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Kim Goodwin

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since Jan 27, 2014
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Native of Oregon, misses the forests, but now staying warm and dry in the desert.
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Recent posts by Kim Goodwin

I'm so impressed by everyone in cold climates doing this challenge.  The picture above of snow covered plants under protection - wow, that's commitment!  Thank you for sharing and thank you Skandi for the whole thread idea in the first place.

This fall we planted daikon radishes for the first time, with the intent to have enough for two a week until March.  However, I ran into a problem. They are so delicious we are eating them faster than expected. I'm having to ration the radishes. They became even more delicious after the first freeze. They are so sweet and juicy and crisp. Next year I will at least double the amount we put in.

On most days we are having just cilantro, parsley and/or green onions from the garden.  We also have kale and red mustard in the garden and then radicchio in the unheated greenhouse which we use for the occasional salads we eat, or on sandwiches.  Red mustard leaves are delicious instead of lettuce on a sandwich. There are also a few peppers left in the greenhouse, but they haven't made it out of the greenhouse into a meal yet because I keep snacking on them. Thanks for the sprout reminder everyone - I even have a bag of sunflower seed to do it with and keep forgetting!

Notable "discovery" I made in 2020 - radicchio is a perennial!  (This is a known thing, I just didn't know it when I planted them.) The radicchio in pics below were planted in Nov. 2020 in an unheated (also uncooled) greenhouse. The plants were basically semi-dormant over the summer (and the greenhouse hit at least 125F), then grew and filled out again over this winter. Very tasty.

Coming up are kohlrabi (waiting for it to size up, hopefully), sweet onions, and another new one for me - fall-planted garbanzos. I'm hoping they make it through and will be a bit like peas in the spring. I originally read about fall-planting garbanzos in one of Carol Deppe's books, but I didn't live in a dry enough place to do it.  I sure do now!

Here is an article about what to do with fresh garbanzos. Online I discovered they are quite commonly eaten in other cultures:
Fresh garbanzo beans - the new edamame?

As for the daikons, how we eat those... lots of ways. In stews and stir fry, also fresh as a slaw or salad or condiment on Mexican food.

The basic radish condiment consists of chopped radishes of any kind, along with some chopped cilantro and bulb or green onion, then a little toasted cumin, salt and lime juice to taste.  And you can add a pepper if you like that, or also a little black pepper.  This is a really nice "salsa" that we eat on Mexican soups, tacos, enchiladas... almost any Mexican food we cook.  

For a slightly different salad dish, we grate the radish (and/or kohlrabi, and or fine cabbage) along with grated carrots, then make the same base dressing above but add mayonnaise. This makes a type of coleslaw .

When radishes are more bitter (like the black Spanish ones that are still bulbing up), I do a different dish. Grated radish, then a dressing of sour cream or buttermilk, salt, lemon juice and dill leaf.  A Greek guy at a farmers market told me that one when he saw me buying the big black radishes. He said it was how his mom served them. That was neat to learn, as it helps deal with the bitter flavor.

This is one my favorite recipes, a Korean shortrib stew with daikon and carrots:

Korean beef short rib stew

Tonight, though, I am making something different and partially new...  spaghetti sauce with fermented tomatoes.  I saved a portion of our tomato harvest this last year by putting them in saltwater and keeping them in our chest fridge (chest freezer converted to a refrigerator, link here: chest freezer converted to a refrigerator using a thermostat).

Well I want the space back, and it seems a nice time to try making something with those tomatoes. I'm going to see if I like the taste well enough to do some salsa, but probably make the most into marinara since I have a hankering...

And you might be thinking -Why ferment tomatoes?  Why take up the fridge space?  It was over 100F when these tomatoes ripened, and I've found canning in the desert to be very inconvenient in our un-cooled home.  Next house will have an outdoor kitchen space for this purpose...

I was inspired to the tomato fermenting by this video from Self-Sufficient Me. That guy has a lot of neat ideas:

1 day ago

Tom Knippel wrote:

It should be noted that my crop is harvested second half of July/early August and spring planting time for me is second half of April.  That is a very long time to be storing anything.  (I also fall plant.)

What zone are you in, Tom?  Where I am in the desert, zone 8a, near the US/Mexico border, I can also plant them in the ground in late fall and let them grow all winter.  Also, in Oregon I could fall plant as long as the ground they were planted in wasn't going to flood. The difference here in the desert is that they do need supplemental water in the winter.  Oregon was a little simpler that way.  But I like having living and growing plant roots in garden all times of year, and onions of all types are a great plant for that in my climate.

