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

 
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Looks like salsify has slightly more calories, but I can't find any actual numbers regarding how the yields compare.
 
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And while I'm going down the root crop rabbit hole, how do people feel about burdock as far as eating quality? It's been on my radar, but I've never had it and I've never heard any rave reviews about it. The calorie count makes it a good fit for this project, but I feel like it might be one of those things that I'd eat if I were desperate, but wouldn't go out of my way for. And garden-wise, it seems like the kind of thing you'd treat like sunchokes: put it somewhere you don't mind it coming back every year.
 
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In various places I've homesteaded, I've learned that another way to approach this problem is to start with the place and the land and work back to a diet from that.  Learn by research and trial and error what grows easily for you (and be sure to include what can be foraged from the wild in quantity) and then try to base your diet around those things.  When I lived in Georgia, sweet potatoes rapidly rose to the top of the contenders, plus whatever fruit and greens were available.  I even made granola out of them!  This, plus eggs and goat milk, and I was good to go.  Since coming to California, I find that the small grains like wheat and barley, and fava beans are becoming important, as well as acorns.  Mostly because all of these will produce without profligate summer irrigation which is required for most ordinary summer crops.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:And while I'm going down the root crop rabbit hole, how do people feel about burdock as far as eating quality? It's been on my radar, but I've never had it and I've never heard any rave reviews about it. The calorie count makes it a good fit for this project, but I feel like it might be one of those things that I'd eat if I were desperate, but wouldn't go out of my way for. And garden-wise, it seems like the kind of thing you'd treat like sunchokes: put it somewhere you don't mind it coming back every year.



Burdock tastes really nice. It tastes like globe artichoke, it's only biannual so it doesn't keep coming back in the same place, but it's very happy to seed itself, don't put it near paths or you and every other creature will be covered in it's seeds for months. I have broken a garden fork trying to dig one out before... but still worth it.
 
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I have also never eaten burdock and don't allow it to grow much on my side of the abandoned county road that ends at my house. There is however a nicely established patch on the other side. It makes great mulch, I go over and cut bundles before it sets seed. Lay it down green and the big leaves wilt and make a weed proof barrier that last the rest of the season, then it just turns into compost.  As far as eating it goes I think pretty much like you do, I'll try it if I have to but not necessary for me to actually cultivate it, all I gotta do is stop cutting it down. I can't grow sun chokes, some unidentified burrowing creature eats them all, also I don't like them much.
 
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Alder Burns wrote:In various places I've homesteaded, I've learned that another way to approach this problem is to start with the place and the land and work back to a diet from that.  Learn by research and trial and error what grows easily for you (and be sure to include what can be foraged from the wild in quantity) and then try to base your diet around those things.  When I lived in Georgia, sweet potatoes rapidly rose to the top of the contenders, plus whatever fruit and greens were available.  I even made granola out of them!  This, plus eggs and goat milk, and I was good to go.  Since coming to California, I find that the small grains like wheat and barley, and fava beans are becoming important, as well as acorns.  Mostly because all of these will produce without profligate summer irrigation which is required for most ordinary summer crops.



Which is definitely why I'm growing 200 favas this year, up from 25. With the beating that the garden took this past year, favas were one of the few things that produced reliably. I'll probably increase fava production further the following year as my seed stock increases.

My current numbers have less to do with what percentage of my diet I'd like to come from various sources and more to do with how much seed I have, or can acquire, for various crops, accounting for how much I need to hold back for the following year in case I have a crop failure. With the exception of a few things that came to me for free, I know that most of these things perform well in this area in a typical year, the specific microclimate(s) on this property notwithstanding. This past year was not a typical year; even the commercial producers lost a lot of crops.

Even with almost 30 years of experience in this area, most of that was as a small scale hobby with far more resources than I have now, and little actual dependence on the food I was growing. Even if I had recorded yield numbers, those would have been from better soil, with consistent irrigation, and regular additions of fertility. I have little of that going into this next season, and no real ballpark figures for how much I need to grow to feed myself. I undershot by a lot this past season, though part of that was beyond my control. This year I want numbers to back up what I'm planting. I expect some things to do better and some to do worse than these estimates suggest, but I expect it to at least get me within striking distance, such that I could hunt or forage for the remainder. I fully expect these numbers to change over the years as I figure out how much I care to eat of any given thing, as I figure out what yields well enough to be worth the effort, and as I build up the seed stock needed to grow as much as I'd like of each thing. I just don't have the luxury to guess this year, because I don't know if or how much income I'm going to have to buy food if I massively underestimate.
 
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Skandi Rogers wrote:

Burdock tastes really nice. It tastes like globe artichoke, it's only biannual so it doesn't keep coming back in the same place, but it's very happy to seed itself, don't put it near paths or you and every other creature will be covered in it's seeds for months. I have broken a garden fork trying to dig one out before... but still worth it.



