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Practical 1-Acre Staple Foods?  RSS feed

 
gardener
Posts: 2320
Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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I'm thinking that an aquatic outdoor flow system that contains (Zizania) North American wild rice (which yields many times the volume of japonica and indica rice or (Asian) varieties), and a native trout would be the best caloric value per acre that I could produce.  I was also thinking that chimanpas in this same system could produce the majority of my growing season greens, as well as fairly reliable blueberries.  Fish protein and protein and carbs from the wild rice, salad, steam greens, and berries, is a pretty fair diet, just in itself, and we already produce a lot more than that for variety.  Squash, peas, beans, and roots would be other possibilities for heavy production.  An acre of land can produce a lot of food, if done intensively.

PS. I second Todd's comment about deer and turnips.  I haven't seen them eating them myself but I know they are a major component in deer plot seed mixes.  Possibly the deer only eat them after they've frozen and the other easy eating food is gone but I wouldn't risk them outside a fence if I wanted to get a good yield.


A friend of mine has a survival garden outside of his primary cultivated area.  It was the site of the original garden of the homestead that he bought, but it's in more of a permaculture zone 2 or 3 location so he choose to have his garden space closer to Zone 1.  It is now mostly grasses, but he places turnips and rutabegas and parsnips out in the ground out there along with sunchokes all over the meadow (just sticks the roots in the ground in the spring and leaves them to grow) and he told me that he occasionally puts extra cabbage and kale plants out there, and this takes about an hour out of his growing season to plant.  If another human looked at the mess out there, they would not notice that there is food there at all.  These plants all will seed on their own in the right conditions; and they have, so the more he does it the less work there is for more food.  He does not prefer any of these first listed plants as food crops, but they produce food on their own with virtually no work on his part and there is the bonus greens out there when he goes for a walk.  He notices that deer and moose come in and graze/browse in the early winter on these greens and roots, but they are also within range of his rifle from his kitchen window and he vastly prefers moose or venison to turnips.  He guesses that their is several hundred pounds of roots growing out there without much of his inputs and he adds a couple dozen plants every year to make the system bigger.  
 
 
Posts: 353
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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I read the Mother Earth article.

I wouldn't even buy a calf unless I had 5 acres at least. I wouldn't buy it till I had grown the feed I'd need from early spring when I bought it  and the corn to feed it. And I'd want to establish a good hay field. You also need a source of milk to feed that calf, and you need it today. I fed mine with a 2 liter 7 UP bottle with a hole drilled in the cap. They thought they were sucking it. I say this because I been there, done that. You can't afford to buy feed and hay for a cow. Trust me. But otherwise I liked the article. I liked his presentation of the benefit of raising crops and fodder for the cow and using the cow to improve your crops. That's the basic formula of farming without industrial fertilizer.

I checked on google for cracked corn 50 lbs bag $12-$15 actually is cheaper than I expected. 50 lbs crimped oats was $15 on the first site I looked at. When I had my flock Agway would deliver a $100 order for free and it didn't last long. The last time I bought straw it was $7 bale. Not hay, straw. That was a onesy price in suburbia. If you do this don't ever buy feed. Feed has husks instead of the kernel. You'll pay about the same for husks as for oats.

But I think a pig would be easier and the one acre plot is easier to do if its a pig. Another thing if you have roots in that plot the calf won't clear it. And a calf won't produce milk without the bull or a vet. A vet in suburbia works on cats and dogs.

 
Posts: 2303
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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1lbs of Hazelnut = 2848 calorie which is more than the recommenced 2000cal
So in 1year you would need less than 365lbs of hazelnut.
1 acre of hazelnut = 2000lbs to 3000lbs http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2016/10/03/hazelnut-trees-are-easy/
So with each hazelnut plant with 15ft x 15ft giving you 25lbs of hazelnut,
Just 1plant per month is all you need so lets go with 15hazelnut tree giving you all the calories you need for a year.

But a pure hazelnut diet would be boring  
so lets throw in some oyster+wine cap mushroom grown on woodchip and straw for protein, mineral, vitamin
Then lets add some kale/cabbage family, + spinach/beet family leafy greens mineral, etc

For some carbs lets add 3bee hive you could get 1lbs per day.
There is also annuals like sweet potatoes, carrots, radish, potatoes
Fruits Tree, you might need a dehydrator to extend the life, I like to blend them and use as a sweetener in my cakes/pastry/drink/green smoothie/sweet bread/ pancake. I could make a long list of dozens of fruit trees (grape, apple, etc)

Dont be afraid to add some fish, eggs, chicken, goat milk to the mix.

