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Urban self sufficiency food systems -- feedback wanted after my first round of trials

 
master pollinator
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A hundred acres is far more land than needed to feed a family and not needed, in my opinion, even if you're growing in the manner that Joseph is. Until we've used up all the space available to grow food in cities, and it is a huge amount of space, we probably don't need to worry about running out of space and people needing to move to the country, in my opinion. Obviously, cities with a lot of highrise apartments and not much land are in a special position (Manhattan and the like), but many or even most cities aren't as large or as dense.
 
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A 500 square feet bed size is a great size for breeding most any variety of annual fruits or vegetables. That would easily support the 200 corn plants that tradition says to grow to avoid inbreeding depression.

I don't know anything about the habits of traditional people in relation to clones. A seedless banana though has to be a clone...

I grow landraces of crookneck and zucchini squash. Any variety of zucchini pretty much tastes as bad to me as any other variety, so might as well grow them together. I don't grow any pepo winter squash. Because I think that pepo squash taste bad.

Landrace Zucchini:


I keep the phenotype of the crookneck fruits very narrow. I allow traits like vine length and leaf shape to vary.

Landrace Yellow Crookneck:


I also eat 4 other species of squash as summer squash. I would feel so bored if I could only eat one specific cultivar of one specific species.
 
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Hello Tyler,

No, the hundred is probably an exaggeration.

To feed a mid size family most of their food, given a standard diet, in a wet climate takes from 5 to ten acres, from what I have heard.

Then again, if you want to live by ranching/ silvopasture on the dry plains of Colorado, the hundred acres might be short.

In Littleton, there is 8000 square feet a person, but Littleton is rapidly become more dense. Also, we would have to subtract sloped roofs and major roads, also any densely shaded areas and flood plains. That is why I am figuring on 4000 square feet per person in my experiments, with a shortage of water.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Sweet potatoes basically don't produce seeds, so the are also true clones. (There is a complicated procedure to make them do so, but they are polyploid and breeding is difficult. Universities breeding programs do it, but I would assume primitive islanders in the Pacific probably didn't. Then again, who knows? Primitive people do all sorts of things. I think some taro varieties are also clones, but I'm not sure of this. And of course lots of fruit trees are, though they have maintained their viability from seed, as we here at permies know.

Those are sure some interesting looking squash!

Have you ever tried the Costata Romanesca zucchini? It actually tastes really great, does well with little water, smothers weeds, and, to judge by variation in color, is already rather diverse. The zucchini actually taste OK even when the reach baseball bat size. The other summer squash I like is PM straighneck, breed by High Mowing Seeds. It is resistant to Powdery mildew, which kills all my other plants long before the Fall.

As far as winter pepos from the store tasting horrible most of the time, I agree. But I like "Gill's golden pippin" and some strains of Delicata. They are wonderful.

I would be far less worried about the maxima, moshcata, and mixta types as far as purity, as you say. There are less ornamental varieties in those species.

Also, the 500 square feet is my total area for this experiment.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:
To feed a mid size family most of their food, given a standard diet, in a wet climate takes from 5 to ten acres, from what I have heard.



I think that is far more land than needed if one is using intensive techniques such as Biointensive and the stacking of functions in permaculture. The standard diet is based on grain. If the diet uses grain as a calorie supplement instead of as the main staple, and includes animal products, less space is needed. Ecology Action estimates about 4000 square feet per person to grow a vegan diet not based on grain using Biointensive techniques, if irrigation is available. http://www.growbiointensive.org/

Regarding shortage of water, I can't remember in which video he says it, or maybe it's in one of his books, but Brad Lancaster mentions somewhere that enough rain falls on Tucson to cover the water needs of Tucson; it is simply wasted.

http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I should have said, 10 acres with standard organic farming practices and some meat. John Seymour or other models of that type.

