PennyGrows

So I decided to learn about farming


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Milkweed

… and I have been wrong some more. Apparently you can also eat Milkweed pods…. sometimes (when green)!

WARNING…. DANGER… milk sap is poisonous!!

So this wonderful plant feeds Monarch Butterflies exclusively. Milkweed is the only thing they eat, so it is really important that we don’t destroy milkweed habitat, pull it as you might pull a weed, or consume it as human food.

milk weed

 

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Flower Power

So I didn’t know that you could eat chrysanthemum leaves. I actually thought the plant… flowers, leaves and stems were poisonous. (As Jay says… never in doubt frequently wrong)

And I gotta say the leaves are pretty tasty.  They are kinda spongy and have a favour that transforms as you eat it… the flavour starts in one place and ends up somewhere else. Wonderfully odd.

The leaves are typically used in Asian style hot pots and the flowers can be used for tea.

chry


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FoodShare and School Grown

Since I came back from Newfoundland I have been volunteering with FoodShare’s School Grown program. www.foodshare.net

In a nutshell… “FoodShare is a non-profit community organization whose vision is Good Healthy Food for All. Founded in 1985 to address hunger in Toronto communities, FoodShare takes a unique multifaceted and long-term approach to hunger and food issues. We work to empower individuals, families and communities through food-based initiatives, while advocating for the broader public policies needed to ensure that everyone has adequate access to sustainably produced, good healthy food.”

Food Share has about 30+ programs, one of which is School Grown…. and… “School Grown is a schoolyard farming project that employs students in running urban market gardens. This innovative project is a part of FoodShare’s Field to Table Schools program, a multi-faceted approach to school food, leading a movement of change in the way children and youth eat, grow and learn.” “School Grown engages and excites high school students with growing, preparing and selling vegetables, fruits and preserves. During the school year the project provides hands-on learning opportunities for students both in the classroom and in the field.”

I has been a wonderful and strange experience as I am returning to high school, but this time as an adult. The students are really great. They hold open doors and offer to help and are excited about eating carrots just pulled from the ground, but they call me “Miss”. “Miss, can I eat this?”, “Miss, you want me to carry that for you?”, “Miss, you got a smoke?” Also, I tend not to take pictures at the school… it just doesn’t feel right taking pics in or around a school, so bear with me over these next 2 or 3 weeks. My posts might be a little infrequent.


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Mystery Squash

Remember in an earlier post “Toby and Penny’s Patty Pans”… well may be they aren’t patty pans. The plants that Farmer Amy kept and transplanted produced “Mystery Squash” and from the looks of it many different kinds, but none of them are a true or clear variety that anyone recognizes, sooooooo Farmer Amy is thinking “cross pollination.”

Squashes are susceptible to cross pollination. Cross pollination happens when you grow two squash of the same species close together. Cross pollination should not be expected with other species, and squash should not be able cross with melons or cukes. However, you do have to worry about cukes crossing with cukes, and melons crossing with melons. A certain Internet site calls for a 1.5 km separation to avoid cross pollination. Wow!

Gourds… or as we have been calling them “Squash” are one of the earliest crops to be domesticated, having been grown for at least 10,000 years (I learned that at the NYC Botanical Garden!). Gourds are not typically eaten due to a lack of flesh and poor flavour, but they make for great Fall decor!

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Clever Clover

Cover crops might be the hardest working plants that a farmer will grow. Cover crops can suppress weeds, help build healthily soils, and assist in the control of pests and diseases.

Cover crops are easy to plant and require only basic care to thrive and can tolerate both shade and traffic.
Clover comes in many different shapes and sizes.

At Fresh City Farms white clover is already being planted under tomato plants. Clover, like beans can help fix nitrogen, so for best results clover seed should be inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria.

More specifically, clover can increase earthworms and beneficial microorganisms, stabilizes soil to prevent erosion (they use clover Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm), bring deep-rooted minerals to the surface, improve water, root and air penetration of soil, increase the soil’s moisture-holding capacity, break up subsoil, and provide habitat, nectar, and pollen for beneficial insects while choking out weeds.

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