That sounds amazing. I love artichoke and haven't managed to get any started out here yet. I'm gonna have to grow some burdock if that's what it tastes like (in addition to getting some artichokes started.)
 
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Mark Reed wrote:I have also never eaten burdock and don't allow it to grow much on my side of the abandoned county road that ends at my house. There is however a nicely established patch on the other side. It makes great mulch, I go over and cut bundles before it sets seed. Lay it down green and the big leaves wilt and make a weed proof barrier that last the rest of the season, then it just turns into compost.  As far as eating it goes I think pretty much like you do, I'll try it if I have to but not necessary for me to actually cultivate it, all I gotta do is stop cutting it down. I can't grow sun chokes, some unidentified burrowing creature eats them all, also I don't like them much.



Biomass is important. That's part of the value I see in growing sunchokes and achira. Even if I wasn't going to eat them, I'd still grow them for biomass. Good to know that burdock is good for that even if I decide it's not worth the effort to harvest and eat.

It's been probably a decade since I've eaten sunchokes. I honestly don't remember what they're like, but I obviously didn't hate them. It's just one of those things where, even if I prefer eating other things, I like knowing they're in the ground as an insurance policy, or as livestock feed. If there's ever a lean year, I'd rather have them than not.
 
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Have you considered adding greens as off-season crops? I get the principle of using the most effort and space for calories, but if you can extend the growing season, it's all for the win. (And in general, for all but the most remote gardener, carbs are easy to stockpile in the form of rice/oats. It's the fats/vitamins/minerals that are expensive and harder to get.) Brassica, in general, are nutritional powerhouses and pack a lot of flavor.

With minimal effort, I'm still harvesting kale and mizuna from my garden, despite the fact that all calorie-dense foods have been harvested weeks ago. I'm exploring how far in the season we can go, but we've had first frost more than a month ago, here, and there's snow on the ground. And I've invested in nothing more complicated than floating row covers (in one case) and a totally ghetto plastic sheeting system (I'm reusing clear plastic bags that our cedar mulch came in as cover for our container garden. ). Greens are also the first things I can harvest in the season, and the only thing I manage to grow indoors with reasonable additional lighting.
 
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Kena Landry wrote:Have you considered adding greens as off-season crops? I get the principle of using the most effort and space for calories, but if you can extend the growing season, it's all for the win. (And in general, for all but the most remote gardener, carbs are easy to stockpile in the form of rice/oats. It's the fats/vitamins/minerals that are expensive and harder to get.) Brassica, in general, are nutritional powerhouses and pack a lot of flavor.

With minimal effort, I'm still harvesting kale and mizuna from my garden, despite the fact that all calorie-dense foods have been harvested weeks ago. I'm exploring how far in the season we can go, but we've had first frost more than a month ago, here, and there's snow on the ground. And I've invested in nothing more complicated than floating row covers (in one case) and a totally ghetto plastic sheeting system (I'm reusing clear plastic bags that our cedar mulch came in as cover for our container garden. ). Greens are also the first things I can harvest in the season, and the only thing I manage to grow indoors with reasonable additional lighting.



See my previous posts: other vegetables are being grown, they just aren't within the scope of this calculator. And carbs aren't easy to stockpile when you have $0, which is the point of this calculator: 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)? Not to mention that well grown staples are relatively high protein foodstuffs (potatoes approach 20% protein), whereas commercially grown staples are all starch... see previous posts about Steve Solomon and Carol Deppe's work, which address nutrition in staple crops. After all calories are accounted, grow whatever, whenever (off-season or otherwise.) Nutrients ARE NOT expensive or hard to come by and shouldn't be grown AT THE EXPENSE OF calories in a subsistence situation. Forage nettles, dandelion, plantain, cleavers, miner's lettuce, cat's ears, and so on. More often than not you'll end up with better nutrition than anything you could grow. See Jo Robinson's Eating on the Wild Side for the research on that very subject. Though I think soil quality has a greater impact than her book suggests, certainly the further we breed plants away from their wild state, the more we reduce their nutritive qualities. The only reason to grow greens versus foraging is for ease of harvest, not for nutrition. Which yes, means I'll grow fall and winter greens so I don't have to go out foraging in the rain, versus merely popping out to the garden.
 
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Regarding burdock, I do not have as high an opinion of it as food.  I've tried it from my own yard, and even had commercially grown roots delivered by CSA. Struck me as famine food,  skinny and stringy compared to other roots veg.  I find the taste reminiscent of dirt. But then, I'm not a big fan of artichokes or sunchokes so maybe there is something my taste buds don't get.
 
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People keep asking about greens, so it’s clear that many people here are too affluent to understand the problem I’m trying to solve (and I do mean too affluent, not very affluent... which is an important distinction; like the difference between first world poor and third world poor), or else have no personal concept of job loss, debilitating illness, or natural or man-made disaster. Let me see if I can create a thought experiment to help people understand (and many thanks to all of those who understand what I'm working on and have provided much needed insights.)

