179 mg potassium, 1,296 mg vitamin A, .13 mg thiamine, .16 mg riboflavin, .7 mg niacin, 64 mg vitamin C.  The purple-colored flowers should be rich in the polyphenol flavonoid proanthocyanidin, a strong antioxidant and important contributor to collagen strength that is also under investigation for anti-cancer benefits.

I also came across an explanation of why the word "dead" is in the common names of some "nettles": "Dead" means "non-stinging."  The dead nettles are in the Lamium genus, while the stinging nettles are in the Urtica genus.


Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on May 16, 2017, 05:10:24 PM
I had no idea henbit was so useful!  I leave it in the garden every spring as long as possible because honeybees like it, and IIRC bumblebees also.  Anyway, when the flowers are done, then I can remove and plant.

Maybe now we can eat some.  Anyone else tried it yet?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 16, 2017, 06:21:55 PM
Hi Ilinda,

I'm thinking of making a separate little garden patch for some of it to remain permanently, and will try it in a chef salad this week and report back.

What are IIRC bumblebees?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on May 17, 2017, 06:30:48 PM
Hi Ilinda,

I'm thinking of making a separate little garden patch for some of it to remain permanently, and will try it in a chef salad this week and report back.

What are IIRC bumblebees?
Oops.  Sorry to use that.  IIRC = If I Recall Correctly....

I think I'll start a new topic about these abbreviations.  In visiting one forum in particular, a Linux users group, there are so many abbreviations thrown around that it's not easy for a newbie to even figure out what they are talking about sometimes.  In other forum settings, they are rarely used.  I'm guilty of using IOW for in other words and a few more.  That will be a project for this week.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 25, 2017, 08:21:14 AM
Don't know if anyone here reads Farmer Scrub's blog ( http://farmerscrub.blogspot.com/ ), but he is an admirer of Carol Deppe, and writes extensively about how to intercrop permie plants to make them produce more in less space, including diagrams. 

Regarding sunchokes, he suggests fermenting them before eating to make them more digestible for folks who don't tolerate the inulin starch well.  A nearby elderly farmer here says that sunchokes need to be overwintered in the ground, allowing the gassy starch to turn to sugar, and that they are eaten in late winter / early spring as a more digestible starvation ration.  If any of you who are knowledgeable about fermenting foods have ideas about how to ferment sunchokes for warm season eating, please share!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 29, 2017, 05:51:32 PM
I don't know if any of you loved the Christy series as much as I did.  Long story short, young girl from rich family leaves wealth behind to follow calling as a teacher deep in the mountains.  Finds herself with two contending suitors, of course.  Deep poverty there, but wealth of natural resources.  Favorite episode was at Thanksgiving time [SPOILER ALERT]: Just as the people are on the verge of facing a bleak winter and the prospect of losing their mountain to a developer, a couple of them go exploring and discover, just in the nick of time, a wealth of mature persimmon trees laden with fruit in a clearing deep in the woods that they never knew existed.  They work together to produce jams etc. to sell to city folk for the Christmas season.

If you've never had a persimmon, they are from native American fruiting trees (non-American cultivars also exist) in the Diospyros genus that fill a couple of important niches in the north:

First, they have longevity, and are roughly equivalent in taste and appearance to apricots, which do not have longevity here (they often tend to die in as many years as it took them to come to maturity). 

Second, they bear in the off-season in mid to late autumn, and edible fruit can still be found clinging to the trees in winter.

The trick to getting good fruit from the American varieties is to leave them on the tree (or let them drop on their own) until they are fully ripe and wrinkled - bite into one too soon and you get a mouth full of bitter astringency. :P  When they do get ripe and drop, then you are competing with area wildlife for the luscious windfalls.

Planted a pair of them in early spring.  One broke dormancy and leafed out beautifully, while the other one has yet to break dormancy two months later.  So I covered the tree in sheet plastic and am "sweating" it until the buds open up.  Important to do because the tree will not put on growth until it wakes up.  Recipes to follow :)


Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 29, 2017, 06:28:21 PM
Persimmon bread recipe:
http://honest-food.net/persimmon-nut-bread-recipe/

(and some recipes add 2/3 c bourbon or cognac) ;)

Persimmon pudding recipe:
http://www.food.com/recipe/persimmon-pudding-15963


Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on May 30, 2017, 06:30:14 PM
Does that ever look tasty!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 08, 2017, 02:48:28 PM
Adding photo of annual Seminole pumpkins coming up in a hay bale amongst the perennial blueberries - no space is wasted!  Advantages of the hay bale:

1. Can utilize this space between blueberry bushes without disturbing their shallow roots.
2. Pumpkins and blueberries have differing pH requirements, and need their own soil
3. Curcubits in this area are notorious for diseases (Seminole is an exception), and this way a problem is not being encouraged in situ
4. When done with this annual crop, hay will be broken down to mulch the shallow blueberry roots
5. Instead of having to rotate the crop, I can plant pumpkins in hay in the same spot next year
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: good perpetual fruits for a bug-out bag or barter
Post by: R.R. Book on June 09, 2017, 04:45:21 AM
Besides strawberry crowns, one small fruiting plant possibly to include (at the last minute) in a zip-lock bag to bug-out with is a first-year dwarf blueberry, or dwarf thornless blackberry or raspberry.  They are sold under different names on the market, with one of the best-known names being Brazleberry, after their breeder.  The blueberry and the raspberry have a more dwarved stature than the blackberry.

The dwarf raspberries and blackberries often produce daughter plants that can be found a short distance away from the mother plant.  These are not suckers or clones in need of division - rather they are entire new plants, free of charge.  For this reason, a few small plants could lead to a nice barter business.  The raspberry version bears throughout the summer, while the blackberry should crop once in summer and again in autumn, and no need to bother with pruning old floracanes every year.  Their low profile makes them a good forage food for grazing poultry, so if you want any fruit for yourself, need to be one step ahead of them!

Mature ones growing on septic system:
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Disease-resistant cold-hardy grapes
Post by: R.R. Book on June 09, 2017, 06:32:05 AM
Disease-resistant seedless grapes suitable for the North can be divided into two categories: Muscadines (a.k.a. Scuppernogs) and Labruscas, both of which are native to North America, as opposed to the Vitis vinifera grapes imported from Europe to California for wine making.  While the cool moist climate of the Northeast and the warm moist climate of the Southeast make the entire East Coast mostly unsuitable for vinifera with its disease susceptibility, the Muscadines and Labruscas thrive here.  As a broad generality, grapes that are suitable for the East Coast tend toward being "slipskin," meaning that they don't have the delicate thin skins of West Coast wine grapes.

Though Muscadines are mostly grown in the South, the Ison family of Georgia has been breeding them since the Great Depression and has developed some extremely cold-hardy and disease-resistant cultivars capable of thriving in the north.  "Fry Seedless" is a red variety that needs to pollinate with another cultivar, and "Black Fry" is a good choice in the North.  The grapevines are so vigorous that they need to be pruned back several times in summer, and the cuttings make good forage for goats.  See recent photo below after the first pruning of summer.

Disease-resistant Labrusca and hybrid types that I'm currently experimenting with include Mars blue seedless from the University of Arkansas, Black Corinth seedless champagne, and Einset red seedless.  Mars and Einset are the most cold-hardy of these.  They can be obtained for under $10.
Title: Re: blueberry roots
Post by: Socrates on June 09, 2017, 06:41:14 AM
Can utilize this space between blueberry bushes without disturbing their shallow roots.
:o
I heard... blueberry roots can go down, like, 30 feet...
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 09, 2017, 08:03:47 AM
Hi Socrates,

You might be thinking of grapes, which can survive drought due to roots that dive deeply in search of water, much like a tree.  In 20 years of growing blueberries here, one of the challenges has been to keep piles of rotting leaves on top of the soil; otherwise, if the soil is disturbed even a little, roots are exposed to the air and the plants suffer.  On a rare occasion if one should die, it takes very little effort to pull it out of the ground, because not much is holding it in.  I can only speak for blueberries in my own latitude though. :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: tart cherries
Post by: R.R. Book on June 09, 2017, 02:47:38 PM
Several years back, Canada produced a remarkable dwarf tart cherry tree that has a lot of plusses and no minuses that I've ever been able to find.  It is the Carmine Jewel.  Unlike the bush-type cherries that were developed prior to its debut, the Carmine Jewel maintains a tidy little near-perfect tree shape, rather than sprawling.  It stops growing around 6' in height, making the harvest an easy chore. 

It bears heavily by about age three, and does not suffer from the unsightly leaf spot that plagues sweet cherries in a rainy season.  In the unusual heat and drought of last summer, the only response from the tree was not to fruit that year.  This year it has bounced back with a bumper crop. 

A clean pair of tweezers will quickly pit them, and they can then be frozen, dehydrated, or eaten fresh, with a sweet-tartness of around 14 on the Brix scale.  They make nice additions to pies, muffins and quick breads.  I did make the mistake, however, the very first year of putting them straight from the freezer into my Thanksgiving pies along with a batch of blueberries, and had to soak up a lot of liquid from the finished crust.  Best to cook them down a bit apart from the crust ahead of time.

Health benefits listed here: http://foodfacts.mercola.com/sour-cherries.html

Photo below:
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Yowbarb on June 09, 2017, 09:48:56 PM
Hi Ilinda,

I'm thinking of making a separate little garden patch for some of it to remain permanently, and will try it in a chef salad this week and report back.

What are IIRC bumblebees?
Oops.  Sorry to use that.  IIRC = If I Recall Correctly....

