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Meeting your caloric needs

 
Daniel Kern
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One of my goals with my garden is to be able to meet my caloric and nutritional needs fully in my garden, and around it. My garden is in a dry climate and i would to grow drought tolerant plants. What are some particular plants which would be suitable for this purpose?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Daniel Kern
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That's right. potatoes are great. especially if they are purple.
 
Mike Haych
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From http://plants.usda.gov/adv_search.html, selecting on

Drought Tolerance: What is the relative tolerance of the plant to drought conditions compared to other species with the same growth habit from the same geographical region? Drought tolerance is defined here in the following fashion: Imagine that in an acre of land there are low areas that have heavy soil and tend to accumulate more soil moisture, and higher areas that have coarse textured soil and tend to accumulate less soil moisture. Some plant species are most frequently found growing in the higher areas with the coarse soil texture. These plant species are considered to be more drought tolerant than the species that are frequently found in the low areas with fine textured soil.

None, Low, Medium, High


and

Palatable Human: Does the plant produce berries, nuts, seeds, or fruits that are palatable to humans?

Yes, No

yields

Results
 
Cj Sloane
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Location? (consider adding your location to your profile).
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yes, that would help. I'm currently using my smartphone. The mobile site doesn't display any of that information. This leads to generic answers to questions like this and related subjects don't show up at the bottom of the page. Luckily I can remember where many members live.
 
Dan Boone
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Jerusalem Artichokes thrive in some dry situations where potatoes will not. They produce a starchy tuber, though not everyone digests them as easily as potatoes.
 
Charles Kelm
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This is something I have thought about a lot, and wonder what author Anni Kelsey has to say about this subject. While I am not in a hot, dry climate (100 miles north of Seattle), I want to make sure that what I plant is something truly useful and nutritionally dense. I feel that some permaculture enthusiasts want to have as many species as possible, almost as a novelty. I am interested solely in providing useful and nutritionally dense produce. Something which will nourish me, but also fill in my caloric needs. I know that nut trees are crucial in this goal, although I wish they would grow faster. Do you have any ideas on this topic?
 
Daniel Kern
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Thanks. I forgot about the USDA database. I'm living in west central tx. I also am interested in food plants of the 1st people in the area. I believe that the native foods will still grow well in the area, but the climate has changed recently and is still changing.
 
Alder Burns
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In much of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, before the age of the great agricultural empires, the oak and the chestnut were major players in proving humankind's calorie needs One or more species of both are found just about everywhere except for the severest deserts and coldest regions. The drawback is that, if your landholding or neighborhood lacks them, it can be a long time before new plantings yield significantly. The stopgap crops for homesteaders the world around are usually some kind of root crop. White potatoes furthest north, then sweet potatoes (and in your area both should be possilble, in overlapping seasons), and in the true tropics other things...taro, yams, and such like. Grain crops are the last resort. Their only real advantages are durability and their ability to thrive in large-scale monocultures handled with, first, animal traction and, later, fossil fuel power and inputs. They mostly arose to serve the needs of empire. But in many situations and climates small plots of grain can find a niche. The degradation of entire landscapes by grain is usually the result of it's cultivation on larger scales than for homestead subsistence.
Aside from calories, the other big prong of the "homesteader's dilemma" is protein and fat. These are also quite a challenge, especially when focusing on perennial, native-vegetation mimics. Each climate presents it's own solutions, usually including several grain legumes (beans, peas, favas, soy, etc.) oil crops (seeds, olives, avocado, coconut....) and then there are the animals....
 
Gilbert Fritz
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The book Restoration Agriculture goes into detail about producing calories from a forested farm with grazing animals.

It is, in my opinion, one of the best Permaculture books out there, as it proves that permaculture can replace large scale farming practices, not just suburban lawns, and provide staples, not just greens.
 
Daniel Kern
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Than book is on my reading list. sometime after I read the designer's manual. I have been considering going to a workshop with Mark Shepard. It sounds to me like It might be a good idea to go.
 
