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Author Topic: Growing Food  (Read 14000 times)

MaineShark

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2008, 10:55:20 am »

Planting "heirloom" varieties is also a good idea.  They are the native plants, or long-standing imports that have adapted to the climate.  Fancy plants resulting from selective breeding that have high production are great, except that they usually were designed from much-warmer climates, and require great care to grow up here.

Plants that produce less, but are reliable and low maintenance because they are adapted to this climate... end up being a better idea, I think.

There are also native plants that produce well and have tasty fruit, but which are rare because they aren't "decorative" or just were replaced by non-native plants on a fad.  Pawpaw is one example of a native fruit which will do extremely well in this area, but which almost no one grows any more, because the flowers are not pleasant-smelling.  So plant it in the far corner of your property, and you'll have a banana substitute, if imports become difficult or expensive.

Lots of other interesting plants like that.

Joe
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JasonPSorens

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2008, 06:43:45 pm »

I've heard pawpaw fruit is pretty tasty. There are lots of berrying shrubs & trees native to the Northeast, including amelanchier (serviceberry), sambucus (elderberry), vaccinium (blueberry), gaylussacia (huckleberry), rubus species (raspberry, dewberry), ribes (gooseberry), viburnum, cornus (dogwood), morus (red mulberry), vitis (native grapes)... to name just a few! I'm planting some of these in my backyard this year, getting rid of the sterile lawn.
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"Educate your children, educate yourselves, in the love for the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate. You will be aware of its worth and will have the courage to defend it." --Joaquim Nabuco (1883), Abolitionism

NJLiberty

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2008, 05:36:09 am »

I've heard pawpaw fruit is pretty tasty. There are lots of berrying shrubs & trees native to the Northeast, including amelanchier (serviceberry), sambucus (elderberry), vaccinium (blueberry), gaylussacia (huckleberry), rubus species (raspberry, dewberry), ribes (gooseberry), viburnum, cornus (dogwood), morus (red mulberry), vitis (native grapes)... to name just a few! I'm planting some of these in my backyard this year, getting rid of the sterile lawn.

Sounds like a great idea Jason. I was going to plant gooseberries this year, but they really won't come into their own until after I leave here for NH, so I shelved that idea. There are also white mulberries which are just as tasty without the problem of staining that the red ones present.

I can attest that pawpaws are very tasty. When I was at Purdue some of the guys would bring them back with them when they visited their homes. I am told they will grow into zone 5 which should work for a lot of people. They are a pretty good sized tree though so make sure you want to devote the space to them.

I'm curious Jason, what can you do with the dogwood berries? I have several dogwoods on the property, and many others in the woods next door. I wasn't aware they were good for anything but the birds.

George
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lloydbob1

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2008, 07:00:20 am »

I wonder why I have never seen a Pawpaw tree or its fruit for sale anywhere in New England.
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NJLiberty

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2008, 07:07:41 am »

They are native to the midwest. They should grow okay in New England. The fruit do not ship well at all. I never saw them in the stores in Indiana, even though they were referred to as the "Hoosier Banana." The only ones I had came to the school with the students themselves. There were a rare and precious gift, rather like the morel mushrooms out there.

George
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JasonPSorens

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2008, 08:37:54 am »

I've heard pawpaw fruit is pretty tasty. There are lots of berrying shrubs & trees native to the Northeast, including amelanchier (serviceberry), sambucus (elderberry), vaccinium (blueberry), gaylussacia (huckleberry), rubus species (raspberry, dewberry), ribes (gooseberry), viburnum, cornus (dogwood), morus (red mulberry), vitis (native grapes)... to name just a few! I'm planting some of these in my backyard this year, getting rid of the sterile lawn.

Sounds like a great idea Jason. I was going to plant gooseberries this year, but they really won't come into their own until after I leave here for NH, so I shelved that idea. There are also white mulberries which are just as tasty without the problem of staining that the red ones present.

I think I heard that the white mulberries are native to China, which some may or may not be concerned about. My project is just WNY-native plants. I don't expect to get a lot of the benefit before moving either, but I'm just having fun, and maybe it'll increase the value of the home a bit.

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I'm curious Jason, what can you do with the dogwood berries? I have several dogwoods on the property, and many others in the woods next door. I wasn't aware they were good for anything but the birds.

Sure, that's probably true. Attracting wildlife was my primary reason for undertaking this project, so I actually haven't looked too much into what's palatable for humans. My guess is that if birds can eat dogwood berries, humans probably could too in a pinch, but they probably aren't very tasty.
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"Educate your children, educate yourselves, in the love for the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate. You will be aware of its worth and will have the courage to defend it." --Joaquim Nabuco (1883), Abolitionism

NJLiberty

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2008, 08:50:41 am »

I don't have a problem attracting the wildlife, more the reverse. There is little here that hasn't walked across my fields. We even had a porcupine which was a first for us last fall. I don't know where the white mulberries come from. I see them both wild here in NJ, but they could easily be transplants. It is hard to tell after a while. The red ones taste better, but make a heck of a mess.

I haven't seen anyone suggest it yet, but Jerusalem Artichokes are a great perennial crop as well. Their tubers are very tasty and they provide a lot of greenery for the compost heap. Comfrey is a great plant for composting as well, though you have to look after it since it can become invasive. It does have nice purple flowers to it.

