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Plan for 100% staple self-sufficiency

 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Please let me know how can we improve this system!

Climate is Mediterranean (for those with mild winters, only with minor frosts).
For a small space of 0.5 acre.

The system is based in staples:

Staple Annuals:
---- starch: mostly potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, rice, soy beans (for flour), cereals (wheat, rye, oats, barley, millet, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat), pumpkin
---- protein: pulses (beans, peas, chick peas, lentils, soy beans, broad beans), also amaranth and quinoa
---- oil: sesame, sunflower, pumpkin seeds

Staple Perennials:
---- Starch: Chinese yams, groundnut, arrowhead, skirret, chestnuts, figs, Honey locust and mesquite pods (for flour?), dates, taro, ensets, bananas, carob, oaks (flour) ...?
---- Protein: Lima and runner beans, Siberian pea, pigeon peas, hog peanut, thicket bean, Honey locust and mesquite pods, nut trees (such as walnuts, pistachio) ...?
---- Oils: Nuts, Sesame, Perennial sunflowers, Avocado, Olives, ...?

I kind of calculated how much would I need, per year, of rice, cereals, pulses or potatoes, based in how I eat.
The figure is around 20 kg cereals (or anything for flour), 20 kg potatoes, 20 kg dried pulses, 10 kg rice (high estimates, probably I eat less).

Assuming low estimate yields of 2 ton per ha, for these crops, I can rely I will get food for an entire year in:
100 m2 cereals
100 m2 pulse crops
100 m2 potatoes (and sweet potatoes)
50 m2 rice crop

Therefore it seems obvious for me, to design a mininum rotation system of four parcels (annuals), over 4 years.

We can be clever and design it to grow both winter crops, followed by summer crops. And heavy feeders, followed by legumes (or before; I still don't know which is best).

Some summer cereals (such as corn, quinoa or millet), and some winter cereals (rye, barley)
Summer pulses (beans, lentils) or winter pulses (broad beans, peas).
The rice and the potatoes must be grown in summer.

Basically you can switch crops by April and by October, in a Fukuoka style.

We can also design it, not to grow monoculture, but intercropping (e.g. mixing crop, with squash and some beans)
and also design to grow rows with a succession planting, for continuous harvest (of potatoes for example).

Finally, you can grow your rotation of annuals, separately, or combined with perennials. Either way, you will want your perennials somewhere, as stated above, and filling your protein, starch and oils needs, preferably with each crop providing harvest at different times of the year, and also by filling their different layer niches (trees, climbers, ground covers...)

I haven't had much time to think about guilds (perennial staples), but I would obviously mix one nitrogen fixer with non nitrogen fixers, at the different layers. For example:
- Ground cover of sweet potato or rubus, climbing groundnut and fruit trees (think about staples here, e.g avocado)
- Ground cover of strawberry or peanuts, clibing passionflower, perennial beans or yams and hazelnuts/chestnuts
- Or any non-N fixing ground cover and herbaceous but a siberian pea shrub or pigeon pea.
- And mix elaeagnus wih your fruit trees (but thinking in more staple fruits rather than simple juicy fruit).

The annuals could go into a scheme like this. Switching them by April and October (but preferably each parcel at a different week):

Each parcel has 100m2 to give the yields necessary for our year.
And multiply by 4, so we have the four parcels growing at the 4 stages, at any time.

Rotation system (annuals):
- Winter1 winter legumes (broad beans, pulses)
- Summer1 summer cereals (mostly rice and corn, millet...); corn can be mixed with beans and squash
- Winter2 rest period, or green manures
- Summer2 pumpkins and vegetables like tomatoes, etc...
- Winter3 turnips, winter salads, root vegetables, brussels sprouts and winter cabbage
- Summer3 summer legumes (beans, chick peas, soy beans, peanuts, lentils)
- Winter4 winter cereals (rye, barley...)
- Summer4: potatoes, sweet potatoes (maybe some beans as intercrop)
(back to winter1)

It's also possible to run the rotation in reverse, if we want n-fixers before the heavy feeders rather than after.

Now I haven't work the details for each specific crop (ijn terms of space) and their intercrop mixes, but I am doing this right now.

Please let me know of your ideas!

