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How Many Of Each Plant To Grow As A Percentage Of Total Calories

 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:These are the figures I found for Yacon. 10 pounds per plant in our growing conditions according to supplier, Calorie calculators listed 54 calories for 100 grams and 90 calories for 1 ounce fresh root.  It can be dried, juiced and reduced to syrup. I plan to eat it fresh over the winter liftin one plant each month so I went with the last figure for calculation. So that gives me 954 calories per pound times 40 pounds = 3616 per year for 4 plants.  The 2 1 pound tubers that I ate over the last 2 weeks averaged about 2 ounces per serving eaten like a sliced apple.  use period would be about 4 months so divided by 3 for the year. I hope that helps.

planting considerations:   Can be started by planting corm in one gallon container and transplanted after last frost to full sun to 3 to 4 square foot area of deeply turned well drained soil. Needs a lot of water during heat of summer so possibly a plant for a grey water situation,



Well, good to know the yield is 10 pounds there. The suggested yield is a whopping 20-30 pounds per plant here... which is why I always opt for the lowest yields I can find so as not to lead people astray. I'd much rather expect 10 pounds and get 20-30 instead than expect 20-30 and only get 10.

I'm suspicious of the calorie numbers, though. 54 calories per 100g works out to 245.16 calories per pound (there are 454 grams in 1 pound, rounded up.) 90 calories per 1 ounce works out to 1440 calories per pound (there are 16 ounces in 1 pound.) That's quite a range, and much higher than the scientific literature has suggested (and is part of the reason I don't use calorie calculators as my sources... they often don't agree, especially on specialty crops.) I suspect that these figures might be coming from yacon syrup but were mislabeled as values for fresh root by accident.

I'd have to look up the study that Bill cites in his growing guide on Cultivariable, but assuming that he quoted the studies accurately, they give a value of 66 calories per pound for freshly harvested roots, and 100 calories per pound after a month of storage (because the undigestible FOS is converted to digestible sugars in storage.) He gives a few other suggestions for how one might increase the caloric value, such as storing them in the sun. I also suspect that the FOS might convert to digestible sugars with cooking, as is the case with inulin in sunchokes... in the latter, cooking times need to be long or cooking needs to include acid in order to get a high conversion to digestible starch.

Still, even at these lower figures, 1,000 calories per plant isn't shabby. If those 20-30 pound yields are possible, then 2,000-3,000 calories per plant is absolutely stellar.

If you have any studies that corroborate those larger values, I'd love to see them. There's still a lot that we don't know about this plant, and I'd love to see when and how they're harvesting, processing, and storing the roots to get those values. I know that the rhizome itself, and not just the storage roots, are technically edible... though it seems they tend to be on the more fibrous side. Perhaps the rhizome has more digestible carbohydrates than the storage roots and that's what the discrepancy is coming from. I don't know. But while I'd love for those higher values to be accurate, I don't want to accidentally make people think that they're growing way more calories than they actually are. That could lead to a world of hurt if someone decided to get a large percentage of their diet from yacon and those larger caloric values didn't pan out.
 
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I stopped trying to grow all my calories years ago.  I still grow potatoes and squash for variety, but not raw calories.  They compliment a multitude of garden vegetables and berries that I grow for their cornucopia of nutrition and flavor.  My "sustaining" calories are from stored grains and legumes.  Wheat, barley, oats, corn, rice, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, and lentils.  I've laid in a supply of these staples adequate to provide all my calories for seven years and I top off what I use every year.  In a pinch I could expand and grow more potatoes and squash as well as sow 1/2 an acre of oats, but its a lot of work and raw calories in the form of easily stored grains and legumes are still pretty cheap.  Also, I'm getting older now and its very comforting to know that I can survive for many years with what is stored augmented by my simple garden.