The Biointensive diet is a good starting model, but I don't like the fact that it is vegan, and I'm coming to the conclusion that their close spacing is actually counterproductive on a dense soil in the desert, unless one manages to drastically change the soil and wants to hand sprinkle the garden twice a day. Without pressurized water I think their model does not work well in dry climates.

I've been reading a lot of Steve Solomon and Carol Deppe's stuff, and they both say the same things about intensive spacing; basically, it is not very resilient if there is not constant watering and a high level of fertility. I don't have the book by me, but if I remember right, the bio-intensive folks import fertilizer, as opposed to compost. I'm tending to agree with them Solomon and Deppe, given my experience.

Also, double digging in this soil breaks tools; I've never managed to do it over any significant area.

What spacing do you use? Do you notice it affecting water needs?

Edited to add: Of course, the soil can be improved over time, but I'm trying to develop a system that could be implemented quickly to feed people in a depression.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:
What spacing do you use? Do you notice it affecting water needs?



I plant things about as close together as they will grow. Here's a new polyculture bed of cold weather roots and greens:



Here's a bed planted a few months ago:



I should definitely thin more, but I think the dense planting helps shade the soil. These are buried wood beds, of course. I've been using far less water since implementing buried wood. It was tremendously difficult but has enabled me to finally grow more vegetables than we can eat. We still buy some food at the store, but it is mainly because I haven't figured out how to incorporate some unusual ingredients into our diet and I don't want to horrify my husband too much with what I put on the table.

Biointensive does not import fertilizer, they grow compost crops. http://www.growbiointensive.org/grow_main.html

I'm not trying to sell you on Biointensive, just think that they have some ideas that might be helpful. I don't practice Biointensive myself because I think it is too much work. I don't make compost, I just mulch. I don't dig my beds beyond the excavation needed to remove rocks and replace them with wood, a one-time thing.

I think people should practice the methods they feel comfortable with, and try new things when they feel like it. I don't think there is "one right way" to grow food!

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hello Tyler,

I don't think there is a "right" way either, or at least, I have not found it yet if there is one!

The reason I asked is because I used biointensive spacing without biointensive soil and watering, and regretted it.

How to Grow More Vegetables was one of the first alternative gardening books I read, and I still refer to it a lot.

How do you water? A spray from the top down, or flood/ drip methods?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I irrigate by sprinkler. If I didn't have pressurized water I would probably use some kind of flood irrigation such as filling basins/ slightly depressed buried wood beds, or ollas in wood beds. I've been building berms projecting from the uphill sides of my kitchen garden to funnel run-off into the garden from heavy rains. My goal is to irrigate as little as possible. I have some food plants which don't require irrigation at all, but we don't typically eat them (Buffallo Gourd, Prickly Pear, Sotol). In my mind the ideal garden would have a good amount of space dedicated to these sorts of survival plants, as well as a lush irrigated garden for "normal food."

I would not be able to grow normal food in an unimproved, unirrigated garden. I certainly proved that to myself multiple times!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I have trialed thousands of varieties of different species. I don't keep track of variety names.

Sweet potatoes are self-incompatible. So it takes two plants of different heritage to produce seeds. About 60 years ago when university plant breeders got hold of sweet potatoes and started breeding them, they chose lines to work with that had very little potential for making seeds. Industrialized agriculture loves growing varieties with little potential to make seeds because it limits the amount of sweet potato weeds in the field. And because it ensnares their customers into getting fresh starts from The Industry rather than from growing their own seeds.

In their natural state, sweet potatoes are prolifically seeding. I have hundreds of sweet potato seeds sitting on my desk as I type this. I have shared seeds this winter with a number of other growers. Growing seed did not require complicated procedures. It was just a matter of not using industrialized varieties which were purposefully selected to be poorly seeding. Cloning crops tends to accumulate small amounts of normal chromosome damage into major damage that makes the crop incapable of reproduction via flowering. Growing crops from pollinated seeds selects for a healthier genetic makeup.

