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master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I definitely need to try them again in the shade. If anyone has extra tubers, I will gladly purchase some!

 
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Location: Florissant, CO
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The place I plan to put the ground nuts is next to a seasonal creek in partial shade, so I'm thinking it is close to their natural habitat, so hopefully it goes better than your experience Tyler (sorry to hear it). And they have plenty of aspen trees to climb up, so we will see.

Also, after writing my previous post I thought about using squash seeds for a staple oil crop. That way you obviously get the staple squash to eat and then also press the seeds for cooking oil. I see there is plenty of squash seed oil for sale, but have never tried it for cooking before. Considering the seed size, this might be a good direction for a solid combination. You can use all kinds of squash and pumpkins for this technique, kind of makes me wonder why I've never thought of it before.

According to one article, "Fifty pounds of seeds makes one gallon of oil. To put that another way, it takes ten squashes worth of seeds to press enough oil to fill one 6.3-ounce bottle."

So depending on how much oil you use a year, it's a feasible oil crop. And the bonus is that you can let the seeds stay in the squash for up to 9 months because they store for so long--depending on climate of course. Seems like another ultimate staple crop along with ground nut (in theory).
 
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Dana Jones wrote:Tyler, I read about that variety. Is that what you grow? How do you prepare amaranth grains? What do you cook them with?



Amaranth is a super food like Quinoa (although Quinoa is the only alkaline grain) and can be cooked in porridge, stews, soups, or cooled and made into a salad.
 
Susan Lafferty
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Jan White wrote:

David Livingston wrote:Joeseph
I was looking for a plant to grow for oil to cook with . Any ideas ? I have Walnuts- which are great for salads but not for frying.



I'm not Joseph, but I'll weigh in. I don't have first-hand knowledge yet, but from my research sunflowers seem like a good bet. Easy to grow and process, decent oil yields, can take some heat. Piteba has really good information on individual nuts and seeds for oil production.




I have started cooking in avocado oil. It can take high heat, but I find you still have to take care your food doesn't stick to the pan. It's possible I don't use enough as I am not a fan of oily food.
 
pollinator
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Danny Smithers wrote:Is anyone trying ground nuts?

I have done a lot of research, but haven't heard from many individuals on their ground nut growing experiences. Is anyone on this thread trying it?


Did some search on it. In my mail last year A way to garden had an artical about it but her souse was out of stock and listed @ $18http://www.gardenvines.com/ http://groundnutgardens.com/ has lots of information abou Apios americana but their price is $10.
This source http://www.nortonnaturals.com/ is very resonable @ $1.50
 
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I'm in high, dry-ish, and cold conditions, US side of the Okanogan Highlands (for you BC folks, go ahead and swap in that extra "a" there, that's the Canadian way...)

We have a short growing season, and we travel a lot during spring and fall for our workshops, so I've got two strategies for gardening right now:
- Volunteer on farms that know what the heck they're doing, and sometime swap farm-sitting for some very tasty and lovingly-tended food. Varieties in a minute.
- Trial and error to find which perennials will tolerate my frequent absence in our harsh climate - so far that includes a lot of flavorful hardy plants like rhubarb, some onions, horseradish, and arugula. Onions are a big part of our diet, but I confess most of them are store-bought at this point: I haven't given mine the care they need to bulb up properly.
- Try to learn more about climate-tolerant native staple crops. I found a WONDERFUL ethnobotany of the Okanagan-Colville by one of the British Columbia museums, and the author was gracious enough to send me a PDF (it's out of print) with permission to share. Maybe I can attach it here. This would not help most of you, unless the BC folks are on the inland side of the Cascades, but hey, it's there. My relationship to our "sparse" conifer forest, and the conflict between restoring it and clearing garden space for plants that don't love growing under conifers, changed dramatically when I found our ubiquitous black lichen on the list of edibles in that guide. Deer, moose, bear, squirrel could be "resilience" foods, though we're far from using them as staples.

What we eat that's locally produced, if not always by us:
- Beef, pork, sometimes lamb, venison, rabbit (usually purchased, occasionally bartered)
- Dairy: two neighbors keep dairy goats and/or sheep, I got really into cheese-making last summer just when she needed help with farm chores. Nice freezer stockin' opportunity.
- Vegetables: A farm I regularly volunteer on grows lots of organic vegetables, and these are the ones that end up in the freezer:
- Always more squash than my husband is willing to eat (childhood squash trauma). Cooking it with home-made sausage seems to help. Zucchini is good breaded and fried, like you would do for eggplant parmesan. When the grasshoppers and tomato hornworms leave us any eggplant, that goes great too. Delicata, spaghetti squash, pie pumpkins.
- tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, and peppers: Nightshades. Process into sauces and eggplant-parmesan ingredients, or get the Asian eggplants for stir-fry.
- Beans: He favors a very long 9 to 11-inch green bean (string bean for you Midwest and East Coast folks) - less trouble to pick in the quantities needed for market, and great for both freezer and pickling. We also grow some fava beans and snow peas, but unfortunately my husband can't digest pulses, so that rules out a lot of frost-tolerant pulses that might otherwise be a good fit for our climate.
- Sunflower - both sunchokes and seed-head grow well here, we don't eat them as much as we could. Floral arrangements sell from the farm, too, with sunflower and amaranth heavily featured in season.
- Fruits: Fresh, dried, frozen, butters, cider, sometimes jam or jelly. Mulberries, strawberries, raspberries, currants, cherries, apples, peaches, a range of melons that are wonderful as fresh fruit or pureed juice. I make apple butter as a Christmas gift item, wonderful stuff. So are dried pears - like caramel, great with nuts as a late-night snack. Add some blue cheese if you like strong flavors. And I will never give up my blueberries (not a strong grower locally, but I will get them wherever I can)
- Pototoes, carn: Sometimes we grow them, here or on the farm in the valley, but more often we buy them. There are some lovely Russian fingerlings that my farmer likes, and we are in a good region where it's easy to get reasonably-priced organic potatoes of several varieties (red, Yukon Gold, and Russet at the grocery; purple and fingerling varieties at the farmer's market). Corn takes more water than we get reliably here, and the growing season is a bit short; but in good years we can get it locally.
- Eggs: We raised our own for a while, a lot of neighbors raise surplus, and we can get them locally if the neighbors run out. But we buy from the store too, now that the in-laws retired the flock. Ernie can't eat fertilized eggs so the grocery store ones are more reliable unless we know the growers situation well enough to have confidence that the hens are celibate - and I would not put it past some of the midnight-crowing roosters up here to sneak around to other coops. Maybe that's why they get so pleased with themselves at night.
- Honey: We buy commercial honey, but it's locally raised.
- Wine: We have some marvelous local vinyards; does it count as "growing it myself" if I showed up twice to help harvest and trim, about 4 years ago? One of my favorite ways to drink it is at the regular Thursday night music-and-wine-tasting gatherings at the foot of our hill.

