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How much variety is enough variety? How much are you planting?

 
Matt Powers
Posts: 343
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All kinds of greens? (Spinach, Chard, Amaranth, etc.)

All varieties of a kind? (like the 9 different varieties of strawberries that we have)

What are you focused on?

I started with what I thought would grow, then I grew what was interesting, and now I grow for diversity of genetics and staple foods.

I planted over 300 varieties this year and I have about 200 more to go. I hope to have it show me what it can sustain. I like to imagine what would stay if I walked away.

I think in my system, sunchokes, wonderberry, strawberry spinach, amaranth, strawberries, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, true comfrey, artichokes, lemon balm, feverfew, daikon radish, mustard, kale, mulberry & cane berries would all stay around if I established the system for a couple more years.

What do you think would stay if you walked away in a few years? Would your system hold?



MP
 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
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Posts: 1599
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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I have a few systems scattered around in different ecosystems.

The farm is reduced to bare dirt each fall. Fresh seeds are planted each year, except for a strip of perennial forbs along one edge. The farm is totally dependent on irrigation. One of my fields got sold a few years ago, so I have been able to watch what survived. About the only survivors I can see are the winter wheats and winter rye. That is to be expected, since I collected them growing feral in the nearby wildlands. So they are right at home in an abandoned field. The varieties I developed on the farm have been spread far and wide. Many of them will find homes where they can really thrive, even if that isn't at my place.

One of my farm fields has a tremendous problem with domesticated weeds: specifically sunroots, garlic, and walking onions. They will continue to plague the field for years as long as minimal irrigation is applied. The strawberries can't compete successfully with the weeds, so I expect them to eventually succumb. The chives will probably continue for years. The lambsquarters, which I didn't plant, will continue on as it always has. The best and highest use for these fields without irrigation is to grow forage or grains: grass, alfalfa, wheat, rye, barley, or pasture. The availability of low-cost irrigation makes it possible to grow crops that are more suitable for feeding humans directly instead of feeding animals.

The food forests I plant in backyards are likewise dependent on irrigation, but if I died tomorrow, the new inhabitants would continue to care for the trees and perhaps for some of the shrubs and forbs. They might survive a year without water. Some of the trees might survive permanently, but most would die. I have shared the material widely either as seedlings, plants, or scion wood. They will continue to be spread throughout the community whether or not I am around.

The ranch doesn't notice that I'm even there... It continues to grow like it always has despite my efforts. The annuals and perennials that I plant die. Of the hundreds of cactus I have planted only about ten are still alive. A half dozen trees have survived since I planted them as a young child. Perhaps this will be the year that a Gogi gets established.

One in a while something that I have introduced into the wildlands survives for a few years before succumbing.

I've been working for some years to develop a winter pea to grow in the badlands without irrigation. This fall I expect to finally have enough seed to be able to do a test in the wild.

Winter pea: Right after snow melted in the spring.




 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I like diversity in different plant family, the most.

So, I like greens from the cabbage family (kale), the spinach family (amaranth), new zeland spinach family, malabar spinach, and lettuce vs say just the different type of greens in the cabbage family (kale, cabbage, collard green, broccoli, etc)

Fruits from different family such as persimmon, fig/mulberry, walnut/pecan, hazelnut, chestnut, jelly palm, grapes, kiwi, passionflora, jujube, pawpaw, elderberry, etc vs only eating from the rose family of fruits (cherry, plum, apricot, peach, nectarine, almond, pear, quince, apple, aronia, juneberry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, etc)

I am sadden by the fact that all of my grains come from the grass family (corn, wheat, rye, barley, millet, etc). I should start including and eating more seed heads from the spinach family (amaranth, quinoa), legumes family and nuts flour like chestnut and hazel nut.

I could just cut back on the entire idea of seeds as a source of carbs and include more root crops, parsnip from the carrot family, sweet potaotes(morning glory family), chinese yam (yam family), irish potatoes (tomato family), sun-choke, onions, etc
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Overall, I have over 50 different species of fruiting shrubs and nut trees in 14 different plant families, and scores of herbs and veggies in the mint, carrot, onion family and others. if I were to leave the system right now, my fruiting vines would probably take over, but other than the zone pushing chicago-hardy fig, pomegranate and muscadine grapes everything else would survive.

My pear would also die of dehydration, but only because it is planted in a pit filled with porous high ph dry-wall, I will have to baby it with some more compost until the root reach regular soil.

Other than the 100ft grape and kiwi vines everything else is dwarf and planted at the mature height spacing with dutch clover as the main ground cover.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1253
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Everyone in my state has the attitude of "That can't grow here". So, I honestly don't know what will grow here. Thus, I'm planting EVERYTHING. When I figure out what grows here I'll focus a bit more!
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1046
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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S Bengi, why did you plant into drywall debris?
 
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