How did they manage back in the day

gdnh(5)May 31, 2012

New England weather is well known to be unpredictable. Last year I planted brocolli early and it froze. This year I planted a couple weeks later and it is prematurely flowering due to heat! How did they manage back when they did not have Stop and Shop as a backup?

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They planted collards. They were more bottom line oriented and not so fussy about what they liked or disliked.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 2:46PM
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I think they hunted and ate more meat than veggies. They had to have, half the damage to gardens are animals eating them. Animals eat any weed we couldn't, so they can survive.

People ate plantain, dandelion leaves or even the whole plant, greens aren't that easy to grow, but they can be a perfect fall/winter crop. Potatoes are supposedly easy crop, they ate potatoes. Look up medieval gardens for fun to see what they grew.

I wonder too, every year I try to garden, they must have planted acres just to get enough for one year instead of that 100x100 garden they say can feed a family of 4.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:12PM
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Stellabee(7, Atlanta)

I think people survived eating a smaller variety of foods. They ate a lot of the same stuff, most of which was native and able to handle the weather and animal damage of their area. And like glib mentioned, they sometimes got lucky with foreign crops like Collards that aren't finicky and grow in abundance.

I know I've learned to only grow natives and some non-natives that, for whatever reason, love my yard (what's in the soil and the air). I do some experimenting though, which seems to result in a lot of garden stress:-)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:29PM
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The diet was grain based and wheat, short of catastrophic weather events is pretty dependable. Wheat in the north, corn in between, and rice in the south. Meat was a treat and yes, you lost a lot, planted as much as you could tend, and put up or bartered what you didn't need or could eat immediately. You 'gathered' a lot of edibles and went with stuff like cabbage and spuds. There may not have been stop and shops, but always were open markets in the nearest villages, where the other farmers would bring their wares to swap and barter. No, there wasn't the variety.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 5:18PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Also, that was their job, not just a hobby. So gardens were pretty much tended to/ looked after 24x7...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:29PM
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I find that, if I have three things in the garden/cellar that are available, at any given time, I have enough. Since I do not particularly like to store things, I much prefer things that are fresh. That, in turn, means things with a long crop season. It also means a lot of roots and leaves, due to a combination of long season, winter eating, and nutrition.

That is why I do not grow broccoli. And only 17 years ago, when I started frequenting farmer markets (at least here in MI), you could see that it had been that way since the beginning. You could find tomatoes and peppers in season, various types of cabbage, and all manners of root and squash. Starting November 1, only storage crops. Starting June 1, you could find lettuce. Maybe in the next post I will list the three must have things at any given time of year.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:49PM
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Only the wealthy were well fed all of the time. Everyone else went a little hungry other than Sundays. Lard kept the calorie levels up.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Food preservation was one of the primary tasks of daily life, because anything extra you could set aside for later might just save your life down the road. They dried, smoked, salted, buried, fermented, extracted, etc., Later, canning was invented, and that made a dramatic difference, followed by mechanical refrigeration.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 10:11PM
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You can see the quick division here between storage crop growers and the rest! Those of us that have been growing and storing traditional crops know two things: they are pretty reliable regardless of weather vagaries, and they require attention at critical times.

An example from this season: I planted my dent corn crop for bread about a week ago. The weather had become dry before hand and it still has not rained to speak of. The soil is light and getting very dry, but probably still there was enough residual moisture to sprout the seed. If so, and we don't get a good soaking rain soon, those young spouts may suffer serious damage. However, I can put a corn planting in as late as June 20th here and still get a crop. So if the first ones look very poorly by around that time I can inter-sow a second crop and if comes along better I can hoe out the first planting.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 6:50AM
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This is what I have learned about broccoli:
1)Variety: Packman
2)Start broccoli plants at intervals, so you always have back-up plants in case of a freeze or heat
3)Plant in a spot that gets about 6 hours of sunlight
4)I didn't need to replant for a fall crop
5)Packman produced side shoots all summer long and I harvested into December (mostly due to mild winter)
6)Even though my first head isn't large, I get enough with four plants to have brocc once a week for my hubby and me.
Well, that is what is working for me.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 8:36AM
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I love fresh broccoli out of the garden, but how on earth do you keep the bugs off??