What we buy regularly:
- Grains: Bread, pasta, and/or flour is not something we produce, though I do pass some grain fields on the way in to the grocery and could look into getting it locally. We can make our own pasta and bread if we have flour, but we don't grow or harvest flour. Straw is $10/bale here while it's $2 or $3/bale in the Spokane or coastal areas, so I think it's reasonable to get our wheat, oats, etc. from the parts of the state where it's a more reliable crop.
- Nuts: I am interested in other nut options for our climate, right now we buy a lot of pecans to go with our dried pears, and almonds and other gluten-free flours for baking for friends.
- Oils and fats: We use local bacon grease and lard, but have not yet gotten the cultures established for curing our own ham and bacon. Almost all our other oils are imported, including the butter for now. We also buy and eat a lot more cheese than I produce. If you look historically, that's been "normal" trade goods - it's more economical to harvest or produce fats and oils where they grow best, and they are high-value goods for trade. The Mediterranean has had huge trade in olive oil for a long time; the Northwest it was often oolichan (fish oil) that would be mixed with berries and other preserved winter foods. Weird to think of using fish oil like we might use cream, but it gets the job done, especially with those tart berries.
Vegetable oil production is usually at least a village-scale co-op, if not a plain commercial venture, just like the flour mill can get things finer, cleaner, and cheaper than a home-grower would want to bother with. While there's virtue in self-reliance, part of the virtue is in recognizing and learning to appreciate what we get from society and our inter-dependent social partnerships. I love how many of our local farmers support each other, one neighbor collecting sheep manure and delivering slops for the pigs of another who keeps livestock and guardian dogs but no big garden.
- Seafood: Ernie and his dad were both commercial fishermen before moving up here, and we can't get enough fish locally to keep up with the habit. No longer a staple, but a big high-calorie treat for almost every birthday dinner.
- Treats: Potato chips, pizza, birthday cheese in lieue of cake, MSG-free cheese doodles, blueberries, bananas and oranges, out-of-season vegetables and fruits, chocolate, tea, and coffee. I am a major citrus hog, and wonder about setting up a citrus-for-dried-pears exchange with my sister in Arizona.

Things I'm thinking about trying this year or next, or have seen work elsewhere:
- Pond-cultivated starches like wild rice, ground-nuts, cattail. Need to keep working on restoring the pond, while enjoying its currently-available benefits as a shallow swamp.
- Home-made bacon, smoked sausage, and other smoked meats - Ernie started using a little smoker a couple years ago and it has been marvelous. Smoked beef roast for Christmas dinner, amazing. Smoked meats make anything edible, turning lower-calorie vegetables into haute cuisine.
- Almonds, apricots - some folks do well with these in the valley, inconsistent producers but they store/preserve well.

- Buckwheat- the horse eats most of ours, but cold-tolerant, N-fixer, quick, and does well with minimal care in New England and Tennesee. Edible greens if you don't have a long enough season to go all the way to seed.
- Sand cherry pemmican - I accidentally ate some pits last year, tasty and you can crack them with your teeth. I would like to make them into dehydrated bars, some with pits and some without.


As to cooking and family acceptance:
Might need a new thread for the second half of this post.

Ernie is a great cook, but has specific sensitivities (and preferences) that we generally just work around. No poultry or fertilized eggs, no pulses, no cashew or mango (poison-oak family), no grapefruit, limited on some greens (kale, lamb's quarters), very limited alcohol. Flavor aversion to squash (will tolerate occasionally when cooked excellently with other flavors), cold pizza, stevia; limited interest in sweets and chocolate. So some of it is as simple as spicing up the squash-and-sausage, or hiding it in a spicy tomato-based soup or sauce (he does this himself when we have canned squash to get rid of), and re-heating the pizza before serving.

I don't eat refined sugar.
We don't have kids to feed, but we've both fed other people's kids, sometimes for an extended period (like week-long camps in my case, or 15 years with his first wife in Ernie's case).

For close family, we have Ernie's folks. They have their own medical issues, dietary restrictions, and preferences. We mostly respect that, and cook separately. We have specific go-to dishes for the holidays that work for everyone, and we also bring down 'treats' that we know they are likely to enjoy. When Ron has been particularly active plowing the drive, I bake full-on treats with all the glorious gooey bad stuff (cinnamon rolls, cream puffs), sometimes I just don't eat any, sometimes I will make a divided batch (like cream puffs with custard for everyone else, stevia-vanilla-and-gelatine-whipped-cream for me). We do bring them fresh fruit or salad treats in season.

Radishes are not high calorie, but they do contain digestive enzymes, which can be a big help for folks who have delicate-gut problems. And they're easy to grow, for the most part.

For not-local family, my relatives have eagerly accepted all the things we have sent or brought them so far.
Depending on season and distance, that's been grass-fed meats, goat cheese, apple butter, some of the easier-transporting winter squash or hard vegetables, and I even send evergreen branches to my sister in Arizona.
My sisters are both health-conscious and LOVE organic real-fruit snacks for their kids, and we share recipes for hearty veggie dishes.

For general purpose cooking with local ingredients, there is a LOT that can be done with good cooking technique and good recipes.

- Type 1 Error:
DO NOT incorrectly cook (or fail to cook) "weird" new edibles.
When serving a new food to your family, it is your responsibility to research the safety issues like correct harvest times, cooking or processing requirements, and potential indications for allergy or cross-sensitivity.

Examples: A lot of the "cook the leaves like spinach" wild greens are most edible (and palatable) in spring. Eating certain greens raw, or cooking the same leaves after the plant has gone to seed, can cause painful oxalic acid buildup, and long-term sensitivity after over-exposure. Most people know that nightshade greens are toxic (potato, tomato) but not everyone is aware that raw potatoes are anti-nutritive; one friend told me about witnessing seizures and death in her flock of ducks, who gorged repeatedly on a patch of raw butter-ball potatoes (depriving themselves of the ability to absorb key minerals from any other food). Some greens, beans, and nuts need to be blanched and the water discarded. Some berries are only edible after cooking, and some foods are most edible after fermenting or brining (e.g. olives, arguably cabbage).