Imagine you have $0. No savings, no piggy bank, no birthday money. You have no income and no job prospects. You have minimal food stores (enough to see you through to your first harvest, but not beyond that.) You live in a remote part of a country with no social safety nets (or with a government so overrun with the realities of COVID-19 that those safety nets fail.) The only thing you have to see you through the next year is what you can grow (and to a lesser extent, what you can hunt and forage.) You have the seeds (or other propagation materials) that you've saved, bartered for, or acquired with the last few dollars you had, and you have more than enough land to grow on. What, then, do you grow to make sure you see it to the next year?

You can't buy beans, rice, flour, etc. when you run out, and there are no food banks, food stamps, or other services to provide you with free meals. You can't drive into town (or anywhere else) for supplies or foraging opportunities. You can only get to where your own two legs will carry you, and you are at least 30 mile roundtrip walk from the nearest thing resembling civilization.

You CAN have livestock, but you also have to grow all of THEIR food, since you don't have money to buy feed with (assuming you don't have breeds that can forage for 100% of their food.)

Even if you have something you could normally sell for some extra cash (eggs, fire wood, plant starts, etc.), things have gotten so bad that no one is buying.

What do you grow?

Are you planning to eat 10 pounds of kale a day? Or 16 pounds of turnips?

Even if you were, the average human stomach can comfortably process about 5 pounds of food a day. (Even when people are obese, that general rule still applies; the problem is the quantity of calories coming from unnaturally calorie dense processed foods: 5 pounds of sugar contains nearly 9,000 calories and 5 pounds of oil contains over 20,000 calories.) Root/tuber/rhizome crops won't even get you to 2,000 calories if you eat 5 pounds, but they'll get you close. 5 pounds of cooked amaranth is a mere 2,300 calories, with other grains and legumes falling roughly in that range.

You certainly CAN eat processed foods if you grow/forage AND process them (such as if you grew enough sunflowers to process your own oil.) Otherwise it's 100% whole foods.

So, what do you grow?

You can forage pounds of "wild" greens every day and never run out. Are you going to make growing greens a top priority?

I get that most people in the first world are hyper focused on growing nutrition because that's what's lacking in the supermarket and calories seem so cheap and readily available, but what if they weren't? What if you didn't have access to those cheap calories (to say nothing of their quality)? How are you making it through the year?

THAT is the problem I'm trying to solve. Growing nutrient-dense food is an unnecessary luxury just so that you don't have to go out foraging, but that's what it is: an unnecessary luxury. Calories are not a luxury. They're the problem you have to solve before you can put time and energy into anything else.

When the universe doesn't care about your idealism, your comfort, or you regular supply chains, what do you grow?

And as I've said repeatedly, this isn't (necessarily) the totality of what you grow, but as with any pre-industrial civilization or subsistence farmer, it has to be the first priority. Staples can be stored. If you get 10% of you calories from kale, or it's a good hunting year, then great. The extra calories from your staples can sit on a shelf until you need them. You hope for the best, but you prepare for the worst.

See: Rob Greenfield's Growing & Foraging 100% Of My Own Food (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHrhas5pE0W47hLTW9N5bu5R42n9UeHzx)
See: Carol Deppe's The Resilient Gardener
See: Steve Solomon's Gardening When It Counts
 
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Mk Neal wrote:Regarding burdock, I do not have as high an opinion of it as food.  I've tried it from my own yard, and even had commercially grown roots delivered by CSA. Struck me as famine food,  skinny and stringy compared to other roots veg.  I find the taste reminiscent of dirt. But then, I'm not a big fan of artichokes or sunchokes so maybe there is something my taste buds don't get.



Yeah. I got mixed opinions when I asked around. We debated if there was any difference between what grows wild and named cultivars, but no one could say for sure.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:People keep asking about greens, so it’s clear that many people here are too affluent to understand the problem I’m trying to solve (and I do mean too affluent, not very affluent... which is an important distinction; like the difference between first world poor and third world poor), or else have no personal concept of job loss, debilitating illness, or natural or man-made disaster. Let me see if I can create a thought experiment to help people understand (and many thanks to all of those who understand what I'm working on and have provided much needed insights.)
I get that most people in the first world are hyper focused on growing nutrition because that's what's lacking in the supermarket and calories seem so cheap and readily available, but what if they weren't? What if you didn't have access to those cheap calories (to say nothing of their quality)? How are you making it through the year? .....

THAT is the problem I'm trying to solve. Growing nutrient-dense food is an unnecessary luxury just so that you don't have to go out foraging, but that's what it is: an unnecessary luxury. Calories are not a luxury. They're the problem you have to solve before you can put time and energy into anything else.

When the universe doesn't care about your idealism, your comfort, or you regular supply chains, what do you grow?



