Bald Eagle Supervising Sunchoke Planting

Lady with Her Eggs

We’ve been road building to gain access to fields off of our main whey driveway that runs up past the butcher shop to the high whey tanks and cottage. This involves putting in terraces along the mountain. Part of that is cutting into the mountain on the up hill side. Part of that is moving rock to the down hill side. A lot of that rock is waste granite and marble available for the cost of transportation from the local granite carving stone sheds just down the road in Barre, Vermont. This provides a very solid embankment and base for the road.

Now that I have a long new section of road in place I moved tons of compost that I had been building up on the mid-level plateau and dumped it down on the stone embankment. Over the course of this winter that will settle and slump.

To retain the dirt I planted two kinds of clover, grasses and wild flowers. I also punched 10 lbs of small sunchoke tubers. This well delineated embankment is an ideal spot to contain this highly invasive native plant. Sunchokes spread really well. Eventually they’ll take over the embankment and choke out the grasses and other low plants. Being in that rich compost they’ll thrive like you wouldn’t believe. I’ll use this embankment which is protected from the pigs as a nursery to generate tubers to plant out in other sections.

I already have some patches of sunchokes going but I want more as they are an excellent pig food.

It is an irony for me to be planting sunchokes. Back in the early 1980’s I battled them. I ran the Hanover Coop Food Store community gardens. Before my time someone had planted sunchokes in their plot. Probably just a few. But then some tubers got left and chopped up by the big tractor mounted tiller the next spring. They spread. And thrived in all that nice compost we added each year. Any plots in the community garden that didn’t get strictly weeded became a dense forest of sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes. It was a never ending battle which they were winning easily. The solution would have been to abandon the entire gardens for two years and cover them with black plastic. That would cook out the tubers and prevent them from continuing. Mowing them for several years would also have worked.

So now I’m using that powerful vigor of the sunchokes to feed my pigs. If you can’t beat them, eat them.

Next spring I plan to plant apple trees and blueberry bushes at the top of the embankment. Pigs love blueberries and apples, as does yours truly. Our soil is naturally acidic, just right for blueberries, but the compost I dumped on there has a more neutral pH so I’m adding coffee grounds to that top soil to help the future blueberries thrive.

While I was planting sunchokes a bald eagle circled down low over me, investigating my activities. It swept lazily over the butcher shop, just barely, which let me get a good estimate of how high it was, about 30′. Then it rose up on the warm sunny day thermals to ride over the maple trees, across the south field and over the mountain ridge behind our farm.

Outdoors: 63°F/46°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 59°F/56°F

Daily Spark: Do you know how to fix the problem of smelling like pig shit? Alcohol. Drink enough alcohol and you won’t mind the smell! But seriously, alcohol is a solvent for skatole. After washing your hands with soap and water to get most of the dirt off do a wash with alcohol and it will take away the smell. This works for many types of shit as the scent comes largely from skatole. According to the dictionary skatole gets it’s name from the German word to discard. And here I would have thought it was from the Latin. I figured this out when I was doing my research on taint. Chemistry is good for lots of things.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bald Eagle Supervising Sunchoke Planting

  1. Mathew Ritchie says:

    Jerusalem artichockes are easy to remove just pull them out in spring or early summer they dont have tubers then so they dont grow back.

    • Yes, that mostly works. The problem is even a tiny fragment can put up a new plant. They’re very vigorous. The problem at the community garden as I noted was people who didn’t and plots that weren’t taken. It was a large area and every time the big tractor tiller went through it minced the tubers that remained and mixed them all over. Even a tiny fragment of root/tuber can put up a new plant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.