My reason for posting is to pass along the article below that discusses calories from apples.  The author makes a pretty good case that apples can out-produce grains, potatoes, you name it, when it comes to calories per acre.  I have three apple trees and can attest that his numbers are reasonable.  I eat them raw, bake them, dehydrate them, make apple sauce and apple butter, and give a lot away.  I never really though about it, but those three trees provide enough fruit that their calories could sustain me for nearly 4 months a year, all by themselves.  Low labor, perennial, versatile, and tasty.  Something to think about.

https://www.localharvest.org/blog/15945/entry/calories_per_acre_with_apples


 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:And that's why sweet potatoes aren't a great crop here. We can have 40-50 degree temperature swings between day and night because we're between the mountains and the ocean, so even if we hit triple digit temperatures during the day it's a rare thing for our lows to be above 60. Our lows hold pretty stably in the mid-50s, regardless of daytime temps, so heat loving crops just flounder here.

The sweet potato I brought in had a healthy looking root system, in my estimation, just not good eating size. If it has enough energy to sprout again, the plan was to take cuttings from that to plant a bed in the ground. If it doesn't, I can always start another batch of slips. We don't have heat yet, other than small electric heaters to keep just the bedrooms warm at night, so I don't know if I can actually keep it warm enough for growing them out inside. It might be about 10 degrees warmer inside than outside, once you factor in the insulation, but that would put it at the mid-50s at best during the day, and not worth getting out from under the covers after about 7pm. I tolerate it marginally better than sweet potatoes would. πŸ˜‚



We garden in zone 5B and our summer night-time temps are usually mid-50's to low 60's except for an occasional heat wave which doesn't often last long.  Our temperature swings are less than yours, usually about 30 degrees.  No planting summer crops until Memorial Day and we often get one early frost in September, but if you can protect something through a night or two we're usually good until October.  Most people around here don't bother with central air conditioning if that's any indication.  

The last two years we grew bumper crops of sweet potatoes.  They taste really good, most are medium size but a few were giants.  We grew them from proprietary slips I bought that were bred for our region.  Since we don't grow commercially and only for our home use, I didn't feel guilty starting slips from my stored sweets the second year and probably will do so again.  Especially since, in 2020, the company we bought them from cancelled much of my order that I placed that January due to COVID.  We grew lots of "regular" potatoes of several varieties and now in mid-April the sweets are the hands-down winner for storage.  Although that may be due to the fact that we don't yet have a root cellar for the potatoes.  We store the sweets packed in a cardboard box with dry straw in a basement laundry room that's cool but not cold and not overly damp for a basement in the northeastern U.S.

So if you like sweet potatoes as much as we do, I'd encourage you to try different varieties.  You may well hit on a favorite that grows well and produces enough in your area to make it worthwhile.  And adding another option to your diet will certainly be a good thing if you're trying to grow most of your own calories.
 
Mathew Trotter
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jack vegas wrote:I stopped trying to grow all my calories years ago.  I still grow potatoes and squash for variety, but not raw calories.  They compliment a multitude of garden vegetables and berries that I grow for their cornucopia of nutrition and flavor.  My "sustaining" calories are from stored grains and legumes.  Wheat, barley, oats, corn, rice, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, and lentils.  I've laid in a supply of these staples adequate to provide all my calories for seven years and I top off what I use every year.  In a pinch I could expand and grow more potatoes and squash as well as sow 1/2 an acre of oats, but its a lot of work and raw calories in the form of easily stored grains and legumes are still pretty cheap.  Also, I'm getting older now and its very comforting to know that I can survive for many years with what is stored augmented by my simple garden.

My reason for posting is to pass along the article below that discusses calories from apples.  The author makes a pretty good case that apples can out-produce grains, potatoes, you name it, when it comes to calories per acre.  I have three apple trees and can attest that his numbers are reasonable.  I eat them raw, bake them, dehydrate them, make apple sauce and apple butter, and give a lot away.  I never really though about it, but those three trees provide enough fruit that their calories could sustain me for nearly 4 months a year, all by themselves.  Low labor, perennial, versatile, and tasty.  Something to think about.

https://www.localharvest.org/blog/15945/entry/calories_per_acre_with_apples




I also saw one not long ago where they did a study of an old village in... I want to say Germany? Village life revolved around hazels, and they determined that with the number of trees they had they could feed 300-400 people half of their diet from hazels alone with only about 3 weeks of work a year. Perennials are definitely the long term strategy... and definitely what I recommend for small spaces. But this is about what you'd grow if you have to grow all of your food this year, starting from scratch with no established trees. That's my situation this year, being stranded 15+ miles from civilization with no transportation, no income, and nothing but my wits and the seeds I've saved to see me through. Hopefully the income sources I'm working on will pan out, but otherwise I have to assume I'm on my own.