Seasoned, baked kale chips or fried collards are food; the 7th raw-kale salad at a winter potluck is a sign that you (and most of your friends) need cooking lessons.
Many people can tolerate semi-toxic or anti-nutritive foods for a short time or in small doses, but sensitivities vary. The fact that someone, somewhere, liked it sometime, is not sufficient justification to inflict it on a captive audience.

Expecting a person (young or old) to eat a full helping of an unfamiliar food on first acquaintance is like expecting sex on the first date. (Sometimes it happens... there are even cultures where the health standards, medical facilities, or risk tolerance are such that happens regularly ... but it's not a normal or healthy expectation to be found in most cultures throughout history.)
Any new foods, wild or cultivated, can be approached through a sort of courtship. If at any stage you feel things are going badly, you can withdraw with honor intact. (Note that the sex analogy either breaks down completely, or becomes oddly graphic, from here down.)
First smell, look, and learn to identify the plant.
Then taste a bite and spit it out.
Then try a bite and swallow (if properly prepared for eating).
Then try more the next day.
Work up to a full helping.
Then try flavor combinations with other foods, and see if it is useful enough to become a staple.
When sharing new foods with friends and family. give others the same courtesy by offering a taste rather than expecting them to eat a full helping on the first try.


Here are some favorite recipes for foods others have already mentioned:
Yams/ Sweet potatoes - Just butter works great. Most kinds good with cheddar, sharp cheeses, or bacon and bleu cheese.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving preparations is with a choice of butter and/or an apricot-ginger filling. This is made with chopped dried apricots, little bits of fresh ginger if you have it (about a cubic inch, minced or grated, per double handful of apricots). Add water to cover, and cook until it resembles a chunky jam (or the sweet potatoes are done). We traditionally use the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes/yams in this recipe.
(and I've eaten kumara and yams in the Pacific Islands so don't get me started on which is which, it's like international spelling, it's just different from place to place.)

For the white-fleshed Garnet yams, it works OK, but those have a milder flavor and I like them for fried-veggie preparations like tempura or fried kumara-and-plantain, or any combination of semi-sweet veggies, with just a dash of cinnamon.
For the little rhizomes like Oca (oxalis tuberosum) and similar true "yams," they have a lovely lemony flavor in salads, but I would bet it's mostly oxalic acid so go easy. Some is retained after boiling; they make a nice bright citrus accent with foods like baked fish, lamb, or rice and dark greens.

Root-Bake: I do a winter baked casserole with anything I can get that has a hint of sweetness (beets, yams, squash, parsnip, Jerusalem artichoke, carrot, onion, etc). Butter a roasting pan, chop them into roughly 1-inch cubes or wedges, mix them all in there, dab a little more butter or coconut oil on top. I like to chop in 1 apple and sprinkle the top with cinnamon for flavor; sometimes I remember the salt. Bake for about an hour or until they are getting soft, then top with cheddar cheese and bake until it bubbles and/or browns.

For zucchini, try browning butter with fennel and cumin, then sear/frying zucchini wedges. Or bake with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite seasonings - try plain salt-and-pepper, "primavera" or Italian-style greens and garlic, or steak rubs/seasoning salts. Or bread and batter-fry them - if youngsters will pay money for it at a bar or drive-through, it must be food, right?

- For most veggies, stir-fry is your friend: Heat the pan, add fat or oil, spices (seeds and hard spices like pepper, mustard, clove, cumin, or fennel give more flavor in hot oil), onion/garlic/mushroom. When it's sizzling, brown meats, then add hard vegetables & dried herbs/veg flakes as it starts to produce some liquid (add some liquid like water, stock, soy sauce or wine, and cover it, if things need to steam a bit). Save delicate greens or fresh fruits/herbs (like tomato) for the end, after everything else is cooked through and nicely browned, cook them just to wilting, then take it off the heat (serve promptly, or save for up to 3 days and serve over rice, in omelettes, etc).

My young-adult basic meal was a fry-up of soy sauce, ginger, curry powder or cumin, with seasonal vegetables (onion, carrot, peas is enough, but the best ones had mushrooms, cubed veggies like parsnip or potato, grape or cherry tomato, and a fresh wilted green as well). It's like a very mild curry, or a very confused Asian dish; this spice mix is interesting enough to season tofu. You can boost the heat with garam masala or diced hot peppers if you like it.

- Baked Brassicas: Cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, sweet brassica stalks, and little attention-hogs like Brussels sprouts are hearty enough for a main course when baked with a good fat like bacon, cheddar cheese, or a vegetarian option like tehini. Go for a temperature that just browns the outside, leaving most of the plant a vibrant version of its original color but softer. (You can sautee them as well, both give good results, especially if your family has only had them boiled/steamed so far.) Boiling and discarding the water removes some oxalic acid from the more intense brassicas, but it's really not necessary for cauliflower, nor is it necessary to do it every single time you serve them.)

You can debate calorie content, but if you're able to raise pigs or obtain grass-fed dairy in any quantity, almost any vegetable can be a "staple" for extending the digestibility and varying the pleasing flavor combinations of these rich foods.

For kid-friendly stuff
(and certain people of an unspecified gender who only want to eat what their Mom fed them as kids):

- Diets are Different:
Don't despair if kids are way more attracted to the plain carbs, oils, etc. Children's calorie needs are higher for their body weight, and they are also "calibrating" to learn what nutrition is in what food. Many foods are an acquired taste (the body needs gradual exposure to recognize and crave what the food offers, and the gut takes time to adapt as well). Well-prepared dishes may not be accepted on the first sample, but the third or fourth time it's served you may see a change of heart. If the first taste is awful, such as over-cooked fish or woody/pulpy brassicas, it may take years (or a new love interest) to correct the first impression. (I spent 10 years thinking I didn't like salmon, for this reason; and I'm very glad my mother never attempted to cook liver, as she did not like it and I was mercifully left "unscathed" for a first exposure to Ernie's excellent skills with this under-appreciated and easily-ruined meat.)
Our family was raised to "try one bite" rather than the "clean plate rule," because it keeps the peace at dinner while allowing for the development of those acquired tastes. Some foods are likely to be rejected for years: strong flavors such as bitter greens, acidic raw tomatoes, hot peppers, hoppy beer, etc. (These are not unreasonable things to avoid, as "hot" peppers are actually hitting a pain sensor, and bitters are traditionally an acquired taste of adulthood. Bitters can indicate alkaline poisons (cyanide, lye soap), medicinal side effects (hops, yarrow, coffee), or just special foods that adults like to reserve for themselves like chocolate, fancy olives, etc.) Maybe we can just be thankful that most kids don't start hitting the after-dinner coffee while we're still trying to teach them about bedtime.