Also get lots of live ferments each day, live yogurt, live cheese, milk kefir, juice kefir, water kefir, koji cheese, koji porridge, koji smoothie.

I know I left of a ton of tea leaves/herbs (mint/lemon balm family) and not to mention culinary herbs (mint/thyme family, carrot/celery family, etc)

 
gardener
Posts: 1889
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Nuts are a source of oils, not so easy to come by in gardens.... much needed for the assimilation of fat soluble vitamins.    I'm glad someone mentioned them.
 
pollinator
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marcus thompson wrote:Thanks for all of the responses. I live in Pennsylvania, USA. My zone is 6b. I have a dozen Black Austrolorp chickens, four caged Giant Chinchilla rabbits, and two pet Embden geese. Tried bees three times and lost all to suspected local neo-nicotinoid issues. Lots of corn grown near me by mostly Amish farmers. I'm thinking about... 25% Painted Mountain corn for calories & chicken-feed, 25% Vroma fava beans (max nitrogen recharge for the corn), 25% Golden Amaranth (only 1/4 of total calories allotted due to anti-nutritional factors), 10% early potatoes, 5% winter squash along the fence line, 5% Western Front kale for vitamins and 5% chufa nuts as emergency survival food. All rotated. I already have eight mulberry trees at the property edges (my rabbits love the leaves).  


Seems like you have a balanced plan

marcus thompson wrote:Cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, radishes, turnips, and zucchini all taste great, but are too dilute in calories to keep humans alive, so I couldn't spare much space for them. If I relied on growing them on my acre to feed myself, I would end up dying of starvation. Calories keep me alive. Stuff that can't keep me alive doesn't interest me. This is not a gourmet vegetable question, it is a survival food question. Only plants that are both calorie-dense and high calories/acre qualify. All suggestions that fit in that box are appreciated!


Not sure whether you are looking at this holistically.  You only need one ore two plants in this list except the radishes and they are planted as cover crops between larger slow growing plants. So thy are not planted for calories but micro nutrients. But perhaps we are misreading your request may just be for more ideas on calorie dense foods. I would suggest that the replacement for bees is to try to preserve the shuar in the mulberries.  I do this with the Himalaya blackberries, which are considered the scourge of invasive plants in my area, by managing them as I do the rest of the vines on Qberry Farm they produce 4 times the volume of berries for the same area as the other berries. The other berries are my cash crop but the black berries are steam juiced and the seeds removed from the pulp and provide 1/4 of my breakfast smoothie each day.
 
John Duda
Posts: 353
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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I've come up with a list of the fruit trees I'd plant on my 1 acre parcel. I said originally that I'd save room for 14 semi-dwarf trees. I might increase that slightly, if not in number then in the amount of space devoted for fruits and nuts. My list:
Apples
Golden Delicious    cause my wife likes it for fresh eating and for pies.
Honey Crisp          again my wife likes it. We all ready have these two, coming into producing, hopefully this year.
MacIntosh             I kike it for fresh eating, I like it as half the ingredient for pies. And it makes a nice sauce.
Red Rome             The other half of my pie ingredient
Redfield                 A great cider apple and another great pie apple. A red fleshed apple makes a great sauce.
Black Oxford          Storage apple keeps till the following July. I might be pushing this one as far south as zone 6a,
                                 makes good pies all winter.
Keepsake               Another till July storage apple. I think it's important to have Vitamin C overwinter

2 Peach trees,        different ripening periods
2 Pear trees           Bartlett and Seckel for canning
2 Cherry Trees       Sweet Stella and Montmorency pie/canning cherry
1 Almond tree         Because of the blossoms I'd put this near the house
1 Chinese Chestnut

That's 15 trees but there's room on my plot. The Chinese chestnut and the Montmorency cherry would be full size trees and would need to be planted in the northwest of my plot, so they wouldn't block the sun from the rest of my garden. The Bartlett pear and the Stella cherry would be dwarfs, unless I could find a semi-dwarf. I'd can as much peaches, pears, cherries and apple sauce as I could for the winter. I'd also barter/sell excess. I'd also make some wine and hard and sweet cider. Peach, pear and cherry wine. I once made 6 gallons of almond wine. Just threw the fruit still on the stone in the fermenter. Found out later you  shouldn't consume the almond shells. My staples will keep me comfortable.
 
pollinator
Posts: 243
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6b
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John Duda wrote:I researched storage apples:
My choice I guess would be Keepsake and I haven't decided on a second. That would give me apples till next years peaches come ripe.