Though, I'm really glad you mentioned apples. I think a neighbor a couple miles up the street has an apple tree that they never seem to pick. Maybe this'll be the year to walk over and knock on their door and see if I can trade something for a share of the apples.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Dianne Justeen wrote:
We garden in zone 5B and our summer night-time temps are usually mid-50's to low 60's except for an occasional heat wave which doesn't often last long.  Our temperature swings are less than yours, usually about 30 degrees.  No planting summer crops until Memorial Day and we often get one early frost in September, but if you can protect something through a night or two we're usually good until October.  Most people around here don't bother with central air conditioning if that's any indication.  

The last two years we grew bumper crops of sweet potatoes.  They taste really good, most are medium size but a few were giants.  We grew them from proprietary slips I bought that were bred for our region.  Since we don't grow commercially and only for our home use, I didn't feel guilty starting slips from my stored sweets the second year and probably will do so again.  Especially since, in 2020, the company we bought them from cancelled much of my order that I placed that January due to COVID.  We grew lots of "regular" potatoes of several varieties and now in mid-April the sweets are the hands-down winner for storage.  Although that may be due to the fact that we don't yet have a root cellar for the potatoes.  We store the sweets packed in a cardboard box with dry straw in a basement laundry room that's cool but not cold and not overly damp for a basement in the northeastern U.S.

So if you like sweet potatoes as much as we do, I'd encourage you to try different varieties.  You may well hit on a favorite that grows well and produces enough in your area to make it worthwhile.  And adding another option to your diet will certainly be a good thing if you're trying to grow most of your own calories.



It's definitely something I'm planning to experiment with this year. Most of the successes I've seen here revolve around growing on black plastic, but that's not really a viable solution for me. Since sweet potatoes grow so readily from cuttings I'm planning to just stick as many in the ground as I possibly can. That way, as long as there is a yield, and even if that yield is small, I can at least have a decent crop just because of the sheer number of plants I have. I figure it's a good ground cover that'll choke out the undesirable invasives, if nothing else.
 
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Just a few miscellaneous comments (hope I remember everything that popped into my head as I read through the thread).

1.  There were several comments about palatability of dandelions and other wild-foraged greens, which are usually stronger-flavored (and more nutritious) than domestic greens.  What I do with those is chop them fine and add to other dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, casseroles, omelets, and so on.  You don't need as much of the wild greens to get the nutrients you need, and when they are minced small, you are less likely to get enough in one bite for the bitter flavor to be noticeable.

2.  The white oaks in Oregon produce sweet acorns that hardly need any leaching at all.  We collected a bunch one year, ground them in a coffee mill (in small batches, as needed), leached once briefly, and they made a good addition to things like cornbread.

3.  I don't know how palatable sugar beets are, but they can be grown in a lot of different climates and should be higher in calories than regular beets.  If they are too fibrous (as I suspect), grind them, and add the pulp to other things.  I know they won't hurt you, at least.

4.  An income suggestion -- you express yourself well in writing.  Put this information into a small book, and put it up for sale on Amazon (I mean the information on this thread, your reasoning and situation, and how it could apply to other people as well).  It has become very easy to publish that way; it costs very little -- put up a kickstarter here if necessary to get start-up costs; I think there is both a need and some demand for the information.  If you put it on Kindle Unlimited you'd get a few pennies per copy read in addition to whatever you got from copies sold.  

