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What is the easiest calorie crop to grow and process?  RSS feed

 
Michelle Bisson
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From a nutrition and caloric comparison, how does potatoes compare with squash.  Would you replace pototes with squash in a meal?
 
Paul Gutches
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We have that problem here too.

I try to keep the ground cold as long as possible to delay bud break.
I do not remove the heavy mulch in the spring.  (or ever for that matter)

Could also place it north of something slightly taller so it doesn't start getting that penetrating UV until you're further along into the spring season.

Gilbert Fritz wrote:I never realized that wisterias could be edible, that is great information! Then again, late frost tends to catch the buds here.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I just read somewhere that wisteria is toxic, in fact deadly; anybody have further thoughts?
 
Cl Robinson
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The blooms are edible, everything else is toxic, so toxic that 2 beans could kill a child.  I have not tried them yet, but intend to this spring.
 
Paul Gutches
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PFAF reports that the seed of the Japanese wisteria is edible when baked. 
I had presumed that the agent responsible is destroyed in the baking process...
Seed - cooked[105, 177, 183]. When baked in a fire they have much the same flavour as chestnuts
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Wisteria+floribunda

The Eat The Weeds article from which it seems you quoted the info about the deadliness of the seeds also reports further down...
"In Japan young leaves of the W. floribunda (aka W. macrobotrys and W. multijuga)) are cooked and eaten, blossoms are blanched. The seeds are roasted."

And TC Permaculture reports:
"There are also many reports of traditional cultures, especially in Asia, that eat many parts of this plant. It is quite likely that heat destroys this toxic compound."

So... yes the seed has a history of edible use but you should probably approach this plant with caution nonetheless.

I have a very adventurous and curious attitude toward plants, which is why I mentioned it.  I forget that most others don't share that. 

There are lots of valuable plants that westerners have ignored due to misinformation and handed down taboos, and wisteria could well be one of them.


Cl Robinson wrote:The blooms are edible, everything else is toxic, so toxic that 2 beans could kill a child.  I have not tried them yet, but intend to this spring.
 
Paul Gutches
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An added benefit of squash are the seeds.

They are delicious when baked with a little salt and high in protein. 

Michelle Bisson wrote:From a nutrition and caloric comparison, how does potatoes compare with squash.  Would you replace pototes with squash in a meal?
 
Kirk Schonfeldt
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When I lived on the Front Range I found corn, beans, squash and potatoes to all be easy and reliable with modest irrigation (assuming you've got decent soil and keep it mulched). I grew SW native corns and beans. Some squashes will keep until the next crop in your living room (or a basement or cool back room). I kept potatoes in a cardboard box in my unheated, unattached garage and all varieties kept in fine condition until at least March. I also experimented with hulless barleys for a few years and liked working with them and though they're not as easy to process as the other crops. Also, much of the Front Range gets about half its annual precipitation in Mar-May so crops you can plant in early spring have a real advantage (and its why dryland wheat crops are still viable there if no longer commercially important). For this reason consider hulless barley, dry (soup) peas, chickpeas, etc. After a couple of years I stopped irrigating my sunchokes and they survived just fine, though I don't find them as versatile in the kitchen enough to include them as a major staple. Hazelnuts may also be a good bet as they're high in protein and fat. I didn't use them as a major staple but I harvested lots of wild plums and processed them into jam, fruit leather and wine. I found them both truly wild and planted as native landscaping and found virtually all of them to produce excellent crops every year and they are delicious when fully ripe aka falling off tree (a bit of a mango/apricot flavor with a slight astringency in the skin). Chokecherries too might be another native in that category.

Cheers!
 
Amit Enventres
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The problem with growing animals is the theory of conservation of energy. They must consume calories from another source, process them (joules lost to heat and muscle motion) go forage more (joules lost to heat and muscle motion), before you actually go and slaughter, process, and find some way of preserving it. Not to mention, animals grow other things besides meat, like bones and teeth, which take a long time to return to return to being plants and then an animal again.

Pecans and almonds are not really designed for dry climates. Walnuts are. Acorns are. I read pistachios are. I am not 100% sure, but I believe filberts are too (and sounds like they grow around you). Unlike an annual crop, trees pull nutrients and water from deep, requiring less care. They do get pests, but so does every plant. Imitate nature-plant a bunch, and a bunch of types.

