I'm 100% new to gardening, permaculture, agriculture and all that, looking for something to do with my life that makes sense and where I can spend time outside.
My question is: Since grains are basically the basis of human nutrition in most places, certainly in Western countries, how does this work in permaculture? The impression of permaculture that I have is that different plants grow together, not separated. So I wonder, doesn't that make harvesting grain really difficult?
If my question is not clear / doesn't make (much) sense, please let me know.
The key is to start with heritage varieties. BigAg has abandoned them, as 'non-profitable' within their systems.
BigAg favors varieties that are planted a few inches (3-5cm) apart for easier machine harvest.
Most of the heritage breeds, besides being more nutritious and tastier, are much more likely to 'tiller' (send out multiple shoots), and less likely to 'lodge' (fall over). Individual seeds can be planted about 3 feet (1m) apart. Each seed will send out a dozen or two stalks, each with a seed head. More like a bush than a blade of grass.
This would be easily harvested in a polyculture environment - more so when you consider that not all plants reach maturity on the same day. BigAg takes it all at once - mature, immature, and over ripe " - when most of it is ripe". You would actually get a better end product by cutting only the mature heads, over a week's time. Imagine what the product in the stores is, considering that probably 20% is immature, and 20% is over ripe.
A side benefit of the heritage varieties is that most of them are either gluten free, or low gluten.
Speaking of staple foods, I wonder if permaculture makes it possible to grow yams and sweet potatoes in temperate areas? I love eating those, unfortunately, in Germany they are only available as import goods. I guess I should ask that question in the local section of the forum once it's imminent, but I'm interested if there might be first hints here.
my place is really too small to grow cereals effectively, and I don't eat much grain.
I suggest taking a good look at a variety of storage crops as well as grains.
I grow a lot of runner beans which are perennial, drought tolerant, and prefer temperate climates.
I eat the green beans fresh and lacto-fermented, and leave the rest on the vine for dried beans.
I've grown sweet potato before, but it's really not warm enough here. Potatoes are an important part of my diet though.
Tom Jonas wrote:Hi Hans, we don't eat a lot of sweet potatoes, so we don't grow too much. When we need to plant, we just buy some from the store and keep them until the "eyes" appear. However, we do plant many different potato varieties that we keep fresh and to dehydrate. Sweet potatoes keep well here, so maybe we will plant more of them this year and dehydrate the surplus, or eat more tempura with our sushi(salmon is just a short drive from here in the spring-fall period)! Also, like some previous posters do, we grow beans as well. Good for starch and the protein as well. Bean flour is an excellent addition to bread, tortillas, chapatis, etc. Flax is also an excellent augmentation for grain products as well( it really flavors puff pastry and standard pastry as well). I hope this info helps. As always, greatest regards from Houston, Alaska. -Tom and Vania
Thanks for your explanations! If you can do it in Alaska, I should be able to do it here I'm jealous for that salmon, haha..