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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ok I'll try to answer again (hope it doesn't post twice)

I didn't see any fruits or berries did I? I know I'm not seeing very well these days, but I would want some fruit trees, berries, brambles and grapes
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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For designing small scale complete homegrown diets, I recommend "One Circle" by David Duhon. The diets are vegan, and nearly complete in calories and nutrients (a few nutrients such as iodine may be somewhat lacking). Book is based on using Biointensive methods but can be adapted to other methods: http://www.bountifulgardens.org/prodinfo.asp?number=BEA-0370 The diets do not include any cereals because they take too much room to grow.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Great topic for me as I plan the same...
Just a little more south, I have bananas!
If you can have mangoes, they are quite water wise as fruit trees!
(in Canary LaGomera there is one that is a good root stock for cooler climates)
You state potatoes for summer, but here they are for winter!
(check this for you just in case)

I have 2 years in 1... I now prepare to sow temperate climate crops (salad, radish etc)
Also warm climate perenials as they can sprout well with the heat.
In spring, I am more about tropical stuffs, and also summer temperate crops such as tomatoes.
But I also sow tomatoes now... I try varieties for fresh climate.

I cannot tell the difference between our climates at the moment... You may be warmer now, and colder in winter...

I will also be more reduced in grains, though they have the advantage to bring carbon for soil.
But anyway, I have more carbon for 3 times less water with prickly pears, it is a great compost!
Do you have wild opuntia?

My choice for grains (that can also be for chicks) will be mainly sorghum and amaranth (the easiest to process).
Some corn but little, and no rice.

I also plan lima and cajanus cajan, sesame and sunflower, olive trees...
Do you think you can have chia?
Good for omega 3 and here they self-seed. BUT, they seem to be day lenght sensitive, so they flower late, and I will try them as a winter crop, for seeds in late spring. They also self-seed before harvest....
As nut, almond is a must! Pistachio is great too.
I think you do not mention carob tree, long to yield but drought resistant and good very green wind-brake.

Yes you do not tell about fruits ? I agree most of them are not real staple and too much sugar, but I favour he ones that I can dry, such as figs and jujuba. The crataegus Azarollo is mediterranean too. Black mulberry is great if you have a place between rocks that cannot suit any other tree! If you can have a papaya or at least the mountain papaya which is more resistant, it is a good fruit because of the papaine in it. Berries are good and more healthy than fruits in general. You should be able to grow strawberry guava and if you can find the ugni molinae from Chile, might be good for your place in a fresher part. Feijoa can be in the shade of tall trees and is not big.

Here we have a lot of nispero, =the japanese I dunno what... great mediterranean fruit, and also the arbutus unedo is mediterranean. Pomegranate...
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
Posts: 166
Location: Yucatan Puebla Ontario BC
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You can extend the range of a lot of the species that were just mentioned and many others. If the frosts are only light than all you need to grow some tropicals is a wall or lots of tall trees planted very close together. When I first went to Mexico (very similar too mediterranean). I started cutting trees out because they were too thick That winter I realized how wrong I was and how everything I thought I knew about fruit trees bid not apply. Due to the ability of trees to block the frost and if you can block frost indefinatly than it's worth planting so close that you shade the area heavily. For example I have been growing banana passion fruit for 3 or 4 years now but the first too years I planted it in shaded but open areas and they all died. Last year I planted about 15 plants in the deepest darkest spots on my property and this year they have fruit! I also dug up some lemons a few years ago so I could plant them at a more sensible spacing or so I thought. They all died. Now my lemon trees are doing well in the shade of mature hardy trees.
 
Paula Edwards
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I would starve on the rations you mentioned.
Carol Deppe writes in " the resilient gardener" that the Irish men ate 6 kg of potatoes a day (as far as I remember, I don't remember the figure for women), but they ate mainly potatoes. When I was a kid my parents always bought potatoes for winter, at least 100 kg.
For fat and protein the easiest thing is animals. Eggs, have the chicken for soup and still better to fatten are ducks.
If you eat 100 gr oats for breakfast, 200gr for lunch (which is not very much) and 100 gr rice for dinner (and that's only the starches!)
Then you eat 36.5 kg of oats and 73 kg of potatoes and 36.5 kg of rice.
Sure that you grow other starches as well, but you must count that not every crop grows every year and you must count that you put seed potatoes away.
And if you work all day outside you eat more than sitting in an office.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Jeffrey, I do not understand why! Is it to protect passions and lemons from frost? Or from the sun!?!

Something else...
I wonder how much % of extra food we have to plan for crop failure...
Is there an average failure % that has been guessed?
(I know it varies a lot!)

But if we speak about self sufficiency, then it is relevant to think about it.
I have noticed that root crops are often the spare wheel...
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Did anyone mention Jerusalem Artichokes or Garlic?