5.  In regards to goats/cows for people who can't or don't use much dairy -- the milk can be used for feeding dogs (which protect your crops) and to increase the nutritional value of the diet of your poultry.  A friend of mine had chickens that she was feeding only organic feed.  I think it must have been scratch, because the protein content was low.  She was selling eggs, and was disappointed in her egg production, which should have been higher, considering the breeds of hens she had.  She was also milking two cows and selling milk; I suggested that when she had surplus milk, to feed it to the chickens.  She did, and told me that the hens were laying much better.  

It's too bad you are so far away -- I would give you, or trade for labor, a doe goat in milk!  (I've got more than I need and need to sell a couple of does this year.)  It sounds like you are fairly isolated, but is it possible that you might be able to trade labor, or seeds, or something, for things like old rabbit cages and some breeding stock, maybe a goat or two?  This is the time of year that the goat barns are full to bursting, and someone might have an older doe with a few good years left in her that they'd like to send to a good home, maybe in trade for cleaning out the barn or something.

We are in south-central KY now, on about 2 1/2 acres of land, and my goats hardly need any purchased feed.  Since I'm on SS now, and taking care of my severely handicapped daughter, my time has no dollar value, the goats cost me very little other than their initial purchase price. I do keep a little hay on hand in case we have a bad winter where they can't find enough to eat, and the does in milk get a little bit of grain on the milking stand, but would also be happy with stuff from the garden like carrots or winter squash or corn.  They need wormed a couple of times a year, and also some mineral salt.  I have three adult does right now; one is about to kid any day, the other two are nursing their doe kids.  When I'm milking them, I get two or three quarts of milk per day from each one -- could get higher production if they had more purchased feed, but on browse alone and a very minimal amount of grain, this is what we get.  

I understand that the info about goats is no use to you right now, but it might help someone else, and hopefully you'll be able to get a couple of goats soon, too.  I've been raising dairy goats for most of the last forty years, and am seldom without at least a couple of does.  I would recommend getting Kinder goats or old-fashioned Nubians, if you have any choice in the matter when it comes time.  Both are fairly dual-purpose for both meat and milk, and they are both easy keepers that don't need a lot of extra feed to maintain their condition while producing milk.  (Modern Nubians bred for show or high milk production are not easy keepers, and don't put on much meat.  They will have nicer udders, though.)

6.  There was some discussion about Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and fish -- the only freshwater fish I know of with a good ratio is cold-water trout.  

7.  In our climate, and given our dietary restrictions (we both have auto-immune diseases and have to limit foods that cause inflammation), our home-grown staples are sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, dry beans, winter squash (butternut family does best here), eggs, and goat milk.  We don't have enough land to grow very much of our own meat, just a surplus buck kid once in a while, or extra cockerels, or older females past their productive years.  When our fruit trees start producing, we'll add apples to the list, possibly also peaches and pears depending on how well they produce.  

I seem to have become allergic to tree nuts -- I was planning on planting some chestnuts, but have put that on hold until I can try some and see if I'm as allergic to them as I am to walnuts.  Also, peanuts will grow fine here; I don't like them much, but we do eat small amounts of peanut butter once in a while, so I plan to try those, but don't expect they will become a huge part of our diet.  

Soybeans are grown commercially here (as is field corn), but I can't eat soybeans at all other than small amounts of soy sauce.  A friend has beehives and we can trade for honey, but we don't use a lot of sweetener, so don't need much of that.  I could add rabbits -- the property came with several rabbit cages, and I brought some rabbit wire with us when we moved here -- but have enough to do right now.  But I think I could provide most of the diet for a few rabbits if I had to.  



 

 
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Hey Matthew (and others),

It is pretty brave of you to really throw your self into radical self-sufficiency (or it sounds like it is simply out of necessity, which could also sound a bit rough)... Anyway respect to your project and the things you share here, whether it is voluntary or forced self-sufficiency. Well I would aim for complete moneyless subsistence living entirely voluntarily for a lot of reasons, so lots of supporting respect from me to your endeavour and I hope you really succeed and get a nourishing and safe supply of produce for the next many years!
I am in a more luxurious situation where I can practice more slowly, without being forced to aim for 100 % self-sufficiency right away, but I totally think in the same lines and go in that direction.