For more adventurous families, where success with new foods is a necessity to meet daily nutritive requirements, you could have a "recipe contest" once or twice a week, to try adding different spices and combinations to a simple steamed vegetable or fruit. I did this with mulberries before making sorbet and 'jerky' (with the seed paste); oddly, black pepper made it taste like peanut butter, while coriander gave a nice bright note. Purple peanut butter is weird, so we went with the cardamom.

For the "Clean Plate Club," good luck to you. I don't get this approach at all - it seems like a cruel and Darwinian approach to weed out kids with allergies early on, or insecure parents placing respect for authority over common courtesy and kindness. Maybe if you lived in an empire where spitting food on your plate could get you beheaded, or were being groomed for ambasadorial service, or if your family REALLY can't cook but needs you to work REALLY hard, it could be excused.
If this is your family rule, it's probably best to stick with reliable family recipes; by assuming this level of micro-management of your kids' intake, you are asserting that you have nearly-medically-perfect knowledge of what their bodies need. This is not a good bet with unfamiliar foods - to be safe, you'd need to be 100% sure they are safely prepared, palatable, and none of your family has allergies or gut sensitivities that make them selectively inedible - which you can only find out by tasting small amounts over time. In the 'pick your battles' long game of parenthood, it's worth considering: what are you going to do when they refuse, force-feed them?
Get a dog, or a pig, and let this issue die and be reborn as mutually-satisfying training treats and/or tasty bacon.

On the other hand, it's not reasonable for kids to dictate the menu. It's very bad manners to demand something else for dinner once everyone is already at the table, and this WILL get them rejected from polite society in their future lives.
If you are willing to make a second dinner for the kids, this is best decided by the adult cook, in the kitchen, after sampling the adults' food but before serving. It's perfectly all right to give a kid a choice between eating what's on the table, or going hungry, or (if they are capable and the cook is willing) they could cook something else for everyone to share.
There are polite ways to respond to truly inedible food... "I've never tasted better chocolate-covered lobster" is a favorite family anecdote from our imperturbable diplomat great-uncle. But in most families it goes something like this: If the cook and budget are OK with it, declare it a loss and go out to dinner. If the cook or budget or locality do not give this option, then quietly eat as much as possible, stuff the dog silly under the table, and then the nearest responsible adult might say "Well that was a remarkable dinner, but I still have room for a treat... how about ... (home-made smoothies, or cheese and fruit "as dessert").

- For adults, some people find vegetables a lot more edible in "restaurant" dishes, like Chinese or Thai food, real Indian curries and Tandoori, or Mexican fajitas. An occasional "date night", in areas with ethnic restaurants to try, can slowly broaden the palette and generate new cooking idea without all the frustration and emotional backlash of home-testing unfamiliar recipes for a picky eater. We brought home some Chinese take-out from a new casino restaurant over an hour away. Of the four dishes my mother-in-law enjoyed two, so then Ernie and his dad made up surprise home-made versions of both of them for her birthday. This was possible in part because Ernie found an amazing Chinese cookbook: the Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, which has home-style dishes with very flexible ingredients (at this stage add any or all of the following: onions, garlic, etc.... at this stage add any of the following: bok choi, diced cabbage, spring greens, green onions, etc..) It tells how to make all the sauces, so we could screen ingredients and adjust out anything that we know she would be sensitive to, like MSG or parsley.

Some people, however, prefer very plain, comfort-food flavors - serving "pumpkin pie for breakfast" is likely to be a better hit than a squash casserole.
For winter vegetables especially, look for "comfort food" recipes from a similar climate - Cajun, Italian, German, Swedish, Polish, Romanian/Czech, North African, even Scottish or Irish.
and heck, if his mom's still around, ask her if she has any good recipes for ___.

- Don't try to hide bitter with sweet. Doesn't work well. Which is one of the things that makes Stevia a weird sweetener to deal with: more is rarely better, especially for bitter-supertasters. (Yes, that's a thing.)
Consider balancing mild bitters (like brassicas) with salt, acid, or fatty acids. Peppers owe their "hot" flavor to a type of acid, so they do a surprisingly effective job neutralizing the bitter and improving the rich balance of dark chocolate.

Brief blanching and plenty of butter, salt, and pepper kept most veggies on our "edible" list as kids.

- Butter, bacon, and sausage are your friends. Tossing brassicas with bacon makes them food. Fried onions for breakfast is weird - fried onions with a little sausage, starch, and cream is halfway to biscuits and gravy, and you can serve it over baked root veggies or with mixed-veg hash browns if you're out of flour for biscuits. (I wonder about "biscuit root".... would that be great with sausage?)
If you don't eat animal fats, coconut oil is an important saturated fat for keeping kids healthy, and can be salted or spiced to a range of flavors. Coconut-cream treats (truffles, ice cream) are awesome, but it's also just a healthy fat for frying and other higher-heat cooking needs.
If you are a macrobiotic vegan trying to raise healthy children in a climate where coconut doesn't grow, you may need to reconsider one or more of your life choices.
Or take the Churches' example (they declared capybara, a large South American rodent quite popular as poor people's bush meat, to be officially a "fish" for purposes of the Lenten fast). Keep your doctrine intact by declaring fish, eggs, bugs, or cheese to be a "vegetable". (Ernie read a study somewhere showing that tomatoes have a stronger electrical nerve response than fish, which could support the fish-as-vegetable argument.)

- You can hide a lot of things in a good Mac and Cheese - squash and sausage go really well with cheese, as does broccoli with meat or garlic, as does bacon and blue cheese, as does pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.
The Montage restaurant in Portland, OR has over a dozen mac-and-cheese "base flavors," with something like 20 add-ins from diced ham to chili to alligator. (It did not occur to me to list "alligator" as a potential staple, but they are TASTY. If you have that problem, find out whether you can legally turn it into a solution. Some varieties are endangered, and they're too magnificent to begrudge them passage into the warm new world era we seem to be creating.)

- Ditto good tacos or nachos, hearty chili. (You can hide things in them, serve mix-and-match to reduce arguments with picky eaters, or make them a lot of ways with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.)

- Leftovers into Pancakes: Mashed potatoes and a lot of other leftover veggies make great "potato pancakes;" buckwheat and amaranth can be incorporated into egg-rich crepes (My Joy of Cooking has a good, traditional buckwheat crepe recipe with suggested toppings).
Play with seasonings like plain/salt/pepper, garlic/herb, the cheesy palette above, carrot-celery-soup-stock, or sweetish options like cinnamon/apple (+ yam or squash) or cardamom+citrus+"poppyseed" (try other seeds). Make one or two to test the flavor combo, or ask your kids to try a bite of each kind and pick the best one to make more of.
Serve with good fats like sour cream, soft cheeses, savory sprinkles (green onion, bacon bits, mushroom and onion fry-up), or more fruit/fruit butters for the sweet ones.
- Fresh veg can be grated and briefly boiled in milk or water before cooking as "hash browns."

