[permaculture] A sweet sourgum story

Forest Garden forestgarden at gvtc.com
Mon Sep 18 19:07:26 EDT 2006

Flipping thorugh seed catalogs with the kids we lightheartedly ordered two packets of sourgum seeds: one for Kimber to grow sourgum meant for making brooms, and the second for Ryan to make sourgum syrup.  My leg was severly lacerated just before the seeds arrived and the planting was delayed a few weeks until I could limp along enough to throw them out and scatter a bit of hay for mulch.  I watered them and prayed for the best.  

They grew surprisingly well given the random and irratic care I afforded them as my much reduced mobility and energy forced me to focus on other priorities.  Should I also mention the 8 weeks with no rain, scortching sun, and a lot of days over 100 degrees?  I've come to respect the sourgum plant, and its cousin's milo and sudan (planted as compost crops nearby).  

When the seed heads were in the soft stage, towering high on 7 foot stalks from what amounted to about 10 square feet of growing plants.  We stripped the stalks of leaves and cut them into approximately one foot lengths    Kimber offered the seeds heads to the chickens, who were mildly interested.  

Since we didn't have a sourgum mill - not the horse to turn it - we decided to use a kitchen version juice extractor called the 'Green Power' (like a Champion juicer for those that remember).  The first few inches of stalk completely jammed up the powerful motor.  After much cussing (on my part as this is one of my favorite machines in the kitchen) Ryan stripped off the tough outer-layers of the stalks and then cut the softer inner peices to inch long lengths.  These shorter, more proceessed pieces went through fairly easily and we watched in surprise at how much juice we got.  Several cups worth!

Next we put the juice in a pot on the stove with a low flame..  Demonstrating much more patience than I thought he had, Ryan accepted quite easily that the boiling down would take a few hours, and he happily went off to play.  

The final product was, well, interesting.  It was pretty sorry looking.  And tha taste?  Well, we all agreed it had potential.  Maybe next year we would try again.  

We never could figure out the broom stalk sourgum - the stalks looked very thick to us and we didn't have a clue how to make brooms out of them.  They did make a lot of organic matter to add to the compost though, and we've decided to save the seeds for future compost crops.  Who knows?  Perhaps we will actually figure out it is supposed to work...


Marjory, Ryan, and Kimber.  .



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