"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Our Ultimate Survival Food
A few days back my faithful cohorts and I covered our last row of sun roots with leaves in order to provide insulation and easier access in the winter as we store most of these tubers right where they grow. The leaf mulch helps to keep the soil from freezing, making it much easier to harvest the roots once the snow has been removed. I was under strict orders from my wife not to use too many leaves until the grandson had a chance to jump around in the massive pile we had created for him...and did he ever. Last February the lad helped dig some Sun Roots or Pirate's Booty and was once again cheerfully helping to cover this year's crop. A finer little apprentice could never be had.
We trim the stalks back when covering with mulch but leave enough showing so we can easily find them in the snow.
Sun roots are one of the few crops we do leave in the ground all winter as they need cold weather to turn the carbohydrates (inulin) in them into fructose making them much more user friendly and allowing one to avoid a case of vaporous exhalations ...(gas). They can also be put in a plastic bag and left in the refrigerator for a few days before using in order to help with the inulin conversion. The tubers have thin skins and will dry out quickly if the proper storage precautions are not taken. We do store some in the root cellar but make sure they are kept in cool damp soil.
These perennial plants produce quite an amazing tuber and should be considered one of the ultimate survival foods if you ask me. This member of the sunflower family thrives from zones 3 - 9 and is reportedly cold hardy down to -50°, now that's a pretty wide range of zones and degrees. They are extremely prolific and once planted can become a permanent member of the vegetable garden, easily spreading through the smallest pieces of root. They make a great hedge or windbreak as they will grow anywhere from 6-11' feet tall, many of ours were easily taller than that this year. If given enough time they will produce a lovely yellow flower similar to that of a small sunflower head. I have never once been able to save seeds off them though, just not enough summer around here. :(
We plant ours 6" deep and about 12 or so inches apart. You can cut the tuber up as you would a potato as long as each piece contains an eye and is not allowed to dry out before planting. I prefer, as with potatoes, to plant them whole as I feel we end up with bigger more numerous knobby little tubers that way. Besides, after the first year there will be more than enough to go around as each plant produces anywhere from 15-50+ each. They don't require a lot of water but, as with many succulent root vegetables, providing a little more moisture will give you bigger roots. They will also grow much better if divided and replanted each year after the plant has died back or before it begins to grow again in the early spring.
Containing as many energy giving carbohydrates as a potato, sun roots break those carbs down into fructose rather than glucose and will not raise blood sugar levels making them an excellent food source for diabetics and calorie counters alike. Unlike a potato they can be eaten raw or cooked, a most functional vegetable that can be prepared exactly as you would a potato: baked, fried, soup, etc. I have read that they even act as an appetite suppressant, although I have not personally noticed this, and immune system stimulant via their prebiotic promotion of good bacteria in the digestive tract...hence the vaporous exhalations.
So, ultimately, you can see why I am so very impressed with the extremely hardy, versatile, and healthy, sun root that is fast becoming one of my favorite vegetables. A great source for them is Fedco Seed's Moose Tuber division http://www.fedcoseeds.com/moose.htm.
I tried really hard to take a picture of them this summer but green against green simply looks green.
Weary of the world and its illogical ways my wife and I have chosen a path towards self-reliance in all aspects of our lives. Our main focus is on growing and gathering our own food. We hope to use this blog as an avenue to share with and learn from others with similar interests.
The Good Life (click↓)
"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." M. Gandhi
"Deep inside everyone of us is a call to the wild. Much of the impatience, discontent or violence around us is due to a lack of opportunity to reconnect with where we came from. For sanity and generosity of spirit, we should be able to witness nature at its unceasing, rejuvenating work." - Abdul Kareem
On Permaculture, Edible Landscaping and Garden Plants
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." - Justice William O. Douglas
First They Came For My Seed..▼
"Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine" - Thoreau
Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw was only fear and no foretelling, for I saw the last known landscape destroyed for the sake of the objective, the soil bludgeoned, the rock blasted. Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.
I visited the offices where for the sake of the objective the planners planned at blank desks set in rows. I visited the loud factories where the machines were made that would drive ever forward toward the objective. I saw the forest reduced to stumps and gullies; I saw the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley; I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city. I saw the passages worn by the unnumbered footfalls of those whose eyes were fixed upon the objective.
Their passing had obliterated the graves and the monuments of those who had died in pursuit of the objective and who had long ago forever been forgotten, according to the inevitable rule that those who have forgotten forget that they have forgotten. Men, women, and children now pursued the objective as if nobody ever had pursued it before.
The races and the sexes now intermingled perfectly in pursuit of the objective. The once-enslaved, the once-oppressed were now free to sell themselves to the highest bidder and to enter the best paying prisonsin pursuit of the objective, which was the destruction of all enemies, which was the destruction of all obstacles, which was the destruction of all objects, which was to clear the way to victory, which was to clear the way to promotion, to salvation, to progress, to the completed sale, to the signature on the contract, which was to clear the way to self-realization, to self-creation, from which nobody who ever wanted to go homewould ever get there now, for every remembered place had been displaced; the signposts had been bent to the ground and covered over.
Every place had been displaced, every love unloved, every vow unsworn, every word unmeant to make way for the passage of the crowd of the individuated, the autonomous, the self-actuated, the homeless with their many eyes opened toward the objective which they did not yet perceive in the far distance, having never known where they were going, having never known where they came from.