- Soup and sandwiches: Even when we would not eat raw tomatoes as kids, I remember loving tomato soup with grilled cheese. Tomatoes are one of those things that are more nutritious cooked, which also softens the acid that bothers many kids. But it probably didn't hurt that the soup was sweetened and milk-enriched. Still love it, though now am more likely to choose a savory tomato-basil bisque or "BLT Soup" - always good options if you don't like the Campbells' cream-of-ketchup flavor.

- Barbecue sauce. Ketchup.
You can make them, they are a great way to distill and preserve seasonally-abundant nightshade fruits (tomato, tomatillo, not actual belladonna please), or try swapping in some pureed sweet veggies (try replacing corn syrup or sugar in recipes with a puree of some similar-tasty veggie like yams or sweet pepper, then adjust the seasoning: now sugar becomes a seasoning, rather than your main ingredient). If you are learning to make wine, making your own fruit vinegars is a common accidental side effect. Some good pickle and sauce recipes can turn a "failed" batch into a delicious secret ingredient.

Enough ketchup makes a lot of things kid-friendly. The main reason I learned to make it is that, while I can eat hot dogs and hamburgers with just mustard, corned beef hash is not the same without ketchup. Hash browns really aren't either.

My basic ketchup recipe (now that I don't eat sugar) is:
Cook down some great tomatoes, or mix fresh/canned and dried tomatoes to get the texture faster. Season with your favorite sweet-ish vinegar or vinegar plus fruit juice, pureed fresh garlic, salt, a dash of allspice or Worcestershire or pepper sauce (to family tolerance - if this is kid bait, remember it's easy for adults to add a dash of Tapatio or hot pepper/garlic sauce at the plate). Puree the whole mess, taste-test, and add salt, sugar, or any of the above to taste. Some people like to do flavored versions but for family enticement, I'd start with plain. It doesn't keep as long as the corn syrup version, so I freeze it in small containers - I recently found a nice brand of real mayo that comes in a small, highly reusable container.
Ernie's basic barbecue sauce is: tomato sauce or ketchup, peppers (as hot as appropriate for your family), white vinegar, cooked-down onions, other seasonings to taste (clove, allspice, mace, nutmeg, careful selection of smoked peppers, smoked salt, etc). His dad's version includes a lot of honey or brown sugar; we sometimes compromise on pineapple juice.

We generally buy our mustard, because there are so many good ones available without added sugar. These condiments don't just placate the [inner] children - when made with good, peak-of-season vegetable concentrates, they can supplement our winter diets with some important nutrients that we may otherwise miss in the snow-bound climes.
Pesto is another great nutrient-boosting flavor pack: milder greens like corn salad, parsley, basil, pureed with garlic and olive oil, and frozen or canned promptly. For best results with long-term storage, I add pine nuts (or your mild, affordable, nut of choice), and parmesan or your favorite aged cheese, at the time of cooking.

- Tomato sauce and pesto also create the option of Pizzzzza!! Try using the popular combo of garlicky sauces, cheese, and pepperoni as a flavor base for other foods; they work in rissotto-style grains, or as stuffings for poultry, fish, or omelettes.
Adults may go for baked cauliflower or broccoli "pizza-style" but I would expect a big rejection from the kids; you might get them with twice-baked potatoes pizza-style but that's as close as I'd push it.

- Grazing/Browsing: For most kids, growing it and picking it themselves makes it irresistable, when they won't touch old stores. We've had kids who won't eat broccoli chow down on broccoli-flavored maple blossom florets at spring break camp; one even saved one all day to share with his mom (which is how we knew he won't eat broccoli at home). Try letting them graze in the garden, then harvest some stuff for a quick cooking lesson like tempura-battered fried veggies, herb or fruit "teas," or jam or cheese if you're up for the mess.
For the less-eager parent or grandparent, helping with the garden sometimes becomes a source of quiet pride - especially if the eggs are tastier, the potatoes more filling, etc.
- Be playful, especially with the young ones - broccoli is "you are a giant eating trees," "flower salad" can be a great way to introduce you-pick herbs. Most all culinary herbs have edible flowers, as do the Rubus and Ribes berries, and the mustard/brassica family. For milder-tasting petals, try evening primrose, squash flowers, borage. Even rose petals (tough, sometimes bitter, but some are like a leathery lettuce. Sample the colors and see which one is best/mildest). For a savory kick, try mustard flowers along with nasturtium (peppery). All types of maple trees have edible florets at any stage before they start to turn into recognizable, hard helicopter-seeds.
Go easy on the flowers at first, as the pollen can cause mild digestive upset - it's an intense nutrient for the body to get used to. And of course, pollen allergies might be set off by eating the flowers, though for many people eating the pollen or wildflower honey tends to tone down those allergies too.
- With older teens, and adults, respect where they're coming from. Teens have lots of adult urges but not much experience; get them cooking as soon as possible. Between age 9 and 15 or so (or into their 20's, but it's not polite to say that out loud), it's really useful to expose adolescents to a lot of skilled adults, so they have good role models as they're trying to define their identity. Otherwise the only self-definition they are likely to throw in your face is "I'm Not You!" which gets old fast.
Older adults have tastes, preferences, and may have medical needs that they've adjusted to over time. There may be a better way, but there are a lot of worse ways to eat - their way does work, so respect it. Find out what they like, what they miss from growing up, then look for recipes that are like that.

- However, be prepared for sudden-onset vegetarians if you involve a city kid in home butchering for the first time. Probably better to wean them into that one, with fresh meat from a neighbor's herd, and making delicious bacon and sausage; it's OK to swap butchering days with the neighbor, and let kids keep a pet animal even if it was originally intended for slaughter. Country kids may have no problem with culling the "mean" rooster, but I've also heard of 3- and 5- year-olds who wanted to chop each other's heads off to see if they ran around like the chickens did. Butchering is probably best reserved for after the age of reason (7 or , unless you have an unusually alert relationship with your kids.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Somebody has to fallow Erica but my experience is more like Ernie's. By 3 I had to know when my fish was cooked just enough so that I could take the tail and a fork and remove the bones in one motion from each side. then a little squeeze with the fork would remove the fins and I was ready to eat. But some days we had feathered fish. That meant knowing how to spot the entrance holes of buck shot and removing it before putting it in your mouth. Then there was learning to be hung by the ankles inside a metal tube pounded int the sand and dug out so that I could grab the Geoduck and be pulled back out with that favorite staple. When I was 5 I mastered butchering rabbits and plucking chickens Then one day my mother had to leave in a hurry and I was told to gut the chicken. I had to figure that out on my own with only minimal previous observation but I did it. By that time we were on our waterfront farm and I had to weed 100 feet of garden row before I could take a break and go swimming. Then wee had a year with a big set of oysters on the beach after that I had to open a gallon or 2 of theos each week to sell along with the goat milk, vegetables and the fish my father caught. Did you know that the little sharks called dogfish are excellent smoked. They are generally thrown away because they start producing ammonia in their flesh as soon as they stop breathing. But if fellet immediately and put in an acid bath that doesn't happen. My mother would freeze the livers and eat them for ice cream popsicles. Nothing like living on the Salish Sea for an abundance of staples.
 