I think I'll start a new topic about these abbreviations.  In visiting one forum in particular, a Linux users group, there are so many abbreviations thrown around that it's not easy for a newbie to even figure out what they are talking about sometimes.  In other forum settings, they are rarely used.  I'm guilty of using IOW for in other words and a few more.  That will be a project for this week.

ilinda I like your "newfangled" abbreviations, haha. I mean LOL. :)
Being a long-time collector of slang and colloquialisms, I may as well add internet slang to it.
I know some but would enjoy learning more.  8) 
You could put a Topic, Post It All and Let Blog Sort It Out would be a good place.
(I made that Board name up many years ago.)
- Yowbarb
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Yowbarb on June 11, 2017, 03:25:31 PM
To R.R. RE the Carmine Jewel Dwarf Cherry trees:

This is the first thing that popped up in google a place to purchase... there is a live chat on the page, lower right... http://www.henryfields.com/product/Carmine_Jewel_Dwarf_Cherry_Tree

Free shipping, order over $40. Some restricted states but your state is not restricted. Ship Season: Spring
There are other sources, of course...
Barb T.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 12, 2017, 09:26:53 AM
Thanks Barb, I checked and they were out of stock, but seem to be in stock here:  http://ediblelandscaping.com/buyPlants.php?func=view&id=1040 .

There are some new cultivars, Romeo and Juliet, that I have no experience with, but are said to have the same dwarfing tree growth habit.  Romeo is said to be very juicy, which reminds me that there is a cherry meat-to-juice ratio that the buyer needs to select for.  If you want pies, then select for a high meat ratio, and if you want to juice them... you get the idea. :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 12, 2017, 09:49:11 AM
Posting an update regarding the persimmon tree that never leafed out:

Turned out not be a dormancy problem.  After weeks of trying to "sweat" it to bring it out of dormancy, I called the nursery and was told to cut off the top and bring it in.  When I did, the owner showed me a series of tiny pinholes in the trunk and said it was killed by a Shothole Borer (Scolytus rugulosus), which is the larvae of a fruit tree bark beetle that can wipe out an orchard if not stopped by painting trunks with laytex whitewash (50% interior paint and 50% water mixed).

Fortunately, the owner assumed the liability on his end since he buys from wholesale nurseries that could have passed the infestation on.  He instructed me to watch for any sign of infestation on other fruit trees, which would show up as the pinholes, declining vigor, or exuding sap.  He said the problem usually only affects saplings under 2 years of age.  Another persimmon tree that we purchased from the same nursery at the same time is showing vigorous growth and seems not to be affected.

Uploading a photo from the web:
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 25, 2017, 07:02:50 AM
The dwarf raspberry bushes mentioned earlier are in full production, and we've had so much rain that it's difficult to get into the berry patch often enough to harvest before the fruit rots.  I was eating handfuls of slightly over-ripe ones this morning while picking the berries, and came away with around a quart for making crepes, etc.  I can't recommend this particular rootstock enough to others who may be contemplating starting a berry patch of their own.  No thorns, take up little space, produce berries by one year of age, heavy production within a couple of years at most, produce free daughter plants, no diseases, no pruning, and no pests except ground scavengers on fruit that touches the ground.  The trick with these is to constantly be turning low branches up to look beneath them - that's where the most fruit is borne, and if you didn't look underneath the branches, you might think that they weren't producing much.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 25, 2017, 03:53:39 PM
Oh, I envy you.  I tried raspberry plants and they died by the second year, although they thrive for Shirley, my farmer friend.  What is the variety of those beautiful and tasty looking raspberries?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 25, 2017, 06:21:31 PM
Ilinda, These are the Brazelberries that I mentioned earlier, named for the breeder, and they're supposed to grow in zones 4-9, so you should be able to grow these in MO without trouble.  They're sold under different names, but if you Google the breeder's original name for it, you'll get all the other names that they're sold under.  They like a loamy, well drained soil, and they're petite enough to be planted in pots if necessary.  If you're in the warm southern part of MO, might want to allow some afternoon shade, as berries naturally grow at the edge of a woodland.   
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Tart cherries
Post by: R.R. Book on June 26, 2017, 05:50:39 AM
Most of the harvest is in now from the dwarf tart cherry tree that we discussed earlier.  Ten pints were canned this past week, with another pint or two left to finish ripening on the tree. The pint jars were pressure canned at 5 pounds pressure for 8 minutes.

I hand pitted all of these, and must admit that my hands were tired from the work.  Am looking into mechanical cherry pitters, which range in price from $2 to $200, using a variety of ingenious methods.  I can only think of one reason not to use one, and that is the very real possibility that a pit could be missed, resulting in a cracked tooth if an unsuspecting person should happen to bite into it, which in the Aftertime would constitute more than just a minor emergency.  A good compromise might be to use the mechanical pitter, but then carefully check the cherries to make sure no pit was missed, before canning or serving them.

These jars will need to be wrapped in bubble wrap and carefully put away in a 5 gallon pail down in the root cellar.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 26, 2017, 12:53:21 PM
Bee balm, Monarda didyma, provides food for humans as well as bees.  Leaves and young stems can be eaten raw or cooked.  The flower heads are eaten raw.  Fresh or dried leaves and flower heads can be made into a tea, and in fact are added to Earl Grey tea. 

Medicinal properties listed by PFAF: Bergamot is often used as a domestic medicine, being particularly useful in the treatment of digestive disorders. The leaves and flowering stems are anthelmintic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, rubefacient and stimulant[4, 222]. An infusion is used in the treatment of flatulent colic and sickness, it is also used as a diuretic to treat urinary disorders[4, 238]. The leaves can be harvested before the plant flowers, or they can be harvested with the flowering stems. They can be used fresh or dried[238]. An essential oil from the herb is mainly used externally as a rubefacient in the treatment of rheumatism etc.

Can you guess which weed we've recently discussed that is in the same family?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Disease resistant apple trees
Post by: R.R. Book on June 26, 2017, 01:40:52 PM
There are several varieties of disease-resistant apple trees that can be obtained either full-size or on dwarfing rootstock.  One of the best sources for these is Cummins Nursery located in the Finger Lakes region of New York state, which works closely with Cornell University to breed and improve apple cultivars (the owner was a long-time professor at the University's Geneva Experimental Station) . 

Besides the Liberty cultivar that's been around for a long time now, I can personally vouch for William's Pride, Enterprise, and Redfree.  We have never needed to spray these with any chemicals.  They do need to be watched carefully for gypsy moth larvae nests in spring (they resemble bagworm nests), which should be removed by hand as soon as they are spotted.  All three produce sweet-tart apples that are a mixture of red and green coloring, with good keeping qualities.  Am just beginning to experiment with Arkansas Black, a full deep red apple that is said to be one of the longest keepers of all, storing until the following spring in a cool location.  They all produce good cider.

We situated a few of them as foundation plantings to wick rainwater away from the house, and encouraged them to lean over a fence rail for ease of harvesting.  Actually, if memory serves correctly, Mother Nature gets the credit for giving us the idea following an ice storm that left them bent over the rail.  :)

Here is a list of disease-resistant apple cultivars, much longer than existed even just several years ago:
http://shop.cumminsnursery.com/shop/apple-trees/disease-resistant

Here is a table of rootstock sizes for comparison: http://shop.cumminsnursery.com/shop/rootstocks

Attaching a visual comparison aid:



Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Disease resistant apple trees
Post by: ilinda on June 26, 2017, 03:04:45 PM
Besides the Liberty cultivar that's been around for a long time now, I can personally vouch for William's Pride, Enterprise, and Redfree.  We have never needed to spray these with any chemicals.  They do need to be watched carefully for gypsy moth larvae nests in spring (they resemble bagworm nests), which should be removed by hand as soon as they are spotted.  All three produce sweet-tart apples that are a mixture of red and green coloring, with good keeping qualities.  Am just beginning to experiment with Arkansas Black, a full deep red apple that is said to be one of the longest keepers of all, storing until the following spring in a cool location.  They all produce good cider.


Here is a list of disease-resistant apple cultivars, much longer than existed even just several years ago:
http://shop.cumminsnursery.com/shop/apple-trees/disease-resistant

The Arkansas Black is indeed a favorite here.  We've tried three times to grow them and some of our third planting are surviving.  Around here they must be truly protected from deer as they will shred the trees and absolutely kill them.  They must be somewhat addictive to deer.  When the deer are finished with a tree for a while, it literally looks as if some giant shredder/chipper came along and just stopped a while. 

Their keeping qualities are the best, as they keep for months and months just in a fridge.  We pack them into ziplok bags (9 each) and zip them almost all the way, after sprinkling two blasts of water/mist on them before closing the bag.  They can use Liberty or Enterprise (plus some others) as pollinizer trees, and this Ark. Black is fairly well resistant to Cedar Apple Rust.

Thanks for posting this apple reminder.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 27, 2017, 06:32:56 AM
Quote
We pack them into ziplok bags (9 each) and zip them almost all the way, after sprinkling two blasts of water/mist on them before closing the bag.

That's really good information to have Ilinda!  I got an Ark Black from Clemson University Extension recently, and have been really pleased with the growth and form. 

Glad that you managed to preserve something from the deer.  They do come around here too, mostly in late winter, with the closest visitation being from a fawn grazing in an English ivy patch near the house.

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Lovage
Post by: R.R. Book on June 27, 2017, 10:03:19 AM
Lovage, Levisticum officinale, is little-known in the U.S. but a common feature in English kitchen gardens, being a kind of perennial celery and parsley combined.  It is hardy in U.S. zones 5-9, and enjoys being situated in a damp spot in full to part sun.  Because this plant is extremely pungent, its stalks wouldn't be used in the same manner that fresh celery is used, but are better used as more of a pot-herb that blends well with other flavors, starting out seeming overly-accentuated in a dish until it has had time to stew and mingle.  It needs lots of room to grow, as it will become several feet high and a few feet wide.  I've tried growing this plant in rows, but found it best to tuck them in individually here and there in the garden wherever a spot can be found that allows the plant to take over. 

PFAF warns about the myristicine content, an aromatic phenylpropene oil also common to other herbs such as celery, fennel, nutmeg and so forth.  However, in lovage the oil is largely confined to seeds that form on top of the plant after flowering, while it's the stalk and leaves that are used in cooking.  Wiki says about the aromatic seed compounds: the metabolism of these molecules quickly progresses from flavor to toxin to safe excretion.

The leaves are at their best for harvesting before the plant flowers, and may be frozen or dried.  To keep the plant size in check, they can be pruned back a couple of times in summer, and stalks may also be chopped and added to the harvest.  However, the flower heads attract dozens of those tiny beneficial wasps, and I have been stung trying to cut back the plants when they are in flower.  A gallon zip-lock bag of chopped stalks and leaves should provide enough to add to a large stew pot as often as once a week throughout autumn and winter, if maybe a handful is thrown into the pot each time. 