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 9:51AM
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Must have things for me:

- through the year: garlic and onions, celery (I freeze bags of it), sauerkraut
- spring: lettuce and asparagus. I also use dandelions and garlic shoots, and second flushes of kale, arugula and chard
- early summer: chard and zucchini (regular)
- summer: beets, zucchini (tromboncino), beans. I also use purslane
- fall: chard, arugula, beets
- winter: collard, kale, butternut, turnip, carrots, parsnip, cardoon

Yes, no tomatoes, and peppers are lumped with the other herbs that I freeze for winter. All long crops, reliable, nutritious, low maintenance. I store winter roots, butternut, and fresh store cardoon. Collard and kale are under hoops. I have more room with the new orchard, next year I will get me shelling beans and peas (for freezing), melons, and sweet potatoes.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 10:32AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

pnbrown, I think one of the problems on that is there is not a large knowledge base for newbie gardners to learn from. That is a direction I would like to head into but learning more about it has been difficult. It is easy to find information on canning but things like dent corn, is not nearly as easy. I did read Carol Deppe's book and it got the wheels turning. Growing corns of the varieties she states would be of a huge benefit to my family as we have celiac disease. When comparing the broccoli to something like the dent corn, broccoli I can find lots of information on the different varieties and I know how to cook it, etc but growing and using things like dent corn including what varieties are better suited to different climates, the information is certainly scarcer.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:12PM
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Depending on what era one is speaking of they knew far, far more about the fauna and flora of the area thay lived in or they died.

Going back to pioneer days they could go out in the woods and find a meal if necessary. They used what those who came before told them would work.

They did eat meat, a lot of it.
Rabbits in the garden, rabbits on the table; deer in the garden, deer on the table, etc. etc.

When I was a child there were enough woods around one could go out and pick wild raspberries, strawberrie, gooseberries etc.
My grandparents canned chickens, beef, fruits, vegetables, dried and smoked sausages. Some families did their own hams.

People have become spoiled, lazy and ignorant.
Hard times literally brings out the survival of the fittest.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 3:09PM
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I am trying to move to a more sustainable lifestyle growing things that are local and growing my own seeds rateher thant depending on plants from garden center. Picking up horse poop from a friend instead of buying bags of manure etc I have had consistent success with garlic, red cabbage (the green caterpillars do not like it) and tomatoes. Going with what works. One year I made twenty jars of spagetti sauce! (big ones)
I wish I could hunt but would have no idea how to and who would one ask? Seeems slightly inappropriate me traipsing thru the forest wit a man other thatn muy husband.
All a work in progress. Some of my relative about seventy years ago actually did starve to death (context of massive world disasters etc) so this does affect me I think.
All the best

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 9:07PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

I can survive mostly on rice and greens. Been eating a big ole bowl of greens almost nightly for a month or so - really ready to add some squash/pepper/eggplant, etc.

not much obesity back in the day, yeah - we eat a lot now that we don't need to.

also - high calorie foods were stored:nuts, seeds, winter squash, potatoes.

And as noted - it was a FT job for 1/more than 1 family member to grow - harvest - preserve or store in cool dark sawdust, etc.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 7:34PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

They ate alot less than we did. Not many fat people back then. When I was young. ( the 60's) We picked hickory nuts. We had 100 lbs. of them every winter. My grandpa had raspberry and black berry bushes. They canned alot. My parents used to buy 1/2 or 1/4 of a cow and had a big freezer full of meat. Sure was alot cheaper than the grocery store. Women down here hunt. I can remember sitting on the back porch shelling a bushel of English peas. Also remember being the lucky one that got to harvest the potatoes in the garden after my dad hoed them up. Ah, yes the good old days!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 9:16PM
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t-bird, they worked a lot more & harder then we do today, so even if they had eaten what & as much as us there would be little if any obesity.
RpR wish I could say you are Wrong, but sadly I can not the organic/herb crowd knows more about the old ways then most of the cable TV clones will ever know.
Feasting Free on Wild Edibles by Bradford Angier is a good read.
I learned to make a rabbit box(live trap out of wood) as a
child & butcher hogs, deer, rabbit, pluck chickens ,quail, doves. Gather wild fruit for jelly, cobblers & freezing.
We did some canning, milked our cows, made butter & gardening all Spring, Summer & Fall. Cut wood for the wood stove, in the big snow storm of 1972/73 we lived well with no power for 4 days.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 9:32PM
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