I have not planned for nutrition as carefully as you all have so I'll have to start looking at that as well.
So far I am keeping track of those things that grow reliably with little or no help from me. It has been about 6-8 years and this is what I have so far:

Garlic
Muscadines (southern grape)
Apples
Plums
Pecans
Figs
Mustard
Mints/Herbs
Jerusalem Artichoke (this is my first year for this one)
Butternut Squash (they keep for up to a year on the shelf in the pantry)

I am still a very long way from being 100% self sufficient but we're going to keep working on it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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If there is a moist spot for growing rice, some semi-aquatic staple plants are much more productive per area than rice. I have Canna in my garden and Taro, Cattail and Duck Potato in my aquaponics. I'm hoping to harvest my first Duck Potatoes this fall, possibly as soon as next month. I don't have a large enough area for them to be a staple, but plan to have more when I install a larger water garden. The biggest challenge for me is learning to cook with these plants. Another unusual plant I'm growing is Sotol, which was a staple of the native peoples of this region. Staples I've grown at various times with some success include Turnips, Radishes, Beets, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Elephant Garlic, Canada Onions, Walking Onions, Winter Squash, Grain Amaranth and Sorghum. I had a little patch of Wheat one year but right before it ripened the squirrels ate it.....
 
Ed Colmar
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You might want to consider also growing parsnips. They are very low maintenance, very durable and drought tolerant.
 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Hi Paula, and everyone else,

Thanks for your replies.
Its really good to have feedback.

I haven't count any vegetables or fruits - this post is only focusing in staples (starches and protein)

Paula: I underestimated my yearly needs, but still (if your averages are correct) I eat less than you.
However, the important thing is to calculate approximately how much land to be self-sufficient in staples.

I went to the kitchen and measure how much staples I use per day:
- 40 g corn flakes (or other cereal) for breakfast
- 80 g pasta (or other cereal), for lunch.
- 40 g dried beans - 50 g rice, for dinner, or 200 g potatoes (to me this is about 100 days out of 365)

This is equivalent is per year:
- 44 kg cereals, - 15 kg dried beans, - 20 kg potatoes, - 13 kg rice

And land (assuming yields 2 ton per ha, but yields would be probably larger)
- 220 m2 cereals, - 100 m2 potatoes, - 75 m2 pulse crops, - 65 m2 rice

Brenda/ Xisca: you both wisely said, that crops might fail. I believe the key is crop diversity.

I think these crops need to be planted as intercrops (so crop failure is less likely), and also because we grow both winter and summer pulses and cereals. Intercrops can be, for instance, grow corn, pumpkin and beans, at same time.

220 m2 cereals (corn, rye, oats, millet, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa)
100 m2 potatoes (and sweet potatoes, yams, taros, arrowhead and groundnut)
75 m2 pulse crops (including perennial beans, pigeon pea, siberian pea)
65 m2 rice


This fits a 20m per 20m square, divided in four parcels of 100m2 each.
On edges, I would add pumpkins and staple trees: walnuts, chestnuts, figs, dates, avocado, enset, plantains...

What did you thought about the rotation scheme? Would you suggest anything?

I still don't know whether that land use is too intensive! Or whether is best to follow nitrogen fixers after heavy feeders (like cereals, corn, rice) or before them.

Long term goal would be to provide as much staple from perennials rather than from annuals. But that would be a gradual transition.

Eggs are obviously a good protein choice (4 eggs per week is an easy target, but more chicken equals more eggs, so I would increase this target). The important thing is we need to feed the chicken. What could be best? Grow still more grain, or grow a perennial tree for fodder such as chilean mesquite or honey locust?
 
Paulo Bessa
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Posts: 354
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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After some deeper thought, I averaged my annual consumption and calculated enough area for food 1 year self-sufficiency:

- 45 kg cereals 150 m2 (rye, wheat and oats during winter - corn, millet, sorghum during summer)
- 15 kg dried beans 150 m2 (broad beans and peas during winter - other beans in summer)
- 20-80 kg potatoes 80m2
- 18 kg rice 60 m2
- 15 Kg corn 40 m2

And some other crops, to complement staple starch and protein:

- amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and other less common grains 50m2
- sesame ans sunflower (vegetable fats) 10 m2
- vegetables and greens 100 m2 (lettuce, radish, turnip, cabbage during winter - tomatoes and pumpkins in summer)
- nuts, fruit, berries, perennials 200 m2
- compost and fodder crops 500m2

Because we do a rotation 4 year, and grow cereals, pulses and greens during winter and then summer, we need much less space.