Some health food and other stores sell an MSG-free lovage bouillon cube manufactured by the Organic Gourmet, which runs around $3 per pack of 8 individually wrapped cubes that would make a nutritious storage food with 16 servings per 8-cube box.  They make a nice little quick cup of soup to take the chill off, with these ingredients listed:  Sea Salt, Maize (Corn) Starch*, sustainably harvested NON-hydrogenated Palm Fruit Oil*, Nutritional Yeast Extract, Leeks*, Carrots*, Tomatoes*, Spices* (Nutmeg*, Garlic*, Turmeric*), Herbs* (Lovage Leaves*, Parsley*, Celery Leaves*) Onions*

*From certified organic production, certified organic by IMO, CH-BIO-004.

PFAF adds this information about medicinal uses:
Lovage is a warming and tonic herb for the digestive and respiratory systems. It is used primarily in the treatment of indigestion, poor appetite, wind, colic and bronchitis[254]. The roots, leaves and fruits are antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, mildly expectorant and stimulant[4, 7, 21, 46, 165, 238]. They are used internally in the treatment of disordered stomachs, especially cases of colic and flatulence in children, kidney stones, cystitis, painful menstruation and slow labour[4, 238]. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of sore throats and aphthous ulcers[238].

A lovage butter recipe is posted here: http://www.gardenersnet.com/recipes/lovage-butter.htm

Attaching a pic of the bouillon box, as well as a photo of the plant sprawling in my garden:
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 27, 2017, 02:17:23 PM
Several times I've tried to grow this beauty, and without much success, but after reading your article, maybe mine needed more moisture, and a bit of shade.  It was planted each time in full sun in the middle of the garden and now I realize in part shade in herb garden near watering barrel would work better.

Thanks for posting!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on July 18, 2017, 02:15:32 PM
Anise hyssop, also known as licorice mint, giant blue hyssop and agastache, is neither mint nor licorice, but gets a 5 star edibility rating by PFAF.  The website says that leaves and flowers may be eaten raw or used as a seasoning in salads or cooked foods.  A tea made from the leaves is said to be medicinal for colds, fevers, weak heart, and chest pain from coughing.  Leaves and stems can also be made into a poultice to treat burns. 

PFAF gives incorrect information about the hardiness zones, placing it exclusively in the South, a mistake that is corrected by readers in the comments section.  It should be hardy to at least zone 4.

The plant also belongs in bee nectary gardens. :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Sunchokes in the late summer garden
Post by: R.R. Book on August 12, 2017, 12:18:26 PM
Posting a photo to show how much room sunchokes take up in the garden, necessitating their own patch.  They are the last flowers to bloom in our garden, usually right on the Autumnal Equinox.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on August 12, 2017, 05:57:50 PM
Wow, do you ever have a nice batch of tubers for winter time eating.  Beautiful patch.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Yowbarb on August 15, 2017, 12:24:19 PM
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/feb/02/jerusalem-artichokes-good-for-you

Jerusalem artichokes - These sweet and crunchy tubers are too often overlooked for far simpler and less flavoursome vegetables

Try this Jerusalem artichoke, hazelnut and goat's cheese tart recipe:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/feb/02/jerusalem-artichoke-hazelnut-cheese-tart-recipe
...
Why Jerusalem artichokes are good for you

Joanna Blythman
Saturday 2 February 2013 02.00 EST

Jerusalem artichokes are a reason to be cheerful in January and February. Sweet and crunchy when raw, smooth and aromatic when cooked, these knobbly tubers shine like beacons on the lean, dark midwinter shopping list.

It's surprising they aren't a more commonplace seasonal vegetable. Jerusalem artichokes grow easily in the UK, displaying a dogged resistance to disease, a characteristic that endears them not only to organic growers, but also to consumers who'd prefer that their food didn't come with a garnish of pesticide. But their flavour is the clincher: more complex than the simple sugariness of carrots, more elegant than celeriac or parsnip.

There are, admittedly, a couple of bad points about Jerusalem artichokes. Either you must spend time cleaning them meticulously, or peel them generously. But since they are reliably cheap, we needn't consider that profligate. Then there's their oft‑reported habit of inducing flatulence. But surely a little hot air is worth it for a vegetable this special?

Why are they good for me?

Eat Jerusalem artichokes and you'll be topping up on important minerals. They are rich in iron to give you energy, along with potassium and vitamin B1, which support your muscles and nerves. Although they're sweet, their starchy fibre stops any spikes in blood sugar levels – indeed they have a lower glycemic index (GI) score than potatoes – and they aren't fattening.

Where to buy, what to pay?

A staple of organic veggie box schemes, and easy to find in traditional and farmers' markets, there's no guarantee you'll find them in supermarkets, but some do stock them. Expect to pay around £3.20-£3.50 per kilo.

Joanna Blythman is the author of What To Eat (Fourth Estate, £16.99). To order a copy for £11 with free UK p&p, go to guardianbookshop.co.uk
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on August 15, 2017, 01:17:00 PM
Quote
Then there's their oft‑reported habit of inducing flatulence.

They need to be allowed to undergo several freezes while in the ground before being eaten, which is why they're best eaten any time between late autumn (Thanksgiving?) and early spring (before your first greens are available), as a traditional "starvation ration."  This will cause the inulin to be converted into fructose for better digestibility and assimilation. 

I can personally attest that I was in intense gastric distress the very first time I ate a plate of roasted 'chokes freshly harvested one September (when they were abundantly available but not converted) some years back.

The GI tract can also become accustomed to inulin over time.  I've found that eating Oikos Triple Zero yogurt daily (while it's still available) has acclimated my gut to inulin, which is one of the key "cheat" ingredients in the yogurt that allows Oikos to get away with claiming no sugar or fat in such a thickened product while using a carb in the ingredients.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on October 09, 2017, 10:53:40 AM
The muscadine grape (refer to earlier post) harvest is in progress.  Enough were picked to go with supper.  These are from the black cultivar that has a few small seeds, as well as the red seedless variety, both of which are cold-hardy. 
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on October 16, 2017, 05:56:50 PM
Because Yamiken squash sprawl so widely and wildly, covering everything in their path, they are great for smothering out weeds, or at least things you want to think of as unwanted.  Today I harvested the entire patch after a mild frost which nipped tops of squash, but left tomatoes and peppers OK. 

Total count was 90 Yamiken, 89 of which are now indoors, and one remaining, having grown into the fence.  They need several weeks to cure, even if they have already turned their orange color, but since most of these still have some green, we will wait several months before eating.  They become sweeter as they mature and attain their final orange-y color.

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on October 17, 2017, 03:08:35 PM
Very impressive harvest Ilinda!  Do you just cure them in the sun, or do you do the bleach dip/alcohol dip before storage?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on October 17, 2017, 05:34:52 PM
Very impressive harvest Ilinda!  Do you just cure them in the sun, or do you do the bleach dip/alcohol dip before storage?
They were left in the sun primarily for the pic.  But I do let them dry a bit before taking indoors, and have never done a bleach or alcohol dip for winter squash to be stored.  Maybe I should? 
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 02, 2018, 01:30:28 PM
I dug up some sunchokes this weekend, taking care not to remove all of them as they are a permacrop.  They were washed and cut apart into smaller pieces, and am getting ready to roast them in butter and sea salt.  Will upload another photo when they're done.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 02, 2018, 03:24:13 PM
Here's the finished dish - slightly sweeter tasting than roasted potatoes, but not as much as sweet potatoes.

That half basket-full above made two 13" x 18" pans.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 02, 2018, 03:51:21 PM
Oh!  My goodness!!  What a beautiful feast they would make.  Don't have to ask if you enjoyed them.

How do you keep them contained?  I had some once that threatened to take over the garden and I managed to dig them out (had to), but now regret not stashing a few elsewhere for a new bed.  They are truly a "cash crop" even if you never sell one.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 02, 2018, 04:07:51 PM
I have them in two different locations.  One is in the midst of the henyard surrounded by railroad ties and a fence; the other in a bed in back, separated from other gardens by salvaged stainless steel shelves buried vertically underground, then edged with logs atop black plastic sheeting.  So they're pretty contained!  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 06, 2018, 10:30:00 AM
OTOH:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KAZZXSGuNk @ around 16:30

Narrator remarks about how nutritious sunflower shoots are, and it occurs to me that if sunchokes are not in quarantined beds, many volunteers will come up that can be plucked out of unwanted locations and made into a nice salad.  Hope everyone is prepping long-storage high-oleic sunflower oil, & vinegar, or their favorite powdered dressing mix packets - there are a few brands w/o MSG.  If powdered creamy dressings are made up with powdered milk and used more liberally than the label suggests, a few extra grams of protein can be added to what may amount to a lean meal.

(https://weeklyfig.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/sunflower-sprouts.jpg)

(https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/752fe666-5cd2-4f05-8f61-5d6b9c3a401e_1.521aa2797ba1775abe891b4efd650f8e.jpeg?odnHeight=450&odnWidth=450&odnBg=FFFFFF)

(https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/99a3f628-7563-4f07-89f1-86eeabb5a57d_1.fac0a97a05e84745fb7f1fff6e296412.jpeg?odnWidth=undefined&odnHeight=undefined&odnBg=ffffff)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Perpetual Strawberries
Post by: R.R. Book on April 21, 2018, 01:33:22 PM
Corporate strawberry growers and ag extension agencies are fond of advising us that strawberry plants cannot be perpetually grown with any measure of success beyond 2 years for June-bearing varieties or 4 years for everbearing and day-length neutral varieties.