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Erica Wisner wrote:For the "Clean Plate Club," good luck to you. I don't get this approach at all - it seems like a cruel and Darwinian approach to weed out kids with allergies early on, or insecure parents placing respect for authority over common courtesy and kindness.



I grew up as a member of the Clean Plate Club. I'm still a member, and so are all of my family members. To us, it was never about dictating to kids, or about authoritarianism. We raised our own food. Food was extremely precious. It is still a sacrament to us. Food is not something to be glibly wasted. We didn't eat surprises. Every member of the family knows what every vegetable, meat, and fruit tastes like before it is served. Every member of the family knows what every one of grandma's dishes tastes like. We know what the neighbors are going to feed us. We can tell what is in every dish, because we start cooking with whole vegetables, whole animals, and whole fruits. Even when the food is on the table ready to be eaten, we can still tell what species it is.

So everyone in the family is able to identify the food on the table. Every member of the family is free to eat anything, or nothing that is offered. We don't do silly things like puree a food so that we can hide it inside a dish. We all take turns cooking. Therefore, we all get to prepare our favorite meals on a regular basis. So what if a particular brother can't eat banana pie today? He'll be fixing a cherry cheesecake tomorrow.

 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:

Danny Smithers wrote:Is anyone trying ground nuts?

I have done a lot of research, but haven't heard from many individuals on their ground nut growing experiences. Is anyone on this thread trying it?


Did some search on it. In my mail last year A way to garden had an artical about it but her souse was out of stock and listed @ $18http://www.gardenvines.com/ http://groundnutgardens.com/ has lots of information abou Apios americana but their price is $10.
This source http://www.nortonnaturals.com/ is very resonable @ $1.50



Another great source is: http://www.sandmountainherbs.com/ground_nut.html. For it's $7.95 for 5 tubers, $25.95 for 25 tubers (this is what I ordered, and I'm pretty sure they gave me more than 25) and $89.95 for $100. This was the best price I could find, and shipping wasn't too much, either. The tubers all looked healthy, and have all been planted. I'll find out in a few months if they grow well.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

Hans Quistorff wrote:

Danny Smithers wrote:Is anyone trying ground nuts?

I have done a lot of research, but haven't heard from many individuals on their ground nut growing experiences. Is anyone on this thread trying it?


Did some search on it. In my mail last year A way to garden had an artical about it but her souse was out of stock and listed @ $18http://www.gardenvines.com/ http://groundnutgardens.com/ has lots of information abou Apios americana but their price is $10.
This source http://www.nortonnaturals.com/ is very resonable @ $1.50



Another great source is: http://www.sandmountainherbs.com/ground_nut.html. For it's $7.95 for 5 tubers, $25.95 for 25 tubers (this is what I ordered, and I'm pretty sure they gave me more than 25) and $89.95 for $100. This was the best price I could find, and shipping wasn't too much, either. The tubers all looked healthy, and have all been planted. I'll find out in a few months if they grow well.



I also ordered from sandmountianherbs.com this year and only ordered 5, they gave me 20! but they now have a customer for all the other herb seed they have that I want.
 
Tyler Ludens
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These are very interesting and detailed replies, but I'd like to encourage folks to stay on the topic which is "Staple crops*." Thanks!

*not "Staple foods," for instance if you're on a paleo diet your main source of calories will be meat and fats so you might not actually grow any staple crops but instead grow a lot of leafy greens.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:for instance if you're on a paleo diet your main source of calories will be meat and fats so you might not actually grow any staple crops but instead grow a lot of leafy greens.



I've been planting loads of avocado trees around the place. I'm not completely sure they'll do well here, but I have to eat very low carb, and for me, if I could grow enough avocados they would become a staple food.

If anyone out there has a source of frost-tolerant avocado seed, I'd love to hear from you. Mostly I'm just planting out seed from Hass avocados bought in the supermarket. Any avocado trees I've seen for sale here have also been Hass, but they are expensive and have died when I've tried them. I'm hoping that just maybe some of the seed I plant will have slightly more appropriate genetics.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Oh I would also be thrilled to grow avocados as a staple - they are my favorite fruit! Sadly, they are not cold tolerant enough to survive in my climate. Discouraging there don't seem to be easy to find sources for cold tolerant seeds.

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/avocado/cold-tolerant-avocado-trees.htm
 
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Who wants to eat staples? Lots of iron, but rather spiky?

I find squashes and damsons play a huge part in my diet.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:These are very interesting and detailed replies, but I'd like to encourage folks to stay on the topic which is "Staple crops*." Thanks!

*not "Staple foods," for instance if you're on a paleo diet your main source of calories will be meat and fats so you might not actually grow any staple crops but instead grow a lot of leafy greens.



I definitely understand what you mean by that but it is hard to stay on the "crop = plant" bandwagon when you stop and think about what we people, in all our omnivorous glory, have historically been eating. Eggs, for example, are an invaluable source of calories (fats) and on many homesteads, as well as in many poorer villages around the world, the chicken egg is still what most would consider both a "staple" and a "crop" when asked. Generally, a staple is what you rely on for a large portion of calories (from either fats or carbohydrates) while a crop is something you harvest (regardless of the taxonomic kingdom). Regional or cultural things like sardines, goat cheese, reindeer meat, seal blubber or even those horribly obscene creatures called geoducks, definitely fit the bill if they provide enough of the daily caloric intake and are reliably "harvested" from any type of intentionally influenced growing system.

