I'm very interested in establishing paddock rotation for pig pasture in order to cut down on supplemental feed. In addition to the usual pannage and perennials, I'm interested in establishing one late-autumn turnip paddock, and one winter paddock loaded with giant pumpkins for the overwintering pigs to crunch open and feed on. I'll keep a big pile of squash and smaller pumpkins in dry storage, but I'd also like to experiment with growing a big patch of giant pumpkin cultivars, Atlantic Giants or Big Maxes. Rather than turnip and pumpkin monocultures, however, I'd like to make a good polyculture mix in both cases, with plenty of other good plants for pigs to munch on. What do you think would make good seed mixes with turnips, and what would grow well alongside giant pumpkins without getting overwhelmed by the vines?
red root pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) and lamb's quarters (Chenopodium album) both do quite well in a pumpkin patch, though I'm not sure about their value as winter fodder. certainly good during the growing season, though.
large annual sunflowers survive pumpkins fine. that suggests that tuberous perennial sunflowers might do well, which would probably work better for winter. roots could be the ticket for you. dandelions, thistles, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, groundnuts (both peanuts and hopniss). depending on your climate: cassava and taro. there are several beans with nice big roots: lab labs (Dolichos lablab) and scarlet runners (Phaseolus coccineus) come to mind. team beans up with some dent corn, which should hang onto the stalk just fine well into winter, and you've got the three sisters for your pigs. if you're worried about the giant pumpkins being to aggressive, just plant the other things a bit earlier to give them a jump.
all that stuff would work with the turnips, too. beets are easy. chickweeds (Stellaria species) start coming up in winter. all the winter vegetables that humans like would be great, too. kale seed is cheap. mangel seed is cheap. you could do a much bigger kitchen garden than you would otherwise need, and leave it to the pigs for the winter.
if you think it might be a permanent deal, a few chestnuts, oaks, honey locusts, persimmons, et cetera would be good.
those giant pumpkins are, indeed, giant. I'm not certain they're the most productive varieties on a square foot basis, though. might be worth looking into.
sounds like a good idea. do let us know how it goes.
Not sure where you are climate-wise but pumpkins and winter squashes can't just sit in the field through winter if it's consistently cold or with severe frosts....they will gradually rot. I think recommended storage temperature is 50-55 F (10-12C) minimum. Of course this process will take some weeks, so perhaps the pigs will eat them all beforehand.
Thanks guys, these are great suggestions! I was figuring forest pannage through September and October, then the slaughter, then the turnip patch in November, and the pumpkins in December/January. Think that the turnips or the pumpkins would go bad by that time in this case?
I'm in New England so snowfall is guaran-damn-teed.
I'm sure glad that he's gone. Now I can read this tiny ad in peace!
100th Issue of Permaculture Magazine - now FREE for a while