This is false, for those who are willing to expend a little effort to dig up their crowns once a year.  Both types of strawberries are cared for in a similar manner.  I highly recommend covered, raised beds for this crop, in order to save your back and keep wildlife out:

In spring:
*Clean winter debris out of the bed or beds
*Fill a bucket with water
*Lift crowns one at a time out of the soil
*Trim the roots down to a few inches in length
*Trim off old brown runners from last year
*Divide large clumps
*Let trimmed plants soak in the water bucket until ready to replant
*Space them at least 6 inches apart to allow for new growth
*Be prepared with at least one extra bed to plant in, because your crowns will have multiplied.  I got 3 beds from just one so far today.
*Water thoroughly.
*Fertilize with nettle or comfrey tea

During the growing season:
*Water regularly and deeply
*Ignore conventional advice and do allow runners to form - they are your future crops and worth sacrificing a bigger harvest this year
*Keep netting or other cover maintained
*Fertilize with nettle or comfrey tea
*Harvest regularly and don't allow berries to rot in the bed

In late autumn:
*Renew soil fertility with worm castings, leaf mulch or comfrey/nettle tea
*Cover with a permeable layer of plastic wool (such as reusable air filters) or straw before the first hard freeze

(https://i2.wp.com/bonnieplants.com/wp-content/uploads/strawberry-plant-Illustration-web.jpg?ssl=1)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 22, 2018, 02:55:44 PM
Day 2 in the strawberry beds:

Yesterday was focused upon June strawberry beds, and today was focused upon everbearing strawberry beds.  There are two, and only two, varieties of strawberries that I can wholeheartedly recommend in the north: one June bearer and one everbearer.  The best June bearer in my experience is Earliglow, and the best everbearer is Tristar, comparing each one within its own class of berries.

Here is what they have in common that makes them stand out:
*Extreme disease-resistance
*Ability to overwinter
*Excellent flavor

Now, comparing the best in the two classes of berries with each other:
Earliglow's advantages over Tristar:

*Overwinters without protection in winters that get down to zero or even lower
*Robust root system
*Larger berries, but not the Frankenfood size that are so gigantic they seem deformed
*More overwintered daughter plants that survive to be replanted
*Produces heavily in late spring/early summer, when other crops haven't reached production yet

Tristar's advantages over Earliglow:
*Produces over a longer season
*Longer-lived without division

Analysis:
*If the annual lift-trim-replant method is used, as recommended above, the June-bearing Earliglow will live and bear as long as an everbearer, so using that method, everbearers no longer have an exclusive advantage in longevity.

*If we are expecting our winters to become longer and colder, then the June-bearing Earliglow has a big edge over the everbearer, due to its ability to come through a very cold winter without protection, and still present green leaves and a robust root system.

*Rather than discarding my everbearers, I will be more selective and keep only the ones that are most robust.  This will free up room in what have in the past been segregated beds, and daughter plants of the June-bearing Earliglow can be worked into Tristar beds as they become available.  Gradually all of the beds will either contain exclusively Earliglow, or a mixture.  Berries will still be available later in the season, though will become more concentrated in June, with the decline coming on just when other berries are approaching their peak of harvest (wine berries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and grapes).

*As winters are expected to become harsher, it may be wise to be pro-active and begin protecting the June-bearers with either straw or plastic wool, as has been done with the everbearers.

https://extension.psu.edu/home-fruit-gardens-table-8-1-strawberry-variety-descriptions
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 22, 2018, 03:34:56 PM
Spring work in the blueberry patch:

*Blueberry bushes need annual soil acidification to enable roots to take up nutrients.  Blueberries can be planted in excellent soil, and still die of malnutrition if the soil pH is not between 4.5 and 5.5.  Rather than traveling to a plant nursery and purchasing commercially-produced Miracid or the equivalent, I suggest making use of low-priced vinegar, which can still even be obtained in $1 stores.  The larger jugs are easier to manage for larger patches.  Apply in early spring around the circumference of the roots around trunks, at about a foot outward from the trunks.  The smell will be gone by the first rain or sooner if watering and mulching deeply over it.

*The previous autumn, raked leaves should have already been piled deeply around the base of the shrubs.  In early spring, it should be done again.  Leaf mulch is 2' deep in our patch as of now, and should be well watered to keep soil moist beneath, as well as preventing leaves from blowing (or from catching fire in the Tribulation).  A fence around the blueberry patch helps to contain the leaf mulch and keep it in place.

*Delicate blossoms begin appearing on the bushes around now, and depending upon the cultivar, may be on them for weeks to come until it is time for the berries to form.  Care needs to be taken when watering not to knock off the blooms, though blueberries are hydrophilic and like to be watered both in the ground and on the leaves (later in summer).

*In a dry season, blueberries need to be given watering priority over other crops except strawberries.  A light spray of the hose is not enough: if in a drought, either a sprinkling system or a concentrated hard stream from the garden hose making drill holes in the ground around the plants is needed, until the roots are flooded.

*Normally, blueberries begin cropping around the summer solstice, with harvest lasting a few weeks.  The past two years, ours have not cropped until July.  As our winters become extended at both ends, consider planting later-blooming and bearing cultivers, extending your harvest even into August, thus avoiding late bud-killing freezes.

*Pruning is optional.  Wait a while yet to determine which branches are really dead and not just late in breaking dormancy. 

*Recently, cultivars have been developed to allow Southern growers to grow blueberries, but watering will need to be carefully considered.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8154/7136606255_c8dc69e091_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 22, 2018, 04:01:44 PM
Follow-up on garden bed covers for 2018:

Have switched from black nylon mesh netting bolts for covering galvanized frames to black fiberglass mesh window screen rolls for durability and protection from the claws of squirrels and hens trying to access the beds, either to eat the produce or lay eggs there...

Cost is 75 cents per foot of 3' wide bolt.  Photo coming soon to show how it hangs.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41NJJIIvGjL._AC_US320_.jpg)

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 22, 2018, 06:53:39 PM
Follow-up on garden bed covers for 2018:

Have switched from black nylon mesh netting bolts for covering galvanized frames to black fiberglass mesh window screen rolls for durability and protection from the claws of squirrels and hens trying to access the beds, either to eat the produce or lay eggs there...

Cost is 75 cents per foot of 3' wide bolt.  Photo coming soon to show how it hangs.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41NJJIIvGjL._AC_US320_.jpg)
Looking forward to seeing this protective netting, as predation seems to be such a big topic, and will eventually affect most gardeners, if not already.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 22, 2018, 06:57:21 PM
Thanks for the strawberry and blueberry reminders.  Learned something this year.  Every year we fight squirrels and crows and whatever else, for the strawberries, and this year will probably be no different.

What we discovered is that for the first time in decades, we had transplanted some strawberries to a raised bed for last year's crop, and just noticed the other day that every single one of them must have died during the winter.  Not a trace of them except dead looking stems, etc.  But the plants in their original bed are already green and are obviously still alive.  Live and learn, eh?  Maybe it was the soil mix being too wimpy? 
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 23, 2018, 04:24:05 AM
We had the exact same experience here: strawberries in unprotected galvanized troughs (on the ground) did fine, while strawberries in raised beds, even with rich soil, appeared green when I removed their protective covers this spring, but quickly browned and looked dead.  In most cases, once I trimmed them back to the bare crown and a few inches of roots, I was able to spot a bit of green life trying to bounce back, and am sure that given time I could grow them out.  So, that winter air flowing beneath the beds must set them back.

The raised planting beds may best be left for growing annuals in the future, if winters continue to worsen. 

BTW, I notice that whenever I soak brown looking crowns in a pail of water for several minutes, they often green up a bit. 
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Yowbarb on April 23, 2018, 08:24:03 PM
Thanks for the strawberry and blueberry reminders.  Learned something this year.  Every year we fight squirrels and crows and whatever else, for the strawberries, and this year will probably be no different.

What we discovered is that for the first time in decades, we had transplanted some strawberries to a raised bed for last year's crop, and just noticed the other day that every single one of them must have died during the winter.  Not a trace of them except dead looking stems, etc.  But the plants in their original bed are already green and are obviously still alive.  Live and learn, eh?  Maybe it was the soil mix being too wimpy?

ilinda - learning something new every time I read your posts. :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Perpetual Strawberries
Post by: Yowbarb on April 23, 2018, 08:24:44 PM
Corporate strawberry growers and ag extension agencies are fond of advising us that strawberry plants cannot be perpetually grown with any measure of success beyond 2 years for June-bearing varieties or 4 years for everbearing and day-length neutral varieties.

This is false, for those who are willing to expend a little effort to dig up their crowns once a year.  Both types of strawberries are cared for in a similar manner.  I highly recommend covered, raised beds for this crop, in order to save your back and keep wildlife out:

In spring:
*Clean winter debris out of the bed or beds
*Fill a bucket with water
*Lift crowns one at a time out of the soil
*Trim the roots down to a few inches in length
*Trim off old brown runners from last year
*Divide large clumps
*Let trimmed plants soak in the water bucket until ready to replant
*Space them at least 6 inches apart to allow for new growth
*Be prepared with at least one extra bed to plant in, because your crowns will have multiplied.  I got 3 beds from just one so far today.
*Water thoroughly.
*Fertilize with nettle or comfrey tea

During the growing season:
*Water regularly and deeply
*Ignore conventional advice and do allow runners to form - they are your future crops and worth sacrificing a bigger harvest this year
*Keep netting or other cover maintained
*Fertilize with nettle or comfrey tea
*Harvest regularly and don't allow berries to rot in the bed

In late autumn:
*Renew soil fertility with worm castings, leaf mulch or comfrey/nettle tea
*Cover with a permeable layer of plastic wool (such as reusable air filters) or straw before the first hard freeze

(https://i2.wp.com/bonnieplants.com/wp-content/uploads/strawberry-plant-Illustration-web.jpg?ssl=1)

R.R. what great info!
Thanks
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Change in garlic planting pattern
Post by: R.R. Book on April 24, 2018, 06:33:37 PM
As many already know, garlic is a plant-and-replant crop that is economical in that small inputs yield large outputs, as a bulb with 10 cloves will create 10 new bulbs if divided and replanted. 

In our area, garlic was always one of the easiest crops to care for: if ten organic bulbs having ten cloves apiece were purchased at a total cost of $5, then divided and planted in well-drained loamy soil in mid-October, 100 garlic plants would be harvested, braided and hung in the pantry nine months later.  Green tops could be trimmed even sooner to be added to stews or saved for later use by chopping and dehydrating or freezing.  Of the 100 bulbs harvested in July, ten would be reserved for replanting for the following year's crop, leaving 90 bulbs or 900 cloves to store in the pantry.  Elegantly simple multiplication.