In my professional life, many of my clients are subsistence farmers from Central America. What I hear from them is, if anyone has even a tiny plot of land, they plant corn, and then more corn, and add some beans. Corn is a vegetable and a grain. It does not spoil and (relatively) easy to process by hand. Many families live on atole and tortillas day in and day out. The other fruits and vegetables are nice extras. If you have enough good land to feed your family on corn, that is the good life, and those who don't have the land and need to buy corn instead are hard up. If you have no good land, you raise chickens or goats/sheep to sell meat and eggs to buy corn.

Totally different from urban gardeners here, where we concentrate, like you say, on the vitamin-packed "extras" like tomatoes, peppers, spinach, etc.
 
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Mk Neal wrote:

In my professional life, many of my clients are subsistence farmers from Central America. What I hear from them is, if anyone has even a tiny plot of land, they plant corn, and then more corn, and add some beans. Corn is a vegetable and a grain. It does not spoil and (relatively) easy to process by hand. Many families live on atole and tortillas day in and day out. The other fruits and vegetables are nice extras. If you have enough good land to feed your family on corn, that is the good life, and those who don't have the land and need to buy corn instead are hard up. If you have no good land, you raise chickens or goats/sheep to sell meat and eggs to buy corn.

Totally different from urban gardeners here, where we concentrate, like you say, on the vitamin-packed "extras" like tomatoes, peppers, spinach, etc.



Exactly! Most people, traditionally, would have subsisted on relatively few crops, like corn and beans. Everything else was an extra. Growing the variety represented here would have been impossible, if only because there wasn't historical overlap between all of these crops (though, it does lean heavily toward American versus Eurasian and African crops, if only because I can't grow good quality cereal grains here, and because they're more finicky to harvest and process that the grains which I've included.) The only reason I'm representing such a broad diversity of crops is because of the resilience that comes from diversifying, and because I'm a bit spoiled from the diversity of food that's been available to me, having grown up in this time and place. At any other time in human history, and in many places still today, people would not have balked at eating mostly the same food every day with only the vegetables and meat accompanying them changing from day to day.

It's kind of ironic. The average American eats something like 20-30 different plants, whereas the horticultural people that predate them ate somewhere in the range of 200-400 species. We've diversified our staples, but we've practically eliminated our vegetables and herbs. But heaven forbid if we had to go back to only eating a couple of staple foods πŸ˜‚
 
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This thread has been a bit of an eye opener for me as I have not studied the aspect of calories vs nutrition in one's diet. I have been operating on the perhaps incorrect assumption that nutrition was most important but what good does that do you if you don't have the energy to do your chores everyday? Never really occurred to me to  consider the calories needed for that.

Last night I went out and pulled some nice turnips. Previously I thought turnips were great and I still do because they are very easy to grow, just throw out some seeds in early fall and harvest them all winter, leaving some to set seed the next spring. You expend very few calories growing them but I looked up their calorie content and found a medium sized one has about 24 so you'd have to eat about a hundred of them to drag yourself out of bed the next day.

I also never knew there was so much nutrition in the weeds growing around so just for that you don't have to do a whole lot except go out and pick it. I'm not especially fond of dandelions but hey, better than nothing.

 
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Mark Reed wrote:This thread has been a bit of an eye opener for me as I have not studied the aspect of calories vs nutrition in one's diet. I have been operating on the perhaps incorrect assumption that nutrition was most important but what good does that do you if you don't have the energy to do your chores everyday? Never really occurred to me to  consider the calories needed for that.

Last night I went out and pulled some nice turnips. Previously I thought turnips were great and I still do because they are very easy to grow, just throw out some seeds in early fall and harvest them all winter, leaving some to set seed the next spring. You expend very few calories growing them but I looked up their calorie content and found a medium sized one has about 24 so you'd have to eat about a hundred of them to drag yourself out of bed the next day.

I also never knew there was so much nutrition in the weeds growing around so just for that you don't have to do a whole lot except go out and pick it. I'm not especially fond of dandelions but hey, better than nothing.



Yeah. I was super surprised to learn that, gram for gram, kale has more calories than turnips. I mean, I've become rather fond of turnips, but a survival food they are not.

Regarding dandelions, I find that shade grown leaves have the best flavor. You can make dandelion chips, much like you'd make kale chips. A little bit of your sweetener of choice helps to cut the bitterness if you do end up with the odd bitter leaf. And doesn't hurt when, in this context, you're trying to add calories anyway. πŸ˜‰
 
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Here's something for everyone worried about nutrition or protein or whatever.  

On cronometer I plugged in Matthew's daily average intake of each crop from his original spreadsheet.  I know you wouldn't be eating everything every day normally, but it gives an idea of the overall diet.  Achira, oca, and tarwi weren't in the database, so I just left them out and ended up with a little under 2000 calories per day.  I chose black beans as they were first in the list, but different beans do have slightly different nutrient profiles.  I tried it out with a couple other kinds and didn't see any major changes overall, so left it as is.

