A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Colonial & Native Survival Crops.

Colonial & Native Survival Crops.



I know that I have written on period foods before, but I don’t think it will hurt to refresh our memories at this time. More & more it is becoming important to grow our own foods. Growing our own gives us a little more control over production & quality, & it will cut down on our expenses. Period cooking has also taught me a lot, in fact more & more of what we eat at home is based on colonial foods & cooking methods. When winter arrives it is time to harvest our garden, this means getting in the corn & pumpkins & other above ground crops. From then on our meals include these foods, because they will be the first to rot if not used. Some pumpkins I am told last longer than others, but the ones we mostly grow are the Queensland Blue. These pumpkins can grow quite large. A stew made of pumpkin, corn, beans & a little meat tastes great & it is very filling. I usually cook up a large kettle of this so that we have several meals stored.

Our Pumpkin Patch.


Jerusalem Artichokes are another great crop to grow, once you have this root crop planted you will never go hungry. We leave ours in the ground all year round & harvest as needed. If I had to leave here I would take some Jerusalem artichoke tubers with me along with some pumpkin seed, beans, & corn. Corn is a grose feeder & needs good soil to grow well. Vegetable scraps can be turned into fertilizer either by composting or by feeding the chooks. Fish scraps & other animal intestines & stomach contents also fertilize the soil, & we bury these in the gardens & leave them for a season or longer to break down. This is especially important when moving to a new area with poor soil, you need to use anything you can to improve the quality of the soil.

Jerusalem Artichokes. The green foliage can be used for chook feed, composting or mulch, and the dead stalks make excellent kindling. These are native to the Great Lakes area in Canada.


Sunflower seeds are very good food, but shelling the seeds is not easy. Mostly we use the seed to feed our chooks, as we do no purchase commercial chook feeds. In a survival situation sunflower seed could also be used to bait traps. There is no need detach the seed from the flower heads to feed the chooks, we just throw the whole flower head to them. The empty flower heads can either be left in the chook pen to rot down, or they can be collected & added to the compost in the gardens.

Sunflowers and corn. The corn stalks are composted after harvest, but you can use the inner pith of the larger stalks for tinder. After eating the corn, cobbs can be used for tool handles.

Native corn came in a variety of colours.

The top fascine knife has a corn cobb handle.
I have never had much luck growing runner beans in with the corn, but they grow well on a seperate trellis.
Another short trench ready for adding vegie scraps & grass cuttings. Preditors have taken all last years chooks, so until we get some more we are turning our vegie scraps into compost directly in the ground.

Rosemary is well worth growing and great when roasting meat. Just make cuts in the meat and stick in pieces of the rosemary.

Garlic is a natural antiseptic and seems to grow well even in poor soils. Great for adding flavour to a variety of meals. Can be used straight from the ground, or hung to dry for later use.





3 comments:

Murphyfish said...

Good post Keith,
I'm finding my own small scale attempts at growing food in a very restricted space are having success and failures but the learning process is fun and lessons learnt are long remembered when the mistakes are your own.
Having the two chickens has proved fun and your right about their ability to turn waste into compost.
Regards,
John

Le Loup said...

Thanks John, good to hear from you again. Some crops such as tomatoes can be grown from hanging containers thus saving space on the ground.
Keith.

Le Loup said...

Thanks Gorges, yes I do know of the three sisters. Don't know why your comment did not post!
Keith.