July Learnings from the Garden

So we are about half way through the gardening year. Early and Mid spring crops like Spinach, peas and lettuce are gone, early summer crops like potatoes, beets, and carrots (as well as Hoop House peppers!) are harvestable. Tomatoes are heavy on the vine but still green, corn is 4-5′ tall and starting to tassle, fall squash are sending their unruly vines through the paths, and onions are bulbing. Fall crops are being planted in flats -kale, spinach, and lettuce #4 to refill holes in the potato patch and other areas. With a breif respite from chores, its time to document some of my reflections.

Seeded Crops

To a row, our direct seeded crops have failed. Our market garden plot is a 9 mile drive from our house. That means that I am really only up there once a week for any appreciable time. While the main culprit for this was the 15 inches of rain we got in a 10 day period in June, but even in a “normal” year (haven’t seen one yet) I know the weeding would have gotten away from us. In freshly plowed ground like we started with, carrots, beets, bush beans, onions, and direct seeded lettuce will all be out competed by weeds without almost daily attention the first several weeks. Some rows have been inundated with a perrenial, rhizomatous sedge, but our main problem is super vigorous annual weeds: amaranth, lambs quater, button weed, and thistle mostly. Left unattended these will all crest at over 5′ tall, and in a week they easily get bigger than any growth carrots can put on. My biggest learnings here are that I will simply not even try these on fresh soil again. With more frequent attention mulching and/or wider row spacing would either smother many of the weeds or allow a wheel or scuffle hoe between the plants. I planted them in “wide” rows and the weeds took care of every gap I left.  I was planting based on maximizing yield per row ft like I do at home, but at the farm I have all the land I need -I need to focus on ease of maintenance, to maximize yields.  I am retrying carrots in the compost beds which have a fraction of the weed pressure to see if that might help.

The B.V.V. (Big Vigorous Veggies)

That last section was depressing… this one will be more triumphant.  The same insane fertility that makes the lambsquater put on a foot a week in height does the same for equally vigorous veggies.   Our potatoes, corn, fall squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers are unbelievably lush -deep green leaves, great height, and from the harvests on the potatoes at least -very productive.  Even at baby stage I am seeing 1# per linear row foot of Carolas, and at full size should see 2-3#.  These plants are either very aggressive in and of themselves (potatoes, squash, corn) or transplanted in at decent height (cukes, and tomatoes).   In the seeded crops I have weeded about twice 2 weeks in, and  again at week 4.  After that they  are so robust that nothing else stands a chance of causing any significant harm and I only weed to prevent them dropping seed.  In the tomatoes/cukes I planted into freshly tilled soil, and the mulched.  Again, they put on so much mass that little can cause them harm.  This amount of work better matches the amount of effort I am able to put in.

Drip Irrigation

Its fabulous.  I bought mine from Fed-Co and love it.  Thus far I water about once a week (in the 2 times we haven’t had an inch of weekly rain).  Routine is to pull into the farm, turn on the water, unload, weed, harvest, transplant, whatever for 3-4 hours, pack up, and then turn the water off.  Done.  Its pricey, but will last for several seasons and it has already paid for itself in time savings.  I also have 2 auto timers for when the dry season gets here, I just haven’t needed them yet.

In addition to providing some food for local folks and restaurants, the main goal of this project is to make my mistakes and take my learnings on land that doesn’t have a mortgage riding on it.  It is easier to be Zen about mistakes when you have no debt!  So here is the sum of them:

  • Start with Big Vigorous Veggies (BVV) on fresh land if you can’t smother the weeds out first.  I will never try carrots, etc on freshly tilled soil again.
  • Match your plants to your time constraints.  Potatoes are great crops for periodic spurts of energy in the garden.  1 Day planting.  2-3 half days weeding.  1 Day pulling beetles/spraying Bt (if needed!).   Lots of little 1 hour days harvesting -and harvesting potatoes is  not even remotely considered work by me!  Yields will be well north of 1000#’s, with 180#’s already in the hopper in July Wk 2.  Corn and Squash are about the same, with less time harvesting.  Tomatoes get alot more time harvesting, but the harvest is much easier.
  • Consider weed pressure in your rotational planting.  In years 1 and 2 of my garden I will plan on growing the BVV almost exclusively and then trading the surplus for beets, beans, and carrots.  The BVV will be on the leading edge as my gardens expand and will always follow any freshly tilled in green manures -the tilling will have brought up more weed seeds.  Carrots etc will only go in favored beds that allow for extra attention and will get wider spacing to allow better cultivation
  • When considering a truly Sustainable Garden -time needs to be factored as an input just as much as water and nutrients.   Time will make a garden economically unsustainable if poorly managed, and the entire garden could fail if the time inputs for various crops are not considered wisely.