Anything a tree drops decomposes rather fast and mulches back to feed it's self. It doesn't move, so you don't have energy loss from muscle movement. Yes, you can eat a smaller percent of a tree than of an animal, but when you consider the calorie content of the annual growth versus the calorie out put in nuts, I don't think it's so drastically different. And, unlike a byproduct of bones, wood and leaves can be used for heating and cooking. Also, unlike animals trees provide habitat for other things.

Short-term annual crops do very well because you get that fast result - 3 months your holding food! Versus 5 years and you get a basket full. However, being this is a forum at Permies, the idea of long-term should be considered. I say plant the trees, grow squash up and around them, release your ducks in for clean-up and eat it all. This year you eat squash. Next year you eat duck, eggs, and squash. Three to four years you eat duck, eggs, nuts, and squash. Five years you eat nuts, eggs, and duck, and don't have to plant anything from then on to get those calories. In theory.
 
Sharon Carson
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I grow nuts,beans and corn for long term stable protein . I also grow winter squash which keeps a year ,sweet potatoes and white potatoes and grain Amaranth. Of course there is also fruits and veggies which are canned, frozen and dried and home grown meats .
 
R Scott
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There is a conservation of energy issue if done improperly, but animals can convert energy from an unusable form (such as hard) into a usable one. 
 
Kyrt Ryder
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R Scott wrote:There is a conservation of energy issue if done improperly, but animals can convert energy from an unusable form (such as hard) into a usable one. 

Such as 'hard'

Another point is that animals are excellent at collecting energy spread in a very inaccessible/problematic form and concentrate it into something far more practical [at the cost of a certain amount of entropy.]

Poultry concentrating insects being an excellent example.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Michelle Bisson wrote:From a nutrition and caloric comparison, how does potatoes compare with squash.  Would you replace pototes with squash in a meal?


Squash is much lower in calories than potatoes.  Squash = 40 calories per 100 grams versus potatoes = 90 calories per 100 grams.  So you would need to eat more than twice as much squash to get the same amount of calories as from potatoes.  It wouldn't be practically possible to get most of your calories from squash.  Squash are significantly higher in vitamins A and C, so definitely an important nutritious food.
 
Tobias Ber
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has anybody considered adding some nettles?
they have 49 kcal per 100g and 5,5g of protein. (that s for fresh nettles, not dried)
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Why do nettles have a higher calorie amount per pound then, say lettuce?
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:Why do nettles have a higher calorie amount per pound then, say lettuce?
The protein is the main reason.

5.5 grams of protein comes out to approximately 22 calories before accounting for whatever carbohydrates are in there.
 
Sharon Carson
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I have 30 black walnut trees and 6 pecans just beginning to bear . There are also 30 fruit trees and grapes and berries as well as lots of herbs and annual vegetables. I grow chickens and rabbits for meat and eggs. It has taken almost 40 years to get to this point. I ALSo grow and use nettle... lots of it. I sell fresh nettle in the spring and dry the leaves and sell the dried leaf ,seed and tinctures of the root, the seed and the leaf . I don't know the protein quantity but the nutritional content is powerful . I drink infusions of the dried leaf with some other herbs added like mint of sacred basil as a nourishing drink . The dried leaves are also fed to chicks and used in making biodynamic preparations for the compost pile and soil . I have not yet tried to make cordage with the stems!!!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Since protein is preserved through drying, I wonder if dried nettle leaves could be considered a calorie crop, even if the fresh leaves have too few calories to be considered a practical calorie crop?

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Time upfront seems to be an important factor.

As far as nettle, they are 82 % water. So when dried, they would be about 18 % of their original bulk, while retaining their carbohydrate and protein.

Making a leaf cheese out of them might be even better, since that would also remove indigestible fiber and any tannins they might contain.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Is there a thread about leaf cheese?  I can't find anything about it under that name.

 
Kyrt Ryder
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Is there a thread about leaf cheese?  I can't find anything about it under that name.

You can try googling Leaf Curd, Leaf Concentrate or Leafu. Couple of links to get you started.

Nettle example

Alternate example

Field Guide

As a note on this, Patrick Whitefield [R.I.P.] spoke very favorably of Leaf Curd as a protein source in his Earthcare Manual for temperate climate permaculture.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, that's really fascinating!
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I think it is too; just have to get a move on and actually start experimenting! Top on my list are Linden leaves.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:I think it is too; just have to get a move on and actually start experimenting! Top on my list are Linden leaves.

I'm interested in experimenting with White Mulberry myself.
 
