Native N American crops

Kathleen Sayce
Fri, 19 Mar 2010 17:48:05 PDT
My comments below are a little off topic, but as the subject of true  
agriculture has raised its little head, I have to comment.

For a thoroughly enlightening book on cultivation of food and fiber  
plants by Native Americans, read Keeping It Living, edited by Douglas  
Deur and Nancy Turner, UBC Press & U Washington Press. In which are  
discussed: hauling bulbs around to plant in new spots, how tribes  
kept woody & toxic species out of good bulb growing areas, how they  
regenerated good berry picking areas, and other aspects of plant  
management on the Pacific NW coast that sure sound like agriculture.

This book led me to realize that there are a number of food crops  
that would do better in my area (Pacific NW) than transformed grains  
like barley, rye, corn and wheat.  Two bulbs were grown and stored  
for carbohydrates: camas and wapato, other bulbs/tubers were less  
intensively harvested, including a variety of onions, fritillaries,  
lilies. Also thistles (Cirsium edule, edible thistle). I could go on,  
but that' s enough.  My favorite native (North American) fruits  
include: blackberries, blueberries, and cranberries.

Management methods included: selective harvesting and transplanting,  
digging, tilling, weeding, sowing, pruning and coppicing, and  
landscape burning.

Despite its dominance today in farm landscapes, agriculture is not  
always all about cereal crops.

On the Pacific NW coast, where we are in our second day of clear  
skies, light frosts at night, and highs near 70F. My plants don' t  
know what to do, there's no strafing rain. 

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