We need about 500m2 (22 x 22 m) (72 x 72 feet, 5000 square feet) for food production plus 500 m2 more for compost and fodder crops.
 
James Driscoll
Posts: 13
Location: UK Zone 8a
(53.81°N, 1.55° W )
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Hi paulo, I'm struggling to see how you can manage this in such a small area but maybe I'm just jealous of your zone . Have you had any thoughts on what you would need in your zone 5 location ? Apart from a very large polytunnel... Does anyone have any data on expected yields for different USDA zones?
 
Paulo Bessa
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Posts: 354
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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James Driscoll wrote:Hi paulo, I'm struggling to see how you can manage this in such a small area but maybe I'm just jealous of your zone . Have you had any thoughts on what you would need in your zone 5 location ? Apart from a very large polytunnel... Does anyone have any data on expected yields for different USDA zones?


Do not get me wrong. I am far from growing 100% of my food. But this a plan I designed, and I think it could work.

I live at the moment in zone 6 (Iceland) but these are plans for zone 9 (Portugal, my home country).

As further away from the tropics you go, the most difficult it gets to grow a wide variety of vegetable food. One solution to ensure you don't starve, is to eat animals (but they require more land than being solely vegetarian).

In the UK you can definitively grow rye, barley and oats as I do here. You have a much longer growing season that I do. Probably wheat can be grown there too, and if you live in the southern part of the UK, I am sure you can even grow corn, amaranth, that I can only grow indoors in Iceland.

I can barely grow beans outdoors in Iceland, but I think you can grow them much easier than me. I can grow easily broad beans and peas; which is cold hardy easy to grow protein. Quinoa and amaranth are other interesting protein sources (quinoa grows better with cold summer than amaranth). There are also perennial choices: having a nut tree is a good way to ensure some garanteed calories.

The space I indicated is merely calculated by my yearly food needs (which is identical to a typical vegetarian diet), and the space required for each crop is calculated by a low estimation of their ton/ha yields. For example, if you don't eat a lot of potatoes, you can easily grow your yearly needs in a very small space. About 80kg potatoes (200g per day) requires about 80m2 (less than a 10 x 10 m square). Cereals might require 2 to 3 more that space.

Please think that most stuff that will actually feed you will be grown outdoors in your zone5 in the UK.
 
                              
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Location: Upper Midwest
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I strongly recommend you consider hazelburt nut.
It is a hybrid with the best qualities of both hazelnut and filbert.
Walnut will also grow in zone 9.

Rice is the easiest of all grains to digest, so I strongly recommend it.

Zone 9 is right on the edge where you can still grow asparagus.

There are a few apples that will grow in zone 9: Ein Shemer, Fuji, etc.
They have as low a glycemic index as grains and if dried will store for years.
I would treat them like staples.
Even some of the other temperate fruits if you get the right varieties.

I am not a big fan of intercropping.
I use animals to control weeds and insects and drop manure.
Some animals would be devastating to my perennials, orchard, and vineyard.
In my annual paddock in the late fall, I allow goats and then hogs to root.
Then in winter I feed hay to cows, sheep, and goats for manure drop.
In my vineyard I use sheep only in early spring before veraison and again after harvest.
In my orchard I use piglets and chickens in the summer and fall.
In my perrenial beds I use chickens only in the fall and winter.
If I mixed everything it would be too hard to control.

The biggest problem with a self sufficient diet is getting adequate calcium / magnesium.
The white beans are very rich.
Also consider collards, turnips, kale, okra, nettle, dandelion, and chicory.
The soft bones of small animals is the best source.
Small animals with a high FCR are chicken, rabbit, guinea pig, and turkey.

Your best source of omega 3 (DHA) is brains and eggs, not nuts or seeds.

Rose hip will also grow in zone 9.

Sesame is grown mostly for cosmetics because it's oil does not go rancid easily.
But it is so high in oxalates that it is slightly toxic.
Amaranth is so high in oxalates that it is also mildly toxic.
Oxalates bind calcium.
Jerusalem Artichokes are ok for hogs, but it is hard for humans to digest.
Corn is low in protein even if you use lime.
Quinoa is so rich in saponins that it is also slightly toxic even after washing.
Soy is so high in enzyme inhibitors, I would only grow it for chickens and hogs
unless you want to make tempeh.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Posts: 1283
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I think your dry beans are not enough compared to grain/starch.

I think some animals can eat what we cannot, and they bring manure, so they are very useful.