I am a long way off of using the Sustainable Market Garden Plan, but the idea is still sound.  Incorporating these learnings will only make it better.  While there have certainly been some disappointments this year, being able to pull out bushels and bushels of potatoes with so little input is making up for it in a BIG way!  Other things still to work out -these gardens are not “permacultured” yet, and are still very “problem” intensive when compared to Fukuoka’s Natural Farming (the problem of weeds, the problem of plowing, the problem of fertilizer).  In other words the design is messy.  Need to work on that!

-Rob

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Garden Update and Food Frugality

Right, so posting has taken a back seat to, er, LIFE lately but I have a bit of time to catch up some.

Hybrids:

When I bought my Inisght 28 months ago I paid $12,600 for it -its a 2001 and it had about 53k on it. Now, 30k miles later, when we are considering turning it in on a 4 door hybrid car I have received quotes -sight unseen- for $11000+ on trade. On E-Bay, Insights w/71-100k miles are going for $16k in Cali and $14 in Minnesota. I had intended the Insight to be an investment, but it apparently has become one.

Ran the Family Fleet fuel intake with our Forester and Insight v. what would happen if we switched our primary car to a Civic Hybrid and used the Subaru mostly for Farm Work and the “second” car, and annual fuel consumption dropped 10% by shifting more miles off the relatively thirsty Forester (27mpg) but adding $14k in debt seems like a bad move. However I just put new tires on the Insight (with 80k on them it was time!) and mileage appears to be up -88mpg on the way home! No easy answers here, so I’ll wait until I am sure.

Market Gardens

  • First sales of the year are in the bank -chives and spinach! First restaurant sales should happen tomorrow with our first cutting of lettuce. Very gratifying to be able to provide food to the community!
  • We had a freak late, hard frost last week that decimated most of the potato growth -setting them back by almost a month, but they are coming back strong.
  • Hoop House tomatoes are over 2′ tall ( for comparison the home ones are still in transplant shock due to cold soil and are all of 6″ tall) and beginning to blossom out! Peppers are about a foot tall. All plants are incredibly robust with thick stems are very dense leaf canopies!
  • “3 Sisters” plantings (56 hills of 10 corn, 5 squash and 7 beans) are sprouted and I will plant the pole beans into them in a week.
  • Onions are 6″ tall and my Jacob’s Cattle beans for drying are sprouting finally.
  • The “Sustainable Market Garden” plot is severely behind due to lack of time, but mostly because I have no water at the site yet. That is a whole ‘nother story.

Home Perma-Gardens

  • Strawberries are insanely productive with what appears to be our best crop yet. First one was ripe this morning -2 weeks earlier than last year- and was freakishly sweet. We planted 125 plants 3 years ago and let them run. We sold off 30 plants this year that were encroaching on our prairie and you can’t even tell. Peak harvest LY was 2 QTS/day for one week, with total harvest spread over a month.
  • Every single fruiting bush (Currant, Hazelnut and Goumi), vine (Hardy Kiwi and Grape), bramble (raspberries), and tree (1 Apple, 2 Peach, 3 Pear, and 2 Paw Paw) survived the second worst winter on record (I mulch ALOT) -and we should get our first orchard harvest off one of the pears! WAY Excited!
  • Peas and Raspberries are flowering, lettuce is up, and my Sunchokes are 2′ high

First “real” rain in over 6 weeks came last night with a vengeance: over 2.75″ here and 2.9″ at the market gardens. The more insane Global Warming is making the weather the more convinced I am that we will all be under some form of Hoop Houses within 10 years for any kind of delicate veggie. Every major front this year has dropped tornadoes somewhere along its line, and the temps are all out of whack -we’ve had 5 frosts since our “last” frost date and now may break a heat record this weekend less than 10 days after a 27 degree frost.