Gold rush is scary off the tree but glorious after a month or two in storage. Good leaf health too.

If I recall correctly the Stella cherry is naturally small. Good taste.
 
pollinator
Posts: 123
Location: South Central PA
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You might be able to fit in some peanuts, they are pretty calorically dense foods. I have been waiting to try them (I'm in z7a, south central PA) but I have to figure out a squirrel proof method to do so. I've read several varieties are suited to your climate.
 
John Duda
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Did anyone discuss the nutritional value of wine. How about hard cider.

I ordered two different apple rootstocks. One is the M111 which gives you hardy roots that grow well in the clay I have. The other rootstock is an M9 which gives you a sem-dwarf tree. the first gives you an 80% tree. So I'm going to graft these tomorrow. Grafting one rootstock  to another is called an interstem. I also have MacIntosh, Black Oxford and Cherryfield scions. I was looking for a Red Rome, but never found one.

When I cut a piece off the M9 I plan to plant out the root and any remaining stub so that I have a source of M9 interstems in the future.
 
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A bit of an unconventional crop is stinging nettle. It is very nutritious, higher in protein than wheat, with tons of vitamins and minerals, and is much easier to grow and store than grains (can also be made into flour, gluten-free). There are studies looking into growing it to substitute grain crops in some poor drout-prone countries. It must be contained though, tends to spread out similar to mint. Tastes delicious once blanched to get rid of the sting, I like it much more than spinach (or any other greens, really). It is just as calorie dence as potato (in cal/acre basis), plus it is not prone to disease.  
 
master pollinator
Posts: 2182
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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There's much sense in what has already been posted, but maybe this will add to it.

I have read that, historically speaking and in poor soil, an acre can be counted upon to produce food enough in potatoes for two people for a year.

I think that it is imperative to keep in mind the systemic gains that can be achieved by companion planting and an intensively managed gardening approach as opposed to a monocropped field approach. I suggest the work of Jean-Martin Fortier as example.

Also, the point made about living soil producing more nutritionally substantive food is a crucial one; if you are producing nutritionally-deficient food, it doesn't matter if you have an acre or ten acres. It has been suggested that the nutritionally-devoid monocropped "food" that goes into much of the processed "food" available for sale in the West is responsible for not only rampant obesity, but the potential for starvation-like conditions analogous to rabbit starvation.

To combat this, I would employ oxygen-brewed compost extracts to inoculate the soil, probably twice a year. I would ensure there's sufficient organic matter in the soil, and I would mulch with more of the same to a depth of three inches in garden areas not being grown up in green manures.

On a small acreage, I would probably divide the land up into alleys of, alternately, perennial pasture and no-till garden between hugelbeet rows of fruit and nut tree species, probably including, but not limited to, wild strawberry, wild blueberry, multiple raspberry and blackberry species (varying by blooming and fruiting time), mulberry, hazelnut, all applicable stone fruit species, pears, and apples. I would probably also select an overstory nut tree species that would mature over the next two decades.

If I wasn't pasturing livestock, I would just have more intensive garden alleys.

I would intercrop in block rows. I would probably have at least one whole alley, or multiple alleys, devoted to dry crop polycultures modelled off of the three sisters. Indeed, corn, beans, and squash would probably play a large role in the garden, but likely in outer alleys, designed for minimal intervention throughout the season so that more attention could be paid to intensively managed areas.

I would also look at hand or scythe-harvested grains and how to rotate them in alleys, with an eye to hulless varieties. Sunflowers can produce truly impressive quantities of seed, and some livestock will eat the plant to the roots.

I would probably have one large four-season greenhouse, tall enough for pruned avocado trees, where the nuclei of my composting and vermiculture would persist throughout the winter. I would also employ in-ground aquaponics, but sustainably and resiliently designed, to accord with permacultural design principles. That would fertilize, provide added protein, and would at least provide feedstocks for the livestock I will keep.

Honestly, laying hens in a large, well-designed chicken tractor make too much sense to dismiss for what they deliver. I would keep either goats or sheep, depending on whether the land tended to browse or graze, and if possible a couple of small-breed pigs for bacon (hopefully eventually a small breed crossed with some european boar genetics). Truthfully, I would probably rather keep a minimum of each animal and have both, for the dairy from the goat.