I think (guau, a lot!) that the vegetarian/omnivorous diet is a difficult topic. Of course we need less space if we feed less beings! Eliminating animals is not only eliminating domesticated ones but also wild ones, as they will help themselves... I prefer not being vegetarian and accepting to feed animals, and my point of view is that we should be more responsible of our number on earth, so that we leave room for animals, domesticated (but living a natural life with good food), and wild ones. Then either we regulate animals or we reintroduce predators... with the risk of being a prey for them as well! And this means still more room for animals on earth. At the moment, we just multiply as much as herbivores, but without having predators! That's not a very natural situation...

I can be out of the subject, but not that much, the place of animals in the land is part of my thinking for my own self-sufficiency.
 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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In Portugal zone9, we grow plenty of soft fruit (apples, nuts, and many other fruits); also asparagus. But currently I am growing on zone 6 (Iceland), where I live at the moment.

Yes, diets are a hot topic of discussion. I prefer to consider them as a individual option. But its nice to have this data from you, Artemesia.

I am very open minded in diets. Having visited cultures of near 100% meat diets (in polar climates) and 100% vegetarian diets (in tropical climates). In Iceland, Greenland, they ate mainly fish/meat in the past, with ocasional potatoes, barley and vitamin C wild food, like sorrel, angelica or blueberries. In India, they eat solely grains, vegs, pulses and milk. In Amazon, they would have a staple of manihoc, lots of other plant stuff (mostly fruits and nuts - ahah, all perennials!), and some insects and fish.

Like you I found the sunchokes undigestable. Its a pity because they are such a good yielding crop. Some people can manage them, not me yet.

I also found the corn a poor protein. My preferred way is to make polenta (corn flour), because it is a filling food, and very easy to cook. But I always eat it with beans (and some butter on it). Actually most of my protein comes from pulses, and also some milk and ocasionally eggs and fish. The fish would be 1% I would not dare to be self-sufficient (much easier and cheaper to buy it)

Concerning amaranth and quinoa: I eat them every once in a while and I never had any health problem. I have high calcium (blood analysis and too strong nails). Perhaps other vegs compensate for the oxalates in the amaranth family. The Incas had them as staples and they have a high nutritious value (such a complete protein), perhaps with the oxalates being their own problem. Rice can be then a superior choice. I agree with this.

Other grains: Rye and wheat for bread, pasta; oats for breakfast (easy choices for colder climates). Sorghum, millet for warmer climates. Here I grow them indoors. Millet is very dry resistant, and I particularly like to eat it. But I am only beginning to explore now the different types of millet.

What do you use rose hips for?

Sesame: I eat the seeds. Its also a easy to grow crop. Very resistant but not very high yielding. Nuts: I eat them a lot, I don't grow them yet but its a wonderful perennial. Oils: I mostly use olive oil (which are native for Portugal), but I haven't dedicated much time to explore making a veg oil myself yet. I also grow sunflower and chia (oil rich seeds), but only eat their seeds.

Artemesia Bloom wrote:I strongly recommend you consider hazelburt nut.
It is a hybrid with the best qualities of both hazelnut and filbert.
Walnut will also grow in zone 9.

Rice is the easiest of all grains to digest, so I strongly recommend it.

Zone 9 is right on the edge where you can still grow asparagus.

There are a few apples that will grow in zone 9: Ein Shemer, Fuji, etc.
They have as low a glycemic index as grains and if dried will store for years.
I would treat them like staples.
Even some of the other temperate fruits if you get the right varieties.

I am not a big fan of intercropping.
I use animals to control weeds and insects and drop manure.
Some animals would be devastating to my perennials, orchard, and vineyard.
In my annual paddock in the late fall, I allow goats and then hogs to root.
Then in winter I feed hay to cows, sheep, and goats for manure drop.
In my vineyard I use sheep only in early spring before veraison and again after harvest.
In my orchard I use piglets and chickens in the summer and fall.
In my perrenial beds I use chickens only in the fall and winter.
If I mixed everything it would be too hard to control.

The biggest problem with a self sufficient diet is getting adequate calcium / magnesium.
The white beans are very rich.
Also consider collards, turnips, kale, okra, nettle, dandelion, and chicory.
The soft bones of small animals is the best source.
Small animals with a high FCR are chicken, rabbit, guinea pig, and turkey.

Your best source of omega 3 (DHA) is brains and eggs, not nuts or seeds.

Rose hip will also grow in zone 9.