In addition to all of this, Mia and I are back dieting again. I am down 25 pounds from my peak of 210 2 years ago (I am all of 5’7″), but would like to lose another 15-20 to get me under 170, so we are back on Weight Watchers. Cliche? Maybe, but the shit works if you are diligent: I lose 2-5 pounds weekly like clock work. We skip the pre packaged junk and go local of course, but mostly it forces us to be even more concious about what we eat (my portion controls SUCKS – it’s still set where I ate in College… when I was running 3-7 miles and weight lifting 2 hours 3-5 days a week). Yes you can gain weight being a vegetarian -a plate FULL of pasta is too many calories even without the sausage. Weight control is a math equation.

The best part is how empowering dieting is. Just like when we pared down our lives to cut out the excessive consumption, paring down my eating is incredibly liberating. It is shocking how truly consumed by our appetites society trains us to be. The simple Values of Austerity and Patience are, at least to me, deeply wholesome and gratifying.
Be the Change.

(Re)Building Topsoil

Emily recently asked for a detailed post on Soil Building -that is a fabulous idea, so here goes!

I live in a new Subdivison. Besides good insulation and resale values, I also got a denuded yard with no topsoil. I am no different than hundreds of thousands of households out there. Growing things organically on what starts as essentially subsoil takes some doing, but it is very possible. Here are some of the things I learned in the past 3 years getting my gardens to produce 500#’s + on 500 sq ft in Zone 5 on what what started as soil that not even weeds grew on.

First off the main difference between “Topsoil” and “Subsoil” revolves around two critical aspects: Organic Matter and the Soil Ecosystem. Organic Matter creates air channels and holds water between rains, but most importantly it supplies the raw materials that the Soil Ecosystem (bacteria, fungus, nematodes, protozoa, worms, etc) use to make nutrients accessible -be it from minerals or dead plant debris- to plants. Subsoil is essentially dead -Organic Matter levels below 1% and virtually no soil life to speak of. Luckily it often has rich levels of minerals and trace nutrients, so all is not lost. To make Top Soil from the Subsoil (or dead denuded soils post industrial Ag) you will need to restore both Organic Matter and foster a thriving soil ecosystem.

Organic Matter

Here at our home we have trucked (ok, trailered) in literally TONS of organic matter. If you want to build soil, you have to find the raw materials. Here is a short list of things I have scrounged here on the fringes of Suburbia:

  • Coffee Grounds from local Coffee Shop
  • Resturaunt Waste
  • Woodchips and Compost from the Municipal Yard
  • Straw Bales from garden shops and local farmers
  • Leaves from ALL my neighbors
  • Grass Clippings and other yard waste

The thing to remember is that the soil isn’t picky, in fact a diverse mix is better than one particular source. But SOMETHING is better than nothing. Some of the above list should be composted first-notably any animal manures, and kitchen and resturaunt wastes. The others can be applied to the soil as mulches to feed the soil from the top down, as nature intended. More on that in a bit. Wood chips are for my numerous paths which I rebuild annually -the bottom 25% of each path decomposes nicely providing me with almost a yard of compost annually -with very little work and no bins!  The coffee grounds are a great system I have worked out with a local shop.  I pick up 3-5 5 Gallon Buckets of restaurant “gorp” every week, and compost it.  They save on garbage fees, and I get an extra 3 yards of compost!  Less formally, any Starbucks has bags of grounds behind the counter they will gladly give you.

When we started our gardens, just three years ago, I double dug the beds ala John Jeavons’ Biodynamic techniques. This was necessary as the soil was horribly compacted from the Heavy Equipment used in the home construction. As I went to turn the “top” soil back in, I added compost in with the original soil in a 1:1 ratio. This took ALOT of compost-more than I had, but our Village has a compost pile the size of a small house. This also inoculated the soil with a living batch of decomposers to get things going-more about this later as well. I also mixed in a few bags of grass clippings to give the critters something to munch on. Careful to mix it well -large clods of grass will spoil in the soil due to lack of air. Once this was mixed in I planted the gardens, but as the soil was still pretty dead it wasn’t a great year. As my compost batches finished (I turned them very aggressively to speed it up to about 2 months) I side dressed the rows 1″ thick with the compost.

After the growing season, I added chopped leaves (run them over with a power mower with a bag on) and composted manures/kitchen wastes in a thick 4-6″ blanket for the winter. By May the next year, this was about 50% composted and I turned it in with a single pass with a garden fork and then topdressed with whatever compost I had ready from the fall piles -even if it was only 75% done, it goes on. After seedlings are up, more straw mulch between the row to feed the soil. Rinse and Repeat!

