We are finding that our roots and tubers are a great resource for provide food opportunities for ourselves and the chickens… and as our systems expand we hope they all naturalize so foraging is like an easter egg hunt, but healthier. Many of the following items are commonly available, and we will have quantities available as harvest allows.
Related to the sunflower, the root swell once the frost has taken down the greenery. As winter progresses and after we have had freezing temperatures, the root become sweeter. High in inulin, a sugar that is very important in support the gut micro biome, it can give you gas is eaten raw – Gord has no issue with this (Ann might think differently). We harvest about 100 lbs, and slow cook them in the cob oven over night and then use in a variety of dishes throughout the week… with no gas. Another way to eat copious quantities is to grate them up with whatever you are going to make sauerkraut with… they make the kraut sweet.
Oca is an Andean potato, small at about 2 inches in length and 1/2 inch thick. There are 100’s of varieties of Oca, and we have a white version. It has leaves that are similar in design to a clover leaf, though much featherier, and we find it is an amazing ground cover. Once the frost hits, the foliage dies back and the roots swell, so give it till mid December and later to make the harvest worthwhile. It has a beautiful buttery/nutty/lemon flavour.
As we continue with introducing more perennial roots and tubers, we will update our lists. That said, we may get a bit behind, having some things available at the sales stand with no warning.
Another tuber from the Andes. larger, and more delicate than ova, and high in inulin more so than the Jerusalem artichoke. We are just getting this going and will likely be fall of 2015 before we have extra.
Only one thing to remember… garlic in everything. Yum
Perennial Leek – Allium ampeloprasum
Referred to as Elephant Garlic, it really is a bulbous forming leek that can just stay in the ground for several years while you harvest the greens. When it becomes crowded, dig some up, split and plant new batches, and eat any of the remaining bulbs/cloves. It beats having to grow annual leeks and onions. When they go to seed the honey bees LOVE them.
A long Japanese Radish, that has a deep root that pulls nutrients washed down through the soil in the winter rains back to the top. Also, due to its root depth, it is used to break up harder soils and as the root rots out (if not harvested) create pathways for critters, creates air exchange surface for the soil, and provide entrances for the surface waters during rain events to slow down and sink in.
Seeds are only viable to any extent for one year. In January and February these are gifts of pure sweet tasty yumminess. Gord even once baked Ann a parsnip pie for her birthday, topped off with a parsnip daiquiri.
We have grown these monster supersmeltz variety from our own seed for years. our big guys get to be 23 lbs (with the greens trimmed off). This is our main source of material for our sauerkraut. This is a must. We have also found that if you trim and leave the root in the ground it will regrow and provide multiple kohlrabi offspring for harvest… growing the same plant for two years and we will see if it continues for the third.
Crosne – Stachys affinis
Stachys affinis, the Chinese artichoke, chorogi, knotroot, artichoke betony, or crosne, is a perennial herbaceous plant of the family Lamiaceae. Its rhizome can be grown as a root vegetable. While the plant is easy to grow, the tubers are small, convoluted, and indented, so they are considered very tedious, if not difficult to clean properly. The thin skin ranges from a pale beige to ivory-white colour. The flesh underneath, under proper cultivation, is white and tender.