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Live Seasonally

Oct 19, 2010

This is a prairie sunflower.  It is the last showy perennial to bloom in my garden every year.  Because it's tall and bright, I can see it from almost anywhere in the garden right now, and from the kitchen window.  I have a vase of these cheerful flowers sitting in the entry hall.

The longer I'm on this journey to eat seasonally the more it spreads to other areas of my life, like the fresh flowers I keep in the house.  I once read, where Dr. Andrew Weil suggests, that a lot of health issues might be triggered by our disconnect to nature.  He recommends keeping fresh flowers around as one way to bridge that gap.  I think his recommendation should go one step further.  The flowers should be seasonal.

For years I have been appalled that watermelon is available in the supermarket in winter, or that I can buy asparagus in August. Now I'm seeing the same thing with flowers.  You can buy sunflowers in January, and tulips July.  Something just does not feel right about having a vase of sunflowers in the house when it's cold out.  It's like eating watermelon in winter.  Wateremelon is a refreshing treat, in the summer, when it is hot, but when it's cold out I want something more solid and filling.

We now live in a world where we can have anything at anytime.  But just because we can, should we?  What do you think?


Can I get the Praire sunflower from a seed catalog? My sun chokes are the last perennial to bloom in my garden. Can not wait till frost so I can have some chokes with fresh greens. You can cut asparagus from your garden in July or August, but I know what you are saying & agree with you.
I purchased mine as a plant from a native plant sale. However I will try to harvest you some seeds if the frost holds off. I forgot about my sun chokes, they have not done as well this year as last and they are just beginning to bloom. Really, you can harvest asparagus that late? My patch is still too young to harvest, but I always thought you had to stop sooner than that.
You should plant twice the plants you need for the spring crop( if you have the room). You let half grow with out harvesting any spears then when the ferns are full grown. In mid summer(in S.C. July 31) mowing down the foliage of the half NOT harvested. A few plants at a time, 3 or 4plant a week, to ensure a long-term continuous supply of spears. The reason you stop harvesting in the spring is so the plant can store feed for next year, before winter. This way the other half stores feed before you harvest spears. Another way is to plant the crown at different depths, for example, 4 to 6 inches,6 to 8 inches & 8 to 10 inches. this method will result in a slightly longer harvest. Clemson Extension: EC 570/ Rev. August 2002. My asparagus are just beganing to have nice size spears, but I only have 20 plant at this time.
Hi Tamra. In the late few months I was observing, choosing and travelling in trough changes. Part of all that has to see with the choice of returning -talking in an ancient way- to nature. Nature in the biological, human, sensitive sense. In my relations, in my thoughts, in my choices. Always inside the possible, sustainable limits and especially logical. But part of this change has much that to see with living seasonally. I tottaly understand your thoughts, should it be enaught to "be able to have it" to "want" to have it? Respecting natural times, natural seasons, is part of beeing participant of a cycle that works historicaly. And I think we should learn to appreciate season flowers, season veggies, season fruits and season feelings. (So sorry about my english, I'm doing what I can from my argentinian spanish) Lovely praire sunflower! Seeing it from your kitchen must be a nice breakfast.. Greetings, Caro
ah, Caro you touched on something I have been thinking about a lot: seasonal feelings. I think it is important to recognize our seasonal feelings.
Joel, thanks I have never heard of this method but is makes since. I may just have to put in a second asparagus patch. I assume the heat of summer does not make it tough or bitter.
Not the ones I grow & i eat a spear or two as I harvest them.
Hi Tamra Is your Prarie Sunflower what we would call 'Rudbeckia'? Glenn
No rudbeckia is much shorter. While the flowers look similar the prairie sunflower grows 6-8 feet tall, has long lance shaped leaves and blooms in the fall. My rudbeckia blooms in the summer.
Hi Joel, Your Sunchokes are a kind of sunflower, probably a distant cousin of the Prairie Sunflower. I've got a few of the Prairie Sunflowers that I planted this past spring and was disappointed as I thought they looked a little scraggly...until they bloomed, they were beautiful. You can find seeds for Prairie sunflowers, just google it. The good thing about your Sunchokes is you get the pretty flowers and then get to eat the roots.