Unless something has taken the lead, meat rabbits take first prize for feed conversion. Just make sure you wrap it in bacon (rabbit starvation).

Lastly, I would keep bees. They forage for miles around their hives, bringing sweet, sweet calories from far away, and increase pollination rates in the area as a result.

I think seeing how many self-reinforcing plant relationships can be fostered on your property is the best path to food security, along with keeping an eye to accelerating healthy soil production.

-CK
 
John Duda
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Chris Kott

I liked the bees suggestion, it's so obvious, but I don't remember it being suggested here before.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Glad to see the addition of nettles.  They need moisture.  They also provide fiber.  there is a great thread,maybe more than one on utilizing nettle fiber.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Unless something has taken the lead, meat rabbits take first prize for feed conversion. Just make sure you wrap it in bacon (rabbit starvation).  


I am not saying that rabbit starvation [nutritional deficiency] is a myth but  is probably a product of trying to maximize feed conversion to protein.
Have you ever butchered a fat rabbit?  We were never in a hurry to butcher our rabbits. The feed only cost the effort to cut the grass and brush and put it in their manger. So when we wanted a rabbit meal we went out and picked out the fattest rabbit.  The difference between eating a fat rabbit and a young skinny one is the same as a fat roasted chicken and a skinless chicken breast. You are missing all the fat soluble nutrients that the animal stores up for reproductive health.
 
Chris Kott
master pollinator
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Oh, quite so, Hans. In fact, I think most accounts I have read involved situations where game and all other food was scarce, and so rabbit was the only thing available, and they, too, were starving, or at least lower on food resources than a fattened farm rabbit would be.

But I think that it also has to do with the lack of marbling in the meat. It is overall a lean meat, is it not?

-CK
 
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Give Sunchokes another thought. True, they cause gas, but when you incorporate them into your regular diet, the prebiotic they contain, inulin, will make your guts much healthier by changing the chemistry of your small intestine, forcing any errant bacteria to leave. The bacteria in your large intestine, where they belong, will grow healthier which will make your blood healthier and then, of course, the rest of your body. Re-balancing the gut flora can treat several gut diseases such as IBS, Leaky Gut, Diverticulitis and Crohn's, but only if they're caused by SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Introduce them gradually, a very small helping per day for about two weeks and then you should be able to increase the amount. We have canned them, just like canned potatoes, pickles and relish. They are fantastic! They can be roasted, steamed, boiled, raw, canned, fermented and more.
Last fall I boiled 3 quarts of flowers. They have a chocolate smell, and if you're lucky enough to get a variety similar to Stampede, the flowers are tender enough to toss in salads. They taste like the roots raw, boiled or steamed they resemble squash. The flowers I boiled I used to make a batch of wine. I only added sugar and a very small handful of raisins for natural yeast. For sure its not a fruity wine, a very different, earthy, rich flavor that I just can't describe any better. I'd have to work at it to get used to it for a drinking wine, but after it ages for a few more months I'm betting that its going make a magnificent cooking wine. I may leave one bottle turn to vinegar, if it will, and see what that's like. This fall I'm thinking about mixing some fruit in and trying some more wine.
I have three varieties, white Stampede with knobby tubers and grows to 5' tall that I bought mail-order several years ago, a red that's identical to the Stampede except for color that I found in a flower bed in town. I managed to get three tubers last year and divided them last fall. The last variety I have grows to 12'(!). The tubers are white and carrot shaped, much easier to clean than the knobby ones. Its very aggressive and spreads way too easily. Regular mowing around the patch keeps it contained, but if I didn't, it would spread several feet each year. If it grew faster in the spring, I'd volunteer some to the town to see if it would crowd out Japanese Knotweed. I found it in the woods near here and seems to be a feral Fuseau variety. Those flowers are too tough to do anything with unless they're cooked.
As I harvest, I trench every so often and lay the stalks in the trenches and cover them to let them compost for a year. The soil in my older patches has turned very loose and easy to work.
 
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Rabbit is very lean meat. Rabbits do store fat around their internal organs and across their backs under the skin but not much any where else. I personally don't care for the taste or texture of rabbit fat and prefer pork or chicken fat instead.
 
Posts: 183
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One acre is plenty to feed one person.

