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Staple crops

 
Tyler Ludens
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What staple crops are you growing these days? By "staple" I mean those that provide the majority of the calories in your diet.

I'm currently growing several kinds of roots and tubers; Radish, Turnip, Carrot, Sweet Potato, Jerusalem Artichoke. The other staple crop that did well for me this year is Winter Squash; I seem to have two varieties; Tatume and something I don't know the name of that makes large oblong fruits. These fruits are too large for just the two of us to consume in a short period, so I'll have to figure out how to preserve them, probably by freezing the pulp.

We still purchase the majority of our calories, but I hope to eventually phase out most of the grain products we buy and replace them with roots, tubers, and squash. This might be difficult because my husband loves pasta!
 
Jim Thomas
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We still purchase the majority of our calories, but I hope to eventually phase out most of the grain products we buy and replace them with roots, tubers, and squash. This might be difficult because my husband loves pasta!


Try spaghetti squash then. My wife also makes a "pasta" with zucchini. The texture is reasonably close, and it is MUCH healthier.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm definitely going to try the zucchini noodles next year!
 
R Ranson
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Great topic!

I've been very interested in staple crops lately, especially after reading Carol Deppe's The Resilient Gardener. But even before then, I was experimenting with crops that would grow well in our climate with minimal human energy. For me, a staple crop needs to be a crop that provides a large amount of calories without taking a large amount of calories to grow.

My current favourites:

Fava Beans: Plant in Oct through Feb. This is great timing because there is very little left in the garden(s) at this time of year. The soil is dug to stop the weeds growing, but I want something in the ground to prevent erosion. Favas give the soil a good nitrogen boost, so I plant them everywhere I don't have kale, chard or garlic. I've discovered the hard way that favas and garlic do not get along well so I always keep a few rows of kale between the two. In the spring, I dug under the extra fava beans to help improve the soil and leave a few patches for food and seeds. Fava beans also provide greens for the winter. Apparently you can cook up the leaves and young stocks like spinach - but I still haven't had the courage to try it yet.

Because they do their main growing in the winter, the frost keeps all but the most hardy weeds down. There aren't a lot of plants that like the frost-thaw pattern we get here, so weeding isn't much of an issue 'till the spring. Also, winter growing means the fava beans have well established roots come drought time. No watering required.

Deppe writes that chickpeas can also be planted as an overwinter crop like favas, only maybe needing warmer soil to germinate. I haven't tried it yet, and missed out on my chance this year. Oh well. Next year.

However, this year, I did plant some chickpeas in Jan after soaking them inside (see Deppe's book above for special method). They grew wonderfully well and I think I'll give it a try again this winter.

Lentils can go in the ground with the early pea planting. They grow with minimal effort, no weeding, no watering. However I find them fussy to thrash and I finally realized that I don't like the way they taste.

Potatoes are very popular, however we don't grow them here except for personal use of fingerling potatoes for a summer snack. We are just outside the quarantine zone for a particularly nasty nematode. Even though we aren't suppose to have any problems exactly where we live, I think there might be a bit of an issue as every large potato we grow has a nasty tasting black center. So we stick to small, labour intensive, fast growing potatoes.

We have a lot of trouble with root crops here and I've all but given up on them. Shame really because there are some especially delicious root crops that make good staples.

One of the few root crops we do well with are turnips. Not any old turnip, but rather a special kind that a friend from Finland sent me. These are super-fast growing and don't mind cooler weather. They are traditionally planted after an area has been cleared by burning. The ash in the soil makes the turnips grow extra well. For my own growing, I collect the ashes from my wood stove and gently rake them into the surface of the soil just before planting the seed. They require a bit of weeding if planted in the summer, but they grow a vigorous top that shades out most of the weeds later on. Tops and bottoms can be eaten. They grow during the shoulder season when we have enough rainfall that they don't need watering.

I miss having potatoes as a staple crop, and hope one day to live somewhere with better soil so we can grow them again. Store bought potatoes taste terrible!

