Seasonal availabilityI've found from our harvests this year that we have plenty of roots in the fall, winter, and early spring, with jerusalem artichokes, skirret, mashua, and yacon forming the bulk of our harvests. Wapato, oca, and canna lily all have potential for providing substantial harvests, but I only try in this post to estimate the future contribution of oca. For now I'll assign wapato and canna lily to the category of "minor roots", which add some diversity to our diet and to the garden, without any individual species providing a significant harvest.
We need to plan most carefully for root harvests from mid spring through late summer. Annual roots could fill the gap, but I'm not planning for them in our future harvests.
|Summer harvestable roots||Minor roots|
|Dandelion (year round)||Lovage|
|Yellow asphodel (year round?)||Sweet cicely|
|Cinnamon vine bulbils||Cinnamon vine taproots|
|Scorzonera (year round)||Sea kale|
|Triteleia sp||Earth chestnut|
|Brodiaea sp||Woodland chervil|
For details on these plants, see my notes on perennial roots part one and part two.
Daily averageI figure I could eat about 2 ounces per day of garlic, elephant garlic, shallots, and other perennial oniony bulbs. On top of the garlic, I'm targeting 12-14 ounces per day of other roots. I suspect I'll eat more roots in the winter, and fewer in spring and summer when I have more greens and fewer roots available.
Monthly root consumption
December - March (four months)
|Harvesting skirret, jerusalem artichoke, and minor roots from ground as needed. All mashua, yacon, and oca should have been dug after the first hard frost; now eating them from storage.|
|Root||Pounds (all 4 months)|
|Skirret and stored roots starting to sprout, so eating the last of them. Relying more heavily on jerusalem artichoke|
|Not much available|
|Jerusalem artichoke (preserved via fermentation)||10|
June & July
|Early potatoes & some other roots now available as summer drought kicks in. Harvest all camas to cook as one big batch.|
|Root||Pounds (total for two months)|
|Jerusalem artichoke (preserved via fermentation)||5|
|Cinnamon vine bulbils||5|
|Mostly relying on starch-rich potatoes and cinnamon vine bulbils, with miscellaneous inulin roots providing some variety|
|Cinnamon vine bulbils||8|
|Similar to last month, but cinnamon vine bulbil production may have slowed down??|
|Cinnamon vine bulbils||3|
|Skirret available again!|
|Assuming we don't get a hard freeze yet, so not harvesting mashua/oca/yacon yet|
Annual root totals
|Root||Pounds to eat||Pounds to replant|
|Cinnamon Vine bulbils||16|
Land requiredI won't try to give square foot requirements for each root, as I would mostly operate on guesswork. Jerusalem artichokes and mashua yield us about 3 pounds per square feet, and I suspect I could grow them together to make even more efficient use of space. Yacon, potatoes, oca, and skirret in the sun should all yield .5 pounds per square foot or more. So all in all I'll assume a conservative average yield of .5 pounds per square foot, giving a requirement of about 700 square feet of growing space.
Roots as chicken fodderPrioritize yield and ease. I think mashua and jerusalem artichoke make the most sense, though I have to admit that our chickens have not been very excited about jerusalem artichokes cooked for 1-2 hours til mushy. I haven't yet tried feeding them roots cooked for 10 hours, or tried feeding them mashua.
If chickens will eat cinnamon vine bulbils, and if the chickens don't peck the young shoots to death, these could work very well as a self-foraged summer starch.