October 24, 2016

Permaculture Vegetables for Cold Climates


Ann's top four successful perennial type vegetables to grow in your garden. 

If you want to homestead on the weekends or part-time, it really helps to have some vegetables that either sow themselves or are easy to gather seeds from.  Being efficient in the garden is essential in permaculture.  I've been surprised about how easily ground cherries sow themselves and how prolific the jerusalem artichokes are.  Green beans are definitely a must for the homestead vegetable garden, they are so easy to collect seeds from and save a few dollars with not needing to buy seed packets in the spring.
Ground Cherries

 

Ground Cherries

These ground cherry plants grow bushy and produce lots of cherry tomato sized fruit wrapped in delicate paper husks.  The flavor is different that anything else, sort of citrus like and the texture of a firm cherry tomato.  These ground cherries make a nice snack as you tour around the garden each day. Ground cherries continue fruiting until the first frost and as perennials by self-sowing seeds from last year's dropped fruit.  I've dropped a few older fruits around my fruit trees.  I'm hoping these will be a useful part of a fruit tree guild.  Guilds are also essential in permaculture gardens.
 



Purple Top Turnip 

Purple Top Turnips

You get many seeds in a package of purple top turnip seeds and they have excellent germination even in compacted clay soil. I planted these seeds later in summer and I still had loads of turnips in late summer. These turnips also act as self-sowing perennial if you let some plants go to seed.Purple top turnips preserve very well with blanching before freezing.

Green Beans

Green beans are super easy to grow when planted directly from seed into your vegetable garden. Green bean leaves and the beans themselves are very bug resistant. The beans freeze well after blanching, making these easy preserves for winter eating. Green beans are sustainable because you can save seeds easily from dried pods for next season's garden.  I've saved more than enough seeds that I don't have to order seeds for next spring.  Very sustainable and an excellent addition to any permaculture garden.







Jerusalem Artichoke Plant

 

Jerusalem Artichokes 

 You plant these like potatoes.  Cut up a piece with an eye on it and bury in the ground.  These plants are super abundant and produce many tubers.  Jerusalem Artichoke is perennial vegetable that will grow every year with little work.  These were ready to harvest when the soil started lifting around the stems from all the tubers pushing up.  With this one row I've filled four large freezer bags of tubers.  These plants have two purposes, one an abundant food crop and two they make an excellent privacy screen. 

October 10, 2016

Reduce Heating Costs by Closing Curtains at Night

Winter Heat Loss
Backyard chickens surviving winter's chill.
I want to minimize loss of heat through my windows on cold winter nights.  Last night we had our first frost but we haven't started heating our home yet this fall.  I want to delay starting up the wood stove and definitely not turn on the propane furnace.

October 9, 2016

Easy to Grow Perennial Herb and Fruit Guild

Weekend homesteading requires good time management.  The more perennials you grow, the more time you have to expand the homestead.  Normally we think of perennials as flowers, but I'm starting to think of them as perennial herbs, perennial fruits and perennial vegetables.  Perennials are an important part of a permaculture garden.

Plant Guild

Perennial Fruit and Herb Guild

Fruit/Vegetable/Herb guilds and companion planting are the key to success with organic gardening.  The mix of different plants helps deter bugs, feeds each other nutrients, crowd weeds out and shades the soil.  This avoids using pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and watering every day.  This perennial guild that is successful for me in Zone 4.

Perennial Guild:  Tall dill with thyme at base
 and ground cherries starting behind.

Perennial Guild with Ground cherries, chamomile, dill, thyme, sage

These grow very well together in a garden bed that I established by laying cardboard over the lawn, hay and then some topsoil (no tilling required).  The thyme and sage start early in the summer, the dill sprouts up tall but is very airy and let's the sunlight through to allow the chamomile to sprout up.  Lastly the ground cherries start to get going and bush out after the dill and chamomile are finished.  The sage and thyme continue to grown each spring and the ground cherries, chamomile and dill self sow from dropped seeds/fruit in the spring.


Perennial guild in late summer:  bushy sage, fruiting ground cherries,
dried dill seed tops (sunflower in center).


Easy to Grow Perennial Herb and Fruit Guild

Perennial Vegetables and Guilds Save Time 

Weekend homesteading requires good time management.  The more perennials you grow, the more time you have to expand the homestead.  Normally we think of perennials as flowers, but I'm starting to think of them as perennial herbs, perennial fruits and perennial vegetables.  Perennials are an important part of a permaculture garden.

Plant Guild

Perennial Fruit and Herb Guild

Fruit/Vegetable/Herb guilds and companion planting are the key to success with organic gardening.  The mix of different plants helps deter bugs, feeds each other nutrients, crowd weeds out and shades the soil.  This avoids using pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and watering every day.  This perennial guild that is successful for me in Zone 4.

Perennial Guild:  Tall dill with thyme at base
 and ground cherries starting behind.


Perennial Guild with Ground cherries, chamomile, dill, thyme, sage

These grow very well together in a garden bed that I established by laying cardboard over the lawn, hay and then some topsoil (no tilling required).  The thyme and sage start early in the summer, the dill sprouts up tall but is very airy and let's the sunlight through to allow the chamomile to sprout up.  Lastly the ground cherries start to get going and bush out after the dill and chamomile are finished.  The sage and thyme continue to grown each spring and the ground cherries, chamomile and dill self sow from dropped seeds/fruit in the spring.


Perennial guild in late summer:  bushy sage, fruiting ground cherries,
dried dill seed tops (sunflower in center).


October 8, 2016

Harvest and How to Cook Jerusalem Arthichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes
Peeled Jerusalem Artichokes
I was walking around the vegetable garden this afternoon when I noticed that the soil at the base of the jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes, sun roots) had heaved up into little hills around the stalk of the plants.   I peeled back the cardboard layer and found lots of jerusalem artichokes near the surface.  I wasn't planning on harvesting any sunchokes before the first frost but since there were so many almost exposed to the air, I dug out a few with my fingers.

I dug out more than I intended but I did get all of them that were close to the surface, I was thinking bugs might get to them.  This is my first time cooking sunchokes and I've read that they are similar to potatoes so I thought to give them their best chance at tasting good was to bake them in the oven, as potatoes taste the best this way to me.


So I gave them a wash, broke off some of the nubs and peeled them.  I cut them into small cubes and drizzled on a bit of olive oil and baked with the lid on at 350F for 30 minutes. 


They turned out nice and soft and golden brown.  They look exactly like roasted potatoes.  I tasted one right away and it's texture is very soft and fine and the taste is very light and the same flavor as artichokes hearts.  I put the rest in the fridge, I hope they'll keep well.  It's super cool that these are perennials and I can harvest for years with little care.

START YOUR OWN HOMESTEAD THIS WEEKEND, BE SELF-SUFFICIENT