Sesame is grown mostly for cosmetics because it's oil does not go rancid easily.
But it is so high in oxalates that it is slightly toxic.
Amaranth is so high in oxalates that it is also mildly toxic.
Oxalates bind calcium.
Jerusalem Artichokes are ok for hogs, but it is hard for humans to digest.
Corn is low in protein even if you use lime.
Quinoa is so rich in saponins that it is also slightly toxic even after washing.
Soy is so high in enzyme inhibitors, I would only grow it for chickens and hogs
unless you want to make tempeh.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Posts: 1283
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Sunchokes are bad to digest for inulin. I very much agree with making tempeh the best for soja, and can be done for other pulses (according to what I read).

Chia, sunflower and sesame are better eaten as you do, in grain. They give more than oil, they are good in proteins. Sunflower has too much omega 6 to be a good oil for a regular intake.

Very right that diets are really individual options! Personal taste and opinion, health, availability, and general design of the land we have access to.

Paulo, you seem to have enough water for your project in Portugal!
 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Paulo, you seem to have enough water for your project in Portugal!


Hi Xisca,

Lack of water is a problem in Portugal (but I guess not as hard as in south of Spain or in the Canary Islands)

However the region where we want to start our long term forest garden is located in a wet place, with several springs. But the bedrock might be quite high I guess, which probably explains why there is so much water at that spot.

I guess dense planting, mulching, swales, are all nice solutions for a dry climate. As well as giving preference to the many dry resistant species available. I am thinking of introducing only one individual of both honey locust and chilean mesquite, to have plenty of compost material (as a perennial compost crop). I heard they are also edible, but I haven´t tested that myself.

Xisca, you can experiment with millet, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth or teff. They are quite drought resistant. And many pulses do as well. Sesame is also very dry resistant.

However where I currently live in Iceland, the excess of water (coupled with cold climate) is the challenge I have at the moment. I decided to next year not to use so much mulch, because I had a minor problem with slugs this summer. And I might gain from a warmer soil as well.

Very right that diets are really individual options! Personal taste and opinion, health, availability, and general design of the land we have access to.


Concerning nutrition I am not very picky with what I eat. I mostly eat with my body tells me to. If I remember correctly Fukuoka also suggested that. Actually if I ingested too much sweets, oils, fried or processed food, then my body starts to complain. Nevertheless, by planning towards full self-sufficiency of my own food, then - most importantly - I must assure I eat all required nutrients (vitamins, minerals, oils, protein and carbs). And that my staples are somehow unhealthy, especially if I begin to eat non-conventional perennial crops.

I don´t want to go full vegan (I tried that before with unpleasant results), it is much easier to assure full nutrition with some animal produce. I am happy to reach in the future about 90% self-sufficiency in food (grains, pulses, oils, nuts, greens, fruit), with the remaining 10% being eggs, milk and fish (and "growing" your own eggs is also not that hard).

This goal will be for our future project in Portugal, because in Iceland it is much more difficult to grow your own food. Cereals such as rye and oats are ok, but wheat is harder, and corn only indoors. Quinoa might be doable. The pulses is where I run into problems: broad beans, peas and lentils are possible, but beans are complicate (much better indoors) - perhaps with a very rich and sheltered soil is more feasible. Otherwise planting a field of beans in a greenhouse is the way to go. Growing your own vegetable oils are also a problem in Iceland, I managed to grow sunflowers - but it´s a bit of a hassle (but sesame and chia only possible indoors). Probably some kind of hardy nut can be done in our tundra location as well. Finally, the other struggle is keeping plants alive over the dark days of winter - too much hassle messing around with plenty of growing lights




 
osker brown
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Just a couple notes
Sunchokes can be converted to digestible proteins with long slow roasting (over night in a buried coal bed).
Maize can be converted to a better protein with nixtamalization (this was the traditional method used by the folks who bred it for thousands of years). I haven't done this, but I believe it involves a certain amount of slow curing, followed by lime water cooking.

Also, in portugal I would think that chestnuts would be a great staple food. Any plans for them?

peace
 
David Good
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@Paulo

You should add cassava as well for a starch crop. It's almost unbeatable and will grow fine in zone 9, provided you plan properly:

http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com/2012/09/survival-plant-profile-cassava-king-of.html

I love the plant, hence my "5 Spud" rating on the blog.

Another thing you could grow for nutrition is Moringa. That will freeze to the ground and come back each year. Excellent plant.

From my experience in Florida, Sunchokes don't like the heat. I'm not sure how well they'll do where you are.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Paulo Bessa wrote:Xisca, you can experiment with millet, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth or teff. They are quite drought resistant. And many pulses do as well. Sesame is also very dry resistant.


Either I have tried, either I have the seeds for next year! Including teff. for pulses, lima bean is great here.

