This is a topic I have thought about starting for a while. I am currently stuck living in South Texas (sorry if you love the area, but I am not a huge fan) and among the problems that plague every site here is a lack of any form of frost at all. It means that the cabbage and kale here taste awful to me and never manage any form of sweetness if they were grown locally. Since I prefer to eat local when I can, this has presented a problem for me.
My solution has been to ponder how best to apply the knowledge I gained living in the North as a reverse engineering of the South. In Ohio or Pennsylvania I knew the best ways to keep frost from touching something. Porches were less prone to frost than the open. Low spots collected more cold air and shade is more prone to frost than an exposed area, etc. Taking this knowledge, I have studied the weather this winter and found that frost does occur, but only in certain spots and conditions. I think that if I am still here another year, I am going to apply this to try creating an artificial area of greater frost and using it to 'ripen' cole plants I will grow there.
Another situation is that my eventual hope is to live in Eastern Tennessee. Some areas of TN are heavily coated in Kudzu. Undeniably this is a real problem there. I expect that if I find a site with lots of it, it is going to be a boon for me. First, the price of the land is going to be far less expensive in my experience. Second, Kudzu is a very healthy food source for humans, Third, goats absolutely love the stuff, so that makes for ready fodder in a nearly endless supply and a way to make goats into a permanently useful (read nondestructive) part of the homestead even if the size of my acreage is not that large.
In one of the Jeff Lawton videos, a low area prone to flooding was used to grow rice in a location where no one else was growing it. There are all sorts of these situations that might occur! So I would like to hear from others about some of the annoying and problematic aspects of their homesteads that they have found a way to turn into a benefit. Who knows who might find inspiration in your own ingenuity! If you only have the problem and no good use for it yet, post that! Maybe someone can come up with a way to make good use of it.
I haven't determined yet if it is a boon or not but I hope to make use of an invasive plant that's been difficult to manage. My soil has been getting organic inputs from all over for years and a few less desirable newcomers have taken root as a result. One plant that crowds out my planted varieties seems to be what's known as Florida Betony. I've often thought the tubers look edible but I was hesitant to try it. I saw a Chopped episode where they were using crosnes and they looked very much like my nemisis so I looked for info and it seems the Stachys affinis is very similar to a Stachys floridana, this Betony. If it turns out that I'm right, we have a new pantry ingredient. Bread and butter pickled Betony root and whatever else we can come up with.
A sun scoop on a north facing slope creates a frost pocket. I've pondered how this could be used advantageously for a while now. Ripening cole crops is definitely a function of frost that I could use. Thanks for that idea.
You should try switching to vegetables and greens adapted to frost free or nearly frost free climates. This includes many things grown in the hottest part of a northern summer, but also a few other things unique to the South and beyond. Green vegetables might be your biggest learning curve....A few tips from my years in Georgia and Bangladesh:
Sweet potatoes.....grow easy in the heat, and you can cook and eat the greens. They are bland and soft, comparable to spinach.
Salad crops are a challenge. Find some kangkong or water spinach. (Ipomoea aquatica) ....look in oriental seed companies. This grows so well in wet spots it is considered an illegal invasive in FL. Malabar or Indian spinach (Basella), makes a long vine, and the leaves are good raw or cooked. Don't bother with New Zealand spinach, often advertised for hot weather. It really likes a Northern summer or perhaps a Western one, where nights cool off.
Last one is hardest to find, a thing called Surinam spinach (Talinum triangulare), originally a West African weed now found in the West Indies and the warmer parts of FL. It is an upright plant with succulent leaves, related to, though much larger than purslane. Seed needs to be fresh to sprout and germinates very warm....85 maybe. It will propagate easy from cuttings.....
I was digging a spot to dump some char in the garden and some of those Betony roots popped up, looking all plump and juicy. I just had to toss them to the side until I finished the task at hand and then I took them inside, washed them up and took a bite. Man, it was better than I was expecting! Not super sweet but it is kind of sweet with no earthy, musty, weedy taste at all! Yep! It's a good thing!
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