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Ben Falk. Should annual vegetables continue to play a role in colder climates?  RSS feed

 
Josh Chance
Posts: 20
Location: Fort Collins, CO, E of Rockies, semi-arid, zone 5, elev. 5K ft, precip. 16 in, snowfall 54in, clay
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Hello Mr. Falk,

Welcome to Permies!

How would you incorporate annual vegetables into a permaculture system in zone 3? Or do they have a place in such a system? What is your opinion about annual vegetables as a continued portion of our diet?

If I wanted to grow annual vegetables in zone 3, what suggestions would you make to reduce cultivation work for a family of three and a small scale farm (1-3 acres)?

Thanks for hanging out with us!

Josh
 
Ben Falk
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Posts: 55
Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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The only veggies we grow outside of zone 1 is broadcasted turnip, radish, kale mainly - sepp holzer style. It works great even on very poor soil with those crops at least - we keep trying more but little success with others until the soil is better.
 
Josh Chance
Posts: 20
Location: Fort Collins, CO, E of Rockies, semi-arid, zone 5, elev. 5K ft, precip. 16 in, snowfall 54in, clay
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My apologies, I was referring to hardiness zone, not permaculture zones
 
Ben Falk
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Posts: 55
Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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Josh Chance wrote:Hello Mr. Falk,

Welcome to Permies!

How would you incorporate annual vegetables into a permaculture system in zone 3? Or do they have a place in such a system? What is your opinion about annual vegetables as a continued portion of our diet?

If I wanted to grow annual vegetables in zone 3, what suggestions would you make to reduce cultivation work for a family of three and a small scale farm (1-3 acres)?

Thanks for hanging out with us!

Josh

Yes, sorry - that makes more sense now!
Annuals are awesome in that they are fast, reliable and diversify things.
But they take lots of compost. That means you need more than just food scraps, you also need urine (easy) and often manure to really grow a lot of veggies unless you are on blessedly good soil (unusual). They also lose soil continually, even in low till situations and are labor intensive. They need to be planted every year and weeds are a lot of work or you are a ninja and that takes a long time, from what I've seen.

More than 1/3 of our calories comes from veggies now, but that goes down a little each year as the perennials come online.
I think they should play as little of a role as possible simply because they are not as good return on investment as perennials. But in practical terms some veggies add resiliency - especially if you have frost protection. And there are great storage crop options from them.

Our focus is to make this system as tree and grass powered as possible and we are moving toward a more paleo diet not so much for health - though we feel that - but for what the land needs to regenerate and be most durable in production. Pretty much coming down to:
-animals, veggies and fruits, grains (paddy rice only), nuts, supplements (herbs, fungi, tree saps, etc.) In that order for calories.

 
Ben Falk
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Posts: 55
Location: Mad River Valley, VT
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Reducing work in veggies?
I am no veggie expert by any means, but for what it's worth:
-mulch paths
-cover crop and break weed cycles
-grow in rows, forget mandala gardens! We tried one. that's a LOT of work in this climate.
-use long handled tools.
-Plant densely/aim for biointensive.
-feed plants urine.
-use warm water not cold well water. from a pond is good. fertigate.
 
Josh Chance
Posts: 20
Location: Fort Collins, CO, E of Rockies, semi-arid, zone 5, elev. 5K ft, precip. 16 in, snowfall 54in, clay
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Thanks Ben. I appreciate your time

Josh
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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I'm not quite as cold as you are, I'm zone 4/5 but I would be LOST without my annual vegetables. I admit I am trying to "perennialize" them, by getting them to self seed or grow on in my climate..as much as possible.

as for your zone I'm sure you can do things like lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale..(I wouldn't be without these)..you also should be able to do root crops and allow a few of those to remain in the ground and perennialize them like the potatoes..and let the carrots, beets, parsnips, etc..to go to seed and reseed themselves if they will..mark them well

i also admit to having a small greenhouse for my tomato and pepper plants and some overwintering greens and a rosemary plant that i keep in a corner of the greenhouse.

i also still grow my squashes, cukes, melons here..with an early start on those..and do pumpkins and winter squash if they don't freeze..(should cover better)..I also see no reason not to grow beans and peas..esp peas ..and if you like them try podding radishes, they are spicey and very prolific
 
Josh Chance
Posts: 20
Location: Fort Collins, CO, E of Rockies, semi-arid, zone 5, elev. 5K ft, precip. 16 in, snowfall 54in, clay
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Thank you, Brenda.