Hmm. The same scenario that happened with regular potatoes. Funny how that happens.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hello Joseph,

What do sweet potato and potato seeds do the first year? Do they make a crop? Or does one have to save tubers and replant again the next year to get a decent yield? (Assuming the new varieties have a decent yield.)

That is very interesting about the sweet potato seeds. Which varieties did you use? I got some varieties from Sand Hill Preservation center that did fairly well in my low heat, short season climate.

Do sweet potatoes do well in your climate? I've found that they do OK in my climate, but not great, without some special help.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Both regular potato and sweet potato seedlings produce harvestable tubers in the first year. Yield is typically larger if planting from tubers, but not always.

One advantage of starting a crop with a large propagule, like a tuber, instead of a tiny seed, is that the crop gets growing quicker. In my short-season climate crops planted from tubers produce more food-weight than crops grown from seeds. In warmer climates with longer seasons the difference wouldn't be as noticeable. It is a regular occurrence, in my garden, for tuber planted potatoes to produce less harvest than went into the ground. In those cases the harvest is much less than from the average seedling. But on average, since the tubers are larger to start with more food is harvested from them. If I plant a one pound potato, I harvest more from the plant than if I plant a 1/2 ounce piece containing a couple eyes.

I am working towards annual only propagation of potatoes. I want to get away from overwintering tubers. When I wanted to get away from non-seed-producing potatoes, I culled every potato that didn't set seeds. I suppose that I could do the same thing to jump-start my selection process for decent productivity from seedlings. You mileage may vary based on your definition of decent.

We are working with hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes do extremely poorly in my climate. That's why I have to develop my own varieties from pollinated seeds. It's the only way for local-adaptation to occur.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hello Joseph,

Is it just to avoid diseases that you don't want to save any potato tubers? Or are there other advantages? (I'm assuming that saving true seed every few years would add diversity, without eliminating tuber storage altogether.)

How tender are the potato seedlings? Isn't it a hassle to have small seedlings from tiny seeds for a main staple crop like potatoes?

Supposedly, there is a potato that "comes true" from seed, but I don't remember much about it.

So you didn't have to slice half through the sweet potato vines, etc. to get seed? Any luck on the cold weather sweet potato project so far?

What in particular will can sweet potatoes do for you that makes it worth it? (Besides tasting great!)
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Wouldn't starting from potato seeds make it harder to hill up? How do you get around this?

I will have to look into doing some true potato seed work myself.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I am opposed, on philosophical grounds, to using cloning as a routine plant propagation technique. It is very prone to failure. I am likewise opposed to inbreeding and maintaining "pure" strains, because it creates varieties that might as well be clones. I don't mind if other people do it, but I have different priorities. Or to put it in a different way, I desire to grow as many crops as possible via pollinated seeds because it allows for the possibility of plants becoming locally adapted to my way of doing things and to the local growing conditions. I devote tremendous effort to selecting for crops that grow well via pollinated seeds that are typically grown as clones, or even purported to be sterile. For example: My sunroots are prolifically seeding, even though just about every site you can read on the Internet says that they are sterile and can only be grown from clones. I grow abundantly fruiting potatoes. I harvested 44 true garlic seeds this summer from several hundred plants. That's a tremendous improvement over the 3 seeds from more than a thousand plants the first time I tried. I encourage promiscuous pollination wherever I can. For example, I am converting my tomatoes into plants that have wide open flowers so that they can be easily cross pollinated. The more frequently the DNA gets jumbled up the more frequently I get the opportunity to find plant families that thrive in my garden under the current conditions. Am I going to continue propagating seedless grapes? Sure, because that's the only way to have seedless grapes. I will also continue growing grapes from seeds. If there is any possibility that a crop can be propagated by pollinated seeds rather than by cloning, I am moving in that direction with my varieties of that species.