I think it was Paul Stamets who pointed out that it may have been mushrooms/fungi, providing a reliable source of calories, that helped ensure us humans were not wiped off the face of the earth during those catastrophic "volcanic winters" of eons past. If our ancestors did find themselves relying of fungi for food for prolonged periods some tens of thousands of years ago, I'd be willing to bet they were smart enough to pile up logs and create piles of organic waste to help feed and cultivate their "crop"

Also, wanted to note how, historically, people that try to subsist on just one or two particular plants for food (especially annual and carbohydrate rich varieties) tend to have a hard go of it at some point or another when the crop fails or becomes contaminated in some way. Diversity, be it of foods in the diet or in flora/fauna of ecosystems, results in resiliency. A quick peek at the wikipedia page on "Staple Food" is mind numbing...the top 3 "staples" of the world are maize/corn (873 million metric tons), followed by rice (738 million), and wheat (671 million) - #4 on the "top ten" is potatoes coming in at just 365 million metric tons. Those top 3 show a truly alarming level of global reliance on such a small handful of poorly farmed, nutrient hungry annual plants that are extremely prone to failure.

So glad to see many of us permies are incorporating the less common, less demanding and perennial "staples" into our diets
 
Tyler Ludens
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But I want to talk about the topic I started! I didn't post a thread about "Staple foods" or "What do you grow for your diet?" I wanted to specifically talk about STAPLE CROPS.

Crying and going away now.


 
Tristan Vitali
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Tyler Ludens wrote:But I want to talk about the topic I started! I didn't post a thread about "Staple foods" or "What do you grow for your diet?" I wanted to specifically talk about STAPLE CROPS.

Crying and going away now.




LOL

Don't cry - no offense meant and I can see how the topic is an easy-drifter. It's topic like this that get us all excited and before you know it, we're all hot and bothered - everyone wants to tell their story about netting smelts from the local river as a child, or hunting bear with uncle bob when they were only 3 feet tall, and how the calories from that expedition helped keep the family fed and warm for the coldest winter in modern history. Not quite a "staple crop" discussion at that point.

It comes down to defining the terms in a reasonable manner I guess. Staples are staples...easy definition there that's hard for anyone to be confused about. It's that "crop" word. At its heart, a crop is just something you cultivate and harvest. To me, that could be vegetable, animal or, well, fungable The local sheep people talk about their "crop of wool", for example (though I do hope they don't intend to eat it...)

Think of it this way - you carefully developed such a kick-butt topic that it took on a life of its own!
 
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Tyler, although your topic has strayed, I've been delighted by other people's posts. How interesting and educational!

In my own situation, I find it difficult to pinpoint my staple crops. I'm highly diversified. While breakfast involves bananas 5 days a week, they are less than 1/10 th of our calorie source. Would they be a staple because of the consistent year around use? No other one particular crop is eaten so consistently in our household.

Depending upon the time of year and my efforts on the farm, my crops include small amounts of:
asparagus, beans (great variety), beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, carrots, cauliflower, chard, corn, cucumbers, daikon, edible gourds, eggplant, herbs (assorted), jicama, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, peas, parsnips, squashes, pigeon peas, pipinola, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, soybean, taro, tomatoes, turnips, yacon, and a wide variety of assorted miscellaneous greens. I also grow avocados, bananas, citrus fruits, papaya, pineapples, poha, strawberries, guavas. Nothing is in large quantities. We are not eating other grains at the moment because I'm just now starting to learn to raise wheat, barley, and rice. I've been growing food for over ten years now and every year I expand and diversify a bit more each year.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Simple Definition of crop

: a plant or plant product that is grown by farmers

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crop
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Simple Definition of crop

: a plant or plant product that is grown by farmers

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crop



The expanded definition from the same page continues: "a plant or animal or plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence". Seems to me like staple crops would indeed include eggs, meat, milk, honey, etc... Even fungi. Even though they are neither plant nor animal.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Ok, well, that's not what I meant but since that's what people want to talk about....okey dokey.....

I posted the definition I was using for "crop" but it seems other people want to use other definitions.....



 
Hans Quistorff
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OK lets talk about how to make potatoes a staple crop when they want to grow all year but get brief killing cold blasts about twice a year. Although I am much further north than Texas The marine influence keeps most of the winter above freezing. The potatoes go dormant during the hot dry summer but want to start growing again in September. I am not set up to store them therefor when I start finding sprouted ones as I harvest I move them to the greenhouse where they produce a crop in December. The ones that are to small from that harvest go back in the greenhouse soil and are available in April. Then the small ones can go outside for a normal crop.
I hope that helps you Tyler. If you want I can write about how I transform wild berries and summer apples into a staple for my smoothies.
 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:If you want I can write about how I transform wild berries and summer apples into a staple for my smoothies.

I've actually been doing a LOT with dehydrated summer fruit as sort of a staple calorie crop. Though I'd be very interested to hear how you're handling them as well.

I'm looking to grow about as many Summer apples [Wynooche Early and William's Pride in particular, though I've got a few others ordered as well] for dehydrating as I am winter apples for root cellar storage. There's more labor to dehydrate, but the resultant product takes up so much less space. It's a pretty narrow window of apple harvest during solar dehydrating weather up here where we're at Hans.

But that isn't going to help Tyler who's struggling to grow staple crops at all.
 
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R. Ranson,

I love growing potatoes as a staple crop and sympathize with your plight. Boron deficiency may be the cause of your black heart potatoes, you should test your soil and adjust if necessary.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Hans Quistorff wrote:The potatoes go dormant during the hot dry summer but want to start growing again in September.



It's great to hear the potatoes go dormant instead of dying. I find tubers and bulbs tend to do well here if they can go dormant during the hottest months. Some edible bulbs have not done well for me possibly because they are only winter dormant. I thought I might be able to grow Tiger Lily for its edible bulbs. My planting did well the first season, bloomed beautifully, but after going dormant never returned. But these might do well in a different climate, or I might try them again in a part of the garden that gets more irrigation. http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lilium+lancifolium
 
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I don't know what percent of your calories you would WANT from daylilies, but the whole plant is edible, roots to flowers. The flowers have an onion flavor, and I assume the roots would too- they make a thickened rhizome, maybe it's a tuber. They grow fast and spread, and it is forage for goats at least, maybe other plant eaters like cattle and sheep. One warning, if you milk the goat after she ate down a patch of daylily, her milk will reek of onion. Not so good in coffee or tea, but a great base for soup, nad makes an incredible cheese!
 
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I'm stuck on the oil/fat production question. Carbs I can get, but historically the most prized item and the hardest thing to get a lot of was fat (ok, I can hear you guys already gearing up about olive oil in the mediteranean, pork fat in northern europe, coconut in polynesia). Every culture has come up with some solution, but we need fat. Our cell walls are made of fat, as is much of our brains (I can already hear the 'fathead' comments, I've spent too many years listening to kids and now have a perennial smart mouthed kid making jokes in my head).