I will keep that in mind.

I really am interested in trying to create a small productive permaculture farm in the CO Rockies that relies mostly on outdoor growth (greenhouses secondary). To provide to some of the high Mtn recreation towns (9-10,000ft). I found several pieces of land that are the right price and south facing.

I am quite early in my education of farming and permaculture, so I'm still trying to figure out what might be possible, considering CO water laws.

So, what you and Ben have told me definitely helps me get a better perspective.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Personally, I think annuals should be a part of any food system.

Nothing says "summer" better than a crisp salad. Those tomatoes and peppers (hot & sweet) are easy to preserve for a taste bonus during the colder months. A bunch of winter squash/pumpkins will help hold you (and the hogs/chickens) over until the fresh greens begin to grow again next summer.
Potatoes, onions, garlic speak for themselves - no comments required.
Fresh greens are a great source of vitamins/minerals in the warm months when our appetites are not in 'winter mode'.

In my opinion, "perennials only" would be as foolish as "annuals only".



 
Kelly King
Posts: 25
Location: North West Vermont - near Saxon Hill
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Ben Falk wrote:Reducing work in veggies?
I am no veggie expert by any means, but for what it's worth:
-mulch paths
-cover crop and break weed cycles
-grow in rows, forget mandala gardens! We tried one. that's a LOT of work in this climate.
-use long handled tools.
-Plant densely/aim for biointensive.
-feed plants urine.
-use warm water not cold well water. from a pond is good. fertigate.


I'd like to add that I've learned from a friend to make my garden more permie-ish by letting things go to seed, self seed and come up where they will and sometimes just moving them a bit. By this process we actually never have to plant kale it just sprouts up all over the place and I just leave it until it interferes. Our kale has morphed into what my friends call Kelly King Kale - a variety that is very hardy right here in Jericho. It has done noticeably better the closer it is to our homestead, even 15 miles away in what seemed like similar soil, it doesn't do as well. Interesting.

I also leave the edible weeds until they interfere with an annual veggie I need to pamper. My "edible weeds" are my first crops in the spring: milkweed shoots, dandelion and lambsquarters.

I also would not want to give up my annual veggies... but I'm beginning to see them as an indulgence, so my focus and energies are moving towards perennials.

I've been enjoying the videos on Ben Falks site, I've been trying "infect" my son who's a freshman studying Civil engineering with the permaculture bug. (Or should I say inoculate?) So I've sent him a link to all of Ben's videos which I think he'll really enjoy, especially since Ben is practically a neighbor to us here in Jericho.... 40ish miles?
-Kelly
 
Mike Haych
Posts: 242
Location: Eastern Canada, Zone 5a
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In a cold climate, how can you not have annual vegetables, in particular the ones that you can store with minimal processing? Perennial vegetables generally do not store well and season extenders and greenhouses have significant input requirements. You need to be able to store nutrition. So the challenge becomes how to grow annual vegetables in a permaculture context. How do you maximize yield and minimize labour while emulating Nature, ie, minimally disturbing Nature? Perhaps the start point is to look at how annual vegetables are currently grown in conventional ways and modify those methods. Long rows of vegetables in rototilled gardens whose fertility is maintained by adding fertilizers clearly isn't the way to go. But perhaps there are ideas within the work of John Jeavons, Mel Bartholomew, Emilia Hazelip, no-till organics, Sensei Fukuoka that can be distilled into a new dimension of permaculture? Permaculture certainly isn't static so maybe there's an opportunity here for some neat brainstorming.
 
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