However, longer and wetter winters have changed all that in our location.  The last four winters have left us with entirely or mostly vanished garlic crops by spring, having rotted in the ground under mounds of melting snow.  The game has clearly changed, leaving two courses of action open to us: either build a greenhouse, or wait until spring to begin planting, which means harvesting at an odd time.  If planting can possibly be done in March, harvesting could be done in November.  You can see how drastically that changes the old traditional planting calendar.  October to July versus March to November.

So part of our response to the changes that are coming upon us needs to be careful observation of new weather trends and adaptation to them as quickly as possible, regardless of long-held traditions.  And there is every possibility that with the coming pole shift, we may need to adjust our adaptations yet again until the weather settles down into a reliable routine.

(http://www.leevalley.com/us/images/item/Bulletins/braidGarlic1.jpg)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 24, 2018, 07:48:14 PM
Thanks for the strawberry and blueberry reminders.  Learned something this year.  Every year we fight squirrels and crows and whatever else, for the strawberries, and this year will probably be no different.

What we discovered is that for the first time in decades, we had transplanted some strawberries to a raised bed for last year's crop, and just noticed the other day that every single one of them must have died during the winter.  Not a trace of them except dead looking stems, etc.  But the plants in their original bed are already green and are obviously still alive.  Live and learn, eh?  Maybe it was the soil mix being too wimpy?

ilinda - learning something new every time I read your posts. :)
You're too kind.  Truth is, I've been growing stuff since about 7 or 8 years old, beginning as mom's little helper, and still every single year since then I wonder how many things I'll learn, cuz the more I know, the more I realize I DON'T know. 

Just learned last year (!!!) that lima beans produce till frost, just growing and flowering and growing....on and on. But by growing them in same row as Cherokee Trail of Tears bean, I noticed the Cherokee beans have a finite life span, regardless of fact that it's still warm.  They grow, then they die.  That is that.  On one end of row were lush, green vines full of lima pods, and on other end were brown and crisp, dead Cherokee vines, having spent their energy.  Very interesting, and it took decades to learn something so simple.  LOL LOL
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 25, 2018, 04:04:52 AM
Great observations Ilinda!  Isn't the garden the grandest laboratory?  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 25, 2018, 09:37:30 AM
Great observations Ilinda!  Isn't the garden the grandest laboratory?  :)
It is one of the very best learning tools.  Ever.  It's also about survival.

Now regarding your garlic losses, I'm truly sorry, and you're not the first to discuss this topic.  Two different friends, unbeknownst to each other, have had the very same experience in the past several years.

This past winter, and now spring, our farmer friend, Shirley, lost her entire garlic crop and she has no idea why.  She said after carefully examining the bed and the remnants of the plants, it appears they just rotted in place.  Another friend wasn't sure if they rotted or something helped them along, but the evidence strongly pointed to rotting in place.

It IS very different now and you're correct in that this transition from what was, to what will be, is going to be rough.  This is where people really need fellow growers with whom we can share seed stocks.

Do you think your garlic rotted to too much moisture?  Not enough?  Wrong soil mix?  Something else?  Shirley and I've tried to figure out why hers died but year before they didn't.  She does rotate beds, so it's not a matter of totally depleted soil.  The winter from which we just emerged was the absolutely longest winter I can ever remember, and it's still hanging on, keeping temp's from rising to normal (whatever that is anymore).  Possibly her garlic were expecting a warmup two months earlier than now.

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 25, 2018, 12:14:43 PM
Thanks for comparing notes Ilinda.  I'm pretty certain that the crop losses have been due to much snowier winters.  When it snows here, unless it's in April, the snow cover can remain in place for a lengthy period of time, melting very slowly and preventing air and light from reaching the beds.  So in actuality, it may not be the moisture as much as the lack of air circulation that's rotting the crops, as frequent rains in summer are harmless to such water-hogging plants.  The rotting removes all but traces of the bulbs, necks and leaves, ironically with a robust root system remaining that's difficult to dig out when re-working the beds. :(

I don't suspect disease this year, due to new beds, new soil, and half a dozen healthy surviving plants that somehow didn't rot.

I did replant yesterday, as last year, and hope for a decent harvest around Thanksgiving.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 26, 2018, 12:06:11 PM
Thanks for comparing notes Ilinda.  I'm pretty certain that the crop losses have been due to much snowier winters.  When it snows here, unless it's in April, the snow cover can remain in place for a lengthy period of time, melting very slowly and preventing air and light from reaching the beds.  So in actuality, it may not be the moisture as much as the lack of air circulation that's rotting the crops, as frequent rains in summer are harmless to such water-hogging plants.  The rotting removes all but traces of the bulbs, necks and leaves, ironically with a robust root system remaining that's difficult to dig out when re-working the beds. :(

I don't suspect disease this year, due to new beds, new soil, and half a dozen healthy surviving plants that somehow didn't rot.

I did replant yesterday, as last year, and hope for a decent harvest around Thanksgiving.
Lucky for us, it hardly ever snows much anymore so my sympathies go to you.

Here's a thought though.  My friend lost her entire crop as did you (almost).  This past year I planted garlic a bit later than usual, and not by some great plan--it just didn't happen due to trying to squeeze too much into each day, so finally IIRC it was actually in early November.  I'll look and verify that.  But know it was late.  I'm actually wondering if garlic will need to be planted later now than in the past.

Years ago I used to plant garlic in September, but now--never.  It's still usually too warm.  Now I never plant before October, but there have been about three times where I planted in November, and one in December due to wildlife decimating the crop, so I replanted in December and still managed to get a crop the following June.  So, am wondering, thinking out loud..is it possible that in a very long winter as this past one, that all that growth that usually takes place in October, November, where the green garlic leaves shoot up, only to die back for several months, was for naught? 

I don't have the answers, but keep remembering what one of the two guys taught in a "Garlic Workshop" I attended about 10 years ago at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa.  The guys teaching it were from far north of here, like Wisconsin.  And they talked about planting garlic in November, which shocked me.  I could not then, or now, imagine being that far north, in so much colder clime, and planting garlic that late.

Now it is starting to make sense.  Maybe when they plant it, they know it will likely be basically dormant to our eyes, but undergoing some slow changes that won't manifest until spring.  Maybe the garlic grown in Wisconsin doesn't send up the early green shoots of late fall or early winter?  Food for thought at least.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 26, 2018, 12:18:02 PM
Ilinda, your musings are making me wonder if winter garlic might be fine in the ground, but with a covering over it to prevent it from becoming water-logged. 

Of course, there could be animals munching on it as a starvation ration as well... :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Dual-Purpose Chores
Post by: R.R. Book on April 28, 2018, 12:40:48 PM
One of the key principles of Northern Permaculture is that everything we do, regardless of the season, is geared to surviving the following winter - even if we've just dug ourselves out from beneath the previous winter and the "W" word makes us cringe.  With that in mind, some of the spring chores on the homestead may fulfill more than one purpose at a time.

In order to get the bee nectary ready for spring, one of our annual chores is cleaning up the phlox patch, an amorphous roughly 6 x 6' bed that has been allowed to shape itself for around 15 years.  As many gardeners know, that means deadheading last year's 5' tall canes in a thatch of plants that are already showing near-knee high regrowth. 

Breaking the canes at about the height of the regrowth, after first scattering remaining seeds to oversow the patch and allow it to continue extending itself, will reinforce the patch against wind and animals.  The broken canes are then further snapped in half to a size that would fit easily into the woodstove as kindling for the coming autumn, so nothing is wasted.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on April 28, 2018, 07:28:16 PM
It looks so homey!  So inviting!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on April 30, 2018, 05:22:38 PM
 :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Permaculture Design Zones
Post by: R.R. Book on April 30, 2018, 05:24:17 PM
(http://i0.wp.com/www.permaculturedesigncourse.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/afristar-permaculture-posters1.jpg?resize=570%2C350)

(http://trybackyardfarming.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/permaculture-zones3.jpg)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Composting worms
Post by: R.R. Book on May 06, 2018, 11:16:36 AM
Earthworms, especially a particular red strain (Eisenia fetida) used for composting bins, are  beneficial to keep on the homestead.  They convert non-acidic fruit and veggie scraps, as well as dead leaves, into worm castings, a rich source of fertilizer that can be used straight without decomposition and without burning crops. 

(http://sanctuarysoil.com/wp-content/uploads/worm-castings-closeup2.jpg)
The little yellow balls in this batch of worm castings are some of the worm eggs, and should be sifted out and conserved before the rest is used on the garden.

I like to keep worm housing near the kitchen door and raised planter beds on the north side of the deck, as the worms prefer shade in summer.  In the north, the red species of worms need to be brought into the root cellar in winter.

Here's an example of a worm house that was built by a craftsman on Etsy.  The stackable boxes have screened bottoms, allowing worms to move upward for feeding and downward for nesting.  He had added the pitched roof by special request:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/582243758/homemade-wood-worm-bin-4-tray?ref=shop_home_active_3

Amazingly, this one has been through several years of Nor'easters and tropical storms, and has never blown over.  Am guessing the little nook may have protected it. 
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 06, 2018, 11:49:10 AM
I had promised a photo or two showing how the heavier-weight fiberglass screen cloth hangs on raised beds.  The drapes fold back easily for access to crops.  I've only covered the front and back openings of the arches, leaving the wider-grid hardware cloth on top open for pollinators.

The second photo shows how the cloth shades delicate plants from direct sun.  A more clever person than I probably could have figured out a better way of attaching the whole canopy, but I just happened to have a lot of binder clips on hand  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on May 07, 2018, 05:55:05 PM
Gorgeous little beds and they will surely foil birds and others preying on your crops.  Every single year I go through this with planting peanuts.  I've planted, then placed chicken wire over the bed, hardware cloth, sheer curtain material, row cover fabric, and who knows what all.  Some years are better than others, but it's not in a raised bed, which means it's right on the ground.

