So my grandfather passed when I was about 10 years old. I didn't really know him well except that he grew giant delicious fruit and vegetables (especially tomatoes) in the small garden of my grandparent's suburban house.
I recently was speaking to my mother about gardening and permaculture and she mentioned how I sounded like my grandfather. He had grown up on a farm in eastern Europe and moved to the US to work in factories as a boy. Yet he was always growing and picking food. Here is a selection of things that my mom shared with me from my grandfather:
Always grow enough for everyone to share. Not just you and your human neighbors, but all the birds and animals as well.
Plant multiple varieties of multiple types of foods- that way if something goes wrong with one you still have something else to eat
Pick what fruits and vegetables you find and eat it (in the wild) there's no point wasting food (Apparently he used to take my mom fruit picking in the forrest).
My mom told me about how he would get deliveries of horse manure to their suburban house from the local stables and they would have giant piles in the front yard (which she admitted mortified her as a teenager).
He also knew how to identify and pick edible mushrooms. (That's a skill I wish had been passed down- the message I got was not to eat any wild mushrooms because they're all poisonous).
Anyone else have stories of great permaculture wisdom passed down their families?
My grandmother told me, as quite young child when I "helped" in her garden, that the most important thing about gardening was to take care of the worms. Feed them. Make sure that they had water. Make homes for them in the soil. Give them shade from the sun. In my mind I can still hear her saying, "It's time to feed the worms."
I learned to feed the worms by digging in grandmom's kitchen waste. I learned to keep the soil moist, but not wet enough to drown the worms. She showed me about compost, which she dug into the soil to "make worm homes". She taught me that mulch gave shade for the worms.
Grandmom may have been not known the science behind what she did, but by caring for the worms she did everything right in order to have a robust garden.
My mother became an avid food gardener, but that was after I had moved away from home. But she apparently learned from her mother the same things that I did, because she had a successful garden. She was a big believer in horse manure. I saw the success she had using it, so to this day I use plenty of manures, horse included.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Liz Gattry wrote:He also knew how to identify and pick edible mushrooms. (That's a skill I wish had been passed down- the message I got was not to eat any wild mushrooms because they're all poisonous).
I grew up in East Europe and one basic thing about picking wild mushrooms is looking at the bottom side of the head. (applies to east Europe
- If you see sponge-like structure ( like here on wikipedia : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boletus_edulis#/media/File:Boletus_rex-veris_42967.jpg ) - You are pretty much safe (worse thing that can happen to you is that it will be bitter enough to not be edible
- If you see lines from the center to sides like on Shitake and other stuff you buy in shops, you need to know what you are doing, because some of that stuff can get you with quite a painful death.
My family mostly picks Porcini anyway, they taste and smell way better than anything else. - One exception for Porcini looking mushrooms - If you cut it and it starts getting blue, get rid of it.
The only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you. Or this tiny ad:
100th Issue of Permaculture Magazine - now FREE for a while