Growing Your Own Vegetables: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide

Growing Your Own Vegetables: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide by Carla Emery, Lorene Edwards Forkner

Book: Growing Your Own Vegetables: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide by Carla Emery, Lorene Edwards Forkner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carla Emery, Lorene Edwards Forkner
Tags: General, regional, Gardening, Vegetables, Organic
their growth must be contained or they will take over the entire garden. The crunchy white tubers of mature chokes are harvested throughout the fall and winter when the plant is dormant; any tuber left in the soil will multiply and increase to provide the following year’s harvest.
    Jicama ( Pachyrhizus erosus ) is a Mexican vegetable also called sincama , sa gord , yam bean, Mexican potato, and Mexican water chestnut. Jicama resembles a flattish turnip in both its shape and its sweet, crisp white flesh. They grow best in southern, frost-free zones, where you can harvest as needed for months, and individual tubers may get quite large. However, gardeners everywhere except the most northern tier of states can grow tubers weighing at least ½ pound.
    Salsify ( Tragopogon porrifolius ) and the closely related Scorzonera ( Scorzonera hispanica ) are both grown for their long slender roots—white and black, respectively. Somewhat difficult to prepare in the kitchen, with a curious oyster-like flavor, these roots are not commonly grown. Cultivate as for parsnips, concentrating on cool-season growing. The flowers of mature plants are beautiful in their own right, pinkish purple (salsify) and bright yellow (scorzonera) blossoms that are a good addition to spring salads. However, do not allow the plants to set seed, as they can become invasive and weedy.

GRASSES AND GRAINS
    T he grass family is basic to supporting all animal life on earth. Green grass is pasture; dried grass is hay. The edible seeds of corn, wheat, rye, barley, rice, oats, and flax grasses provide grain, a rich food for both people and livestock. Millet, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat are nongrass plants whose highly nutritious seeds are harvested and consumed as “grain.” Bamboo is a grass whose young shoots are harvested as a nutritious vegetable.
    Raising your own grain may require less space than you think. Producing even a small crop of grain is not only a gardening adventure but also an instructive exercise concerning a food we typically take for granted yet is central to most people’s diet.

    WHEAT
    Backyard wheat
    Wheat ( Triticum sp.) has been cultivated for the last 10,000 to 15,000 years, beginning in the Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile valleys. It’s a good basic grain to plant. A decent crop of wheat can be produced in your own backyard if you have the right conditions and protect the tender stalks from trampling by dogs and people.

PLANTING: Wheat thrives where a cool, damp growing season is reliably followed by dry, warm days for ripening and harvest. Prepare a rich soil in full sun—conditions similar to those that would produce a good crop of corn. Broadcast seed by hand or plant in rows 4 inches apart, going back over the plot and raking to cover the seed with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Spring wheat may be sown around the time of the last killing frost and germinates best when temperatures are in the 60s. Winter wheat is planted in the fall and sprouts before going dormant with cold temperatures; growth resumes in the spring as the soil warms. Delayed plantings of either winter or spring wheat will reduce yield, as summer heat depresses grain production.
 
HARVESTING: Wheat is one of the slower grains to mature; it is ready to harvest when the plants have grown tall and are topped with bushy heads filled with grain seeds and the straw is just turning yellow. Winter wheat is ripe in midsummer, around 40 to 50 days from when the wheat begins to “head.” Spring wheat will ripen in the fall. Harvest on a dry day, even waiting until the dew has dried. If it rains, you must wait until the grain gets completely dry again. But if you leave the wheat too long, the heads will shatter and spill the grain onto the ground. Cut, bind and tie (instructions follow) and shock to cure. Then thresh, winnow, and store. Grind as needed.
How to bind and tie a sheaf of wheat: Harvest a good-sized arm-load of cut straw, about 8 to 12 inches in diameter, with the grain

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