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This is all really interesting but I'm wondering about relatively local sources for seedlings of perennial greens like sea kale and Good King Henry. Apparently they're not easy to germinate. Thoughts?
 
Posts: 26
Location: coastal northern nor cal
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I also have a short growing season, (northern north cali - beach side) mainly because I live on bottom land and do not dry out as soon as I would like to plant. Sometimes not until mid June!
Our reliable protein crop is always beans. We have seed that came through Ellis Island in my husband's great grandmother's purse from Switzerland. They are delicious and I would be willing to share.
They do not do well in heat, our summers don't get much past 70's, usually upper 60's and I have had friends try to grow them in central Cali and they fail with heat. Should be perfect for you.
And there are plenty of early tomatoes that are passable. rareseed.com and bountifulgardens.org are two great resources for short season edibles.
I accomplish the "impossible" here also...melons. The famous "theys" told me it couldn't be done but I do it by digging down, laying a couple of inches of manure to heat the ground (I do have access to unlimited quantities of organic dairy poop-find yourself some!) then using fresh grass clippings around the plants for further heat. All produce well and in under 100 days. You can too!
There is a lot to be said for tinkering with mother nature, plants are very adaptable, they want to perform. You just have to figure out how to fake an acceptable climate without expensive doo-dads that need to be stored in the off season.
 
gina kansas
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Location: coastal northern nor cal
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Mary Fahnestock-Thomas wrote:This is all really interesting but I'm wondering about relatively local sources for seedlings of perennial greens like sea kale and Good King Henry. Apparently they're not easy to germinate. Thoughts?



I grow these every year- treat them just like lettuce and they always perform. Good King Henry has stayed around all these years because it is easy. Maybe you have too much heat? If so try growing it in the shade on the north side of a building. Try contacting the local farmers market rep and make a request. The growers are eager to produce something the guy at the next booth doesn't have and may grow some special for you.
 
gina kansas
Posts: 26
Location: coastal northern nor cal
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IMHO the most important thing to consider is next year, and 10 years from now. Obtain several open pollinated cultivars that work in your climate, and a few experiments, save the most robust plants of each for seed and within a couple of years you will have no brainer crops that have evolved to thrive in your peculiar micro climate.
And for heaven's sake harvest that black gold from the out houses! You may consider having a separate non harvestable out house for those on meds or birth control...some things you just don't want in your food.
 
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I was reading this thread while at supper, it got me thinking of inground greenhouses and a recent article I saw on a couple in Minnesota growing greens while
outside it is -16 fahrenheit.
http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/02/03/regional/deep-winter-green-house
Also article and plans for inground greenhouse.
http://insteading.com/2013/08/05/diy-in-ground-greenhouse-with-plans/

I had a couple rebate checks for Menard's so I perused their book section, so glad I did. There was a book on strawbale gardening and how you can start two weeks earlier in the season, eliminate weeding and grow like crazy. You can go organic, the author claims not being able to tell them apart.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1591865506/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1421903208&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&dpPl=1&dpID=61dDLfH4gML&ref=plSrch

I remember hearing Paul mention having 140 bales of straw...

It would be great to have two side by side experiments going to see how each fares.

Another thing about the bales is they turn into great compost.
 
gardener
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From Mike's comment, the link takes you to a picture I've seen before but if you click their link you end up at the LDS charity and good works site, and the file you want is misplaced. Look in the COMMENTS below and the third one down has the pdf file you want in a link. Insteading site, look in their comments for the link you want.

I wrote a grant and hope to be building a full 75'x20' walipini this year to have year around food and start the local farmer's market about a month early (the organizers said if you bring in a large basket of produce to prove you have crop, they would open the market that weekend for the summer run). Plus a trial of 'rain gutter gardening' and raised bed plus square foot gardening.

Paul has 140 bales of straw? Man he's got a great hoard to do great works with!
 
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I would go big on the quinoa likes it cool and high... also doesn't mind not being watered which helps the whole irrigation thing. Also very nutritionally dense and stores for 2-3 years. Not sure of the amount of rainfall you get up at the Labs but the things that are finicky about this is it doesn't like precipitation late in the season and It doesn't tolerate many streches of days above 90.

added benefit is the Saponin that you have to remove from the seeds before cooking can also be a natural soap. Not sure how similar it is to Soap Berries but it is a comparable substance.
 
