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Anyone growing large amounts of "staple" crops?

 
pollinator
Posts: 378
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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In addition to our usual kitchen garden, we have ramped up a couple staple crops a bit the last couple years.  Mainly potatoes and pumpkins.  We grew a couple hundred pounds of each both last year and this year.  I've found I can fence off a bit of our silvopasture with hot wire and grow them pretty well without much attention.  Neither is very tempting to the livestock if they have ample grass.  

Anyone else growing large amounts of reasonably easy to store and prepare crops?  If so, what has worked well for you?
 
pollinator
Posts: 379
Location: SE Indiana
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I used to grow quite a bit of potatoes and winter squash but both have gotten much harder to grow due to changing weather, bugs and disease issues. Total or near total failure in two out of three years. I've replaced them both more or less with sweet potatoes which are far easier for me to grow and fit the criteria of easy to store.

I also grow a lot of common beans, Lima beans, runner beans and cow peas and easily store them for dry use. I just added cowpeas to my garden a couple years ago and find them very easy and productive.

I've tinkered with peanuts a little and they are fun to grow but too long season for me and not productive enough for the amount of space they they take up.
 
gardener
Posts: 1076
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Actually yes. The events of the past couple of years have changed my mindset a bit.
I added tromboncino squash this year for several reasons. It can be eaten fresh or stored for winter. Plus, it’s squash bug and borer resistant.
I continued to grow my landrace pumpkins but more of them.
Potatoes are difficult here so I started a passive compost pile to grow those in. Worked great for sweet potatoes too!
I planted more Chinese yams for the future. They take three years to fully mature so planning is paramount. They are also invasive so I don’t recommend planting unless you can keep them in check.
I am truly blessed to have some land with many varieties of nuts and wild edibles. That’s why I’ve started more medicinal herbs and berries. Elderberries, aronia berries, lemon balm, marshmallow, and spilanthes all get used. I cannot recommend marshmallow enough. I was amazed at how well it worked for skin and gut irritations. It’s also very easy to start from seed!
 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2841
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
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I had great success around there with Seminole pumpkins, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, TN Valencia peanuts, Cherokee popcorn, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunroots) & black eyed peas. They were all fairly easy to grow there & store quite well.
 
pollinator
Posts: 127
Location: Clackamas County, OR (zone 7)
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I am in a different climate out West, but I am a firm believer in beans. When I first started out I was shelling them by hand, which is a real chore if you are growing 50 lbs or so. Now I cut the plants and leave them in the sun on a tarp for a couple days, stomping them and turning them a few times. Then you just toss all the stems, and winnow what is left in front of a fan. They are not the most space efficient crop, and I do need to water them in my climate. But, I have also never had any pest problems. If you can keep large animals from browsing on the leaves, they are basically bulletproof; as once the beans start to ripen, nothing around here will eat them. It is very frustrating to have a whole field of nearly ripe grain be decimated by birds and squirrels.

I used to grow a lot of potatoes, but with how hot and dry our summers are getting, I am having a harder time with them. Sweet potatoes, though, thrive with more heat. I also like that with sweet potatoes you can propagate plants from clonal cuttings, which reduces the amount of tubers you need to set aside for seed by a considerable margin. 6 small sweet potatoes can easily yield enough plants to plant the same area that you would need a 20lb crate of seed potatoes for. Curing the sweet potatoes before storage is a bit of a hassle, but they have always kept really well for me.

I tried cowpeas several years, and they do not seem to thrive here. They taste more or less like beans to me, anyway.

Corn will do well here if I grow a short-season type, and get a jump on the season by starting them in newspaper pots to be transplanted out. I have been really enjoying a popcorn variety called Dakota Black that I want to say is 90 days to maturity. So far nothing has bothered the corn - my garden is in the woods - so I am at the mercy of any marauding wildlife that can get over or through a 7 foot fence.

Winter squash is also good, but it is a little harder to save seed from if you have multiple varieties growing close by.

Also, if you want a bounty of easy calories for not much work, do not forget about fruit trees. And especially dont forget about your neighbors fruit trees! I could get as many free apples as I could ever hope to make cider from, and I picked almost 80lbs of cherries this summer that would have otherwise just have gone to the birds.
 
gardener
Posts: 517
Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
210
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I am not... I don't have the land for it. But I do hope to one day keep a rice paddy and work towards what Fukuoka made with his Happy Hill rice. His farm was just over the mountains from here...
 
pollinator
Posts: 2181
Location: Denmark 57N
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Yes we grow around 600lb of potatoes every year, The normal method for us is to dig a trench put some compost in the bottom put the potato on top and cover it up, that's it, no hilling nothing after that. We dig most of them as early new potatoes but some are left as maincrops.  I've tried covering with straw instead of earth, it works to a point but the yield is about half that of potatoes grown in the ground. The effort however is about 1/10th so if you have endless seed potatoes and endless land/straw it might be worth it.

This year we planted 25 spaghetti squash plants (for sale) and only 4 made it past day 1 as the others were all eaten by slugs, those plants have made us over 60 squash, but I doubt half of them will mature in time, we're only a few weeks from frost and night time temperatures are already getting very close to freezing.
 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
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Location: Denmark 57N
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Skandi Rogers wrote:
This year we planted 25 spaghetti squash plants (for sale) and only 4 made it past day 1 as the others were all eaten by slugs, those plants have made us over 60 squash, but I doubt half of them will mature in time, we're only a few weeks from frost and night time temperatures are already getting very close to freezing.



Quoting myself here, picked them today, there were 98 squash (and 5 plants I misscounted earlier) that were not mush, at least 10 had already given up after not getting mature enough, of those 98, 95 look as if they will survive I also have 1 crown prince plant, which has 10 fruit on it, so what to do with approximately 300kg of squash... I hope I can sell some on Saturday.
 
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