If you do rice and corn, this meant for me "water"!
You still have to do some drought resistant patches, just in case...
And so have more water for the rest.
Can you have bananas at this place?

I also do cassava, the leaves are also edible. They need water I think. I hope you can also grow it! I also look for beans' trees. You can considere growing boer bean like schotia afra. I have one growing, looks easy.

There is a problem with moringa, I have never seen any with seeds here, the flowers just go away... and nothing. The leaves are ok though I prefer malabar spinach leaves), but the plant needs more nutrients than what is said, according to my experience.

Osker, i agree with chestnut! i did not understand your other explanations, and inulin is a sugar not a protein, so how can you do the conversion?
 
David Good
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I haven't had moringa set seed here either, though it works well from cuttings. Interesting that you've observed the same. I got some blooms this spring but no pods.

 
Xisca Nicolas
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And for staple, we need the pods!
Do you have bees visiting the flowers?
I think we should do a special post for moringa, or find one and enrich it. It is also too much thought to be a nitrogen fixer, which it is not.
 
David Good
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"And for staple, we need the pods!"

As for pods, I'd love to have them, but I'm also quite pleased with the abundant leaves I harvest and eat. It's definitely an addendum, though, and not the main source. I would call moringa leaves a "nutritional staple," if not a caloric one.

I haven't seen many pollinators visit the flowers.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Neither did I, and I followed this already existing threat with what we just said about moringa:

http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/80/3111#152833
 
                              
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Rose hips are rich in vitamin C. Just be sure to remove all the inner hairs.

Fava would probably work well in Iceland. I have seen it work well high in the Andes mountains.

In Iceland you could grow flax very well also.

Iceland is close to my own upper midwest climate.
You may have to use F1 hybrids for squash.
Most of the zone 5 American grapes should work fine.
Sea Berry should work.
And the Hazelburt should still work.
 
osker brown
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Sorry I misspoke regarding sunchokes, technically inulin is a carbohydrate. Basically it is a long chain of fructose. Apparently the slow roasting breaks down the chain, leaving fructose. I can attest for certain that slow roasted sunchokes are much better tasting than raw or 'fast' cooked.

As for nixtamal, the limewater increases the availability of niacin from maize. It also makes some vitamins more available, and reduces availability of some aminos, which supposedly creates a better balanced profile. Regardless of the science, it tastes and feels much better.

peace
 
Marc Troyka
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I don't know about using chia as a grain much, traditionally the native americans who grew it soaked it in a mix of sugar, water, and sweet lime juice and then drank them. I've tried it myself and it's actually quite tasty, and energizing. Any citrusey juice will work, and mango juice works quite well too. Soak 30 minutes in the fridge, drink.

I would figure that honey locust would be better for making jelly than for flour. Never tasted it myself so I wouldn't know :\.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I have my chia seeds go through an electric coffee grinder before!
I guess the nutrients are best available.
It is necessary to stir quick, as the jelly forms quick.
Is I add cacao powder at the same time, the jelly does not form. So I add it after.

The real problem for chia: the seeds go away quick, they self-seed, but I did not harvest any...
then, the salvia hispanica variety from health food stores is day sensitive.
They flower with short days.
At the moment, they have not flowered yet!
And I am at 28° of latitude.... quite south....

So, I think I try so sow in autumn, and try to have early flowers in spring and harvest in june, hopefully.
That's a staple, but hard to get...
 
David Good
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Here's another plant you should be be able to grow in your area - Dioscorea Alata, the "air potato" yam. A friend just north of me swears by it as a productive staple crop, though this is my first year trying it. Just don't get "Dioscorea bulbifera," since it's sometimes toxic.

Another great plant for long warm summers is the yard-long bean, or the "snake bean." They grow like mad and can be planted even in the heat of summer. I did a survival plant profile on them just a couple days ago:

http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com/2012/09/survival-plant-profile-snake-beans.html

I haven't tried chia before. I'll check that one out.

I think as you move closer to the tropics, root crops become more attractive. Most grains I've tried are only so-so here.



 
Xisca Nicolas
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I would love to get this air potato, it just seem very difficult to get ot when it is not yet found in the place where you live!
Never heard about it in europe...
I agree with getting tubers...
 