But one advantage is that the crows don't usually go under the covers, and rabbits cannot get into garden.  Still the smell of fresh peanuts is irresistible to some little creatures.

Thanks for posting.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 08, 2018, 03:24:52 PM
 :) :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 13, 2018, 11:54:24 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q94EMsC5WuE

@ around 22:40, narrator makes an interesting comment:
Quote
The nutrient density in food that you grow yourself is going to be much, much higher than anything in the supermarket, even in the organic section, and that is proven based on testing...Specifically Rodale Institute did the testing.  From your 5 sugar snap peas that you went outside and ate, you probably got more nutrition than you'd had in days.

(https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/t/sugar-snap-pea-22939438.jpg)

Quote
Growing my own food makes me feel like a whole person.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Extending the growing season
Post by: R.R. Book on May 13, 2018, 12:52:09 PM
Same film gives a rationale for erecting an unheated greenhouse using Climate Battery Technology:

Three ways to do it:
A. Insulate the foundation 3 or 4 feet down

B. Dig a series of 3 or 4 feet trenches in the floor of the greenhouse and bury black 6" corrugated drainage pipe, which costs $50-$80 for a 100', which covers 100'2 of greenhouse floor.  Place a 100 watt, 1/2 amp solar fan on the ground in the greenhouse which will circulate heat from the ceiling back down to the floor, keeping the interior 5-10oF warmer at night, lengthening the growing season and increasing crop yields.  The fan will work even under cloud cover.  If on a slim budget, it is possible to source an old computer hard-drive cooling fan from Ebay for $1 and re-purpose it.  Make sure and get an outdated 4" one rather than a modern miniaturized one.

C. Fill the greenhouse with thermal mass in lieu of deep digging and rigging up a circulating fan.  Can either be done with a heat sink pond at the rear that takes up 20% of the floor space, or by filling black barrels with water in the spring.  The water is allowed to build up heat over summer that lasts into autumn and beyond, maintaining a constant temperature of around 70o F.  If the barrels are left open on top, fish can be raised in the tanks, and their waste products diluted in the water then can be used to water plants in the greenhouse.  If tanks have a low drainage spigot, the effluent can be flushed out at the bottom without disturbing the fish at the top.  Aquatic plants such as duckweed and water hyacinth can be floated on top that are both edible and medicinal.

*Even with no heat source, all three greenhouse types will still be several degrees warmer than outside, enough to raise temperature by 3-5 zones warmer than where you actually are.

*Crops are protected from hail and wind (Note: they are also protected from ice, which kills greens more than cold does).

*Tomatoes will have that extra night-time warmth necessary to ripen

*For a total investment of $1,000 you have a climate system that never deteriorates and can be moved around and reused.

Even without a greenhouse, some crops such as brassicas and greens, can withstand temperatures down below 20 degrees without damage if just a cloth is thrown over them.

Photo below of closed black water barrels used for thermal mass: https://midwestpermaculture.com/2013/10/year-round-greenhouse-2/:
(https://midwestpermaculture.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Greenhouse-with-Water-Barrel-Thermal-Mass-640x477.jpg)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on May 13, 2018, 07:18:19 PM
Quote
Growing my own food makes me feel like a whole person.
That is so true!  Just last night in episode 4 or 5 of the Longevity series, they mentioned this very topic and how even organic food from grocery strores has often been chlorine washed, etc., etc., and your best and freshest food is what you grow.  Thanks!  We needed that reminder.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Extending the growing season
Post by: ilinda on May 13, 2018, 07:20:25 PM
Same film gives a rationale for erecting an unheated greenhouse using Climate Battery Technology:

Three ways to do it:
A. Insulate the foundation 3 or 4 feet down

B. Dig a series of 3 or 4 feet trenches in the floor of the greenhouse and bury black 6" corrugated drainage pipe, which costs $50-$80 for a 100', which covers 100'2 of greenhouse floor.  Place a 100 watt, 1/2 amp solar fan on the ground in the greenhouse which will circulate heat from the ceiling back down to the floor, keeping the interior 5-10oF warmer at night, lengthening the growing season and increasing crop yields.  The fan will work even under cloud cover.  If on a slim budget, it is possible to source an old computer hard-drive cooling fan from Ebay for $1 and re-purpose it.  Make sure and get an outdated 4" one rather than a modern miniaturized one.

C. Fill the greenhouse with thermal mass in lieu of deep digging and rigging up a circulating fan.  Can either be done with a heat sink pond at the rear that takes up 20% of the floor space, or by filling black barrels with water in the spring.  The water is allowed to build up heat over summer that lasts into autumn and beyond, maintaining a constant temperature of around 70o F.  If the barrels are left open on top, fish can be raised in the tanks, and their waste products diluted in the water then can be used to water plants in the greenhouse.  If tanks have a low drainage spigot, the effluent can be flushed out at the bottom without disturbing the fish at the top.  Aquatic plants such as duckweed and water hyacinth can be floated on top that are both edible and medicinal.

*Even with no heat source, all three greenhouse types will still be several degrees warmer than outside, enough to raise temperature by 3-5 zones warmer than where you actually are.

*Crops are protected from hail and wind (Note: they are also protected from ice, which kills greens more than cold does).

*Tomatoes will have that extra night-time warmth necessary to ripen

*For a total investment of $1,000 you have a climate system that never deteriorates and can be moved around and reused.

Even without a greenhouse, some crops such as brassicas and greens, can withstand temperatures down below 20 degrees without damage if just a cloth is thrown over them.

Photo below of closed black water barrels used for thermal mass: https://midwestpermaculture.com/2013/10/year-round-greenhouse-2/:
(https://midwestpermaculture.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Greenhouse-with-Water-Barrel-Thermal-Mass-640x477.jpg)
This idea is something we should all be considering, in one form or another.  With the weather and climate anomalies, nobody knows if we will have another "normal" year in the foreseeable future, even for the very young.  Things are changing.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 14, 2018, 05:03:57 AM
What is the Longevity series Ilinda?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on May 15, 2018, 06:12:16 PM
What is the Longevity series Ilinda?
https://humanlongevityfilm.com/

It started May 8 and should finish tomorrow.  They usually run these series a couple of times, but you almost have to binge-watch just to get it all.  But it's FREE.  They always offer the opportunity to buy the series, and I did with the Vaccines Revealed, as well as The Truth About Cancer series.

These sets of series seem to be produced by different outfits, but they all seem to have ties to all the holistic health websites, so can be found through Dr. Mercola, Mike Adams, Greenmedinfo.com, etc.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 15, 2018, 06:25:48 PM
Thanks Ilinda!  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture: Wood ash for the garden
Post by: R.R. Book on May 16, 2018, 11:31:21 AM
One of the most frugal chores on the homestead is transferring wood stove ashes to the garden, essentially utilizing firewood twice.  Bio-char from bonfires can also be used.

Hardwoods are more nutrient-dense than softwoods (conifers).  We limit softwood or fatwood to kindling, as it does contain flammable resin that can lead to a creosote fire in the chimney if burned disproportionately.  For that purpose, we have a compost pile just for Christmas trees, and the tree that was added to the pile last January becomes kindling for the following autumn and winter, having dropped its needles and seasoned several months outdoors.  By October, the branches are ready to be cut into pieces suitable for the kindling basket.

Here is a table of nutrients in wood ash, with micro-nutrients varying according to species:
(https://www.paceturf.org/images/gallery/071029_ash.png)

Ash can be used to top-dress most vegetables or worked into the soil, but shouldn't be used on acid-loving crops such as most fruits, especially berries.  It is also not used on potatoes, as the higher pH may cause scab.

Wood ash for agricultural purpose has a calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE) component, which varies from 25-59 percent (https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2279e/). Calcium carbonate has a pH value of 9.4.  This puts ash in a similar soil amendment category as horticultural lime.  It's recommended to rotate every year where the ashes are added in the garden, so that soil is kept below a neutral pH of 7, with 6.5 being considered ideal for most vegetable crops.

Wood ash obviously needs to be thoroughly cooled down before being used, and a good place to conserve batches of it safely is in an old cast iron dutch oven, which is periodically emptied onto the garden when weather permits. 
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: Jimfarmer on May 16, 2018, 08:13:34 PM
Quote
One of the most frugal chores on the homestead is transferring wood stove ashes to the garden, essentially utilizing firewood twice.  Bio-char from bonfires can also be used.

I once read that a mixture of wood ash and urine makes a perfect fertilizer.  No ratios were stated.  Anyone have technical details?
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 17, 2018, 04:02:24 AM
I'm glad you brought it up, because I forgot to include the NPK ratio: 0-1-3.

So I can see how urine would add the N and balance the formula. 

Jim, if you're a professional farmer, we need to learn more from you!  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on May 17, 2018, 10:18:00 AM
Quote
One of the most frugal chores on the homestead is transferring wood stove ashes to the garden, essentially utilizing firewood twice.  Bio-char from bonfires can also be used.

I once read that a mixture of wood ash and urine makes a perfect fertilizer.  No ratios were stated.  Anyone have technical details?
It sounds reasonable and just think--those are two things we all can access.  Even if we find no technical details, we can experiment on small parts of a bed, so as to compare it with the "control bed".
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 18, 2018, 05:34:58 AM
Quote
Quote from: R.R. Book on May 14, 2018, 05:03:57 AM

    What is the Longevity series Ilinda?

https://humanlongevityfilm.com/

It started May 8 and should finish tomorrow.  They usually run these series a couple of times, but you almost have to binge-watch just to get it all.  But it's FREE.  They always offer the opportunity to buy the series, and I did with the Vaccines Revealed, as well as The Truth About Cancer series.

Ilinda, I'll start a separate thread about this, as it seems too important to let lapse here.  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on May 26, 2018, 02:47:08 PM
Table comparing algae pond water as a garden fertilizer with other organic inputs:

(https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305450259/figure/fig1/AS:391520856363012@1470357254737/Effects-of-fertilizer-rates-on-plant-height.png)

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Effects-of-fertilizer-rates-on-plant-height_fig1_305450259

Please see also:
http://www.imedpub.com/articles/role-of-blue-green-algae-in-paddy-crop.pdf

https://sciencing.com/role-algae-agriculture-8617202.html

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 04, 2018, 10:14:40 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNJLY-yXOYE

around 2:00

Estimating food garden water needs.  Narrator says a minimum of 200'2 of garden space is needed to feed a family, or about 6x the size of the garden in the diagram below (so 6x the water usage).

Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 04, 2018, 06:14:35 PM
http://urbanhomestead.org/

Am guessing some are already familiar with the wonderful Dervaes family that have been homesteading on a 1/5 acre lot in the middle of Pasadena for decades?

(http://urbanhomestead.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/urban-homestead-backyard.jpg)

The actual garden only takes up 1/10 of an acre, as the house is on the remainder.  That's 3900'2, or roughly the equivalent of 66' x 66'.

(https://media.giphy.com/media/XthnDr9aUctfhxfU24/giphy.gif)

Statistics:

*The 1/10 acre plot organically grows 400 species of edible plants

*They have increased their annual harvest from 6,000 pounds to 7,000 pounds

*They raise 90% of their produce at an annual savings of $75,000 for a family of 4

*60% is consumed, 30% is sold, and 10% is fed to livestock

*They raise $20,000 gross in annual sales to local restaurants, as well as a CSA box program and a front porch farm stand.

*They are lacto-ovo vegetarians

*They eat on $2 per day per person

Quote
Growing food is one of the most dangerous occupations on the face of this earth, because you are in danger of becoming free.
~Julian Dervaes, head of the family

(https://media.giphy.com/media/AFK13F3tZNOTK0A3Sl/giphy.gif)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCmTJkZy0rM&sns=tw

(http://loveforlife.com.au/files/ResizedPathToFreedom.jpg)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 04, 2018, 08:01:44 PM
Thanks for reminding us.  They were written up in Mother Earth News a few years ago and were as impressive then, as now!  Amazing family and incredible commitment to sustainability and self-sufficiency.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 04, 2018, 08:21:06 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNJLY-yXOYE

around 2:00

Estimating food garden water needs.  Narrator says a minimum of 200'2 of garden space is needed to feed a family, or about 6x the size of the garden in the diagram below (so 6x the water usage).
We've covered the issue before, probably elsewhere on PXTH, of watering the garden, but it's definitely worth another mention.  For some years now I've adopted a new method of watering, where I water the seeds and seedlings generously while small, but not till soggy.  In other words, keep the newly emerging seeds and seedlings moist but now drowning.

Once established, no longer water them.  Unless you are in a horrific drought, they will find the water they need.  This does work.  For example with squash, notice how on those especially hot days, that the leaves droop down so low, they appear to be dying.  But the next morning they are perked back up.

The way to know about squash, and presumably other crops, is that if they are still drooped down low the following morning, then they DO need water.  What happens when you withhold regular watering, is that the plant will send roots down deeper and deeper to find the needed moisture.  Not watering regularly will actually make the plants more resiliant.

And if a drought or mini-drought comes your way, make a slight trench parallel to rows of crop, but about 1-2' away.  Water in that trench will be available to the roots of the adjacent, thirsty plants.

This may not work for all, especially those who live basically on sand, such as St. Pete, FL, or those who are so neurotic they cannot mentally accept the possibility of withholding water from a plant!

This year I'm growing three varieties of corn.  The first, Tohono O'odham, a 60-day flour corn I watered when it was planted, and that is the first and last time it will receive any water from me.   The second and third varieties, I did not water, even when planting, as I plan to allow rainwater to provide what is needed, assuming rains will be normal this year.  Update to follow.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 05, 2018, 04:33:13 AM
Quote
those who are so neurotic they cannot mentally accept the possibility of withholding water from a plant

 ;)

I planted some of the Yamiken seeds that you sent me Ilinda, and will try practicing your insight of not watering unless they are wilted in the morning, especially as curcubits generally struggle with mildew in our moist climate.  Of course we've had torrential rains so far this season, and water may not be an issue here as much as elsewhere.

Good luck with your corn!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 06, 2018, 05:41:20 PM
Quote
those who are so neurotic they cannot mentally accept the possibility of withholding water from a plant

 ;)

I planted some of the Yamiken seeds that you sent me Ilinda, and will try practicing your insight of not watering unless they are wilted in the morning, especially as curcubits generally struggle with mildew in our moist climate.  Of course we've had torrential rains so far this season, and water may not be an issue here as much as elsewhere.

Good luck with your corn!
Today we cut into our last Yamiken and it was definitely still good.  The one before this was still sweet, but had begun to get a bit of toughness.  By this time of year, they are nearly one year old! 

Another point, which I may have mentioned before is that even if you like to mulch your garden plants, Yamiken is one that does better without mulch for the simple reason that if you begin to reach for the squash bugs, they will immediately drop downward and move under the mulch and you'll never find them.  For that reason I resist the urge to thickly mulch, as I do with tomatoes and peppers (when time permits).

Last but not least, probably repeating myself again, the best cooking method is sliced into wedges, and in an olive oiled cast iron skillet, uncovered, at 250 deg. F.   We use a little toaster oven.  After about two hours at 250 deg. F., uncovered, then carefully turn each wedge over and bake another 15-30 min at 200-250.  The goal is to get them to caramelize a bit for that last 15-30 min.  (The beauty of the long cooking time is you start them and just walk away for several hours--I've even left them on for three hours on occasion.)

Pics attached show our very last one.  It's like being an empty-nester when the last one leaves.....  LOL
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 06, 2018, 07:17:00 PM
How luscious the slices look! 

Empty nest - ha ha!  ;)

Will follow your advice and not mulch. 

BTW, I was amazed to see that a couple of "wild" curcubits have come up on their own in the woods, apparently after overwintering, and I'm very eager to see exactly what kind they turn out to be.  Any curcubit seeds surviving the winter that we just pulled through must be pretty tough indeed!  Will keep you informed...
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 07, 2018, 08:02:20 PM
And one last piece of info. which I probably have also repeated ad nauseum (!), is that the Yamiken are ready when the stems have turned from green to dried-brown.  This is the longest season squash I've ever grown because it seems to take forever for the female flowers to arrive.  It seems for weeks and weeks all I see are male flowers, then all of a sudden, the females appear, and I always worry that they won't have time to make fruit. 

If you do get an early frost and the fruits do not have brown stems, or are still green, just bring them indoors and wait till they properly turn.  It might take several months, as this is the slowest squash ever!  But they are worth it.  I proved to myself last year that bringing green fruit indoors and letting them ripen on their own can still give sweet squash.  Before we had to experience it, I always thought they'd be only slightly sweet and compromised.  But the wait is worth it.  It's even better though if they can totally ripen on the vine.

Whew.  Will stop lecturing now!  LOL
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 08, 2018, 08:28:18 AM
Thanks for the detailed information Ilinda.  Am hoping that our growing season will be long enough even to produce the unripe squash.  If our first frost, which normally comes in the 2nd week of October, comes any earlier, the Yamiken may not have time to switch from making male blossoms to female ones.  Will report back!  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 08, 2018, 11:18:26 AM
We may be jockeying for pole position to see who even gets female flowers!  I'm having the strangest time getting them in the ground.  The first ones got too cold and all rotted or just died.  Second planting took forever, and am now on 3rd and 4th plantings, some in pots, some in the ground.

Some in pots were actually dug up because the bed didn't seem like good enough soil, etc.  Growing one's own food is really challenging!

We can update each other as time permits.  My best guess is that when you see first blossoms, they'll be male, and that will continue for 2-4 weeks before you see females.  At any rate, even the green fruits, if taken indoors, will eventually ripen.

I read somewhere that the reason for the huge preponderance of first-male fruits is to attract the pollinators to the patch.  If the "aroma parcel of air" extends out enough, it will surely be noticed by the appropriate pollinators and they will then visit the squash patch, by which time the female flowers are beginning to appear.

I never gave a lot of thought to any of this until we started growing Yamiken.  Everything was taken for granted, whether it was butternut, zucchini, yellow crookneck, etc., but now with this fruit, I feel it is too important to "let it go".
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 08, 2018, 06:25:52 PM
Quote
Growing one's own food is really challenging!

That's a good sub-topic starter: Which crops are easiest for novice gardeners, and which require more experience (meaning some risk of crop failure)?

Ideas for the Northern gardener:

No Experience Needed:
Potatoes: Sunchokes
Greens: Dandelion
Berries: Shrub - dwarf raspberries, tree - mulberry, ground cover - strawberries
Legumes: Siberian peas; pole beans to climb sunchokes (plant-and-replant)
Stone fruits: Tart cherries
Alliums: Chives, walking onions, Welsh onions, garlic
Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes can be container-grown and overwintered as perennials indoors
Peppers: Dwarf ones could be container-grown and overwintered as perennials indoors
Grain: Good King Henry (an amaranth)
Radishes: Rapidly grown both as food and for soil aeration and tillage as prep for other crops
Apiaceae (parsley, celery): Lovage
Vine: Hardy Kiwi
Other: Asparagus


Experience Helpful, and Why:
*Curcubits (pumpkins, squash, gourds):
All are potentially subject to fungus in the north; vining types require lots of space; many are subject to squash vine borer; beds must be rotated every year unless special soil amendments are made.

Other stone fruit trees and nut trees:
Need to research carefully to learn:
Which are disease resistant; which need two different cultivars; which come on dwarfing rootstock suitable for smaller homesteads; best methods of annual pruning; which are winter hardy; which have longevity, which  need a lot of water; which don't like much rain.  Can be a long wait for production.  Trunks need early protection from rodents, and constant protection from deer.  May need annual removal by hand of moth larvae nests to prevent mass defoliation.  Some cultivars may bear only every other year.

Grapes: Need to research carefully to learn:
Which are suitable geographically; which are seedless; which are disease-resistant; which are winter-hardy.  Some need to be pruned frequently; may need a hormone supplement to help clusters fill in well.  Can be a long wait for production.  Physical supports needed, such as a fence.

