Gerry and I watched another great documentary last night (Thanks, Netflix!) called Dirt, The Movie. Wonderful handling of a topic most of us never think about. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope you will see it. It entertained, educated, enraged, and most of all, encouraged! by turns.
Now the connection to the blog title offering today. One thing that really stood out and impressed me was the demonstration of the difference in root systems between the annuals and the perennials. It was mindboggling. And they demonstrated how much more important perennial root systems are when we have shallow dirt levels to work with. Here in the hills of KY, we have bedrock very close to the surface, which means that perennials would be best. But I am an ignorant and conventional woman, whose only food growing experience is with standard annuals, and the standard rototillered seedbed. I am switching my mindset to include mostly perennials, and find myself at a loss, for the most part, on how to feed my house without contributing to the destruction of what little flat land I have.
Here is what I have come up with so far...
Tree foods. I need to do more with the native nuts and fruits that already grow here. I need to rebuild the orchard, plant new trees, and learn to make pine needle tea, and learn to harvest pine nuts, too.
I have gobs of brambles (they absolutely flourish here), but they are in my pastures. I need to put brambles in a place that is not competition for grass, and that I can easily reach and manage.
Foraging "weeds". I have long known that many of the weeds I was discarding were more nutritious than the vegetables I was protecting. But I knew what the vegetables were, and what to do with them. Ignorance has not been my friend. I do know how to recognize and cook dandelion and plantain. I recognize cattail, but know not what to do with it.
I will plant perennials as food whenever I can. First on the list of on purpose plantings will be daylilies, jerusalem artichokes, and asparagus.
I will choose hardy plants over those I know need babied. There is no real reason for a fine seedbed for squash, for instance. Other than custom and convenience to the rototilling. I can plant squash by using a mattock to chop a hole in the ground, planting the seed, and mulching the hill. And it won't use any gasoline, either!
I will make a special bed for the rootcrops I deem indispensible that really need a good seedbed, rather than make the entire garden pulverized. This will include carrots, turnips, potatoes, etc.
Dried Beans. Hmm, tougher. They are the mainstay of our diet, and need a good seedbed, and I need more of them than I can fit into a garden bed. This requires serious consideration.
Meat and Dairy... Also tough. Hunting is obviously in the works (Gerry is an excellent hunter, and never takes a shot if there is a possibility of only wounding the animal) We will be switching to making our own dairy products from goats, our hens are laying eggs, and we have a sow, but no boar yet. Most of the horses will be leaving for a new home in 2 months. Our only cattle are, and will only be, the 4 oxen.
Animal Feed. We recognize that trucking in grain for all of them is economically and ecologically unsound. We will be switching from a mainstay of hay and grain to browse (of which we have lots) and squash. We truly have plenty of browse, it just needs managed better. That is one reason we are heading for goats rather than more cattle. We will still have 2 horses, which need good pasture and some grain. We will need moveable runs for the poultry as we have many, many predators here. I love watching the Broadwing Hawks, I just don't want to feed them! Same with the foxes. I will put the moveable runs in the horse pasture to try to renovate it. It has been horribly overgrazed, overrun with weeds, and desperately needs attention.
Still don't have an answer for Yin and Yang. So will keep buying dogfood for now.
We are commited to doing our own killing, another reason we are heading for goats. I can handle a goat, a full grown steer is something else. No more slaughter houses for us.
Needing help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have heard I can use Stinging Nettle to make cheese. Also thistle flowers. Can anyone tell me how? I need other ideas on perennial foods and foraging. Very willing to make a difference and change, but need specifics.
Are any of you good at foraging? Would you be open to me visiting and learning?