By the way I totally agree with your perspective on calorie dense crops vs the vitamin-mineral-medicinal-etc-booster-crops like leafy greens.
PERSONAL STORY ABOUT USING WEEDS FOR LEAFY GREENS
For example I have lived various places without any option of growing a garden, while working/volunteering/learning skills from place to place, but I always managed to quickly snatch loads of ground elders, chenopodium album (is it fat hen in english?), sorrels, dandelion, nettle, yarrow etc etc. always growing as weeds everywhere. This was done in the lunch break and such and tossed into my calorie rich food, fast and efficient, with weeds growing around the buildings where I was. So that part is pretty much always easy to cover in 2 seconds without growing ANY leafy greens at all year round. And yes I even tried one year to harvest incredible amounts of the leafy green 'weeds' in the late summer and pressed them frantically into jars (was in a hurry) with sour culture starters and water and fermented them for the whole winter and they lasted all the way into spring next year (and even early summer for that matter). Though I must admit it WAS a lot of work (lots of hours every day for more than 7 days and I lost sleep to get it done), fermenting all these tiny leaves because when you compress them they take up no space (but maybe this kind of ferment ends up acting a bit like a multi-vitamin + multi-mineral pill, tiny of amounts of compressed juicy goodness, so you do not need to eat much, which I did though... heh which may explain why I felt like being pumped up on energy all winter long doing more work than ever before, while eating lots of these fermented weeds haha! Maybe the source of inspiration for those vita-pills hah!.. ), so I understand why people got so excited when they first developed the mighty cabbage variety of Brassica Oleracea, the plant king of fermentation and precious vitamins for the winter! So after such an experiment of having to make fermented leafy green weeds nourish me all through winter in a cold climate then I really got the lesson why cabbage is so incredible, such bulk and efficiency in those concentrated heads of vitamins and minerals.

But yea it is an important topic and many considerations and angles are important, I also understand how the term self-sufficiency can have different meanings for different people,  but I think you have made it very clear what your angle on this topic is. I also have a document in development about this precisely, where I also research one crop after other and compares etc. I can go through it and see if I have anything to add that has not been mentioned already.
Hah, it is funny, I had already looked at calories and other info about many crops but I never knew that kale has that many calories, almost as much as rutabagas, which people have survived on, wow.
Okay so I am not giving recommendations for new crops to be added to the calculator, just ideas and numbers about self-sufficiency in general if it is of any use...

Hey it is so cool that you are making your own tempeh! I have fermented many things, I have also made natto, but never tempeh, it always seemed so challenging. Did you find or grow your starter culture locally in the natural environment without importing?
I would not eat a lot of beans/peas without serious fermentation like tempeh, if I could learn to make tempeh the primitive and natural way then I would be much more inclined to eat many more beans and other legumes!

MULCH:
In your case where we have no easy input from an industrial waste stream, making or gathering all your own mulch becomes a significant task I would say. I can tell from experience; I am estimating that at least as much space is needed for scything mulch as the area for producing all the vegetables (to keep it covered long term, during growth and post harvest). You are also creating your own mulch? Any issues, thoughts, tips? For me, I really feel like it is doable as I slowly improve sharpening and all techniques related to scything, but maybe more importantly learn to really time everything I do, JUST the right time to harvest when the grass is at the optimal stage of growth, the right weather etc... But also just because of the space required I am getting interested in the good old cover crop solutions, but I do not want to till in a cover crop next spring (since I do not want to till at all), so it should winterkill by it self or...? Also plants that create their own mulch while giving another primary food crop are golden.