Brassicas: Subject to club root infection unless kept in very well-drained soil. Need lots of room.  Cabbages must be shielded from cabbage fly and cabbage moth larvae.  A few cultivars are perennial, but require special ordering from limited suppliers, some of which may not be in your country.  These sell out quickly, and rootstock may need to be ordered months ahead of time and pre-paid.

Non-bitter greens: Spinach and lettuce bolt as soon as it gets warm, meaning they'll send up a flower stalk and die.

Blueberries: Require very acidic soil with at least annual amendments.  Should not be planted near a butterfly garden, as their larvae will feast on the leaves.  Need to be faster than the birds to get any of the harvest.  Water hogs. 

Currants:  Need to carefully research new disease-resistant cultivars. 

Artichokes: Best grown in a limited coastal climate; need lots of room

Potatoes: Subject to diseases; hill culture needs to be built up; require lots of space to feed a family; rootstock needs to be overwintered in special indoor conditions.

Corn: Requires careful sourcing of non-GMO seed for all but popcorn; cultivars need distance apart or succession planting; large space requirement; bed rotation requirement.

Watermelons: Nearly all types are subject to diseases and come with this warning on seed packets now.

Vining tomatoes: Subject to diseases, and seem to alternate between good and bad years in the North.  In a good year they can be prolific.

Suggestion: Dedicate the most space in the garden to failure-proof crops, and then perform limited experiments every year to see what else you can add.

Other ideas?

(https://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large-5/basket-of-produce-michael-moriarty.jpg)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 15, 2018, 07:13:41 AM
While waiting for most of the berries to finish ripening in the North, there are mulberry trees all over the place - at the edge of woodlands and in public parks - that are heavily laden with fruit that is dropping all over the ground.  One need not own a mulberry tree to take home a bag or container-full. 

(https://goodhealthall.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Nutrition-Chart-of-Mulberries.jpg)

Phytochemicals:
(http://g02.s.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1ru1iLXXXXXXbXpXX760XFXXXg/200936636/HTB1ru1iLXXXXXXbXpXX760XFXXXg.png)
https://borneoscobhd.en.ec21.com/Freeze_Dried_Mulberry_Antioxidant_Berry--8956654_10013726.html

Smoothie Recipe from Pinterest:
(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/76/e8/c0/76e8c038a699c2caf65062494b2f055e.jpg)



Nutritional Completeness Profile from NutritionData:
Quote
Each spoke in the wheel represents a different nutrient. The spoke for dietary fiber is colored green, protein is blue, vitamins are purple, minerals are white, and yellow represents a group of commonly overconsumed nutrients—saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 15, 2018, 08:22:38 PM
While waiting for most of the berries to finish ripening in the North, there are mulberry trees all over the place - at the edge of woodlands and in public parks - that are heavily laden with fruit that is dropping all over the ground.  One need not own a mulberry tree to take home a bag or container-full. 

(https://goodhealthall.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Nutrition-Chart-of-Mulberries.jpg)

Phytochemicals:
(http://g02.s.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1ru1iLXXXXXXbXpXX760XFXXXg/200936636/HTB1ru1iLXXXXXXbXpXX760XFXXXg.png)
https://borneoscobhd.en.ec21.com/Freeze_Dried_Mulberry_Antioxidant_Berry--8956654_10013726.html

Smoothie Recipe from Pinterest:
(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/76/e8/c0/76e8c038a699c2caf65062494b2f055e.jpg)



Nutritional Completeness Profile from NutritionData:
Quote
Each spoke in the wheel represents a different nutrient. The spoke for dietary fiber is colored green, protein is blue, vitamins are purple, minerals are white, and yellow represents a group of commonly overconsumed nutrients—saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Are your wild mulberries the ones commonly found throughout the U.S. in the wild?  A friend has an unusual mulberry tree with a growth habit totally different from that of the wild ones, which are tall, lanky, and not overly laden with fruit.  But friend's tree is shorter, with very dense canopy, and loaded with berries that are longer and sweeter than those wild ones.

We've tried about everything to get starts from her tree, with little success, and wish we knew more about it.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 16, 2018, 06:30:35 AM
Hi Ilinda,

The only deliberately cultivated mulberry that we have is a dwarf variety.  The wild mulberries that I've seen around here all grow on the edge of the woods and mostly on the edge of a stream located in a flood plain, in part-sun & part-shade.  They have fruited heavily this year, probably because we've had more rain than sun this spring.  Their production is very much tied to water availability.  And yes, the wild berries are shorter and black when ripe, unlike the red or white cultivars.  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 19, 2018, 04:43:12 PM
I've mentioned the German non-bitter dandelions previously, which are really mostly less-bitter when not at their largest, from my own experience. 

The Canadian non-bolting perpetual sorrel (called "Profusion Sorrel" developed by Richter's), which had thrived in my garden for several years, finally failed to come back when I placed it in the hen-yard "salad bar:" a raised bed with wide-holed wire fencing across the top which permits grazing without clawing. 

(https://www.richters.com/Web_store/Html/Images/X5683.jpg)
https://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=X5683&show=all&prodclass=&cart_id=5759694.20190

I followed-up instead by filling the bed with the German dandelions (from Oikos Tree Crops in Michigan). 

(https://oikostreecrops.com/products/image/cache/data/1022_3-500x500a.jpg)
https://oikostreecrops.com/products/perennial-vegetable-plants/perennial-edible-nutrient-dense-greens/dandelion-nouvelle-volherzigen/

After allowing poultry to freely graze it for 2 days, the plants were reduced down to their spines, with a little green fringe remaining.  I fertilized the bed with pond water and draped it with the heavy fiberglass window screencloth, and it bounced completely back a week or so later.  The screencloth can be folded back to allow grazing again any time, and then the bed covered afterward for a quick regrowth.

Will post a photo of the "salad bar" soon.  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 21, 2018, 02:22:37 PM
Very cool way to allow chickens to graze on new growth, plus presumably have some greens for yourselves as well.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 21, 2018, 03:22:12 PM
 :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 27, 2018, 01:10:41 PM
I had promised to upload a photo of the German non-bitter dandelion "salad bar" in the henyard, and here it is.  This bed was an old raised-leg cedar planter that was flipped upside-down to provide the posts for the fiberglass screencloth covering.  There are inverted screw hooks (facing down) surrounding the top on all sides to pull the wire mesh taut when grazing is permitted (photo does not show it taut), which prevents poultry from damaging plants down at the crown and root level.  The wire had been snipped inside the 4 corners to accommodate the posts, providing more strength when pulled down over them.  The front section of screencloth folds back easily to allow hens on top of the grazing grid. 

I lined the bottom with flat paving stones, spaced a bit for drainage, to prevent burrowing critters from tunneling their way up from below ground, as we once lost a bed of skirret (perennial carrots) in that location for that reason.  :(
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on June 28, 2018, 03:45:28 PM
I had promised to upload a photo of the German non-bitter dandelion "salad bar" in the henyard, and here it is.  This bed was an old raised-leg cedar planter that was flipped upside-down to provide the posts for the fiberglass screencloth covering.  There are inverted screw hooks (facing down) surrounding the top on all sides to pull the wire mesh taut when grazing is permitted (photo does not show it taut), which prevents poultry from damaging plants down at the crown and root level.  The wire had been snipped inside the 4 corners to accommodate the posts, providing more strength when pulled down over them.  The front section of screencloth folds back easily to allow hens on top of the grazing grid. 

I lined the bottom with flat paving stones, spaced a bit for drainage, to prevent burrowing critters from tunneling their way up from below ground, as we once lost a bed of skirret (perennial carrots) in that location for that reason.  :(
How often do you allow chickens to access their salad bar?  It appears the bottom wire has approx. 1" X 2" openings?  Is that a type of welded wire?  Is that part of the rodent protection?  Or is that there because it was on top when the unit was a planter?
Thanks for showing this clever and useful farm tool!
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on June 28, 2018, 04:31:11 PM
Yes, you're correct about the 1x2 welded fence wire, which is very easy to cut and shape.  Besides keeping poultry away from roots and crowns, it also discourages wildlife, while the under-bed paving stones discourage burrowing rodents.  It would not be impossible for critters still to get into the top part, but they tend to be more attracted to other produce than dandelion greens!

How often to graze depends upon how heavily to graze.  When I turned the bed over to  the poultry for 2 whole days, the "salad bar" became depleted and needed to be allowed to recover for maybe 2 weeks, so one single such bed should be regarded as an occasional diversion in the pen, rather than as being a regular dietary staple. 

If you want more regular use, it would be better to harvest a handful of the leaves daily or a few times a week, as a green supplement in their morning or evening mash, and even better as part of a whole range of gleanings from the garden.

Alternatively, one could build more beds or larger beds, space permitting.  We let our hens out of the henyard fence to forage so often, that it hasn't been a priority to build more covered beds inside the pen, just yet.  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on July 10, 2018, 06:13:32 AM
Took a photo of the skirret (perpetual carrot) bed this morning to show how tall the tops can get. 

In this heat wave, I've had to keep it well-watered.  Skirret might almost prefer to be grown aquaponically, with its feet standing in water, but needs the mycorrhizae only available in soil.  So it's kept happy in pretty wet soil.  :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on July 10, 2018, 10:26:31 AM
Is the skirret mainly for humans or chickens?  It slightly resembles parsnips.  IIRC, you did talk of it in earlier posts.
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on July 10, 2018, 10:32:51 AM
It's good in stews and desserts.  It does have a tough core that makes it less desirable to eat raw. :)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: R.R. Book on July 14, 2018, 02:10:56 PM
Book published just this week, recommended by this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MyEfIe1i58

Narrator says that using the coupon code HARVEST BOOM will bring the cost under $10 on the link he provides. 

It's also available electronically for instant reading on Amazon, also for under $10.
https://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Harvests-Food-Security-uncertain-ebook/dp/B07FF6C8JS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1531603645&sr=8-4&keywords=abundant+harvests+book&dpID=51DEC8zqFpL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51DEC8zqFpL.jpg)
Title: Re: Northern Permaculture
Post by: ilinda on July 15, 2018, 07:15:09 PM
Looks interesting!  If you get the book, please feel free to do a book review right here.