Specifically with potato tubers... In my climate saving tubers overwinter is nasty work. They rot. They stink up the house. I routinely lose my favorite cultivars. Or I forget to dig them. Or whatever. They take up space that I'd rather devote to other things. And they transmit more junk to the offspring than seeds do. Digging root pits is much harder labor than saving seeds. For other gardens, I recommend growing a mix of clones and seedlings. In my own garden I grow closer every year to growing potatoes only as an annual crop.

I don't mind disease or pests among my crops. Their presence allows me to select for families that are more resistant.

Potato seedlings can be hilled in exactly the same way as tuber planted potatoes.

In damper climates, with longer seasons, potatoes can be direct seeded. They are fiddly to grow as transplants. The wintersown method has worked best for me. They are more frost resistant than tomatoes.

I have harvested sweet potatoes from my garden the past two growing seasons. Sweet potatoes produce seed if they are seeding varieties. No special techniques required. I lost my sweet potato seed crop last summer, due to a family rearrangement. No worries. I have plenty of seeds to try again next year. I am collaborating with other growers in warmer climates. I am breeding sweet potatoes for my garden for the same reasons that I am growing okra, watermelon, mixta squash, or runner beans. They are all tremendously far out of their native ecological habit. By having them in my garden, I am expanding their range, and I am bringing food security to my community and to my descendants for millennia to come. There is also the joy of working on a difficult breeding project. There is the acclaim of the community for adapting new species to our growing conditions. There is the expanded food choices. I please my mother.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Very interesting. I will be trialing a few more cold tolerant sweet potatoes this year, and if they produce seed I will save it. What do sweet potato fruits look like?

I hadn't thought about how much easier seed is to save then tubers. Even if there was a volcanic winter, seeds could survive to restart local agriculture. I often think about the "year without a summer" in 1816.

And I know what you mean about the interest in raising marginal crops. I am fond of the book "Palms don't Grow Here, and Other Myths." And I plan to try a fig tree here, which is right on the borderline of the range for the most hardy species. I've often wondered if with a warm micro climate and a deep mulch moringa or other tropic woody leaf crops could survive as die back perennials. I tried raising edible Cannas, but they rotted overwinter due to operator error.

How cold do you think winter sown potato seed could take?

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Sweet potato fruits look like morning glory fruits, or bindweed fruits. So pods about 1/4 in diameter with black seeds inside.

Potato seeds overwinter in some gardens. They sprout when temperatures are appropriate. In my greenhouse last winter they survived about 22 F on a couple of nights.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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So, a new train of research on potato towers.

Some towers are build slowly higher as the potatoes grow higher; various kinds of wooden bins, and also the tire types. (I would never use tires due to toxins.)

Others start at their final height, especially barrels, in which the potatoes are planted at the bottom and the barrel is filled in.

I found something online promoting the build as one goes approach, because that way the potato plants get plenty of sun, instead of being shaded until they climb out of the container. However, the same source warned that the potatoes must be religiously hilled every four inches, because the sun on the stems after that point will stop them from producing tubers at that level once hilled. So maybe the barrel type plantings, which would shade the stems, is not such a bad idea. However, it would also elongate the stems between nodes, and this would result in fewer buried nodes for production. I think I will use the build as you go method, but might also try a barrel as a comparison.

Just another little detail that might make the difference between success and failure.

I'm setting up potato orders now. As well as the towers, I'm buying some for a non- irrigated trench experiment in my number two system experiment. For the main garden I want short season types. However, for the towers, I've read that it is super important to buy long season varieties, because short season varieties will only produce one clump of tubers at the bottom of the tower, no matter what one does.

I will mostly be buying purple, red or blue ones, because according to "Eating on the Wild Side," these have tons more nutrients then the white ones. But I will also plant some white ones of comparatively more nutritious varieties.

I will update with final variety notes once I get it settled.

Any suggestions?
 
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:Actually, we have rabbits. And I will probably be using the manure as an input in the worm bin.