John Alabarr
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Jeffrey Hodgins wrote:You can extend the range of a lot of the species that were just mentioned and many others. If the frosts are only light than all you need to grow some tropicals is a wall or lots of tall trees planted very close together. When I first went to Mexico (very similar too mediterranean). I started cutting trees out because they were too thick That winter I realized how wrong I was and how everything I thought I knew about fruit trees bid not apply. Due to the ability of trees to block the frost and if you can block frost indefinatly than it's worth planting so close that you shade the area heavily. For example I have been growing banana passion fruit for 3 or 4 years now but the first too years I planted it in shaded but open areas and they all died. Last year I planted about 15 plants in the deepest darkest spots on my property and this year they have fruit! I also dug up some lemons a few years ago so I could plant them at a more sensible spacing or so I thought. They all died. Now my lemon trees are doing well in the shade of mature hardy trees.


You are correct. I've noticed that whenever I parked my car under trees overnight, it didn't have frost on the windshield in the morning. It didn't matter that the trees had dropped their leaves for the winter.
 
David Good
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:I would love to get this air potato, it just seem very difficult to get ot when it is not yet found in the place where you live!
Never heard about it in europe...
I agree with getting tubers...


Try your local Oriental/African markets, if you have them. Various tropical yam species can be acquired that way. I just saw a gal's garden here and she had tropical yams covering her fence, all acquired from an ethnic market locally.
 
John Namazi
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If you have access to reliable electricity, perhaps setting up hydroponics or even aquaponics (combined hydroponics and aquaculture) would be a way to get around space limitations. While it increases electrical needs, it reduces water use and space needed to grow a given amount of food. With aquaponics you can either use edible fish or "pet" fish that aren't consumed over time. There are some great examples online that are simple to build and operate, and you can expand it as you go.
 
Ty Morrison
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I am USDA zone 6b, but with only 10 inches of rain per year.

Mallow: it grows every where without trying. Tastes like whatever you season it with. Good for you like spinach.
 
            
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Paulo Bessa wrote:
Soy is so high in enzyme inhibitors, I would only grow it for chickens and hogs unless you want to make tempeh.


There are two varieties available in the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System where the Kunitz trypsin inhibitor is absent. Additionally steaming soybeans for 10 minutes at 100C inactivates about 80% of the SBTI activity and resulted in the maximum protein quality of the food. One of the best, if not the best, places to start if you are looking for peer-reviewed research-based information on soybeans is Willam Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi's Soyinfo center - http://www.soyinfocenter.com/index.php. It completely avoids the soy is good/soy is bad pissing match. You can find info on how to prepare beans for soy beverage in a way that reduces the beany taste. The cold-water-overnight-soak approach, in fact, increases the beany taste. It allows you to find triple-null lipoxygenase beans that do not have the enzymes that cause the beany taste.

Regards,
Mike
 
            
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I think that it's great to see a permaculturalist trying to figure out how to fit in some of the mainstream, conventional food plants. It seems to me that potatoes are a critical part of the equation because of their nutritional content - they lack only calcium and Vitamin A.




Perennial varieties of wheat, rye and buckwheat might be better alternatives that annual varieties. The wheat and the rye have a substantial amount of green growth. Whether it can be scythed without compromising the following year's yield would need to be explored.

Hmmm. That's a huge quantity for .5 acres even if you are growing 365 days/year. If I convert 100 m2 cereals to acres, I get 100 x 100= 10,000 square metres which is 2 acres. Can you check your numbers or did I miss something which is likely? Do you really mean .5 acres? Here's some info on grain math - http://www.smallgrains.org/springwh/June02/math/math.htm that might be helpful.

You also have to be careful how you use legumes. If you plan to let the legumes flower and go to seed, there will be little nitrogen left to feed the soil. You can feed yourself with legumes or you can feed the soil with legumes but you can't feed both at the same time. Corn will put a strain on fertility since it is the SUV of grains when it comes to sucking fertility out of the soil. Forest gardens allow you to layer plants but not so with potatoes, wheat, oats, etc. which as Martin Crawford says in Creating a Forest Garden, "you need to either allow for a sunny clearing within the forest garden, or grow them elsewhere.


 
Xisca Nicolas
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Vidad MaGoodn wrote:
Xisca Nicolas wrote:I would love to get this air potato, it just seem very difficult to get ot when it is not yet found in the place where you live!
Never heard about it in europe...
I agree with getting tubers...


Try your local Oriental/African markets, if you have them. Various tropical yam species can be acquired that way. I just saw a gal's garden here and she had tropical yams covering her fence, all acquired from an ethnic market locally.


We have only a few local markets and that's all!

Mike, very interesteing! About soya etc...
Perenial buckwheat exists?
Dunno if it can grow without cold in winter...
I have sown some now as a cover, so Ii give it a try!
 
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