So first off, 70g of protein!  Yowza!  That's plenty for pretty much anyone, and all essential amino acids accounted for.

As far as vitamins and minerals go, that all looks pretty good, too.  We're a little short on calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin K  We'll ignore the B12, since you'll be heading out of the garden for that anyway.  While North American guidelines recommend 1000g of calcium daily, UK guidelines are 700g for adults.  So we're actually probably fine for calcium, but let's shoot for the higher number anyway.

I added 120g of turnip greens to the list.  I usually eat about 200g of greens with a meal, so 120g is a pretty palatable amount, I think.  And that alone was enough to top up those three we were short on.

I didn't screenshot it, but the omega 3 to 6 ratio is about 1:10.  I aim for 1:4 at least, so I'd want to do something about that for myself.  I could grow flax or chia and, where I live, I could forage plantain and evening primrose seeds for omega 3s.

All in all, I'd say Matthew's diet looks pretty healthy!


staples.jpg
[Thumbnail for staples.jpg]
nutrition.jpg
[Thumbnail for nutrition.jpg]
nutrition2.jpg
after adding turnip greens
after adding turnip greens
 
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Jan White wrote:Here's something for everyone worried about nutrition or protein or whatever.  

On cronometer I plugged in Matthew's daily average intake of each crop from his original spreadsheet.  I know you wouldn't be eating everything every day normally, but it gives an idea of the overall diet.  Achira, oca, and tarwi weren't in the database, so I just left them out and ended up with a little under 2000 calories per day.  I chose black beans as they were first in the list, but different beans do have slightly different nutrient profiles.  I tried it out with a couple other kinds and didn't see any major changes overall, so left it as is.

So first off, 70g of protein!  Yowza!  That's plenty for pretty much anyone, and all essential amino acids accounted for.

As far as vitamins and minerals go, that all looks pretty good, too.  We're a little short on calcium, vitamin E, and vitamin K  We'll ignore the B12, since you'll be heading out of the garden for that anyway.  While North American guidelines recommend 1000g of calcium daily, UK guidelines are 700g for adults.  So we're actually probably fine for calcium, but let's shoot for the higher number anyway.

I added 120g of turnip greens to the list.  I usually eat about 200g of greens with a meal, so 120g is a pretty palatable amount, I think.  And that alone was enough to top up those three we were short on.

I didn't screenshot it, but the omega 3 to 6 ratio is about 1:10.  I aim for 1:4 at least, so I'd want to do something about that for myself.  I could grow flax or chia and, where I live, I could forage plantain and evening primrose seeds for omega 3s.

All in all, I'd say Matthew's diet looks pretty healthy!




Wow. Even I didn't expect those kinds of numbers. That's awesome.
 
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And I'm not sure how the nutrient profiles differ, and most of them won't be in any database, but the greens of amaranth, squash, oca, sweet potato, scorzonera, and probably a few of the others are edible in addition to the main harvest. I've mentioned foraging a lot, but in reality you could get most or all of your greens from these same crops. And if a little bit of greenery is all it takes to round out the diet, they're already self-contained.

Thanks a lot, Jan. Nutrition that wasn't my goal when I put this together, but it's really cool to see that it ended up so balanced and nutrient dense wholly by accident. I would have never guessed.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:And I'm not sure how the nutrient profiles differ, and most of them won't be in any database, but the greens of amaranth, squash, oca, sweet potato, scorzonera, and probably a few of the others are edible in addition to the main harvest. I've mentioned foraging a lot, but in reality you could get most or all of your greens from these same crops. And if a little bit of greenery is all it takes to round out the diet, they're already self-contained.

Thanks a lot, Jan. Nutrition that wasn't my goal when I put this together, but it's really cool to see that it ended up so balanced and nutrient dense wholly by accident. I would have never guessed.



I used turnip greens because I knew they're particularly high in vitamin E and calcium and little bit of them would take care of the three nutrients in one go. You'd probably have to eat more volume and variety of other greens to get the same nutrients, but yeah, I suspect you'd be good to go.
 
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So, sounds like as long as you keep a little variety too it, covering calories pretty much covers it all.
 
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Also, with regard to Omega 3's... both squash seeds and tarwi are relatively good sources, though I imagine they push the overall fatty acid ratio in the opposite direction.

What Carol Deppe recommends in The Resilient Gardener is pastured eggs, especially duck eggs.

Wild game (and some grass-feed livestock) also have an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of about 2:1, at least for larger ruminants like deer, elk, and antelope. Hunting may be preferable to keeping livestock in that regard; if calories and nutrition are already sorted then you aren't necessarily depending on meat as a source of calories and you could risk an unsuccessful hunt for the benefit of the fatty acid breakdown.

But flax is definitely a good choice. I seriously considered adding it to the list, and I may yet given these numbers. If for no other reason, it makes a great egg substitute in baked goods, either in lieu of poultry, or when the laying slows down/stops for winter.
 