Daniel Kern
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Alder. Thanks for all that consideration. Why do you say that grains are a last resort? I feel like they could be integrated into a garden to provide a healthy yield , and build the soil at the same time.
 
Cj Sloane
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There are lots of reasons permaculturalists tend to not grow grains. For me the top three would be:
You must till or burn the land to get a decent crop.
It's a heck of a lot easier to grow 100lbs of other carbs with much less work
On top of all the work involved (tilling, growing, weeding, harvesting, threshing, drying, storing) they have anti-nutrients.
 
Wojciech Majda
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If you want to grow nutrient dense food, make sure to do a soil test and then add required nutrients. It will improve drought resistance of your plants and nutrient density.
 
Wojciech Majda
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Chestnuts were my first idea...
 
Keira Oakley
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^ yes Chestnut are great, they do not require a lot of work (you just pick them, and trim the trees once in a while), but they take a looooong time to mature and produce nuts... What about pumpkins? maybe not as a staple, but as something different when you feel like having something else than potatoes etc... You can do a lot with them: roast them in oven, in stews, pumpkin "hummus", pies...
 
Cj Sloane
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I think pumpkins might actually be easier to store than chestnuts! I am having a hard time drying acorns in the shell enough to store so chestnuts might be tough to dry too. There are Oaks that produce in a few years and humans have been eating acorns for as long as we've been around.
 
Daniel Kern
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Right. on second thought i may just grow my grains for chickens to eat. But After reading The One Straw Revolution it doesn't seem all too difficult to grow grains. and When I am talking about grains i am talking about ancient grains.

But for sure I will focus on things such as yams, cassava, potatoes and so on. Would chestnut do good in west central texas? I would love to plant that, and lots of oaks as that used to be what was in the area. What do you do with your pumpkins?
 
Alder Burns
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I agree that acorns are difficult to dry completely in the shell. I think that the few days sun-drying typical of native practice just put the acorns into a deep dormancy but they are still essentially fresh. Chestnuts, too, are a perishable starchy food, more like a potato than a nut in some ways. Unless the season of maturity is followed quickly by a consistently cold winter, in which case both might store well in the shell till spring, I would suggest shelling them as soon as possible after gathering, and then drying the shelled nuts rock-hard in the sun, and store them that way, like grain. Then grind, leach, soak, etc. later on when you want to prepare them for eating.....
 
Mike Gaughan
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Hi Daniel,

If you're looking to meet caloric needs from a garden, then perhaps grains are the way to go. I'm assuming that you're talking about annual garden crops and not long-term perennials such as nut trees. Let's look at some data that I've pulled from John Jeavons' How To Grow More Vegetables:

Dry Corn (seed only - cob removed)
Average U.S. yield per 100 square feet: 18.2 lbs
Average protein per lb: 40.4 grams
Calories per lb: 1,656

Wheat, red winter
Average U.S. yield per 100 square feet: 6.4 lbs
Average protein per lb: 55.8 grams
Calories per lb: 1,483

Irish Potatoes
Average U.S. yield per 100 square feet: 84.2 lbs
Average protein per lb: 7.7 grams
Calories per lb: 349

Winter Squash
Average U.S. yield per 100 square feet: 100 lbs
Average protein per lb: 5.2 grams
Calories per lb: 152

OK, let's normalize the protein and calorie data per 100 square feet of each crop for a direct comparison:
Dry Corn: 735 g. protein, 30,139 cal
Wheat: 357 g. protein, 9,491 cal
Potatoes: 648 g. protein, 29,389 cal
Squash: 520 g. protein, 15,200 cal