POTATOES AND TURNIPS:
So I have seen numbers saying 90-ish calories per 100g of potatoes and often 22 calories per 100g of turnips. Now the reason why I mention these 2 crops is because you can most likely harvest a good deal of early or middle/normal potatoes and then still sow turnips in the same area as the potatoes you just harvested and then harvest the turnips in late autumn through winter (all depending on varieties and other factors of course). So you could get a noticeable amount of more calories (and all the other good things) out of the same growing area in this case. In this case the turnips are only bonus/extra, no need to devote area for them (same could be said about radishes for example).
Sure it would be incredibly difficult to get all your calories just from turnips, but mixed with potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets, sunchokes, rutabagas and what have you, then it all adds to the total calorie intake and then the calories in things like turnips, carrots etc. do matter, as long as you include your 'heavy feeder' food in your meals (like potatoes), then you can just eat a bit less potatoes and more of other crops that fill out the rest of the calorie-needs.

CHINESE YAMS:
Has the potential to become a major calorie dense staple crop in cold climates in the west also. People have not favored it like potatoes due to huge deep roots that are slower to harvest than potatoes, but with creative methods maybe it could even replace potatoes (tall raised beds or some containers or?). It is certainly hardier and more disease free in cold climates and fully perennial compared to potatoes. Tuber size will also increase year after year while not becoming woody, so you can leave it for say 3 years and then harvest. One of those great survival/emergency crops. But it could be more than that for sure.

PARSNIPS:
I have come to the same conclusion as many others that parsnip sounds like the very top performing staple calorie dense crop, calories per 100g are only slightly behind potatoes and I have seen average yields of 20.000 tons per hectare of parsnips. A low/average yield of potatoes could be 25.000 tons per hectare. So parsnips, not bad! And lets not forget all those other considerations, in all reports I have read parsnips seem immune to lots of pests and diseases and it is very hardy (this I can also confirm from my own experience), you can even just harvest it as you need all the way through winter and into spring without ever digging it up from your garden before the moment of eating... while all this can't be said for the potato.

GRAINS:
Ok so I have not grown grains (yet). But after looking at the numbers and some other considerations I am getting more interested in them, especially after learning about the hull-less varieties (and species). For example Avena Nuda, naked oats.
We can start to look at the calories per weight of the harvested crop and the yield in weight per land area. As far as I can see calories per 100 g of common cereals like wheat, oats, rice and barley are between 350-400 calories. So this is 4 times-ish the amount potatoes have of calories per 100 g. Of course the grains yield (most often at least) less in kilograms per cultivated area compared to potatoes, but since they are around 4 times more calorie dense than potatoes they can get a way with yielding 4 times less and still give you the same amount of calories per year per square meter. So if you have a harvest of 5 tons per hectare of oats vs 20 tons per hectare of potatoes, then they actually perform just about equally well in terms of calories you can produce on any given amount of land per year.
But there are other considerations for me. For example I like to do this lightly pressed in or no till potatoes with a deep layer of mulch and in general I like to apply a lot of mulch everywhere in garden beds. So I use a lot of land area and time and energy to just cut mulch with my scytche (though it is getting faster with practice). I started to see that grains potentially can be advantageous because they also produce mulch, which you can toss back into the field after you thresh the grains. The potatoes cannot do this so much. So I am starting to get interested in plants that both grow their own mulch AND a calorie dense harvest.
Grains can also easily store much longer and better than potatoes and if processing is too problematic you can maybe just dry them whole, toss them to chickens for fodder and then pick up the straw after the chickens have picked the grains and return the straw where needed for mulch, crafts or other things and then eat the potatoes your self instead of the grains (except for a disaster year where all potatoes perish). Processing should not be such a big deal with the hull-less varieties though, I know of barley and oats only.
I definitely know I can scythe an area much faster than I can plant or harvest potatoes (but maybe I have bad technique for potatoes...hm). And if (a BIG if) I could have a moderately perma-mulched no-till area for the grains without tilling or weeding, then broadcasting seed would also be very fast. I am just seeing potential in grain is all, I do not have the experience, maybe with skill and practice it could be a very good crop to include, just some thoughts.
Also since I am not an expert on grain (haven't grown them remember), this final note on grains is as much a question as a point: is there not a grain for any type of climate and soil condition almost? Moist, wet and cold = oats . Dry, cold and poor soil = rye . Other conditions for wheat and barley? Well I have not  researched this enough, there are surely many many more details to it, but the point/question is; do we not almost always have the option of growing SOME grain suited for our area, almost wherever we are?

