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Biggest payback permaculture foods... short and long term  RSS feed

 
Kelly King
Posts: 25
Location: North West Vermont - near Saxon Hill
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Hi Carl,

I am an enthusiastic cook and am excited to see what you have to share with us.

My question is: What would you say are the 3 or 4 foods you'd encourage someone in Zone 4 (northern Vermont) to plant to fill cupboards with food? Both in the short term and the long term - two separate list probably.

What do you find yourself preparing the most from your permaculture plantings? (Most often OR most volume).

Leaning towards plant based because we are currently lacto-ovo vegetarian (though we very well may move towards adding some meat to our diet in the future, but currently don't have animals).

Thanks,
Kelly in Vermont
 
Carl Legge
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Posts: 12
Location: UK
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Hi Carl,

I am an enthusiastic cook and am excited to see what you have to share with us.

My question is: What would you say are the 3 or 4 foods you'd encourage someone in Zone 4 (northern Vermont) to plant to fill cupboards with food? Both in the short term and the long term - two separate list probably.

What do you find yourself preparing the most from your permaculture plantings? (Most often OR most volume).

Leaning towards plant based because we are currently lacto-ovo vegetarian (though we very well may move towards adding some meat to our diet in the future, but currently don't have animals).

Thanks,
Kelly in Vermont



Hi Kelly thanks for this great question.

I'm not an expert in Zone 4. Here in North Wales we're at Zone 9 and that's despite the fact that we're 10 degrees further north than you. The Gulf Stream does us a big favour.

With that said, here's some thoughts that I hope deal with both your points.

For the long term, I'd recommend fruit and nut trees if you have the space. A quick google search tells me that there are varieties that will withstand your climate and stockists to supply locally provenanced stock.

The most valuable crops I use the most often I'd say were the green leafy vegetables of one kind or another. Here I am moving over to grow mostly perennial varieties of kale/collard/cabbage but I'm not sure that many of these will survive your winter. However, sowings of annual varieties cropped during the growing season and with a fall final harvest would be excellent. They can be preserved easily and I favour fermentation methods for this. I wouldn't be without salad leaves and various herbs. Here I can grow them year round using a polytunnel, but for spring to fall I get a huge amount of value out of these easy to grow crops.

Also, I think a wide variety of root crops for flavour, texture and colour variation. You may need a 'clamp' or cold store to keep these over winter to use fresh. However, Eliot Coleman (Four-Season Harvest) says:
In the frigid mountains of Vermont...only five crops - spinach, scallions, mache, claytonia and carrots - will be dependably harvestable all winter from a cold frame...
so some form of protection of a cold frame or polytunnel may be helpful to you if you have space.

I think the summer and winter squashes are a must have. They are tasty, versatile and relatively easy to grow. I spent an October on an expedition in Nova Scotia and was astonished to see nearly every house with dozens of squashes curing outside. It's a similar latitude and climate (I think) to Vermont and hopefully should do well for you.

I would look to find varieties of peas and beans that would grow well for you. The green veg will be grand during the summer and can easily be preserved by canning or fermenting for over winter. If you want to grow peas/beans for drying, you'll need some space to make this worthwhile.

I see you are a forager too and I think that foraged foods make up a significant proportion of what we eat. I love the change of mindset from seeing many of them that are normally regarded as a 'problem' to being a 'resource'. They are low management and just cost the time to pick, I love 'em.

I hope that's a help



 
Kelly King
Posts: 25
Location: North West Vermont - near Saxon Hill
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Yes thank you. I'm always interested to hear what folks find they are REALLY using from their food forests or other permaculture plantings. Sometimes I am surprised to find that something I think of as a minor food someone else uses extensively.

At this point for us the largest harvest probably are the wild edibles I forage... Wild Leeks (Ramps), greens like- stinging nettles, dandelion; Milk weed is a prolific producer here and in season we have it every other day for about 3 weeks (leaving plenty for the monarch butterflies); wild mushroom - variable but can be prolific (I also have mushroom bolts I've inoculated, a little more reliable); glean apples, from neighbors yards and wild trees (much of that preserved as Hard Cider - yum). Most of the plantings hazelberts, apples, pears, gooseberries, currants, grapes, hops, hardy kiwi, plum, blue berry are all tiny trees and plants and will move into production over the next 2 to 8 years.

We have good luck overwintering Kale here and are able to harvest from under plastic into December and January - under the snow. I usually cover at least one patch of younger plants in the fall, hoping for winter harvest... works about half the time. This year mice and moles or something moved in and beat me to most of it. Kale from the freezer is one of our mainstays and this year I dried kale for the first time. I have a gallon jar of crispy Kale leaves. I remove a few every week into a smal jar (to keep it crisp and avoid opening the main jar too often) and keep by the stove. I crush a handful into all kinds of dishes, especially a quick Asian soup I throw together for lunch. The moisture from the food usually is enough to reconstitute the greens.

I also leave all my Kale plants in the ground a the end of the season. In Vermont they die back completely to the ground but often I get a number of plants sending up sprouts in the spring from last years roots. I leave the best and most convenient of these (sometimes even transplanting to another spot) for early greens - they are out earlier than we can plant in the open and can take a frost or even a freeze in the spring. By the time the annual plantings of greens are coming along, the Kale has bolted (these 2nd year plants don't have large leaves.. they're fine for an early harvest but don't produce much volume) I let it go to seed and then as I need the space I pull the plants and shake the seeds all over the garden area. I have volunteer Kale everywhere, it picks its best spot and I let it go there or transplant to where I want them. I haven't "planted" Kale in 5 years. For me learning to leave it so it can self seed means that it is practically a perennial.

Favorite way to eat kale? Fry a little garlic in olive oil, throw in chopped kale, toss to coat with oil and then splash in enough water to steam, salt well. Ahhhh.

-Kelly

 
Kate Muller
Posts: 212
Location: New Hampshire
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I am in NH and I am about to start my second year gardening using permaculture.

Last year I had a single volunteer butternut squash growing in the compost pile. It produced 7 squashes with zero work on my part.
I am still eating last year's green beans. Pole beans are prolific and don't take up a lot of room.
I am looking forward to asparagus next year. I love the stuff and it is pricey in the stores.
Growing your own cooking herbs and salad greens is a great ROI. They are easy to grow and cost a fortune in the stores.
Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are so easy to grow in the north east.
Mushrooms, honey, and nuts, are all great foods that are expensive to buy.


 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1374
Location: northern California
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Judging from my experience years ago in MI, the white potato should definitely be on your list of staple crops. Though they are an annual and need well-prepared, rich soil, the yield per area planted is rewarding and they will store easily in a cool location right through your winter.
 
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