So, grain corn and potatoes are both efficient crops to produce large amounts of protein and calories. But let's consider other factors. You mentioned that you want to grow drought tolerant crops. Arguably, corn is more of a drought tolerant plant, especially if you grow the flour corn varieties developed by the indigenous peoples in the American Southwest. If we look at the two crops from permaculture perspective, both are annuals but I think corn can be grown with far less damage to the soil. Common potato growing techniques require trenching, furrowing, and eventual excavation to retrieve the tubers. Corn can be no-till seeded directly into a killed cover crop (winter killed or crimped), can be undersown with a low-growing cover crop such as clover during the growing season, and the dried stalks can be left in place over the winter to provide cover for birds and prevent soil erosion. Plus, corn produces copious amounts of lignified carbon that is a wonderful addition to the compost heap. From a storage perspective, dried corn can be kept for years in just about any dry environment free of rodents, whereas potatoes require cold and damp conditions (i.e. a root cellar) and can at best be stored for 6 months. Squash (including pumpkins) are a bit easier to store than potatoes but aren't terribly space efficient with regards to calories and protein.

All this said, grains and tubers have sustained mankind for eons, so any gardener interested in meeting their caloric needs might want to explore growing all of them. Your own dietary preferences should be considered...grow what you like to eat!!!

Enjoy!

Mike

 
Cj Sloane
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Daniel Kern wrote:What do you do with your pumpkins?


Personally, I don't like them (except for the seeds). My husband & daughter make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving but beyond that I feed them to the chickens/turkeys/sheep/pigs. Then, I eat them.
 
Daniel Kern
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wow. I didn't realize corn had so much going for it. I would enjoy growing patches of traditional corn varieties as they have a higher nutritional value.

Here is another way to plant potatoes.

This is at the Holzerhof. All that sepp holzer does is put the potatoes under the straw, lining his terraces and hugelkulture, then when the potatoes are ready to harvest he moves the hay aside and picks up the potatoes.

Also Sepp said that potatoes are one of the best plants for soil improvement if left to decompose.

I love pumpkin seeds. I need to experiment more with cooking pumpkin in other ways than pie. I imagine that with the right recipe you it could be good.
 
Kalin Brown
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I live in a temperate rainforest, so my knowledge of what would grow in your area is not there. However, I do grow both potatoes and jerusalem artichokes, which others have mentioned. I actually prefer growing the jerusalem artichokes because they seem not to be bothered by any pests the same way the potatoes are. Bugs always eat at my potatoes. Nothing ever bothers the jerusalem artichokes. They do taste different from potatoes, substantially so. But they are tasty. My self, husband and dog all eat them and none of us have the digestive problems mentioned and all like them. It was funny, the other night we came home after a storm and my husband says to me rather upset "the wind killed the (jerusalem) artichokes." It hadn't so much "killed" them as knocked them over. I shrugged and said "Oh well, it's not a big deal" and he got all upset. I was very confused. Then he says "but we haven't even gotten any yet this year and now we have to wait until next year." I laugh, and tell him they are tubers, they don't grow like other artichokes. Which of course, he did know, but he thought because the wind knocked them over they wouldn't make any tubers or the tubers would rot once the plant was dead.... You can tell I'm the one doing the gardening! Point being though, that they are good and tasty enough that he would be that upset at the thought that we wouldn't have any for this year. That said, I wouldn't stop growing potatoes either because I like them too and they are both quite different.
 
Daniel Kern
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lol. good story. I'll be sure to plant some Jerusalem artichokes this spring
 
R Scott
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DIVERSITY is RESILIENCY.

Grow several, you never know what is going to happen with weather or bugs. What makes for a good potato crop usually makes for a bad corn crop and vice versa.

Grandpa always grew his potatoes on the edge of the corn field, matching the row spacing. That way he just made one more pass with the cultivator to lay over the dirt on the potatoes. I don't use a tractor to cultivate like he did, but fitting them on the edge still works well.
 
Daniel Kern
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right. I plan to have much diversity. But I think I will burn the grass in the beginning. I just harvested some peanuts, tomatillos, and peas for seed. I also gathered some little tiny potatoes, but I do not know if they will make it to the spring to be able to plant them. It's just an experiment. Throughout all of my food crops I will be growing many cover crops, and herbs. I plan to make herbs my cash crop.
 
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