Soil Ecosystem

The truly depressing thing about my “soil” was it was dead. There was almost no life in it at all. Topsoil is a living thing- actually it is hundreds of trillions of livings things, but you get the picture . It (they?) needs air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. A compacted soil effectively removes the first two, and as I already discussed, without organic matter you don’t have the third. To fight compaction, I double dug the beds to aerate them down 18″ which opens the soil to air and water passages. Adding the organic matter gets food into the cycle. But you still really don’t have many critters at this point. Given time, simply having air, water, and food will be enough to attract a thriving soil system, but we are a frenetic society and have issues even waiting for a You Tube movie to start, let alone giving our soil 2-3 years to begin to wake up.

So to speed things up: inoculate the soil. If you noticed above, I added compost… alot. In fact I added about 3″ of compost per sq ft per year for 3 years now. That is about a cubic yard of compost annually per 100sq ft. That may seem excessive, and I have toned it down now as it served its purpose. See, compost is alive. That is not some Earthy Granola Get-in-touch-with-your-Mother talk …it is literally true. When your compost heats up it is due to the metabolic heat from bacteria reaching critical mass. In the cooler sections of the pile are billions of protozoa, fungi, and thousands and thousands of larger critters like pill bugs, worms, millipedes, etc that are all doing their part to decompose your kitchen and yard wastes. When you load your finished pile into your barrow and trundle it into your beds, all those buggers come with and they will continue to decompose the wastes of your garden soil and multiply in the process. Congratulations! Your soil is now alive! Now lets keep it that way:

The dying roots of your garden plants each season supply some of this food, but continual mulching will help even more. Nature feeds the top of the soil, and immediately under your mulch the soil will be alive with the Front Line decomposer’s that take some sustenance, and in turn break down the material further to allow even more and varied critters to further complete the work. In time the material will be completely broken down and distributed through the top 6-12″ of the soil by worms and other animals. This is how all the leaves in the forest are gone by the time the next season’s Fall approaches. The previous year’s leaves have fed the soil, which in turn fed the trees and allowed them to make more leaves… which in turn feed the soil. Perfect and Beautiful. Since we harvest much of the surplus of our gardens we must ensure we add back those nutrients in the form of compost or mulches.

It should go without saying that spraying and “-cide” on the garden -plants or soil- will take you back to Step #1 in a very real way and is to be avoided like the plague. A Dairy Farmer would never take a shotgun to his herd and hope to stay in business. We are all ranchers, it is just that the Vegetable Garden’s herds live underground!

3 years ago I had to water my “soil” to even be able to get a sharpened spade into it, and ended up using a pickaxe (literally) to break it up. Now I can stick a 2×2″ stake in 6″ deep by hand when I string my pea trellis and I expect further fertility gains for at least 3-5 more years. Nature wants healthy soil, and has a gazillion tools to help create it. All you have to do is rebuild a suitable environment, and either wait for the magic, or help it along with compost. Re-Building our soils is one of the most important legacies we can leave to future generations. Be the Change!

Good luck and Great Gardening!

Potatoes!

So I stopped draggin my feet and got around to ordering my seed potatoes today. And thank goodness! My beloved Purple Vikings are sold out virtually everywhere! What has been taking so long is that I wanted to source as local as possible, but our local seed potatoe provider was already oversold. So I sent out a wide net rummaging through farmers market links to track down our favorite farmers in Wisconsin.

That actually worked pretty well and I ended up forming a nice partnership with Josh at Driftless Organics for 100#’s of Carolas and another 50# of Yukon Golds. Shipping costs? I pick them up at the Madison Farmers Market on 4/19. Nice.

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To fill in the cracks I went back to Fedco’s Moose Tubers for 20#’s of Butte (highest vitamin C and protien -did you know ‘taters had vitamin C? Heirlooms do!) and another 20#’s of Green Mountain. Overall pretty happy with my orders: Carola is described as the “brandywine” of tubers, Yukon Gold has the Brand Name “pull”, Butte is a super storage and uber nutritious type, and Green Mountain has been around for 120 years and is described as the most flavorful of all. It is also an extra late maturing so I can spread my labors some.

While I was at it I threw in 400 onion sets (Stuttgarter and Red Baron) since I am running out of seed tray space (536 tranplants!), and our restaurant client (not to mention my planned root cellar!) is interested in some.