The Resilient gardener – Carol Deppe   She goes over what you ask.  Potatoes, Corn, Bean, Squash, and Eggs.

A family of one:
250 bean
250 Carrot
25 Garlic
50 Lettuce
100 Onions
6 Pepper
75 Potato
6 Squash
13 Tomato
24 asparagus plants.

 
Posts: 122
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James Freyr wrote: Hypothetically speaking, if there are more acres, one could have a grazing dairy cow and a couple pigs, and instead of eating 5lbs of potatoes for 2000 calories, one could add butter, sour cream and cheese made from that dairy cow,



Well... as Ernest Callenbach wrote so many years ago, "No poor man in his right mind wants a dairy cow." What he meant was that the expense of upkeep more than offset the savings in milk; commercial dairies use economies of scale to make the numbers work, i.e. the more cows they have, the lower their per-cow costs. A dairy cow can eat, on average, 100 lbs of feed a day. So then the question is, how many calories will you get in milk or butter, compared to how many calories you could have gotten producing human food on the amount of land it took to produce that cow feed?
 
Jason Hernandez
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S Bengi wrote:1lbs of Hazelnut = 2848 calorie which is more than the recommenced 2000cal
So in 1year you would need less than 365lbs of hazelnut.
1 acre of hazelnut = 2000lbs to 3000lbs http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2016/10/03/hazelnut-trees-are-easy/
So with each hazelnut plant with 15ft x 15ft giving you 25lbs of hazelnut,
Just 1plant per month is all you need so lets go with 15hazelnut tree giving you all the calories you need for a year.



But that is assuming you get all the nuts yourself. When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, there were lots of wild hazelnut bushes -- and I almost never got any hazelnuts, because the jays got to them before I did. And that is in a region where the squirrels mainly eat conifer seeds. So in regions with jays and nut-eating squirrels, you are going to need some serious measures if you want to feed yourself on hazelnuts.
 
S Bengi
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So true, these critters that live around us are always breaking in eating all my baby trees, muching on my vegetables, eating my eggs+chickens, taking all my grapes and berries, knocking off and taking just 1 bit off my fruits and making all my carrots and other tubers disappear down holes.  It is an ongoing problem, but some people seems to have figured out stuff that works enough of the time.
 
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When I was a kid we had a 'garden' that was dedicated to staples.  It may have been around half an acre.  It seemed very big to the kid who had to do a big portion of the weeding, harvesting and shelling.  We grew potatoes, red skin and sweet, snap beans, lima beans, black eye peas and onions, mostly.  It was a lot of food.  Was it a year's worth of calories? I don't think so, but I remember bushel baskets of potatoes in the garage through the winter, jars of canned beans lining the pantry and a freezer full of lima beans and black eyes.  It was a big portion of the calories for our family.  We also had a few raised beds by the house for the squash, tomatoes and cucumbers, but there was not much to put up.

What I really thought of when I read through all the posts was just how big the variety of food I ate as a kid really was, but it wasn't because we grew it all ourselves.  It was because our neighbors had gardens, or they had pigs, or they hunted or fished.  We shared what we had and they shared what they had.  It may have been because we had a bumper crop and no room for it or maybe my dad helped a guy fix his car, so he brought us a deer leg.  Lending a helping hand was most often repaid with food.  A friend loved to grow melons and always had some for us.  My dad would go visit friends at the coast and come back with shrimp, oysters and flounder to process and freeze.  I picked up a lot of pecans in other people's yards and left with my fifth. We helped put up sweet corn when it came in.  I remember cranking the sausage grinder at a neighbor's hog killing.  We always took home our share.  Likewise, we always gave when someone helped us or maybe was just in need.  This was the 70's and 80's but it seems like a long time ago now...

I understand the desire for self-reliance and it is interesting to think about how an acre could sustain you, but I think it is a little short sighted to discount the abundance outside of that acre.  I wish I had the neighborly resources my parents did more than I wish I had an acre to coax food out of.
 
pollinator
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Jason - It seems to me that an animal that can forage and eat things I can't is worth a lot to a homesteader. Dairy and meat are calorie dense foods that can be processed to store well. I would never try to sustain myself without at least one of them.
 
pollinator
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I would be looking at what is growing on common land nearby, and look at bringing some of this in to the land as animal feed. Goats will eat lots of trees. Pigs will thrive on acorns. Food shops might have scraps they are willing to give away at the end of the day that can be used for animal feed or composted.