The reason I didn't include rabbits as a food source in my initial plan is that my family does not want to eat rabbits. (Cute factor.) So I would not actually be able to test that out.

Also, with all the pet rabbits we already have, I couldn't really get more meat ones for the system. (I wouldn't kill them, but I could at least see if I could grow enough poundage.)

Anyway, you have a good point, and I will probably plan on using rabbits in later versions. As I think about this, I see more and more advantages. ]


One of my good grazing red new Zealand x Californian line bred(heavily inbred!) does can produce as much meat kindling between the end of March and October as an average hair sheep ewe or above average Spanishxkiko goat doe can over a year. 8-9 weaned kits per litter at 5 pounds finished weight times 4 litters a year. All while maintaining 10 pounds of body weight overwinter on 1 bale of yard clipping hay, instead of 150 pounds of body weight on many bales of hay or stock piled forage for a goat or ewe. I have 4' wide clover, trefoil, plantain, radish, etc paths between my wide spaced rows of vegetables, and considerable 15 gallon grow drum container garden.

To me chickens require foolish amounts of outside calories in corn or other cereals, while rabbits can perform on grasses, clovers, forbs, prunings, thinnings, peelings and culls and tree branches appropriate to your environment. If you use buck wheat, prairie clover, alfalfa, and other water/climate appropriate soil builders you can graze or cut and carry all the domestic forage you want while green manuring and living mulching. I could feed my family all of their meat calorie needs from my less than 1/4 acre yard without much trouble. I have to swap meat with friends because we do tire of all the rabbit after a while.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My best guess is that the limiting factor on how many potatoes can be produced in a tower is the watts of sunlight that are collected by the leaves during a growing season. I expect about 3/4 pound of yield per square foot occupied by the tower. So for pallet sized towers, I'd expect perhaps 12 pounds of tubers. I would expect anything that diminishes the amount of sunlight falling on the tower to diminish yield. So every leaf that gets buried is a leaf that is not available to capture sunlight. Every shadow from a barrel is some amount of light denied to the plant and thus I expect it to reduce yield. Every shadow cast by another potato vine leads to a reduction in captured sunlight, so while I was hilling the potatoes, I would separate the various vines as far as possible, and not be shy about planting big potatoes with lots of eyes so that they can send up lots of shoots, so that they can be well distributed across the surface area of the tower, and so that they can capture more energy earlier in the season.

I think that variety selection would be critical to success with potato towers, but it's not only about indeterminate vs determinate growth pattern. It is also about being prolifically tuberizing. Some varieties tuberize from the stems extremely well, others almost none at all. I don't have recommendations regarding varieties. Thus my recommendation to develop your own varieties that thrive when grown in potato towers. Potatoes are subject to late blight. In areas where it is a big problem, it may be better to grow a short-season variety and plan on using the space for a fall crop of something like Swiss chard after the potatoes have died down for the summer.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hello Joseph and Patrick,

Great points. Rabbits are amazing! Too bad they are cute! Then again, it is kind of interesting that there are tons of people in our culture who would eat chickens, but not rabbits. I wonder why that is. Cultural prejudices around food can get pretty strange. For instance, when the potato was introduced to Europe, rulers quickly saw its value in feeding a hungry population under Little Ice Age conditions. However, peasants were sure that the potatoes would cause leprosy, or were poisonous, or whatever. In Germany, the emperor sent around armed troops to supervise the planting of potatoes; and then when the soldiers were gone, the peasants quietly dug them out and threw them away. The French King was more clever. In France, all the Royal gardens and Estates planted large beds of potatoes, and rumors were spread around that potatoes were special food, fit for the King. Soon peasants were stealing the potatoes and planting them in their plots, which was exactly what was intended to happen. Its all in the advertising.

