Mueller Reports Lost Crops
January 2, 2020 2:13 PM   Subscribe

After a curious quest find lost crops in all the wrong places among the ruins, after planting and harvesting, Natalie Mueller has found that growing goosefoot and erect knotweed together gives yields within the range for traditionally grown maize. Previously.

Paper, paywalled.
posted by clawsoon (10 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was very interesting!
posted by bq at 2:53 PM on January 2


That was really interesting. I wonder how the plants were consumed ?
posted by PussKillian at 3:45 PM on January 2


The Eastern Agricultural Complex is a fascinating historical what-if. It would be interesting to see how it would have further developed had it not first been steamrolled by maize, and then by Afro-Eurasian crops a few centuries later.
posted by Panjandrum at 3:51 PM on January 2


Maize, and to a lesser degree potatoes and sweet potatoes, have been HUGELY POPULAR anywhere they can be grown.

There's an entire chapter in Scott's THE ART OF NOT BEING GOVERNED (starts around page 201) on how much unrest there was in traditionally rice-growing regions of Asia when the new, more productive crops came in from the Americas, and peasants just...walked away, off to grow maize in more marginal land that was harder to rule.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:11 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


I wonder how the plants were consumed ?

The leaves of goosefoot can be consumed, as far as I know, throughout their growing season (I have yet to find them too tough to consume, but there are multiple species and environments).

Parts of knotweed are edible like parts of their polygonaceous cousin rhubarb. Japanese knotweed shoots are said to be even more delicious than rhubarb, which I find easy to believe, because I hate rhubarb.

The seeds of both are edible (goosefoot seeds are comparable to that of quinoa and various amaranth species), but really really tiny. You can see how maize would be really appealing to process, sizewise, compared to these. I have no readily accessible data on the durability of seed from either species, especially for knotweed.

Please, somebody surprise me with readily accessible data on knotweed seed. I beg you.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:19 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Knotweed, previously. I am infested with it.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:24 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Please, somebody surprise me with readily accessible data on knotweed seed. I beg you.

There are of course may varieties of knotweed, so YMMV, but for the love of God do not plant it deliberately. It is a pernicious plant.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:26 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Sjswitzer, that's Japanese Knotweed. Erect Knotweed is indigenous to the Americas and is basically the opposite of an invasive species: it's actually endangered.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:43 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


Hmm, we have something like that growing in our front ditch. Unfortunately it looks a lot like a little knotweed species that's been imported from Asia.

Oh, well.
posted by flug at 4:24 PM on January 3


Hmm, we have something like that growing in our front ditch.

I think that is Japanese stiltgrass, also invasive. Its very easy to pull out, but spreads like crazy. We had it all over our yard this past year, it died before the grass turned brown this winter but I fully expect it to return in full force in the spring.
posted by wigner3j at 12:08 PM on January 5


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