I think there is a lot of sense in keeping animals on a small amount of land, even if you're bringing in food from outside. They add nutrition and calories to the diet, they make manure from the garden, can prepare materials for easier composting. Chickens and pigs can get rid of sod and other weeds before planting.

I would keep two or three dairy goats, either rotated around the property, or just in a strawyard in one corner. I'd grow a hedge around the property that included tagasaste or other good goat-fodder trees that I could harvest for them. I'd also probably grow some fruit trees in the hedge too.

I also might raise two pigs for a few months in the autumn on 1/8 or 1/4 of an acre, they would prepare some land for planting, and provide bacon and other meats, which can easily turn simple homegrown vegetables or grains into something really nourishing and tasty. After the pigs had gone in late autumn, I'd either sow some pasture plants to feed to the goats, a cover crop, garlic, or broad beans.

I'd also keep chickens in a chicken tractor.

For vegetables and grain I'd grow whatever seems to grow well locally and easily. Potatoes and winter squash are usually pretty easy to grow large amounts of. The cabbage family is better at handling frost and can grow lots of food too.
 
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So I looked through this whole thread and I don't think I saw anyone put in a plug for parsnips, except indirectly by referencing the biointensive method.  

I've been thinking about these things in another thread. https://permies.com/t/70889/Ideas-growing-food

Here are some lists from a recent post I made over there:

John Jeavons high calorie roots which he suggests be planted on 30% of garden space.

Jerusalem artichoke
Leeks
Garlic
Parsnip
Salsify
Potatoes
Sweet potato (won't grow here yet, but Joseph is working on it)

So it isn't just potatoes or the digestion upsetting jerusalem artichoke. Its also parsnips. Interestingly parsnips came up in several different lists of vegetables. Interestingly I left my garden for four years once and Parsnips, turnips, daikon radish, and siberian kale were still growing there when I got back. Parsnips could be a critical part of such an enterprise. I never even tried parsnips before I grew them the first time, and since I grew them the first time they have never left because they just keep volunteering.

I like Painted Mountain corn just fine, but then it was developed in my area of Montana- so of course it does well here.

Favas are doing really well for me. Jeavons lists them in:

John Jeavons carbon and calorie

Corn
Small grains
Fava beans
Sunflowers

Those are Jeavons two most important categories and he is thinking in terms of a vegan diet, squash he has, but puts into a third category 10% vegetables.

There are other authors that highly recommend native american crops. Corn, Squash, Beans, Sunflowers. Fava Beans are a good addition to regular beans to my thinking because they can be planted much much earlier (March).

From the advice I found and some of my own experiences I came up with the following list of important crops:

Corn
Potatoes
Squash
Favas
Sunflowers
Parsnip
Garlic
Tomatoes
Onion
Carrot
Turnip
Siberian Kale
Jerusalem artichoke

To try:
Salsify
Leeks and Elephant Garlic


Though I have more acres to play with, I am not sure I would need it. Various estimates per person seem to run from about a tenth of an acre to a half of an acre. This could vary and a person can garden well on as much as 2.5 acres according to Elliot Coleman. So cultivating an acre of food is doable and could result in a big surplus. At the tenth of an acre figure my current garden is theoretically big enough to feed my family of three as I have about 0.3 acre in production. If these smaller area figures are true for us, one use for the rest of the acre would be to cut the grass and compost it. Elliot Coleman has done just that to harvest fertilizer for his farm and keep it highly productive. With that extra space to raise grass for compost we can dispense with some of the compost crops used in the biointensive method- because we don't need to be maximally sustainable because we have extra space. That actually could mean that we could cut down the size of our gardens even more by planting a higher proportion of those "high calorie root crops" Jeavons lists. So lots of Parsnips, potatoes, salsify, garlic, and leeks if we can't eat Jerusalem artichoke or grow sweet potatoes in zone 6. Note: the proportion of Alliums would probably need to be low. Grass can also be a good crop rotation. The "Gardening When It Counts" book by Solomon suggests a grass fallow periodically. Having a full acre when only up to a half acre is needed means we can harvest grass for compost, AND do a periodic grass fallow. In my case its 3 acres and up to 1.5 of it could be needed for food production with a family of three- or just 0.3 of an acre. In my case its definitely a part time endeavor to save money and play with what can be accomplished so it needs to be doable on the weekend and some authors suggest a 1/4 acre garden can be done in just ten hours a week and grow most but not all of ones own food (mini farming on 1/4 acre book).