Sonya Yenser
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eric koperek wrote:TO:     Glibert Fritz
FROM:     Eric Koperek = erickoperek@gmail.com
SUBJECT:     Calorie Crops
DATE:     PM 8:34 Wednesday 3 August 2016
TEXT:

(1)     Grow turnips.

(2)     You can grow more calories per acre by planting turnips than by planting any other food crop.  C4 plants (like maize) are more efficient at converting sunlight into sugar, but turnips (a C3 plant) grow much faster and tolerate cold climates.  You can harvest a crop of turnips every 40 days.  Grow multiple crops in sequence.  Over the course of a season or year this adds up to a great mountain of calories, about 19 tons of turnips per acre every 40 days or 9 crops per year = 171 TONS of turnips per acre every year (365 days).  No other crop, temperate or tropical, can match this productivity.

ERIC KOPEREK = erickoperek@gmail.com

end comment
Hi, Eric. I'm looking for a way to supplement my chicken feed. Would you recommend turnips for chickens? Thanks!
 
S Tonin
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I'll preface this by saying I'm really only a hobby gardener (by permies standards) and don't have enough usable space to produce enough to feed myself from the land I have access to.  So this and $1 will get you a cup of gas station coffee.

Amaranth is supposed to be comparable in calories to maize and rice and was an Aztec staple.  This is my first year trying it, more for fun than expecting any usable yield.  I've gotten about a cup of grain from two large heads (slightly immature, knocked over by a storm); the two plants took up less than one square foot of growing space and were interplanted with winter squashes, so didn't really compete (and I can't say if they affected squash yield either way, or had any other positive or negative effects; it's been a wacky year all around). 

The processing has been time-consuming, but would probably be more efficient on a larger scale.  I let them dry hanging mostly inside a 5-gallon bucket and would bang them against the sides periodically to release the seed, then rub them between my hands, bang again, and wait for them to dry more before doing it again the next time I passed by the bucket.  I think it would be pretty labor-intensive if I were trying to process all at once, but I also think the immaturity of the seedheads might be a factor in how much labor was required.  I haven't fully winnowed it yet, either, because I can only huff and puff on it so much before I'm ready to pass out.  When the other heads are ready to be cut, which should be soon, I plan on trying winnowing with a box fan.

Despite that, I'm pretty impressed with how much I got so far from those two plants.  I never have luck with corn and the mild drought we had this year didn't help my current corn patch, but the amaranth wasn't affected at all.  And, as a bonus, I got some greens off the plants, too.  The leaves aren't as tasty from the grain varieties as the stuff I grew other years for greens, but they weren't terrible, either.  I think I'm going to try growing it with pole beans next year, since I have some amaranth that are still doing a decent job of supporting cucumbers and cucuzza vines.
 
Tracy West
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Amaranth is easy.snd high protein. Sunflowers are a weed that grow really well in CO. Beans, potatoes and corn do well in CO. Squash.
Don't forget that mushrooms are high in protein. And, fat is needed so seeds/nuts would be important. Trees produce a lot per footprint so apples and pears are a good option. Nuts.
Safety in diversifying.
Rabbits,meat chickens,quails and pigeons,ducks,are all efficient meat producers. Pigeons and ducks could feed themselves in summer if you're rural. Eggs are a great protein source,too.
I think quinoa would also work for your area.
I grew up in Niwot,parents had a good sized garden.
 
Maureen Atsali
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I live in the tropics, do I know my growing conditions are different than most. However, up until 6 years ago I did all my farming in Vermont.

Something I have learned in Africa is that we overlook a lot of edible and nutritious bits of common plants. Example: pumpkin and squash leaves are edible and nutritious.  Cowpea leaves.  Amaranth leaves. Black nightshade (wonderberry) leaves, sweet potato leaves.  I could list a ton more but I am trying to stick to
stuff that can grow in colder places.

I can't stress enough how important it is to have variety and diversity. Not only for a ecologically healthy garden. And aside from nutritional deficiencies... Try eating just one staple food for even one week. You will get so bored that just the sight of that staple will make you want to puke. I grow six or seven "staples" and still have a hard time with this factor.  We eat about 80 % of our calories off the farm.  I like to say it could be 100 but I would die from lack of variety.  After eating whatever is in season for a week straight a store bought bag of rice looks damn good.
 
Angelika Maier
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There is not one high calorie crop. And besides nuts fat comes from animals. I woudl grow a lot of potatoes, amaranth, corn squash. The turnips mostly for animals.
Orchards are doing much better with some chicken or ducks underneath and ducks are fatter than chicken.
 
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