I really like how you are aiming for long storage times, and flexibility on planting time.  That strikes me as keeping the original versatility of the potato onion.  I think this is why the onion has been a cultivated crop for millennia now - it's incredibly versatile.  It comes with a protective storage wrapper (can't say that for potatoes or carrots...),  it can be carried over long distances then plopped in the ground in a totally new region (wet or dry, hot or cold) and still grow and produce food even if the timing/season isn't optimal.  That's a fantastic plant!

It's fascinating that even with the day/night length sensitivity it's still become a primary crop.  I suspect the day/night length characteristic might also have benefits we haven't figured out yet.  I have often found in my life that hurdles have advantages that we haven't yet perceived.

When I share with new people about potato onions, I try to explain how they came to be through that vision of nomadic peoples, or trade routes, or just the settlers across the Americas. This is the sort of plant you could tuck in a leather satchel, carry long distances, and start your garden  

Those genetics are not just an interesting part of history; they are something we may all benefit from in the future.  Food security in the face of shortages or distribution issues is one hot topic today, but even if that doesn't happen on a major scale - what if commercial onions develop some very successful pest or disease that wipes out a lot of the crop or varieties, or even damages the storing ability?  Long storing potato onions could hold the key to salvaging the monocultured genetics that dominate the food system right now.  

I don't think I've pointed this out well enough in this thread.  Today it occurred to me that maybe it's not an obvious thing to everyone reading this thread, rather than those of us participating in the development of these new varieties.  Sometimes it seems to "obvious" to me why I'm doing something and I forget how inexplicable it looks to others!  Until I get those quizzical looks - they help remind me.

Now I'm curious as to what other people's friends and neighbors think of these potato onion experiments and how one communicates the purpose.

Tom Knippel wrote:
I feel how I harvest is a major factor on keeping quality.  I try to let bulbs dry down completely in the ground and then harvest cured bulbs just before the next rain.  Plants finish off at a variable rate so this harvest process is repeated over a couple of weeks but always before the next rain event.  POs have a short dormancy period and mature bulbs ready for harvest for storage getting wet is just not a good thing.

... I cure my crop in the ground then harvest, clean, and trim.  I store my stock at a constant 50 degrees in total darkness.  I inspect stored stock monthly and cull out any sprouting or rotting bulbs.  Rot begets more rot, causing faster decline of remaining inventory.

These are great tips on storage.  

Yes, I was doing radical selection with the greenhouse treatment - part because I didn't want to have to store them and the other factor being that I didn't have enough room to grow out the whole crop.  But I still wanted to have some information about which ones may have stored well.  

And then it occurred to me that if I shared them with others in our local seed/plant share group, I would get free labor.  (To any of my neighbors reading this, please know I'm joking...sort of.)  They will grow them out, we will see which are successful, and most importantly who likes them.  I don't know if they all realize they were enlisted in a worldwide potato onion breeding project.   I think this counts as "infecting minds [and gardens] with permaculture".

Tristan Vitali wrote:
... The big thing to watch for with them is the neck thickness - use any with thick necks as they'll be least likely to make it to spring.

That's interesting. I was wondering what other factors contribute to storage. Thanks for sharing.

I was also wondering  about long day versus short day.  Do you think that how far north you are is contributing to the small size?  Or your shorter seasons?

I found a good writeup on potato onions on Cultivariable that I don't know if I posted above:

Cultivariable - Potato Onions

Lots of interesting info in there.  Supposedly there are more long day than short day potato onions.  I suspected's a part of my reason for getting them going from seed in the past couple years.  I'm down in the short-day latitudes.

Tom Knippel wrote:Potato Onion Wildcross Project, 2021 Results.  

...some will be potato onions and shallots (for my purposes I no longer see any reason to differentiate between potato onions and shallots)

So Tom, do you see any storage differences among your wildcrosses?  

For me personally, the big plus of potato onions over shallots is the storage capabilities. Besides size, that's the second factor I care about selecting for. But we all have the attributes we like, so I'm quite curious to hear you expound more!

This year, I took the potato onions and first replanted the best looking, biggest, nicest ones.  I then graded out some more good sized ones and shared those with my closest gardener friends.  The rest I stored horribly.  

I left them in the greenhouse with temps reaching about 110F in the day and down in the 50s at night.  After about a month, I sorted them out - first removing any that rotted or softened dramatically. Then I sorted them by size. So what was left were potato onions that could really last in bad conditions.