In reality it might be better for me to grow less food and spend more time processing it and cooking it for my family. I learned in 2017 for instance that I can fairly easily grow several truckloads of squash. Too much squash- and I can feed my family quite a bit of winter squash especially in dessert form. Its good to have the knowledge and ability to grow a survival diet, but until needed it may be more important to have the knowledge and ability to save money by gardening. Weirdly either way one should grow parsnips. Apparently parsnips have a high ROI for growing them oneself, and a high calorie count for growing all your own food. So between the practically growing themselves, the high ROI, the high calorie count, and high productivity- apparently parsnips it is (at least in part).
 
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William, did the Parsnips reseed themselves, or did the original plants survive for four years?

It's probably too hot down here for Parsnips, darn it.

 
William Schlegel
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Tyler Ludens wrote:William, did the Parsnips reseed themselves, or did the original plants survive for four years?

It's probably too hot down here for Parsnips, darn it.



They reseed themselves every other year (biennial). They did get some water while I was away as my mom watered things on the land (mostly her own trees) but did not garden. One of the key elements of their survival here is the humble pocket gopher. The pocket gopher keeps a small amount of habitat open for annuals and biennials in the ecology of my area. On occasional visits home during those four years the parsnip population first boomed- took over the whole garden, then decreased markedly. On a visit home I remember thinking that some of the four surviving vegetables had gone extinct, but when I started gardening again and looking closely I found survivors of all four, parsnip, turnip, daikon radish, and siberian kale.

Parsnips are rather famous as a foraged food as well. In some habitats they can escape- or their truly wild relatives have established as an invasive species. This is rare in the arid west where I live though possible in appropriate habitats and I think my population would die out if not for occasional supplemental water.

http://www.experientialgardener.com/2013/12/growing-parsnips-in-texas.html This was the top link when I just googled "growing parsnips in Texas" Sounds like a winter crop there. Might be able to plant them right now.
 
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I grow gallons of sunflower seeds every year. I don't know how to turn them into food.
sunflower-seed-harvest.jpg
[Thumbnail for sunflower-seed-harvest.jpg]
Harvesting sunflower seeds
 
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I have seen sunflower butter in stores. Is that not an option?

-CK
 
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Joseph, I would feed them to chickens then eat the eggs.  Chickens love them either as seeds or sprouted.  Or you could sprout them for yourself.  
 
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Chris: I guess I could be more specific. I don't know how, as a home-scale subsistence farmer, to dehull sunflower seeds in order to turn them into food that can be directly eaten by humans in large enough quantity to supply a meaningful amount of nutrition.

Tyler: Thanks. Sprouting or feeding to chickens is within my skill set and budget.
 
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Well you could always use them as snack food. Not time or energy efficient, but my grandfather used to sit on the front porch eating those things for hours.

I don't know what the state of homescale dehulling mills is, but sunflowers aren't the only seed or grain in that boat. If there's no purpose-made countertop hammer mill available, perhaps one of those burr coffee grinders would work, one with the horizontally oriented shaft and grinder, so as to not jam up when oils make it sticky.

-CK
 
William Schlegel
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Chris: I guess I could be more specific. I don't know how, as a home-scale subsistence farmer, to dehull sunflower seeds in order to turn them into food that can be directly eaten by humans in large enough quantity to supply a meaningful amount of nutrition.

Tyler: Thanks. Sprouting or feeding to chickens is within my skill set and budget.



Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden has a solution though I found it kind of shocking at first. They were not de-hulled, they were ground hulls and all- apparently it was a lot of work as it was a complaint in the book. Native Americans did the same with choke cherries, ground them seed and all. I haven't tried either method yet myself. Doing it in a blender would be much less tedious than the mortar method.

Another way is to just snack on them constantly. roast them in the hulls and spit a lot.

I also wonder about lightly smashing and sifting through sieves.

Also wonder about those small oil presses. Could maybe press for oil, keep the oil, then feed the pressings to the chickens.
 
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I have been thinking that growing squash with hullless seeds would work better than trying to process sunflower seeds. But I like the idea of feeding sunflower seeds heads to chickens. I haven't had any luck with sunflower though, the rats get them first.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I grow gallons of sunflower seeds every year. I don't know how to turn them into food.



I'm in the same boat.  I like to grow them, so I'm just growing them for the birds.  I don't even feed them to my chickens, I just let the wild birds eat them.
 
