Sunchokes or Jerusalem Artichokes are next up on our Edible November list. They are another perennial that most people don't know about. Sunchokes are an edible tuber and a flower similar to the sunflower, they grow in much of the country and can be used similarly to potatoes.
A few warnings about sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes: they are commonly known by some people as "fartichokes" and they are vigorous growers. First the inulin affects some who eat large quantities thus the name fartichokes. Pickling them with vinegar takes this problem away.
Sunchokes are a vigorous grower and can spread rapidly. A few sunchoke tubers left to overwinter can turn into a large patch in no time. They are also a wonderful livestock food, chickens and pigs both enjoy sunchokes with no fartichoke effects.
Switching gears to veggies in the Edible November series: Asparagus.
Asparagus is an edible that is widely missing in most gardens. Hopefully this series gets more of these tasty spears planted into your garden this fall.
Asparagus is commonly grown from crowns in the spring, however you can plant seeds this fall and get your asparagus plot started. Yes seeds do take longer to get your first harvest but this is Edible November not Edible April.
Asparagus grown from seeds will take about 3 years to start producing. Planting from crowns in the spring will usually yield edible spears in 1-2 years. If planting crowns plant them 4-6 inches dig in a row 12-18 between plants. Asparagus is usually planted in rows and does best in full sun, rows should be 4-5 feet apart. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 3-8 meaning it will grow in much of the country.
As with every perennial make sure you plant them in their permanent place in your garden. Asparagus plants will usually last 15-20 years.
On the farm Thanksgiving usually signals the end of the growing season here in the Northeast. It is also a great reminder of how quickly the seasons and the years do go on the farm and in life. Take this Thanksgiving to enjoy the company of family and loved ones that you might not get to appreciate as much as you would like to, going thru the daily grind of life.
Sitting around the dinner table and taking a few moments to share with your family what you are thankful for this year has been a tradition my mother started back when I was young and didn’t know any better. Back then I just believed it to be some corny, annoying ‘chore’ that my mom was constantly making us kids do. Years and decades have passed and I see the value that this exercise has taught me. Little things like this that might not have seemed so significant or important when I was younger have actually shaped the man, son, sibling, husband, and father I am today.
So while you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table enjoying food and drink with your family and friends take a little time out to say thank you for all your blessings and to all those important people in your life.
PS: Be sure to reserve your Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys for 2016. Preorders will go on sale in April 2016.
Transplanting a Paw Paw
Edible November brings us now to the Paw Paw. In anticipation for my Paw Paw Project launching in the coming weeks I will not go into much detail here (I am told that's what's called a teaser in the TV business).
Important things to know about the paw paw are:
The Paw Paw is a native fruit to North America and much of the eastern coast going up into Canada. It is also the largest tree fruit by size and weight grown outside the tropics. It is called the custard banana because it has a tastes similar to banana flavored custard.
If planting Paw Paw trees this fall make sure be sure to plant them in an area that gets full to partial sun. 2 Paw Paw trees will work great for cross pollination.
We will get into more details as we explore the Paw Paw in-depth with the upcoming Paw Paw Project posts and videos.
If you are currently growing or have any questions about Paw Paws I would love to here from you, email me or leave a comment in the comments section.
Edible November brings us the Goji. If you are unfamiliar with the Goji Berry you are not alone. Most people have never heard of the goji berry let alone have tasted one.
Those of us that have heard of the Goji probably have heard of it being a "superfood". Native to Asia the Goji is a staple of ancient Asian cultures because of their medicial and health benefits.
The goji berry is commonly called the wolf berry in the US. Common uses for the goji is dried berries, yogurt, teas, and juices. The goji berry is a smallish shrub and the fruit grows to about the size of a blueberry.
Plant a few goji berries and enjoy this healthy berry and impress your friends at the same time!
Edible November rattles along with one of my favorites, the Cherry.
While I do have several cherry trees planted I have yet to get any cherries from them just yet. As with most edibles one must be in it for the long haul. Cherry trees are no exception to this. I have 3 year old trees and have yet to get one cherry out of 3 healthy trees.
Cherries are broken down into 2 camps: sweet which are great for fresh eating and tart/sour which are more for baking and pies. I am growing sweet cherries and of course they are harder to grow that tart but the benefits that you will get hard outweight a little extra work.
Sweet cherries are suitable for zones 5-7 and prefer mild, dry summers, which isn't exactly the typical northeast climate. If you are having trouble growing cherries a great alternative is the bush cherry as it can handle harsh, cold winters. Look for more on the bush cherry in the coming days!
Next up in our journey is the Plum! Like most of the fruits profiled in Edible November the plum tree can be planted in a great chunk of the country growing in zones 5-10.
A vigorous grower full sized plum trees given full sun can reach 20 feet in no time. While some varieties are self fruiting, a second plum tree will be sure to help cross pollination and increase fruit yields.
By planting a few plum trees this fall and you will be reaping the benefits for years to come.
Edible November continues with the Pear.
The Pear tree is another one of those ornamental landscape style trees, in fact the fruitless Bradford Pear is grown in my a front yard all throughout the country. Why anyone who grow a fruitless pear tree is beyond me.
Pear trees will produce fruit in much of the country, most thrive in zones 5-8 with some Asian Pear varieties expanding that zone a bit more. Be sure to include at least 2 cultivars for best pollination and fruit yield.
Pears can be eaten fresh off the tree, stored for some time, or made into Perry (the pear version of hard cider). When deciding which pears to plant you will notice 2 distinct options, a European versus a Asian pear. They have great differences in fruit shape and both can taste delicious. If you are anything like me you will plant of few cultivars of each style!
The Pecan is next up in our Edible November series. The Pecan is often thought of as only grown in Southern Regions, well think again.
Believe it or not people in the Northeast region of the US have found success growing pecans. The trick is to get early ripening cultivars. Be sure to plant your Pecans in an area with full fall sun to help those nuts get to maturity.
Most pecan trees need nearly 150 frost free days. Here is Western NJ most years we are right at that number. So yes it might be risky to plant Pecan trees in your yard but that risk might pay off in bushels and bushels of nuts each year.
Next on our list for Edible November is the chestnut tree. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" isn't just a line is a Christmas song. It used to be a wonderful winter tradition shared by families everywhere. Asian and Mediteranriean cultures have been growing and eating the chestnut for thousands of years. It is a prized staple due to their nutritional value. Chestnuts are high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, amino acids, and antioxidants.
The American chestnut tree used to dominate our regions forests but they were nearly wiped out decades ago. The good news it hybrid strains of American, European, and Asian chestnuts are being bred to be blight resistant. Due to advanced breeding programs some Chestnut trees will begin barely nuts in just 3 years. Consider planting a few chestnuts this fall. Just beware that the nut of the chestnut is protected by a spiny husk. If you have little kids this may be a tree you don't want to plant in the middle of your yard!