Posts: 251
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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So, in reading your comments about saponin I became curious and found this article from Cornell University. Toxic reactions in animals while consuming saponin rich plants.

http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/saponin.html
 
Posts: 89
Location: Poplar Hill, Ontario (near London) - Zone 6a
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Notes based on crops I've grown in pretty loamy soil with poor nutrients in ground recently recovered from lawn with no or little in the way of external inputs in frost southern Ontario.

Favored foods with lots of carbos:

Potatoes: the rule of thumb I use is ' plant when daffodils and dandelion is in bloom.' Grow consistently well, especially with 'mulch method' where potato is on surface, and covered with at least a foot of vegetative mulch.

Sorrel: Make sure to get a Debelleville or similar. They have large broad leaves, which makes processing them way easier. First harvest can be fall of the first season, then a spring and fall flush after that. V. good for soup. Very big harvests on my soils.

Sunchokes: Small harvest the first season. Then there forever. Harvest can be from late fall to following spring if heavily mulched, or, whenever the ground is thawed.

Parsnips: Might be the following spring by the time you eat them, but they can get big, and still be tender.

Tomatoes: Since you'll want them eventually, start experimenting with which sites work best. They LOVE hugelkultur. Hate walnuts.

Squash and pumpkins: I have problems with these on my soils, but they work well for others. A lot of food, often good for storage. Some are shorter seasoned than others.

Carol Dieppe's book The Resilient Gardener has a lot of info on planning what your staple crops will be from your garden, in terms of annuals.

Based on personal experimenting, I'd leave grains (including seeds like quinoa/amaranth) as experimental in early years. There is a lot of learning to do about how to harvest by hand in permaculture systems and on a small scale that could make them stressful if they were relied on as a crop for the first season.

Good luck.









 
Mike Feddersen
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I wondered a little about the plan to grow lemons in Montana, but not too much. When I lived in Surprise, AZ I had a lime tree that was so abundant with limes, a Mineola Tangelo that would become stressed by all the fruit. I planted white peaches from the pits I had saved.

In case lemons are a fetish of someone, I know Lemon Balm is intense with lemon smell and this sounded promising and even in Montana you may need to grow it in the shade: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-6104-sorrel.aspx
 
Posts: 609
Location: SE Ohio
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Havent got to read through the whole thread yet but before i forget..

Orach (a green leafy plant, read its great to munch on while out yard working or in salad. I saw green and purple/red varieties.)

Quinoa, Amaranth. Lots of people seem to use these as ornamentals since they come in many colors. I saw amaranth in pink/red, green, and green with purply strips on the stalks/leaves and faintly purple grain. Some varieties give more grain then others.
Quinoa has a dark variety, a reddish, and a light variety from what i have seen. Both of these are supposed to be crazy easy to harvest by hand. Just make sure to plant enough to share some with birds from what i have seen.. although those people were urban/suburban/city people so maybe the birds were just like "Aahhhh! Finally some real food!!" Lol.

I can vote for the crazy growing of zucchini and other summer squash. Just always lookin out for more recipes!

I liked the variety of neat leaf lettuces at rareseed.com (baker creek seed co i think).
 
Rob Read
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Location: Poplar Hill, Ontario (near London) - Zone 6a
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I just wanted to share a little bit of my experience with amaranth and quinoa as a staple crop.

I think they both have enormous potential, but also some drawbacks to be aware of for the small grower.

Quinoa: looks almost identical to lamb's quarters until larger seeds are revealed later in season (if you do weeding, this creates a challenge). I tried growing them two different years, and crop volumes were very low. Close-by lamb's quarters did way better, though the seed is quite a bit smaller, it can be used the same way. Cleaning the debris from the seeds is the first challenge, and the second is soaking and rinsing to get the saponins off. Store bought quinoa has already had the saponins rinsed a number of times before we get it. The saponins are bitter enough at harvest that the seed is inedible without that processing step, which is time consuming, and takes place at a time when working outdoors with water is less comfortable.

Amaranth: Huge amount of seed produced, but it ripens gradually. So - although harvest is easy (paper bag over the head, and shake), it has to be done every day over a long period. As long as that chore is put into someone's schedule, you could probably get quite a bit of it. However, it's very small, and getting the kinds of volume for it to be anything more than a bit of bonus nutrients will take planning and testing. Cleaning was a bit easier than quinoa in my experience, because the size works for one of those fine-meshed sieves. I ended up using mine (still am from two years ago) for sprouting seeds. The sprouts have a unique taste on their own, as many sprouts do, but when mixed with others are very good. They also go a LOT further than they would for a flour or as a porridge. By the way, wild amaranth is very similar, except the seed is mostly black (in specimens in my region!) and the taste is much stronger and richer - really nice actually as a porridge, if you can get enough. Also note: I tried the 'popcorn' method with amaranth, as many places suggest. I didn't care for them at all this way. The same question of volume to make it worthwhile stands for that use, and also, they are so tiny they burn very easily, making the process very fiddly.