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Is there a problem with growing them as chicken feed and then eating lots of chicken and eggs?

-CK
 
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William Schlegel wrote:

Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden has a solution though I found it kind of shocking at first. They were not de-hulled, they were ground hulls and all- apparently it was a lot of work as it was a complaint in the book.



Need to be careful eating them this way at first if your diet doesn't already contain a lot of fiber.  Otherwise, gut pain, etc could result..... If you eat pumpkin seeds roasted in the shell with no gut problems, then it shouldn't be a problem.  Most permie guts should be fine, but modern civilized guts, maybe not.
 
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William Schlegel wrote:So I looked through this whole thread and I don't think I saw anyone put in a plug for parsnips, except indirectly by referencing the biointensive method.  



Parsnips are really tasty and a good source of calories. The ones I've tried have all been a bit fussy about sprouting and growing where I live though. For example, I can just direct seed some turnips, they come up quickly and outgrow the weeds, and don't need any watering (or only a small amount of water) and I either don't need to weed at all, or I need to quickly weed once. Parsnips have trouble sprouting in my fairly new garden, I need to keep the soil moist for them for a whole month while I wait for them to sprout, by which time the weeds have already started to grow, and then my soil is just not that great, and the parsnips don't grow very big, where as I can get lots of pumpkin, potato, turnip with much less effort. For biointensive gardeners on small amounts of good soil, I can imagine parsnips being great, and also they are more frost-tolerant than potatoes, so might be worth growing for those that can grow reliable quantities of them.
 
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Kate Downham wrote:

William Schlegel wrote:So I looked through this whole thread and I don't think I saw anyone put in a plug for parsnips, except indirectly by referencing the biointensive method.  



Parsnips are really tasty and a good source of calories. The ones I've tried have all been a bit fussy about sprouting and growing where I live though. For example, I can just direct seed some turnips, they come up quickly and outgrow the weeds, and don't need any watering (or only a small amount of water) and I either don't need to weed at all, or I need to quickly weed once. Parsnips have trouble sprouting in my fairly new garden, I need to keep the soil moist for them for a whole month while I wait for them to sprout, by which time the weeds have already started to grow, and then my soil is just not that great, and the parsnips don't grow very big, where as I can get lots of pumpkin, potato, turnip with much less effort. For biointensive gardeners on small amounts of good soil, I can imagine parsnips being great, and also they are more frost-tolerant than potatoes, so might be worth growing for those that can grow reliable quantities of them.



The first year it took a very long time for the seed to germinate. After that they have reseeded themselves for the most part. I think it could be very key to raise your own seed for them. The vastly larger quantity of seed you get when you raise your own over a packet should make growing them easier.
 
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I did some rough calculations and added up square footage. I think one person could be sustained on about 1/4 acre with the following:

1 Person’s worth of trees (730,000 calories)
4 chestnuts = 221,970
2 honey locust = 300,000
3 hazelnuts = 170,690.4
4 elderberries = 50,736
3 persimmons = 47,565
2 apples = 22,500
10 black currants underplanted = 27,780
2 mulberry = 12,000

The fields here are number of trees, type of tree and total calories. This is based on 365 days of 2000 calories per day.

The numbers that went into that are:
Apple is .5 calories per gram
225 calories per lb
11,250 calories per tree @ 50lbs per tree

Mulberries are .5 calories per gram
6,000 calories per tree @ 25lbs per tree

Elderberries are .7 calories per gram
12,684 calories per bush @40lbs

Black currant is .6 calories per gram
2,778 calories per bush @10lbs

Hazelnut is 6.28 calories per gram
2844 calories per lb
113793 calories for 2 trees@20lbs per tree.

Persimmon is .7 calories per gram
15,855 calories per tree @50lbs

Chestnuts are 2.45 calories per gram
1,109 calories per lb
110,985 calories for 2 trees at 50lbs per tree

Honey locust yields 96-400lbs per tree of pods.  Approximately 1.1 calories per gram.
500 calories per lb
75,000-200,000 calories @150-400lbs per tree

I tried to build a tree set that might be a decent diet without giving you scurvy or eating nothing but nuts. I also tried to include some things that dry well like persimmon and some fresh eating things. This doesn’t have any redundancy built in so anything less than perfection means starving which obviously is bad.

This was an interesting exercise! Thanks for posing the question.
 
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