I'm certainly going to work on starting tower potato varieties, if any of mine set seed. I'm trying to locate some Peruvian varieties that are closer to the wild stock, and probably more likely to set seeds. In any case, last year all my potato varieties produced copious amounts of seed, though I did not save it. I may even buy some true seed to kick start things. In your experience, how likely is it that a desirable trait that appears in a potato plant will reappear in the next generation? I've heard that the genetics are complicated and different from a lot of other plants.

Supposedly there is somebody here on Permies that got more then 5 pounds of yield per square foot of tower, but that was in Missouri, with a longer growing season.

I'm hoping that the dry climate, intense sun and windy site will make blight a non issue for me, but I've only grown potatoes here for one year. I have grown LOTS of tomatoes for 5 years, and so far, disease has been a very minor problem. Basically, once the plants are being killed by light frosts and cool weather in the Fall, disease moves in seemingly as a symptom. In Pennsylvania, where I gardened for ten years, my tomato plants were killed by diseases of one sort or another every year. By years end I would have a rotting slimy mess. I finally found that the Matt's Wild Cherry tomato was completely blight tolerant, and produced more then we could eat, while taking over the garden and sell seeding prolifically. However, here in Colorado, it is a total flop. Rather strange, since it is a wild Mexican selection.

I'm ordering both short season and long season varieties; short season will end up in my in ground experiment.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hello Tyler,

A few posts back you mentioned various wild survival foods, especially Buffalo Gourd, Prickly Pear, Sotol. I know you said you have not done much with them, but have you done anything with them? I'm especially interested in any work with prickly pear. I may be buying a less prickly pear from Okios tree crops this year, and growing it as a system 2 or 4 plant.

Somebody here mentioned making tree leaf tofu; I'm starting to wonder if various wild plants that produce a lot of biomass with no care could be used as human food with some sort of processing. I'm trying to find a source for edible leaved mulberry.

Then again, as Patrick just pointed out, probably the best way is to run the leaves and grass through some rabbits!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:In your experience, how likely is it that a desirable trait that appears in a potato plant will reappear in the next generation? I've heard that the genetics are complicated and different from a lot of other plants.



I don't keep track of that sort of information. That would require record-keeping. I was at a point in my plant breeding where that records were taking more time than the growing. So I said to myself that I could breed twice as many varieties if I didn't keep records. It was one of the best decisions I ever made on my farm. I mostly get potatoes that look, grow, and tase like potatoes that I have grown in the past.

Commonly available potatoes have 4 strands of DNA instead of the two strands that are typical of a lot of other plants. That makes the Mendelian mathematics harder to do. I stopped trying to do math with plant breeding projects, because the math was taking longer than the growing. The nice thing about plant breeding, is that it can be done very well without mathematics and without being literate. Offspring tend to resemble their parents and grandparents. In the case of potatoes, they tend to resemble their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. A little more going on, but still true to the principles that "You harvest what you sow", or "The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree", or "Birds of a feather flock together".

 
Tyler Ludens
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:
A few posts back you mentioned various wild survival foods, especially Buffalo Gourd, Prickly Pear, Sotol. I know you said you have not done much with them, but have you done anything with them? I'm especially interested in any work with prickly pear. I may be buying a less prickly pear from Okios tree crops this year, and growing it as a system 2 or 4 plant.



Yes, I have cooked with all of these. Sotol is difficult to prepare because it is a large prickly plant and you have to kill it to eat it - the edible part is the stem, which has to be slow-cooked for several hours. It could probably be pressure-cooked. The native way was to bake it in pits for many hours. It is a rather bland plant-tasting fibrous vegetable, but a clever chef could probably dress it up. Buffalo Gourd has delicious seeds embedded in terrifically bitter flesh. I've found the best way to prepare them is to wash off as much of the flesh as possible and then roast them until brown, then any remaining flesh can be picked off. I've cooked with Prickly Pear pads as a green vegetable and used in egg burritos. I've made cobbler with the fruits, and also Prickly Pear Liqueur (fruits steeped in booze). The "spineless" Prickly Pears are definitely easier to work with than the native kinds, but so far mine have not been very exciting in the fruit department. I understand there are many cultivars, some which fruit better than others. Mine just grow a ton of pads and a few meagre fruits. I'll be trying to cook with them more in the coming year, as I try to transition to a more homegrown diet.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hello Joseph,

OK, I will give it a try if I get time this year. And I think I will start a forum thread about this on Home Grown Goodness.