Problem was I didn't have any more garden space to devote to them.  Our local gardening group normally does a seed exchange in early spring for some reason, but I asked if we could do it in November instead.  (This made more sense to me anyways, I'd rather see what I can get locally before placing my seed orders!).  People agreed and the good thing about the new timing was I was able to share those long-storing potato onions.  I sorted them out by size to show people how they look.  I also explained what potato onions are, and the benefits of them over shallots (which I perceive as being the storage quality).  And people who were interested could take their pick.  Most were gone by the end of the seed share.

Amazingly, no one knew what they were. I guess that shows how obscure they've become.  Time to change that, right?

This was a cool experiment.  A couple people even pointed out a new positive attribute I had never thought of!   Two people were so excited to see an onion that was smaller than a regular onion, but bigger than a shallot, because they said when they each cooked (both just had spouses), they never used a whole onion and so half would often go to waste.  So a small onion was a plus!  I would never have guessed that benefit because when I cook even for only myself, I use at LEAST one onion.  Lots of onions in my diet.  So the small size is a tad annoying to me, but I still like potato onions for how easily they multiply and grow, and how well they store.
This is my very favorite video about this topic, actually one of my favorite videos of all time...  Shani Graham and her husband used Holmgren-inspired techniques to build a community, intentionally on their own street.  It's a super-positive and moving talk.

RAFT is an organization that might have some ideas for you:  RAFT - Renewing America's Food Traditions

You've probably read it, but they published this booklet with Gary Nabhan about heritage apples:
Forgotten Fruits Manual & Manifesto - Apples

This is a whole page of other documents on Place-Based Foods, some compiled by Gary Nabhan: Gary Nabhan Place Based Foods - At-risk heritage foods from around North America

You don't say your location, but State-based programs are often the best bet for small, local, heritage type programs.  Some states have historic preservation grants, for example.  I'd probably look for that first.  That seems like a historic preservation type project to me, unless you are going to end up marketing them to sell.

ATTRA is a good place to look for small farm and organic farm grant opportunities, not sure if any apply: ATTRA – Sustainable Agriculture Program funding page

Also if you are in an urban location, the USDA has special programs for urban farms:
Urban farm grant opportunities

The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program supports a wide range of activities through two grant types, which are Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. Activities include operating community gardens and nonprofit farms, increasing food production and access in economically distressed communities, providing job training and education and developing business plans and zoning.  

Here is a whole page of types of grants available for marketing farm products - which may not apply, but  I'm putting here for posterity's sake:
Agricultural Marketing Service grant opportunities through USDA

If you still can't find anything locally, you might try things like looking at who the grant recipients are of these types grants above. Many times they are non-profit organizations securing funding for local projects.  You might find one in your state that just isn't easy to find.

Farmers Market Promotion Program awards 2017-2021

And then last but not least, with a small project it may just be easiest to solicit donations from locals who care.

2 weeks ago

Mike Lafay wrote:
For now, I want in a few years to grow almost all of my food, but I'm ready to make a few compromise for the most annoying stuff. If buying 10kg of grains for 25 bucks mean I can save a dozen day of hard work, then so be it (as long as said grain is GMO free, organic, etc). But maybe growing a lot of grain to then turn it into fresh eggs and delicious chickens would be much less work, and provide more. From what I know, grain is absolutely not essential to live. But it can help makes nice things, like cakes, pasta, pie, etc.

I applaud and share the goal!

I've also found that buying grain for eating is amazingly cost effective, especially once you try growing and harvesting and cleaning and storing it yourself.  That really makes one appreciate the work that goes into it, and how critical the local, small European mills once were for communities. (Referring to the ones that ground your grain for you...)

With amaranth and chickens, I've been reading about this for awhile in order to figure out what chicken feed I could most easily grow.  Most research says that chickens can't utilize the raw grain.  It has to be heated to destroy antinutrients. The leaves, dried are used with less issue, but still as a small part of the diet.  I didn't see any studies showing using raw leaves, which I'm more interested in.

Some sources say quail can be fed the raw grain, but in this study where they found even 7% of amaranth in the diet negatively affected quail egg production. They recommend keeping it at only 4% of the diet for Japanese quail.

Using amaranth in poultry diets  In this paper, they say quail can eat it without issue, but that's not what the studies below say... the ones below are where my note above on quail come from.

The affect of amaranth seed on Japanese quail egg production

The effect of amaranth seed added to the standard diet upon selected meat quality traits in the quail

I like feeding with free choice as much as possible - meaning making sure an animal has free choice to a wide variety of individual foods and minerals,  so can use their own instincts to decide what they need.  But that does take more work because you have to pay attention to keeping a high level of variety available for them, so they don't get desperate and eat things they don't really want to eat, or eat as much of.

