Sunday, April 3, 2016

Gardening: Droning On

I want to keep talking about gardening. But there's really nothing to talk about. For this year. (Look up there! Last year!)

But I could talk about the dozens of projects and crops that I'm not planning to work on this year. That could be interesting to see in some theoretical future when I have the simple garden chugging along and I have room for projects.

So, what are those possible projects?

Growing for donation. Like food banks and such. I've never grown for volume before, because we don't preserve things. But growing for volume could be an entertaining challenge.  And it could tie in with other things--for example, if I want to do a trial of multiple varieties (testing under dryfarming, or shade, or something) and lots of them succeed, I'll end up with too much food. It would be useful to already have a routine for giving excess away.

It would also feed fantasies of growing vegetables for income. That's purely fantasy, probably forever, but I like feeding fantasies.

Popping/parching grains. I've been curious about popbeans since I read the first version of Carol Deppe's Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. And then about parch corn.  I tried parch corn, and I think popbeans, in earlier and more failure-prone years. And I seem to remember other popping grainlike things from her books. As I understand them, these are grains that don't pop explosively like popcorn, but instead sort of puff, becoming softly crunchy.

These are a gardening candidate because I have yet to find a way to just buy the grain or bean--you can buy popcorn anywhere, but not popbeans or parch corn. Apparently sorghum and amaranth and lentils can also be popped (sorghum makes adorable itty bitty popcorn; I had some at a restaurant the other day), but I suspect that I can just buy them. But I'm not sure.

All of these would, I think, be a kind of dried storage grain that I'd actually be willing and able to eat. I don't like dried bean or lentils cooked the normal wet way, and while I sometimes like polenta and I definitely like cornbread, I'm far too lazy to not only shell corn but also grind it. So they're a good choice for, among other things, the zombie apocalypse.

Tepary beans. These beans are supposedly appropriate for growing dryfarmed, assuming that you get them planted in still-wet spring weather. Of course, they run right into my dislike of dried beans. I just bought a bag of white tepary beans at the grocery, so I'll try them to see if there's any way that I like them. The interesting bit is dryfarmed beans that don't require support.

Sprawling Pole Beans. Speaking of beans that don't require support, Steve Solomon says that pole beans grown for dry seed can be allowed to sprawl on the ground. Could I get any snap beans this way, or would they get too much insect damage? It seems worth a try; I'd be annoyed to assume it won't work, struggle with supports for years, and then discover that it works just fine.

Bean Texture Experiments: I'd like to like dry beans. I don't like the mealy texture of most dry beans. So I'm interested in trying any dry bean that is reputed to have a different texture, such as the Hutterite Soup Bean.

Breeding: Snap/Dry Bean Crossover. Black Aztec corn is useful both fresh and dry. Sunshine squash is supposedly useful both as summer squash and winter squash. Fava beans are useful both fresh and dry. I have yet to hear of a regular common bean that is useful as both snap and dry.  Is there a fundamental reason why not? Does one already exist that I don't know about? Could one be bred?

Breeding: Shade-tolerant round snap beans. This may already exist, but I just read (Deppe, again) about the shade tolerance of Withner's White Cornfield Bean. They produce flat beans. We like round beans. Would it be worth playing with crosses?

Breeding: Sunflower buds/flowers as a vegetable. Supposedly, sunflower buds can be eaten. I keep growing them and not getting around to eating them. But if they're good for eating, then surely it would be worthwhile to do some breeding work

Winter Squash. Well, I'm already going to try those Sunshine squashes. If I like them, I'll try other things in other years. The premise is that while you can buy winter squash at the grocery, most of them are harvested immature and insufficiently cured.

Dried Summer Squash. Discussed in Deppe's The Resilient Gardener.  I want to like summer squash. I want to like it fresh, but so far I only like it when it's soaked in so much oil and garlic that it might as well be upholstery foam. So I want to try it dried.

There's more. Lots more. So much more. But I'll stop here.

Image: Mine.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, I like the sound of those popping grains - they could be fun (especially if they aren't too demanding to grow).

    Sunflowers are beautiful and produce those fabulous seeds - I'm not sure I could bring myself to eat the buds and not let them flower fully and set seed so it'll be interesting to see if you can be single-minded in breeding them to harvest young, if you choose to grow them.

    A wealth of possibilities - I wonder which you'll go for?

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh (where such possibilities would need poly-tunnels/greenhouses/heat/sun/land!)