Sprouts: I didn't mention in my previous post the value of sprouts. Besides amaranth, I've done sprouts from kale seeds, which were very good, and highly abundant when they go to seed in their second year. I would imagine that you'll have at least some overwinter in Montana, I know I do here, even in -20C winters. The other sprouting seed I've harvested was sunflower seeds. I sprouted them a bit in a sprouter, then put them in a potting soil, and let them go for a few days until the seed hulls fell off. Then you have shoots to eat on salads. Very good, and easier than figuring out a way to get large amounts out of the shell for other uses. Because you don't have to worry about pollen from other varieties messing with the seed, sprouts are a great way to use seed that you save, but you're not sure if it will produce consistent quality plants the next season. Stuff in the cabbage family is especially good and easy. (Note that there are also great reasons to plant out seed that has all kinds of pollen mixed together, but consistency of plants is not one of them!)



 
steward
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Rob Read wrote:
Quinoa: looks almost identical to lamb's quarters until larger seeds are revealed later in season (if you do weeding, this creates a challenge).



Funny, because I was going to advocate for lambsquarters as a food crop! In Wisconsin I switched from spinach to lambsquarters as my main spring green. I would gather large quantities, blanch and freeze to eat in omelets the rest of the year. Delicious and nutritious.

Once the plant gets over a couple feet tall, many of the leaves are too tough, so I mostly harvested in early spring. Tips still worked, though, even in summer.
 
Posts: 50
Location: Tonasket, WA
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Excellent lists of cold hardy food plants here. I will benefit from this discussion very much here in North Central Washington zone 4-5 depending on what micro climate I can use. My comment has to do with easy early seed starting (which in my very small trailer is a big deal), here is a link for a guy in New England area that starts his stuff in January outside in the snow in mini green houses out of recycled milk jugs. I've done this two years now and it works well for me just in the hardiness of the starts I get, eventually I will build some cold frames and then won't need to do this, but for now its cheap and works.
http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/11/winter-sowing-101-6/




 
Posts: 1947
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Amarynth for seed is a Pain In The Tuchus. The seeds are so tiny.
 
Mary Fahnestock-Thomas
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Barbara Greene, thank you so much for the link. I think I'm in love with Kevin Lee Jacobs
 
Posts: 64
Location: Western Montana
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Plant alfalfa with dandelions, which is food for bees, pigs and chickens. Build berms with straight gravel and plant with knapweed and sweet clover for honey bee and other pollinator forage. Plant mustard for people food, also a bonus for pollinators. I am sooooo biased!
 
Posts: 45
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
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Last year an urban farming group where I live was growing an acre or so of cow peas. I had never heard of anyone growing them here in Indiana before, they are evidently common in the south as a cover crop. What they were growing was the "top harvest, Pink eyed purple hull" but the black eyed pea is in the same family. They are said to be a heat loving plant but last year we had a cool wet summer compared to most. The group said they didn't do as well as they normally do, but they seemed to be producing well to me. You can eat them as hulled peas or the whole bean when younger like green beans. They can also be harvested as dried beans. The area is a borderline of 5b and 6a and appears to be close to what Missoula would be. If you've never grown them before it might be something to try just for fun and see what happens.

What caught my attention was that they were COVERED in wasps and some bees. I found out that the plants secrete nectar from "extrafloral nectaries" on its petioles and leaflets. So the wasps, and there must have been a dozen or more types of them were feeding from all over the plants, not just from the flowers. There were wasps I had never seen around here before, tiny ones to large ones and all different colors, with the usual stinging types not there. Walking through the area hundreds would fly up into the air.

This got me to looking into the plant and they are quite interesting. It sounds like it will grow about anywhere and sounds like a good thing all around. Here they were being grown in heavy clay, the wiki says they do fine in up to 85% sand.

From the Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nectar#Extrafloral_nectaries

A drought-tolerant and warm-weather crop, cowpeas are well-adapted to the drier regions of the tropics, where other food legumes do not perform well. It also has the useful ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen through its root nodules, and it grows well in poor soils with more than 85% sand and with less than 0.2% organic matter and low levels of phosphorus. In addition, it is shade tolerant, so is compatible as an intercrop with maize, millet, sorghum, sugarcane, and cotton.