With loose grain and free-range (or partially free-range) birds, I have found that a lot of the stuff they didn't want to eat gets knocked on the ground and sprouts.  I wonder if sometimes that sprouting can help - like if the chicken or duck can then eat the sprouted grain without issues. But I haven't seen studies on how well this works - it's more an observation I've made from keeping birds. I'd be curious if anyone knows if sprouting solves the amaranth antinutrient problem versus heat-treating.  But I suppose amaranth grain could be cooked up in a porridge, eat what you like, and feed the rest to the birds.
I grew sweet potatoes for the first time this year.  They were awesome.  We just had a small garden to work with, so I decided to use an organic sweet potato from the store for starts. It grew way more than enough.  It was probably a Georgia jet type - orange in and out?  I looked up how to harvest and store them, and watched this little video from Shannie McCabe at Baker Creek Heirloom seeds:

When she explained that you need to cure them for ultimate sweetness and longevity, we realized a quick solution to our not liking sweet potatoes very sweet.  We ate them right away!  They were so good.  They were more starchy and they both oil and dry fried (I mean baked) really well.  I still want to try Hayman and the Purple Passion, but it was nice that we could just try growing them form a supermarket first.

I think I may have overwatered them, actually.  About 1/3 were big tubers that had rotted.  So I'm learning.  This is a very novel crop for me!
3 weeks ago

Eric Hanson wrote:I find this thread very intriguing.
Though not exactly a Permie idea, I knew a person who tried to combine the “efficiency” of not carrying laundry up and down from bedrooms to the laundry room.  

Your story up above is bizarrely hilarious and such a good example of misguided "efficiency".  Kind of like the efficiency of massive monoculture farms where everything is plowed yearly and doused with pesticides.  One time when describing permaculture methods to a relative years ago, she said "Wow, compared with modern agriculture methods,  permaculture doesn't sound efficient, at all".  I flabbergasted at the time and didn't know what to say. I was not far enough in my journey to where I had the words and understanding to explain that it is fantastically efficient when you understand all of the variables, ie fossil fuel driven degenerative agriculture versus a low-energy input, mostly self-sustaining and regenerative system.

I thought about what she said for some time, trying to come up with a good metaphor about efficiency that was simple to understand.  What I finally settled on was modern agriculture is efficient the way by pulling off a tablecloth with all the dishes and leftovers and putting it in the trash is is an efficient way to clean the table after dinner.  Highly "efficient" if you only measure for one variable - labor - and you believe you have endless resources.

That said, as for getting dressed where one does, I had a different upbringing.  We lived in a 4 bedroom 2-story un-insulated farmhouse heated almost entirely by a woodstove which was in the living room. The bedrooms were very cold.  Only the bathroom was a small enough space to be effectively heated with electricity.  When very little, we got dressed right in front of the fire.  Hung out there a lot.  But once a little older mom got us ready for school in the small bathroom.  This continued even into teenagehood at a different house, again because of wood heat. So I'm used to getting dressed in small spaces and having to share them with a sister who took ages longer to dress than me. My strategy was to get in there first and be fast, and it worked.  :-) As for comfort beyond warmth, you can sit on the toilet.

The laundry room in that first house was also a typical wet Oregon country mud-room where you dumped off your rubber boots and wet coats to drip dry, and the room had to be mopped up a couple times a day - no way would that be the place to get dressed. Ugh.

I still get dressed in the bathroom.  Our house right now is rather cool because we don't want to heat it unnecessarily,  and I can tolerate that as long as I have a nice warm bathroom.  We don't have a laundry room, our washing machine is outdoors and we use a clothesline.

One thing I learned about how others live - people who never had to get dressed in bathrooms often are okay with leaving water all over the countertops.  That infuriates me! :-D  I was so confused as to why anyone would be that barbaric :-D - since the counter is right where a bathroom-dresser like me might set an item of clothing to wear and then get it wet.  Explaining this to a friend, she replied "Oh I get it now. I've never dressed in the bathroom - we dress in our bedrooms." Ah hah! They had forced-air heating, a luxury I'd not experienced, I realized.  and that made a big difference as to how they lived in a home.

So bedroom-dressing, in-front-of-woodstove-dressing, bathroom-dressing, laundry-room dressing, or as my much more cold tolerant husband does - randomly dressing while walking around the house - it's fascinating to see that people live in all sorts of ways!

3 weeks ago