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Mark Reed wrote:So, sounds like as long as you keep a little variety too it, covering calories pretty much covers it all.



That's definitely the sense I got from reading Solomon and Deppe and others, but I wouldn't have believed it before I saw Jan's numbers. I honestly expected to need to add a bunch of different vegetables to balance it out.
 
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Unfortunately I am pretty ignorant on the important aspects of producing a balanced diet. I know it generally, fresh food is good for you but never delved into the real details. Joseph Lofthouse recommended Clary Sage for Omega 3. I got some and it grew like a weed, got about 4 feet tall and bushy, made tons of seeds. We didn't like it cause the whole plant has a weird unpleasant smell but it self seeded and there is a lot of it out there.  Birds got most of the seed and I think every one they missed is now growing. I'm going to transplant it out of the garden proper and keep it around, looks like something that will establish basically wild if given just a little help. it sprouts easy, transplants easy and resists removal. It's a weed but maybe a good one.  I guess the seeds are the source of the Omega acid. It is also another great plant for green mulch.

How about fish? I'm much better at that and enjoy it more than hunting. I don't think our fish have the good fats like salmon but they are tasty.

You mentioned sweeting the dandelions, where we gonna get sweetener, sugar caneoops sorghum ?  It grows good here, and I guess there is honey, I've thought about that but never tired it. Or maybe maple syrup but goodness that's a lot of work.

I've researched sweet potatoes a lot, mostly as it relates to breeding but along the way have come across other info. I guess the greens are regarded as some kind of superfood, unfortunately I don't like them all that much. I could get over that though, need be.
 
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Mark Reed wrote:Unfortunately I am pretty ignorant on the important aspects of producing a balanced diet. I know it generally, fresh food is good for you but never delved into the real details. Joseph Lofthouse recommended Clary Sage for Omega 3. I got some and it grew like a weed, got about 4 feet tall and bushy, made tons of seeds. We didn't like it cause the whole plant has a weird unpleasant smell but it self seeded and there is a lot of it out there.  Birds got most of the seed and I think every one they missed is now growing. I'm going to transplant it out of the garden proper and keep it around, looks like something that will establish basically wild if given just a little help. it sprouts easy, transplants easy and resists removal. It's a weed but maybe a good one.  I guess the seeds are the source of the Omega acid. It is also another great plant for green mulch.

How about fish? I'm much better at that and enjoy it more than hunting. I don't think our fish have the good fats like salmon but they are tasty.

You mentioned sweeting the dandelions, where we gonna get sweetener, sugar caneoops sorghum ?  It grows good here, and I guess there is honey, I've thought about that but never tired it. Or maybe maple syrup but goodness that's a lot of work.

I've researched sweet potatoes a lot, mostly as it relates to breeding but along the way have come across other info. I guess the greens are regarded as some kind of superfood, unfortunately I don't like them all that much. I could get over that though, need be.



Clary sage is unknown to me, but Joseph knows what he's talking about, so I might look into that.

IIRC, fatty salt water fish are better sources of omega 3's than fresh water (top choices being thing like salmon, mackerel, etc.) But I'm with you. I'd rather fish than hunt, especially for large game.

As far as sweetening dandelions, I mostly meant in a non-subsistence/survival situation... as a way to get more of them into the diet. But there are definitely things that can be processed into syrup/sugar. Yacon, sorghum (depending on variety),  maple, birch, sugar cane, most fruits, and honey. Probably more, depending on location. Or they can just be added into stir fries and soups where the other flavors can balance them out. But honestly I'd probably opt for nettles, etc., if the dandelions I could get weren't especially palatable.
 
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Now that Jan has gotten my wheels turning, I ran the current list of crops through chronometer. My current numbers are well above 2,000 calories, since I'm calculating for my total growing space, plus everything in my breeding projects. I backed everything off and took achira out of the mix, since I can't find good numbers for it anywhere.

I added oca based on the nutritional info provided by Cultivariable, so it unfortunately lacks specific lipid and amino acid breakdowns. I swapped lupinis for tarwi; they're different species, but I think the nutrient breakdowns are fairly similar. In that same vein, I substituted salsify for scorzonera, since the latter isn't in the database (though salsify does have slightly more calories.)

I added a few greens of my own, based on Jan's addition of turnips greens. While many of these crops have edible greens, only amaranth greens were in the database. I also added mountain sorrel as an alternative to oca leaves, since mountain sorrel is the native (non-tuber-forming) form of oxalis and should have a relatively similar nutrient breakdown. Since none of the other greens were in the database, I added some turnip and dandelion greens to round it out. I added 50g of each green, which may be more than necessary.

Trying to even out the omega 3's and add some b12, I also added 3 eggs, which is about what I get when my current flock is at full production. The research indicates that eggs from pastured hens are higher in omega 3, but I couldn't find any eggs in the database that had relevant omega 3 values, so those numbers are probably slightly better than suggested.