Just a bit out of the hardiness zone, but here is some good information from the extension office of Hawaii about them. http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/GreenManureCrops/cowpea.pdf


Most root growth usually occurs within the topsoil layer, but in times of drought cowpea can grow a taproot as long as 8 ft to reach moisture deeper in the soil profile.

It grows best in slightly acid to slightly alkaline soils (pH 5.5–8.3).

Cowpea has extrafloral nectaries on its petioles and leaflets; these nourish beneficial insects such as honeybees, lady beetles, predatory wasps, ants, and soft-winged beetles.

Cowpea grown to maturity can be used as a feed (grazed or harvested for fodder), or its pods can be harvested and eaten as a vegetable. The beans are nutritious and provide complementary proteins to cereals. Some people eat both the fresh pods and leaves, and the dried seeds are popular ingredients in a variety of dishes in the southern USA.



The only draw back is that the PDF from the Hawaii extension offices also states that bad bugs like it as much as the good ones. So you have to watch to be sure you're attracting good ones and not providing a food source for something that will give you problems.


Pest problems.
Cowpea is a hardy crop but it hosts many pests that attack vegetables, including leafminers, whiteflies, leafhoppers, mites, thrips, and aphids. Cowpea’s attraction for insects may be an advantage if the planting also attracts a sizable population of beneficial insects, but it is not if pest outbeaks occur and then move on to attack a cash crop.




 
Posts: 151
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
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Here's what I'm recommending so far:

Greens-
Mache (Corn Salad)
Roquette Arugula
Giant Winter Spinach
Monstruoso Swiss Chard
French Sorrel
Ramps
Fern Leaf Dill


Turnips-
Hakurei (F1)

Brassicas-
Mustard Greens
January King Cabbage
Flash Broccoli (F1)

Potatoes-
Yukon Gold

I found a great site for this exact thing if anyone is looking for more resources- myfolia.

Lots of the recommendations I saw here would seemingly do better in the fall, so they hit the cold weather when they're already developed.

We're trying to get away from using things like windtunnels to extend the growing season. But we will be using the hugelbeds and various types of mulches and windbreaks to extend our growing season. I'm sure you guys will see lots of updates along the way.

Thanks again for all the help! I hope this gave some of you guys new ideas for the upcoming growing season
 
Posts: 31
Location: Fredericktown, Ohio
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would it be helpful to see your last year's food bill and quantities of what you purchased, ate, and for how many ppl approx?? also would it make sense to plant test beds and cover crops this year so that next year you go into healthy soils instead of depleting them from nutrients this year and having failed gardens year after year. It won't reduce your food bill this year but it will increase soil fertility saving you money in subsequent years and teaching you and others about your soil biology. Just a John Jeavon's observation
 
steward
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I'm jumping in to report on seeds ordered for now thanks to Jesse's research.

arugula, http://www.groworganic.com/o-arugula-1-4-lb.html, 1/4 lb
cabbage, http://www.rareseeds.com/koda-cabbage/, 3 pkts 300 seeds each
dill, http://www.groworganic.com/pvfs-dill-bouquet.html, 3 pkts
fennel, http://www.groworganic.com/o-fennel-florence-1-4-lb.html, 1/4 lb
French sorrel, http://www.groworganic.com/org-sorrel-1-oz.html, 1 oz
giant winter spinach, http://www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-non-gmo-seeds-giant-winter-spinach.html, 1/4 lb
kohlrabi, http://www.groworganic.com/org-kohlrabi-1-4-lb.html, 1/4 lb
mache, http://www.groworganic.com/org-greens-mache-1-oz.html, 1 oz
rutabaga, http://www.groworganic.com/org-rutabaga-joan-1-oz.html, 1 oz
swiss chard, http://www.rareseeds.com/bionda-di-lyon-swiss-chard/, 4 pkts 100 seeds each
turnips, http://www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-seeds-purple-top-globe.html, 2 oz

Whew! This didn't include potatoes or rhubarb corms/plants. I'm hoping to find those in town at an organic nursery because the shipping was crazy expensive!
 
Deb Rebel
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Thank you for the links to groworganic and highmowingseeds as I had not seen them before. Oh I am going to be so broke... but hopefully eat good this summer and fall!
 
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