As I am pulling out of my sick stupor, I am also looking at applying for a Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant as well as a SARE research/producer grant to help fund this brain child of mine. This actually came about from a conversation I had with some ATTRA experts before I was sick. It seems that no one is pushing the envelope to the degree of sustainability that I am looking to in the Sub Acre Ag project, so instead of helping me answer my questions they encouraged me to get a grant to be able to tell others about it. As if I didn’t have enough hubris as it was! I figure I am writing 30,000 words on these projects already, might as well get a salary…

Jesus, I need to get healthy. And a clone.

-Rob

Let the Planting Begin!

A week ago, I was covering a second shift for a peer, and availed myself of a rare afternoon at home to visit the Hoop House. Air temps were a balmy 9 degrees (F), and I used snow shoes to get to the greenhouse. However, it was a beautiful and sunny winter day, and the interior temps were an impressive 52 degrees! Due to the seemingly weekly blizzards and bitter cold I had not been out to visit my Spinach in almost 2 weeks, but I was very surprised (and pleased!) to find that they had been busy in my absence. There is enough top growth on the spinach that I felt comfortable sneaking a few leaves –divine! Though more stunted, the mache is also doing well and is even sweeter. The pac choy took a beating in the -14 nights and lost some top growth. But even here, there is new growth coming up. Very encouraging!

With that in mind, and our Last Frost Date (only!) 12 weeks out I figured it was time to get moving on my seed starting to fill the holes in the Hoop House where the radishes and claytonia succumbed to the bitter cold. We have had very mixed results starting seeds here in Suburbia. The South Window method worked good in year 1, but year 2 all I got was spindly tomatoes and I ended up losing them at transplant time. That cost almost $175 in transplants from Seeds Savers as I needed heirloom plants for my restaurant commitments. Given that I am most likely to need literally thousands of transplants this year something most be done. Enter the Grow lights.

I looked at Gardener’s Supply for what real lights cost -about $90-150 + shipping for a 48″ T-5, 4 bulb set. I’ll need at least two, and that seemed steep. Some online research led me to believe that there is not enough qualitative difference between the Green House Lights and decent shop lights, as long as you put a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) bulb (at least 84, 90+ preferred) in them. So I went off to Menard’s and found a slick concave shop light (claim 50% more reflection) for $24 that holds 2 T-8 or T-12 bulbs. None of the more energy efficient T-8 (32 watts) tubes had enough CRI for me, so I reluctantly went with some old school T-12 (40 watt) Grow Lux from Sylvannia with a CRI of 92. Bulbs were $4.50 each. So for about 66% less money I was in business. While I was there I picked up some new seed flats to replace to replace the ones that broke last year, as well as 32 quarts of chemical free seed starting mix and was still way ahead on money.

This morning the kids and I made a royal mess in the kitchen filling the 4 flats with mix and they did a great job sowing the seeds -apparently 4 year old fingers are more adept at pinching teeny pac choi seeds than I am! An hour or so of “work” and we had 144 spinach, 72 mache and another 32 pac choi started- almost 250 plants!. When we plant them in a month or so I will also direct seed more mache.

The spinach was up in 4 days, the mache in 5, and the pac choi is just starting to pop after about 8.  The mache  is on a heating mat, next time I will put it under the pac choi as ambeint temp in the basement is only about 55 degrees.

This week I will be starting another 144 spinach, 144 mache, and 64 more pac choi.  Luckily I found a cheap source of seed stating mix: $15 for 80 liters!

-Rob

Updates

It’s happening again, the distinct ying/yang effect of the amount of blogging waning as my amount of doing waxes.  Here are some quick updates to where some of the projects are at.

Market Garden 

BIG NEWS: I have permission to utilize as much of .5 acres as needed!  This is at the site about 4 miles from my home.  As reality sets in on the amount of work that this will take, I am thinking of sticking to just one 50×100 foot section that will be tilled under this spring, and then start a chicken tractor rotationally grazing what will be the other 50×100 garden.  This will allow for essentially ALL the beds to be taken out of production annually for soil building and grazed by 10-20 layers in 1-2 tractors.  As we get closer to planting time (OMG I have to start seedlings in less than 2 weeks!!) my research, planning, budgeting and shopping have gone into High Gear.  Uber exciting!