All in all, even if there are a few things that could be tweaked, I'd hazard a guess that this is more balanced and nutritious than at least 90% of American diets.
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How about mustard greens? They grow like weeds here too and the volunteers out there right now are fine eating since they have been frosted a few times. Oca and other crops of similar origin would never grow here I'm sure.

A crop I've dabbled with a little bit though is dahlias they grow great and like sweet potatoes produce large roots from seed. I have two that I've saved for replanting that don't taste quite as much like perfume as most. I just started with a pack of seed from Baker Creek, I think they were called Mignon dahlias. They make probably two pounds of roots per plant from seed. Some seeds I got from Lofthouse produced even more but they tried to take over the world. He described them as getting waist high I think, may be if your 20 feet tall. Apparently dahlias like my soil and climate. Not yet convinced though on their value for food.
 
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Mark Reed wrote:How about mustard greens? They grow like weeds here too and the volunteers out there right now are fine eating since they have been frosted a few times. Oca and other crops of similar origin would never grow here I'm sure.

A crop I've dabbled with a little bit though is dahlias they grow great and like sweet potatoes produce large roots from seed. I have two that I've saved for replanting that don't taste quite as much like perfume as most. I just started with a pack of seed from Baker Creek, I think they were called Mignon dahlias. They make probably two pounds of roots per plant from seed. Some seeds I got from Lofthouse produced even more but they tried to take over the world. He described them as getting waist high I think, may be if your 20 feet tall. Apparently dahlias like my soil and climate. Not yet convinced though on their value for food.



I believe mustard is roughly comparable to kale in terms of nutrient density, but I'm not sure what the specific nutrient breakdown is.

I have Cultivariable's edible dahlia breeding mix on my wish list, but it's not super high priority for me right now. Maybe I'll get it as a holiday gift, otherwise probably won't happen this year. And I've definitely never seen dahlias at 20ft. tall. Waist height would definitely be pushing it for most varieties, but I think they originated in a warmer range than most tuber species, so it wouldn't surprise me that they got taller in a warmer climate.
 
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Ha, I was exaggerating a little. I meant it the person was 20 feet tall the dahlias might have been waist high. Actually they were in range of four to six feet and spread nearly than much, side branches broke under the weight of rain.  The Mignon type that I got from Baker Creek were described at 18 - 24 inches but most of them get about three feet, maybe a little more. I envy you folks out in PNW for some of the interesting things you can grow. On the other hand I can grow some things you can't so guess it all works out.  

The seeds I got from Baker Creek were advertised as being eatable but I doubt anyone has really been breeding them specifically for that. Out of about fifty the first year I had eight that didn't taste too bad. Two of those survived the winter buried under some leaves. I'm using those two as breeding material. The first year they grew large clumps of roots that I replanted intact. That was a mistake as they did not grow many new ones this year, the old ones just got bigger and all scabby and ragged looking. Probably better to divide and plant individually to encourage new fresh ones instead.
 
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Mark Reed wrote:Ha, I was exaggerating a little. I meant it the person was 20 feet tall the dahlias might have been waist high. Actually they were in range of four to six feet and spread nearly than much, side branches broke under the weight of rain.  The Mignon type that I got from Baker Creek were described at 18 - 24 inches but most of them get about three feet, maybe a little more. I envy you folks out in PNW for some of the interesting things you can grow. On the other hand I can grow some things you can't so guess it all works out.  

The seeds I got from Baker Creek were advertised as being eatable but I doubt anyone has really been breeding them specifically for that. Out of about fifty the first year I had eight that didn't taste too bad. Two of those survived the winter buried under some leaves. I'm using those two as breeding material. The first year they grew large clumps of roots that I replanted intact. That was a mistake as they did not grow many new ones this year, the old ones just got bigger and all scabby and ragged looking. Probably better to divide and plant individually to encourage new fresh ones instead.



I figured you were exaggerating a bit, but I've also seen the 20ft. heirloom corns from Central and South America, and sunflowers around that height as well, so I certainly wouldn't be surprised if some dahlia varieties got that tall in the right soil and climate.

The envy goes both ways, though I'm sure you can ultimately grow more than I can. I'm planning to experiment with excluding light from my oca and see if that increases yields. Basically the same idea as adding supplemental light for chickens so they continue to lay through fall and winter, but I'm reverse. I have a theory that you could cover them at night and only uncover them when there are 11 or 12 hours of light left so that you can trigger them to tuberize earlier in the season. They'd probably still need afternoon shade somewhere that it got really hot (and there are probably limits even then), but that would massively increase their range. Certainly wouldn't be practical to grow them on a commercial scale, but it would be practical for the home grower to produce 10-20 pounds or more. And the same techniques could be applied to the other Andean crops if it works.

And that's good information on the dahlias. I might end up growing since this year after all. Time will tell.
 
