if i had to strip my book shelf down to one gardening/farming book – and i should hope i’m never forced to do this, the one book that would remain after much pleading for one or two more selection would be masanobu fukuoka‘s one straw revolution, not just cause it’s fun to say his name or that it sounds slightly dirty.
less a book on farming than a zen meditation, i’ve read it 3 or 4 times, and still have yet to absorb many of the subtle details. the method he employes for growing veggies is to scatter seeds in between his orchard and on the margins of his rice and barley crops. he then comes back and forages for the vegetables, when he wants to harvest something. many crops are allowed to go to seed and these are then scattered about. is annual vegetable production at least as currently done compatible with a natural way of farming? certainly my study of permaculture and the like has cast a strong feeling of doubt. it has had me relishing the odd volunteer tomato and pumpkin all the more.
while installing row cover in the high tunnel, i found myself crawling on my hands and knees, closer to the soil in the high tunnel than i had been in some time. small weeds were somewhat prolific, and then taking a closer look they didn’t look so much like weeds i was accustomed to seeing in the high tunnel.
looking closer i realized that the tiny weeds i was seeing all over the place was this plant.
good old mache; among the hardiest of the winter greens to grow and sprout, able to withstand weeks on end of below freezing weather, and still deliver a sweet, tender, tasty, highly prized salad green. ironically enough i was just lamenting the fact that i had failed to get winter greens planted in time to sprout and deliver a good crop this winter.
i had let mache go to seed in the summer with the intent of harvesting the seed, but by the time we got around to saving seed the seed pods were shattering. when we went to harvest it the seed scattered everywhere. i’d forgotten about this, but it seems my forgetfulness and my tardiness in harvesting seeds is in my favor. now i have a nice crop of mache seeded, and well established, without even trying. i think fukuoka would be pleased.