Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fruits of the Labor

Harvest 2012

In spring 2012, we created a new crop in a narrow strip of soil alongside the basketball court on the property of my neighborhood public garden, Bradner Gardens. With some attention to soil improvements and consistent watering, we ended up with visual enjoyment of tall green stalks with leaves and eventually mini sunflower-yellow flowers at the tips, and an abundance of sweet tubers to eat. These chokes grow well in the Northwest and offer up some tasty options for harvesters.  They are delicious additions to soups, roasted vegetable medleys, stir-frys, salads, pasta and pilaf dishes, root vegetable gratins and Latkes. Besides all this, there are significant health benefits involved. This tuber has a respectable history as a food source for the Pilgrims and crop that helped feed Europe during the potato famine. Native to North America, Champlain took them to France in 1605 and reportedly they were preferred by the French to the potato.

Wiki link providing more history

Community gardeners packaging for the food bank and volunteers

Mini sun-choke-flowers at the tippy top reaching skyward. 

fall color just before harvest

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creating a new planting area for Jerusaem Artichokes, spring 2012

Spring project - converting a narrow shallow root filled gravely strip of soil to a productive crop with tall green growth that hides the chain link fence and provides delicious tubers for the gardeners and food bank. When we dug into the soil, we found there to be a hard gravel base just a few inches below the topsoil. After stripping the plot of weeds, we took a pick axe to the gravel layer and to the stump and tree roots, wrestling with them to extract them from the soil. See victorious Kathleen below. I harvested some jerusalem artichokes from a friends yard the year before and grew them in my own plot. They were a big hit with me, extremely productive and delicious. I had been warned about their aggressive spreading tendencies and began looking for a place along a fence (for tying when they get gangly tall) and locked in by edges so they can't spread too fiercely. I donated a bucket from my harvest for this project. We have amended the soil after the initial loosening of the gravel, adding compost, manure and leaf mold. The soil by 2013 is full of worms, rich in humus, and productive.