Kind of a nutritional question, but related to getting enough energy. I suburban homestead. I've growin about everything edible you can grow here in my climate. I'm now trying to fine tune what I grow to get the most complete nutritional package per square foot to best meet our needs. We won't ever meet all of our caloric needs because we are a family of 4 who enjoy guests. Still, I want to see how close I can come without stressing too bad. My current contemplation is on calorie content. Most fruits and berries tend to be about 70 calories per cup. Most leafy greens are close to 10 Cal/cup. The starchy tubers vary from about 50-100./cup. Beans, shelled and startches go up 100-300 about. Quail meat is not high calorie, Quail eggs do ok, in quantity. Mushrooms have about as much as lettuce. Nuts and oils are off the charts.
So my thoughts are at this point what should I grow? My soil still needs more fattening to feed us well. Any trade tricks on getting all those 2000 Cal per day in a condensed area?
I think potatoes generally get the most calories per square foot. As an added bonus they're incredibly high in potassium on a per-volume basis, compared to other foods.
You can also squeeze more calories out if you plant crops with more than one edible part. For example, eating the seeds out of your winter squash. Or, if you take the parts that can't be eaten by humans and feed them to livestock, like when you feed fruit prunings to meat rabbits or table scraps to a hog.
With legumes, climbing vines produce more than bush plants, and different varieties produce different amounts. I did a comparison of 6 different pole beans last year, and found that Good Mother Stallard produced 3-8x more than the other varieties, for the same amount of row space. Your climate might be different, so I'd suggest doing a controlled test to see which variety does best for you.
Also with beans, letting them ripen all the way gets you more calories than picking them as green beans. Green beans are tasty, but they're low in both calories and other nutrients when comparing on a per-volume basis, so they're essentially filler.
Calorie-wise I think you are on the right track to be looking mostly at tubers and legumes. When the Irish were crammed into small plots by the English, they relied pretty heavily on the potato (maybe too heavily, wrt the Great Famine, but it's not as if they had much choice). Legumes are also pretty prolific, good nutrient content, store well. If you're on a smaller plot, things like leaf veg/fruit/animal products would be useful less for calorie content and more for balancing out nutrients. E.g. B12 is impossible to get unless you are eating animal products, and it's important for brain function, but you don't need to eat a lot of animal products to top yourself up. I think on a small scale, cereals are a waste of time.
How much land do you have and what percentage of that is heavily managed parts of the garden? I put some Jerusalem artichoke in the ground this year in a part of the yard that I don't check on often and they've been happy with no irrigation etc. If there are parts of your yard that you don't have time/resources to baby, looking into some of these hardier options might make sense.
A book for help with designing small-space dietary gardens is One Circle by David Duhon. The sample diets in the book are boring and not nutritionally complete (they lack iodine and are on the low-calorie side) but the book contains lots of useful information about how to design a diet for a small space. Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons details the Biointensive method of growing the most food in the smallest space. The Biointensive website is also helpful http://www.growbiointensive.org/
It's tough to grow a complete diet in a cold climate because one is likely to need to rely on animal products for calories. It's much easier in warm climates where high-calorie tubers like Yams and Sweet Potatoes thrive.
In your climate, I suspect that potatos will do the best for you.
This spring was so cold and so wet that I started my potatos inside. It worked out pretty wel, though I lost a few that I started too soon. Potatos do not need light to get them started but there does come a time when indoor light is not enough! If this coming spring is again cold and wet (I think it will be) then I will pot up my seed potatos when they would normally go outside
Thanks all! I have 0.22 acres and probably about 0.1 planted space.... well, more once the squash get going. Of that, I think 1/3 is annual rotation, but I would like it tobe less. The crazy part of this place is the intensity of pest problems. I think it's because of all the imported stuff and suburban pest control craziness. Potatoes are basically rodent food in the ground. I have them on a balcony to reduce- doesn't eliminate the pest problems. My sunchoke crop was in a bucket but it gets predated on, so I am freeing it this next year. I definitely need to increase my pea crops. Especially ones that thrive climbing up trees and other perennials. I wish there was a perennial. I do loose a lot if I let it mature though. This btw, is with a fence, cat, dog, and the use of raised beds, plastic covers, and bird netting from time to time. There's no zone 5/6 perennial, edible pea out there, is there?
The closest I can think of would be a Siberian Pea Shrub. The "peas" it produces are really tiny, smaller than lentils. But it does form a nice thorny, compact bush. It would probably make a good hedge.
Growing enough calories sounds like an interesting challenge. Would sunflower seeds or peanuts, rich in oil, be a possible option?
One observation might be that most western households are over abundant in calories, but lack nutrients. Around my area you can buy 2 kilos of pasta or rice for the price of one lettuce if you wait for a sale, and since it is super long lasting there is no problem with stocking up. The space and energy I save on potatoes is then dedicated to trying to grow fresh greens year-round. We won't ever be calorie independent but financially we don't fret so much at the grocery store
Yes, and it is probably the most efficient to transport dense indestructible quantities of barren calories to the city versus low calorie fluffy crops that go bad quickly. As a growing family, I will probably be relying strongly on that, especially during the teenage years. Even if I can support our basic calorie input, I doubt I can also cover that of the animals that help support us. Nutrient wise I have things set to cover our fruit and veggy needs. That's relatively simple- one good apple tree and a veggy garden can get you pretty close here, but I think I can do better.
I was browsing the internet and found Thicket Bean. Anyone experienced in growing this? Not the highest producer, but it fills the niche of "vine" is a legum, perennial, native here, and edible. Once again rare seeds, but se la vie. I tried runner bean. I tried planting it under trees and so far I don't get "thrive" quantities, only "survive" quantities.