THE FINAL CONSIDERATION:
Spreading out and growing many different things every year seems like the most attractive approach for me at the moment (but I am always learning and changing), because you may get hit by some pest or disease that will almost annihilate one of your important staple crops, so if you had for example 5 equally dedicated staple crops instead of 1 or 2 you would be at a much lower risk of starving when one of them would get a bad year. This is why I am thinking about both potatoes, grains, squash, parsnips, rutabagas and any other suitable staple crop in almost equal measure, instead of focusing on one superior crop above them all.
Finally there are these interesting perennial root crops with dense calories. Sunchokes, Chinese Yams, Ground nuts, chinese artichokes and there are surely others, also written in one of my documents (just not going to look it all up now)... But these kinds of crops can be planted early in any site establishment in the proper location and be left to expand and grow on their own and become a true living survival storage out in the field. If the extreme thing should happen and all your other heavy annual staple crops should fail, you go out and survive on your weedy perennial tubers (though personally I enjoy eating sunchokes and others everyday, just as a supplement, I have just eaten a handful of sunchokes from the garden just now, cooked... yummy, so I do not only see them as emergency crops, even though they fulfill that role well)

There is also this guy in Finland. He lived entirely self-sufficiently for many years. Could be interesting to have a closer look at how he did it. Lasse Nordlund. Very short growing season. I mean it was radical self-sufficiency, like you focus on, he lived virtually without money at all. He now runs a school in Finland about self-sufficiency. He also made his own clothes from scratch, tools, buildings etc. Rare to find such complete examples of self-sufficiency nowadays.

 
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Hi Matt Trotter, I love your calculator! I am in Oregon 8B also. You have inspired me to make my first post/reply though have been a member for at least 18 months or longer. I would have thought some of the food on your calculator could not easily be grown here but will now take a closer look! I have been trying to estimate what to grow for enough calories and this really helps, especially since you also give approximate yields. I am of the philosophy that we need to grow as much as we can. I tried a really rough estimate on my own using various sources. We do have walnut and apple & pear trees. All in sad, bad shape but they still produce some food. So that is a huge bonus for calories.

The yield from the walnuts was much less (nut meat per shell)  than I had thought but hopefully we can improve that. We have only been here 6 months and am not used to gardening where there is so much frost, shorter growing season and big difference between daytime and night temps. We also went from very limited space to a little less than 3 acres, gulp. I work full time but at home so no wasted commute time and can do a few things on my lunch break. While extra help is very hard to find, I have tapped into the unemployed, bored, I like to make money- high school students!

I am busily playing with your calculator. I have a little pack of Amaranth seed. I hadn't planned on planting it this year or only a small patch. Figured it would be too hard to harvest enough. Am reconsidering. This is my first time growing any quantity of food. I do as much research, ask locals and so on. Hoping to cut my learning curve and up my success rate considerably. This permie forum forum is a gold mine. And it's wonderful that it is NOT dependent on facebook either!!

I liked the mention of dry farming, longer storage time on some things grown. We do have irrigation starting sometime in May. But with the drought who knows how long that will continue. Once again, thanks for the calculator and the inspiration.
 
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Thank you Mathew and Jean for this great info. I'm excited to figure out where I'll put some of the plants listed that are new to me, and how much more space I'll need to fence the deer and elk out of. I wish I had kept better track on the pea production from my plants so I could help you out with your figures on those, but I just gobbled them up and didn't pay attention to how much I picked, overall.
 
Dianne Justeen
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Mathew Trotter wrote:
It's definitely something I'm planning to experiment with this year. Most of the successes I've seen here revolve around growing on black plastic, but that's not really a viable solution for me. Since sweet potatoes grow so readily from cuttings I'm planning to just stick as many in the ground as I possibly can. That way, as long as there is a yield, and even if that yield is small, I can at least have a decent crop just because of the sheer number of plants I have. I figure it's a good ground cover that'll choke out the undesirable invasives, if nothing else.