Don't forget, acorns are edible too, though they need some processing to make them so.

I'll have to see about the dogwoods when they set berries this year. I can't imagine they are tasty, but neither are sumac berries or rosehips unless you know what to do with them.

George
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lloydbob1

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2008, 11:41:44 am »

Some sumac is poisonous, I think. Rose hips from Rosa Rugosa, the wild roses that grow right up to the ocean in New England are good for tea and make an interesting jelly.  It is an aquired taste ;D  Very high in Vitamin C
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JasonPSorens

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2008, 12:13:58 pm »

Yes, there is a poison sumac that I understand affects most people pretty much like poison ivy. Staghorn sumac is rampant around here & easily recognizable because of the upright, pyramidal berry clusters that persist through winter. I don't think it's poisonous for humans, but the berries probably aren't palatable either.

I'm also trying to grow apios americana, groundnut, which is another edible tuber plant currently being investigated for commercial food production.
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"Educate your children, educate yourselves, in the love for the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate. You will be aware of its worth and will have the courage to defend it." --Joaquim Nabuco (1883), Abolitionism

NJLiberty

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2008, 06:04:54 am »

There is a poison sumac, though I have never seen it here. We have two varieties commonly here in NJ, smooth and staghorn sumac. Both yield usable berries. The sumac berries are not very good raw, but they make a very nice drink, something akin to lemonade. The rosehips are not very good raw either, but as was said do make an excellent jelly, as do the mulberries we were talking about earlier.

There are also any number of "weeds" that are fine to eat, dandelion, purslane, sorrel, and clover for example, provided of course that you don't use chemicals on your lawn. The flowers of many plants are edible as well, such as apple blossoms, lilacs, rose petals, lavender, violets, pansies, etc. They make interesting additions to salads besides being edible garnishes. If you grow peas you can also eat the shoots and leaves as well as the peas themselves.

George
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Kate

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2008, 05:24:57 pm »

Things to keep in mind about the growing season in NH.  You have the risk of frost till June 1st.  You also have the risk of frost after September 1st.  The other thing to keep in mind is the fact that the southern part of the state is zone 5 for planting.  The upper 2/3rds is zone 4.  Keep this in mind when planning your garden.
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NJLiberty

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2008, 08:20:28 am »

Took the temperature of my soil here yesterday, 54 degrees  :)

I pulled the mulch off of my rhubarb, strawberries and lilies and they are all up and growing well. The forsythias are in bloom right now, the lilacs buds are about to burst open, and the wild roses are already leafing out.

Things are going well here, can't wait to start planting the warmer weather crops.

George
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Kate

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2008, 11:42:00 am »

Not only haven't I seen a daffodil yet there is still have snow in the yard. 
Kate
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MaineShark

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2008, 05:20:51 pm »

Crocuses just peeked their flowers out, today.  The shoots have been up down here in the southern part of NH for about a week.

I do think the whole micro-climate thing is correct.  Lots more buds and some flowers here, versus even a few miles further north-west.

Joe
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NJLiberty

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2008, 07:43:43 am »

There is a lot to be said for micro-climates. They certainly exist, and can exist over a span of just a few feet, not just over miles.

For example, I live in a river valley now at the end of what was once the last glacier in the area. There is very little clay here, but a lot of sand left by the glacier, as well as a lot of "river" rocks in the ground. My house and my gardens are on, for all intents and purposes, a sand bank. Thus I sit about 7 feet higher than the surrounding land in the valley. There are many mornings when I get up that the valley floor is covered in frost, yet my garden is frost free because the coldest air settled that extra few feet. Even though the last frost date here is May 15th, I can be reasonably safe planting tender vegetables now because my risk of frost is very small.

I grow my domestic grapes against the southern wall of my barn because it protects them from the prevailing winds, and the barn itself holds the heat and creates its own micro-climate.

The folks on the western edge of the valley receive more sun than I do here and their soil warms up sooner. Their daffodils and such are always up long before mine are.

One thing a lot of folks overlook, particularly with vegetable gardening, is that your garden doesn't have to be all in one place. People readily stick flower beds all over the place, yet most folks for some reason feel it is necessary to put all the veggies in one spot. It isn't necessary, nor in many cases desirable, to have everything all together. I have a lot of my vegetables in one place, but my strawberry patch is a ways away in the middle of the lawn. The raspberries are happily growing along side some evergreen trees down along the edge of the field. The grapes are off in their own little world. Big vining things like squashes and melons I tend to plant on the edge of the slope and let them run down the hill across the lawn. Herbs are tucked here and there where there is space. I grow some things in planters and pots, and some from hanging baskets. The comfrey I grow to compost I use as a foundation planting. It doesn't seem to care.

The point is that whether you are on a small suburban lot, or a larger holding, there are going to be spots that are warmer and cooler, sunnier and shadier, etc. If you pay a little attention to the unique micro-climates within your own property, you can increase the health and productivity of your plants by quite a bit.

By the way, the magnolias and dogwoods are blooming now. The apple trees and the cherry trees won't be far behind.

George
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