Eco Victory Garden

The presentation went over very well and we will be meeting again this weekend for a more in depth discussion.  The name appears to be morphing from a “victory garden” into a “Household Ecology Center” to stress the system thinking inherent in it.  Big Thanks to Emily at Eat Close to Home for her suggestion of using a second plastic barrel for the composter -that may very well make it to the final system: it saves $30, cuts an hour off the instalation and is better sized to the garden.  Lots of momentum on this

Winter Reading 

In addition to catalogues from Fed-Co, Johnny’s and Seed Savers, I am currently devouring Andy Lee’s Chicken Tractor  as I will be putting them to use in about 8 weeks.  Love his idea of simple straw bale structure for winter housing.   Also getting time in the queue is Lester Brown’s Plan B 3.0 which is one of the most important books I’ve read.  Lays out the immediacy, magnitude, and potential solutions to the problems of our generation.   We need to Get Real.  Now.  On the less immediate and lighter side I am also dabbling with Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage.  I plan to build one of these with the farm owners who are letting me use their land.  I’ll need it to -on another property I intend to grow 1500+ lbs of potatoes…

Garden Planning

Another tip from Emily was GrowVeg.com. I signed up for their 30 day trial and so far the system is fairly slick and certainly faster than my cobbled together spreadsheets.  Really like the fact that you draw the plans and it calculates planting rates with numbers of plants and then builds a plant list including planting times, etc.  Interface is not as inuititve as I would like (very few hot keys), but its not bad.  Big downer is that it is a subscription based system, not a downloadable software pack.  At $35/year it will add up and I have to have internet to view the plans.  Grrr.

The reality of the coming year is sinking in.  I will be growing food on a scale completely outside any reference I have ever had.  It appears I will have livestock, and I will also be very involved in a local sustainability group that is dreaming big enough that we have booths at both our county fair and the MREA I am also still maintaining my 50hr/wk salaried job and then there are little things like my essential roles as husband and father…  I also would like to blog 70k words this year as I hope that others can continue to learn from my trials.  At least the days are longer in the summer…

Keeping perspective will be difficult this year, but I have had enough people offer help with the market garden that I am continuing to dillude myself that I can still juggle all these eggs without any breaking.

-Rob

Edible Flowers: Eat Beautifully

I have gone gonzo over edible flowers this winter. It started last year when the stand of our favorite farm at the market was giving away pints of nasturtium blooms with any order over $20. Our daughter loves flowers, so I decided to bring them home for that evening’s salad to see if it would go over. Not only was she hooked, but apparently Dad was too! I loved the added texture and zest, but even more it felt so incredibly decadent to eat flowers -the salad was almost to beautiful to eat!

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Fast forward to my winter project to create a garden design. Intrinsic in any Sustainable Garden/Farm is the inclusion of flowering plants to attract and maintain a diverse ecosystem that will balance the insect populations in your plot. But even more than that, I greatly prefer a diverse planting for the sheer beauty of a garden that is a’buzz with insects and with blooms beckoning the eye at every turn. To my occasionally poetic mind it helps to blend the stark intentional plantings of a harvest-able plot with a more natural landscape, easing the transition from natural system to structured society.

I have had some lament the “wasted” space of the perennial plantings around my sustainable market garden. They do admit that one could sell bouquets, but that isn’t really “farming”. But the truth of the matter is that an incredible amount of flowers are edible, better yet… they’re delicious!

Perhaps the most commonly eaten edible flower is Nasturtium, which adds a bit of zest to the salad. Also high on my list are the blooms of Chives (similar flavor to the greens), Pansies and Johnny Jump Ups (subtly sweet), Bee Balm (minty) and Borage which apparently taste oddly of cucumbers. As many of these flowers are perennials they fit in perfectly to my “edible hedgerow” approach to attracting benificials. One of the most comprehensive lists of edible flowers I have found, including descriptions can be found here.

The more diverse our plantings the more stable they become as they include multiple redundancies and supports, and I truly believe that is true of our diets as well. In dry beans, the more colorful the bean, the higher they are in antioxidants and other essential trace nutrients… could the same be true of other foods? Apparently very little has been researched on the nutrition of blooms, but dandelion blooms are rich in vitamins A and C, nasturtium flowers packed with vitamin C, and every flower is rich in pollen and nectar known to be rich in nutrients.

Besides, this deep into a dark Wisconsin Winter they help to bring a ray color into my research!

-Rob

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