Your post reminded me that we used a layer of cardboard and rough compost mulch over it between the plants.  This prevented the vines from rooting along them and let more energy go into the main plant.  We did this for weed suppression but afterward learned that doing this will result in bigger tubers.  Might want to try something along those lines.  And we only lightly harvested the leaves so that also contributed to strong growing plants.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Some really great thoughts and suggestions here! I want to sit down and give everything the thoughtful responses they deserve. We've had unexpectedly nice weather for the last week or two and I've been able to work in the garden from sun up to sun down the past two days without any other projects or disasters interrupting me. I planted popbeans and bread seed poppies today, and carrots and parsnips yesterday. Just this much is almost more screen time than I have the energy for. When I get my planting backlog caught up, or the weather finally chases me back inside, I'll pop back in and give everything it's due diligence. Thanks for all the the kind words and suggestions!
 
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Could you add things like chestnut and Caragana?
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:what do you grow when you have no income (which has been my case since March, and which I expect to continue through the next year)?



This is a very interesting question. I would say that in my area, subsistence from food crops only has, historically, never been possible. In a fully autonomous survival mode, you'd hunt and fish and get most of your calories from that. Including smoking/drying meat for long term storage (and freezing in winter).

In summer, foraging and three sisters crops (beans, corn and squash) would complement that.  But I doubt there's ever been a time in history where populations would subside exclusively on crops for a good part of the northern hemisphere (it has certainly never been the case in Quebec).

Even as late as the 1940s, the generation of my grand-parents who were farmers would fish or hunt to feed their families (as in "you'll die of hunger if you don't", not "we're bored of potatoes, it would be nice to complement that with something else"). My husband's grandma spoke of a family next door who did not have the skills to hunt or fish, and who died one after the other of malnutrition in the late thirties. (It was also typical to supplement your income with a lumbering job in winter, or to sell pelts for complementary income)

The land and climate just cannot sustain a 100% autonomous vegetarian lifestyle with no exterior inputs (ex: heated greenhouses).
 
Mathew Trotter
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Hey all. Still crazy here. Expect to have enough in the ground to feed 3ΒΌ people by the end of the month (barring crop failure.) Been averaging 8-14 hours a day, with one 19 hour work day a few weeks back (from 8am to 3am) that I don't care to repeat. Not all of that is hard, physical labor, obviously, but this time of year a lot of it is. I'm expecting the workload to balance out in August-ish and I'll have time to respond to stuff. Maybe September depending on how planting stuff for fall/winter goes... but I'm not even thinking that far ahead yet.

Just stopping in to provide an example of what meals might look like at this time of year, since people get hung up on what meals look like when growing your own food. Most of my meals are pretty simple. I had 50 pounds of potatoes that I had to get through, so for a few weeks I was having 2-3 potatoes for a meal and not much else. Some herbs, some greens, and some fruit to balance it out. Trying to get someone else out here this year too take on the cooking responsibilities, since I just don't have more time to devote to it.

I really only make something more complicated if I'm cooking for someone else, and last night I had company for dinner, so I wanted to share that meal. It consisted of my first small harvest of fresh favas; a slaw of kale, mustard, chive flower, and the last of my very sad looking overwintered carrots; and frog legs (this is an invasive species here that decimates the native fauna... Other frogs, fish, turtles, ducklings... You're required to kill any that you catch because they're such a problem.) I also harvested some camas from a patch that I stumbled upon by accident, but even though I read one account that suggested that the cook time could be reduced to 8 hours by pressure cooking, I've checked them at 8 and 14 hours and they are still not done. I was hoping to include those with dinner, but now it's looking more like breakfast or lunch. The bread and gazpacho were brought by my friend.
IMG_20210514_120227_489.jpg
Frog legs and camas
Frog legs and camas
IMG_20210514_145110_634.jpg
Greens for the slaw
Greens for the slaw
IMG_20210515_045612_352.jpg
The full meal
The full meal
 
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