My chokes are 6' tall this year, but leaning at 45 degrees. I am thinking of planting some in a small furrer & filling the soil in around the truck as they grow, to help them stand up to the wind. This will kill them or slow production or they will pay the hilled soil no mind & grow just as they did this year. We know by asking We learn by do We grow by teaching Joel
My sunchokes are planted next to an 8 ft fence post. I tie them to the post, it works great. Or you could build a sturdy teepee over the plant. I have bamboo poles that are about 8 feet tall. Use at least 6-8 poles, push them into the ground in a circle around the base of the plant and connect at the top with a zip tie. As the plant grows you might need to use string to keep the shoots inside the frame.
Hi Joel I am growing Jerusalem Artichokes this year. I have heard the name Sunchokes, but never associated the two as being the same thing. Mine are also leaning over at 45? as well, with the wind. I propose to grow them through a frame next year made of horizontal weld mesh panels held at 2', 4' & 6' off the ground. It may not look too pretty, but i should stop them lolling over onto other things. Mine have not flowered this year, and i can,t remember them flowering in the past. It may be the variety or maybe the soil is not dry enough. [link] Regards Glenn
You are so right Tamra - another factor is what we can't produce we can buy what is locally produced in our area according to the climate and thus avoid the long distance importation plus supporting our local farmers. Preserving what is in season for future use completes the process.
You said it. I find I consider food miles with every purchase I make. What I don't grow, I buy form local farmers. My last choice is Whole foods, where I have to be very careful. I choose not to buy the asparagus for Peru, or the apples for Washington state. I get the apples from North Carolina, which is much closer to my home in Tennessee.
I too love the different flavors of the seasons. Summer peaches and plums, followed by late summer tomatoes, peppers and apples which are just finishing up. And now the winter greens: kale, turnips, collards, tahtsoi and red mustard are just starting to come in. Today I finished planting my garlic and onions which will be ready next May. There is something natural and comforting about the whole thing.
I searched the net and I am very suprised to know that all offseason vegetables grow under control condition are very harm full to health. Read on... Eating out of season has been something we never questioned, fresh salad in winter, spinach and fresh strawberries during x’mas. In the northern hemisphere this equates to the unnecessary luxury of imports, science and fossil fuel has also enabled us to grow vegetables in a heated greenhouse out of season for businesses to reap the benefits of economic value from these vegetables when supplies are low and demands is at it’s peak; carbon emission aside what is the true cost of eating food that are grown out of season? To understand this we need to look at how a plant works. The plant extracts nutrients such as nitrates from the soil and stores this within the plant turning this into protein and sugar used by the plant for growth. For this to happen it requires sunlight for photosynthesis and in winter the hours of sunlight will decrease significantly. Scientific research carried out in the 60s on spinach and lettuce (Spinach and lettuce are two of the vegetables that has the tendency to hold on to nitrates) has shown that these vegetables while grown in shade contain a higher level of nitrates than those grown in full sun. Imagine the growth of vegetable out of season in a heated greenhouse in just 6 hours of sunlight? The amount of nitrates in the spinach of lettuce may far exceed what has been deemed safe. The truth to the matter is, consuming excessive amounts of nitrates have been scientifically proven to be one of the major factors that cause cancer; this has also been a huge topic of debate within the EU on the level of nitrates being discharged by the conventional agriculture industry into the water tables of Europe. We cannot fool nature, trying to grow something that is out of season in a heated greenhouse powered by fossil fuel is a sign of humans excessive demand, we need to respect the forces of nature and live within the seasons and with this understanding and respect we may be duly rewarded by her.

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