3 Early Harvest New England Crops
There are many advantages to growing your own crops, and luckily there are a variety of plants indigenous to New England that can easily be cultivated and harvested on a large or small scale.
Sometimes called Sunchokes or Earth Apples, Jerusalem Artichokes are a tuber that make a great alternative to potatoes. They can also be baked, fried, or roasted just like a potato.
Jerusalem Artichokes should be planted in the spring, the flowers that the plant produce attracts many beneficial bugs and the seeds it produces feed many small species of birds. However, the Jerusalem Artichoke is a plant that can very easily overtake it’s surroundings when not properly cultivated, so it should never be planted near other crops, and it definitely shouldn’t be planted in the same bed as other crops. To harvest the tubers, you can dig them up in fall or leave them in ground for a bit longer, if you choose to leave them in the ground, they must be heavily mulched with straw to extend the harvest for several weeks.
The strawberries that grow in New England are smaller than the larger strawberries that are cultivated and sold in grocery stores. Those berries are a hybrid between wild strawberries and a South American type of Strawberry. The native berries that can be grown are delicious smaller berries that are easy to grow in dry or medium dry soil.
To grow your berries, plant them in early spring and be prepared to harvest in June. Strawberries require about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day, and once the plants are established they are fairly drought resistant. The seeds should be buried in rows, six inches apart deep enough so that new growth is visible. Once the berries begin to ripen, pick them daily because they can go from delicious to inedible fairly quickly.
Black raspberries are an interesting blend of blackberries and raspberries that have white petaled flowers that appear from April to July and red fruit that turns black when it becomes ripe.
The fruit can be eaten raw like any other berry or made into a jam, jelly or pies and other baked goods.
The plants are a thorny shrub that enjoy lots of sunlight and grow in bramble form. The shoots of the plant can be eaten, many people use them in salads.
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