Seriously though, if someone wants to be 'food independant', they really need to figure out how they are going to get their oils. Back home in Alaska we used to harvest hooligan (candle fish) and I know they were an incredible fat source for local native/homesteader populations.

I have a feeling that this is one of those areas where we might be being a little unrealistic. I buy my vegetable oil at the store, so someone somehow is making it in bulk and cheap. How hard is to transfer to a small scale? I looked up one of the sites listed on this string and it was talking about a liter or so of oil for an hours worth of grinding from sunflower seeds. Not sure that's efficient enough for me. My current leaning, in zone 4,5 or 6 is to look at lard production, but I am more than willing to be convinced that there is a better way.

Has anyone out there actually personally harvested a significant amount of oil from something other than olive or animal/fish?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Let's make Oils a separate topic because it is so important. If I could edit my original post I would call it something like "Carbohydrate Crops."

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Let's make Oils a separate topic because it is so important. If I could edit my original post I would call it something like "Carbohydrate Crops."



Funny you should mention it.

We've got a New forum just for energy crops like oil seed annuals and perennial oil crops.

Fats and oils are a vital part of the diet, so it's great to mention them. I don't know how much I would call them a 'staple crop', as they don't make up the main bulk of the diet. Then again, I would love to know more about them, so let's move the oil crop discussion over to the above threads.
 
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I've been hesitating to post this, as it never actually made the bulk of our calories. But we were able to produce more than we could keep up with (and a little past that) of two crops, last year. That was the Chinese red noodle beans (close relative of the yard long bean) and the snake melon. Everyone in the family ate at least a full serving of these almost everyday in season. (three adult women, two growing girls)

I've noticed a lot of the time that colored varieties are often less productive, so if were to plant an green yard long bean I might get an even better harvest. The beans were good fresh, steamed, seared, and even baked with until they were crisp like chips.

Snake melons (which I keep mentioning) are just like giant cucumbers. Pickling and eating fresh with a little sauce took care of the whole crop.
 
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I wonder if yard long beans would also make good dry bean crop. Then they could serve double duty, fresh beans and dry staple crop during the winter.

Something in my memory suggests that they are somehow related to cowpeas... but I don't think that's right. My memory also suggests that yard long need fairly warm summers... is that right?
 
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R Ranson wrote:I wonder if yard long beans would also make good dry bean crop. Then they could serve double duty, fresh beans and dry staple crop during the winter.

Something in my memory suggests that they are somehow related to cowpeas... but I don't think that's right.



Yes, it is! They are just a different cultivar. I've been reading about them because I'm looking for more drought resistant crops to grow in the sandy soil (although the soil part is being generous) I'll be gardening in next year.

R Ranson wrote: My memory also suggests that yard long need fairly warm summers... is that right?



They need a long season, although something I read lead me to believe they would be easier to grow in Canada than cowpeas. I haven't read that the yardlong cultivar is as drought tolerant, but I think I'll try them both out. I have seen some cowpea varieties that look fairly short season.
 
r ranson
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Most cowpeas, at least from my readings and trials, are daylight sensitive... Which basically means that my summer days are too long for them to flower/pollinate/set seed. By the time our days are short enough for the plants, we are too near our frost.

There is a cow pea that grows well in Oregon and Washington state that I hope to try one day. Carol Deppe sells a Fast Lady Northern Southern Pea that is a cowpea that I think will grow well in BC. I haven't tried it yet. But if these yard long peas (which are also daylight sensitive from my attempts to grow them) are related to cow peas... it might make for a potential breeding project.


Drought resistant staple crops are very much on my mind too. I've seen many crops labelled as drought resistant, but very few can survive our summer without irrigation. Hopefully I can find or create a few landrace staple crops that will grow well here during the summer.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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R Ranson wrote:Drought resistant staple crops are very much on my mind too. I've seen many crops labelled as drought resistant, but very few can survive our summer without irrigation. Hopefully I can find or create a few landrace staple crops that will grow well here during the summer.


One method I've been experimenting with for my own sandy soil is growing as much organic matter as possible into the deep layers of the soil. It doesn't matter if the crop doesn't survive, so long as it completes the majority of its growth cycle and sinks tons of rootmatter down to become a sponge.
 
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what one part of the country calls a drought another calls normal. I used to rake my lawn grass and pile it up about a foot deep in my garden. They had a bad drought here one summer I did that and I was the only person I knew who had tomatoes. I watered once. My garden also became the worlds largest mouse house, to the delight of the cats. I eventually stopped raking the grass because of the mice and tried other things, but a thick mulch worked really well.
 
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I thought about it this morning and realized that if the daylillies along the ditch hadn't been so crowded the tubers may have been larger. Worth thinking about.
 
r ranson
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Drought for us is when the rain stops May first and starts again October 15th, with one light shower in June and another in August. Basically a normal summer.

Last year our spring was dryer than normal and there was less morning dew, so the drought really showed. This year is probably going to be wet for us, with the el nino, but that's still pretty dry.

Mulch doesn't work well here. I know it works wonders for most people, and I keep doing trials with it to see if I can make it work... But that's a topic for another thread.

Way back at the start of this thread, I suggested that a staple crop is one that gives life of energy without requiring much to grow. In our situation, irrigation is not an option for our larger gardens, so truely drought tolerant crops are a must.
 
Tyler Ludens
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R Ranson wrote: I've seen many crops labelled as drought resistant, but very few can survive our summer without irrigation.



Nothing I've grown called "drought resistant" has survived the summer for me even with irrigation except in my buried wood garden. I couldn't irrigate enough in the summer even to keep so-called "drought resistant" crops alive. The most drought resistant plants I grow are those which can go dormant in the summer. Ones I can think of right now are Canada onion (our large native onion), perennial leek (aka elephant garlic), asparagus (not a staple), artichoke (not a staple), cardoon (also not a staple). I'm probably forgetting some...

The most drought resistant carbohydrate "crop" I grow is Sotol, but I don't know if it could become a staple because it grows slowly and takes up a lot of space, also is time-consuming to prepare and a little yucky. But it was one of the main carbohydrate foods for the native folks here. Available year round. Also very drought tolerant is buffalo gourd Cucurbita foetidissima which has edible seeds.

An appropriate summer diet in summer drought areas might be heavy on meats and fats, and light on carbohydrates, with a lot of leafy greens grown in a small irrigated garden. For summer carbohydrates I wonder if cool-season roots and tubers could be stored in a root cellar, and summer dormant roots and tubers gathered from well-marked locations.
 
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