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Hi Mathew, this is AMAZING analytics! Would you be willing to share your spreadsheet with me? I am currently working on a nonprofit project working with metro-Atlanta local growers are donating produces to supplement the dry goods at local food banks to help with the mounting food scarcity issue. If we could encourage the right kinds of plants to be grown, it would increase the benefit to the local community. This could also be a terrific took for educational purposes! I am happy to sight the source (if that is something of interest). Jeanne Young (jeannemyoung@yahoo.com)
 
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Jeanne Young wrote:Hi Mathew, this is AMAZING analytics! Would you be willing to share your spreadsheet with me? I am currently working on a nonprofit project working with metro-Atlanta local growers are donating produces to supplement the dry goods at local food banks to help with the mounting food scarcity issue. If we could encourage the right kinds of plants to be grown, it would increase the benefit to the local community. This could also be a terrific took for educational purposes! I am happy to sight the source (if that is something of interest). Jeanne Young (jeannemyoung@yahoo.com)



It's my intention to share it, but we currently don't have internet. They shut us off for using too much. Hooray for country life. πŸ™„

Soon as we have internet again, I'll make it available. Whenever that is.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:And while I'm going down the root crop rabbit hole, how do people feel about burdock as far as eating quality? It's been on my radar, but I've never had it and I've never heard any rave reviews about it. The calorie count makes it a good fit for this project, but I feel like it might be one of those things that I'd eat if I were desperate, but wouldn't go out of my way for. And garden-wise, it seems like the kind of thing you'd treat like sunchokes: put it somewhere you don't mind it coming back every year.


Because of it's  seeding habit not recommended. Use curly dock instead. Good for breaking up clay soil. Will come up with broadforking in the spring. Puts up a seed stalk with seeds that look like coffee grinds. I have them available if you would like.
 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:
Because of it's  seeding habit not recommended. Use curly dock instead. Good for breaking up clay soil. Will come up with broadforking in the spring. Puts up a seed stalk with seeds that look like coffee grinds. I have them available if you would like.



Burdock has not naturalized here, and it's widely available in our seed catalogs and in Asian/high end supermarkets. Plus, it's a biennial. If it's grown for roots, it will never even set seed.

Curly dock isn't a root vegetable according to any guide I've ever seen. Medicinal, but too bitter to be considered a culinary vegetable. Further, the two plants aren't in the same genus (nor family, nor order), and curly dock is similarly invasive and sets far more seed than burdock.

Unless there's some special way to prepare the roots for eating that I haven't heard of, curly dock's similar common name is all the two plants have in common.
 
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A friend in California sent me some patience dock roots. I think it's really about the same as curly dock but it is bigger, leaves a little wider than the wild curly dock. I haven't tried it cooked fresh young leaves in moderation are a decent addition to a salad.

Something I think I forgot to mention in earlier posts is peanuts. I grew them first time this past season and like cowpeas I was impressed with production. I bet they are pretty good on the calorie scale.

I think I also forgot to mention that some of the cowpeas I have came from a friend in Minnesota, they are a very short, very bushy, very productive and short season type. Mathew, send me your address if you want some.
 
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Popping in to say that our internet has finally been restored (we apparently went over an unstated data cap and had our service terminated... hooray for country internet.) I'm cleaning up the spreadsheet, fixing all of the lazy workarounds I employed so that it will useable by people other than me, adding some documentation and an FAQ to succinctly cover things that have already been covered in this thread, and just adding other useability improvements. I'm expecting to have it done sometime tonight or tomorrow, depending on how fussy I get about the details.

Mark Reed wrote:Something I think I forgot to mention in earlier posts is peanuts. I grew them first time this past season and like cowpeas I was impressed with production. I bet they are pretty good on the calorie scale.

I think I also forgot to mention that some of the cowpeas I have came from a friend in Minnesota, they are a very short, very bushy, very productive and short season type. Mathew, send me your address if you want some.



Peanuts would be a good one, but they're definitely fall under the "won't produce here" umbrella for me. I mean, it's something I'm definitely interested in playing around with here when some of my other breeding projects slow down, but I haven't heard of anyone in my neck of the woods having even minimal success.

What variety are the cowpeas, do you know? I suspect they're probably the same variety I already have, but I'm certainly interested in any other varieties that might work here. Though, in reality, I suspect that the bigger issue for me is tolerance to cool temperatures rather than having something that can produce in a short season. Our season length isn't really the problem for the more southerly crops, it's just that we never get hot enough.
 
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My summer was hot enough for the peanuts.   but the spring was too favorable for the slugs.  They were growing nicely then they just disappeared while I was busy planting other things.
 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:My summer was hot enough for the peanuts.   but the spring was too favorable for the slugs.  They were growing nicely then they just disappeared while I was busy planting other things.



That's the worst. Had the same problem with peas and sunflowers this year. πŸ™
 
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