Tyler, that sounds interesting. So the spineless varieties were had lower quality fruit?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I have been doing some more thinking about the system 2 experiments.

I think there will be three basic experiments in system two this year; my milpa idea (http://www.permies.com/t/52019/permaculture/cold-climate-Milpa) my "ultimate dryland garden" (http://www.permies.com/t/51023/hugelkultur/ultimate-water-garden-coming) and a trench for potatoes. (This trench would be dug out and then back-filled with copious amounts of organic material as the potatoes grow; this technique is used in Africa to boost potato yields in unsuitable soils. My soil is definitely unsuitable. Basically I will be building a buried hugelkulture without large material and with the potatoes at the bottom, then rebuilding it elsewhere next year. I imagine that what is left of the trench after harvest will be the site of next year's ultimate dryland garden. )

I had thought about laying out plastic sheeting as a catchment alongside the dryland garden, to double the rainfall into the sunken bed. However, I now doubt that this is a wise idea. In May and June, we often get too much rain, so that things drown and the field turns into a swampy mess. Doubling the rainfall at this time would be a bad idea. Similarly, in the Summer we sometimes get pounding thunderstorms that drop huge amounts of rain in a few minutes; again, doubling the area would be a bad idea. So I think a plastic catchment draining into some sort of barrel or tank would be a better idea, though less cheap. I have a 500 dollar budget, so some 55 gallon barrels seem doable.

Further, I have decided that since space and time a both short this year, I will not actually build the catchment; I will simply keep track of the rainfall and only use as much water as would have accumulated in the barrels. I will probably supply water to buried ollas.



 
Tyler Ludens
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:doubling the area would be a bad idea.



I think that kind of doubling works if you have really well-draining soil. During our big floods this past Spring my kitchen garden was flooded by runoff, but I think only a couple baby plants got killed. The entire garden is buried wood, and though the soil is clay, it seems to drain very well, or well enough nothing has trouble with extra moisture (so far). There's a swale that overflows into the garden from a small field above it.
 
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at 13:00 min


Keiser Report: Why Not an Edible City? (Winter Why Nots, E855)

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Happy New Year!

It looks like this year I will be doing a stacking or layering potato tower for my main bins. Plant a late season type, hill it up for a few weeks, guide the stems out through the sides, put in a layer of dirt, plant a mid season type, etc.

Meanwhile I will be trialing cultivars and starting a breeding project to produce the wonder potato that can fill a whole tower.

Tyler, I'm divided on the water catchment idea. Part of me want to just run it into the garden; cheaper, less fuss, easier to scale. Part of me likes the separate catchment; more control, can spread the water out more, more flexible arrangement.

Also, I can simulate a separate catchment, but not an integrated one, thus saving space.

I'll do some thinking on it.

My field does tend to drain badly; it had standing water on parts this spring, though it dried out terribly latter on and cracked open. I think the two issues are related. Buried wood beds should help somewhat.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The buried wood has really helped my cracking clay soil, though there is still too much clay and not enough humus, but that is just a matter of adding more composty stuff over time. The only drawback I've encountered with buried wood is the initial stupidly hard work, but it has been worth it. If you could have one buried wood test bed, that would be cool, to compare with other methods.

 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Jack-o-lantern crossed with zucchini is still an edible squash. The shape of the plant and fruit changes somewhat, but the taste and cooking qualities are approximately the same.



I think that it is beautiful and amazing that they can cross!
 
Just the other day, I was thinking ... about this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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