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?
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).
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.
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.
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.