I've been playing around with grain a lot this last year. Barley is easiest to grow, but I'm still looking for a variety that I like. It needs to hull easily and be tasty as beer or as baking. Wheat and oats are also good growers here. What I love about these grains is that they grow densely enough to drown out most of the weeds. Cook the grains whole in soups, pottages, or as a risotto kind of dish. Or sprout them and then cook them. Or sprout, roast, dry and then cook. Flower, cracked grain, rolled oat porridge. Grains are wonderfully versatile. I'm constantly amazed by the crop I get from grain. A tiny seed packet, barely a tablespoon of seed, gave me a gallon and a half of harvest for winter barley. Grains that do most of their growing during the winter months not only give me a better harvest, but are out of the ground in time for me to plant my winter kale, chard, and other greens (between midsummer and the end of Sep. is when the kale goes in the ground)

Amaranth is another low bother, high yield crop. The young leaves are another 'cook like spinach'. The old leaves can be fed to the sheep. The flower stocks are popular with florists. The grain is tasty, especially when dry parched. I plant them about two weeks before the rains stop (and the rains do stop - suddenly but on schedule) in a part of the yard with decent supply of soil moisture. They grow deep roots and need no watering. I weed them twice at the beginning of the season, but they soon crowd out the weeds with their massive root system. The seedlings are tiny, but I grow the bright red amaranth so I can easily tell which is grain and which is weed.

I'm very interested in dried pulses like beans and peas. Yellow split pea soup is one of my childhood favourites, so I've been growing Darlaine soup peas that I got from my Local Seed Library. I crack the dry peas in my hand crank grinder to make something like split peas for faster cooking. These are awesome because I plant them in early spring. If I can get them in the ground at least a month before the rains stop, they need almost no water. This year I'm thinking of broadcasting these semi-climbing, self supporting peas to create a great carpet that will smother all weeds. I'm also very fond of the hutterite soup beans I also got from my local seed library. Alas a summer crop that is very frost sensitive. So it needs watering, but not much. I've grown these around a support the last few years, but I think I'll plant them in rows this spring and let them spread and support each other. These are very tasty little guys as a dry bean. Cooked with bacon and maple syrup they make the most delicious mush.

As for squash, this year I've grown lots of Max-squash like buttercup and Sweet Meat. These are tasty, easy to cook and store well enough so far. They require more water than I would like for a staple crop with daily irrigation. The sweet meat took the least amount of water and gave the most pound of squash per plant. The second best performers were a kind of large pumpkin I've been growing from a grocery store squash labeled 'cinderella'. I'm hoping to start my own Max-squash landrace (Joseph Lofthouse style) in hopes of discovering a squash that has everything I want - taste, large flesh to seed ratio, grows with little water, frost tolerant at the first two weeks of life... basically the perfect squash for my area. To do this, I grew all my favourite squashes together and let them "promiscuously polinate". Save seeds, plant seeds, promiscuously polinate... do this for a few years and let nature do most of the selecting for me. After a few years, when I have a nice variety of plants, I'll probably re-read Deppe's book Breed Your Own Vegetables and start narrowing down the specific traits I want in a squash.


By the way, Deppe also has this amazing no crust pumpkin squash pie recipe in her Resilient Gardener book. Pumpkin squash is a vegetable, eggs and cream are also acceptable meal foods - so she created a pumpkin pie that is eaten as a meal. Relying on the sweetness of the squash rather than excessive added sugar, I think she's on to something amazing.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I love Fava Beans, but I don't have any seeds for them right now. My husband doesn't like them nearly as much as I do. My favorite way to prepare them is sauteed with garlic.
 
R Ranson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I love Fava Beans, but I don't have any seeds for them right now. My husband doesn't like them nearly as much as I do. My favorite way to prepare them is sauteed with garlic.


Sounds delicious!

Maybe next time you go to the grocery store you can pick some dry favas up from the bulk food bin and use these for seed? My best fava plants came from Grocery store seed. It's the prefect time (at least here it is) to plant favas.

One of the things I don't like about dry fava beans is their bitter skin. A lot of people peal them like almonds, but I've recently discovered a different solution. I lightly crush them in my hand-mill and then winnow (aka, I blow on it) the skins off the beans. Then I cook the crushed fava beans to make a lovely mush. This is a fantastic soup base. Better still, I fry up some bacon bits (perhaps your husband likes bacon?), add the soaked, crushed fava beans with some whole garlic cloves (skin off) and just enough water to cover. Boil away, adding water as needed, until it makes a mush with bacon chunks in it. This cooks up super-fast (saves energy) especially if you soaked the beans for a few hours before cooking. Eat it as a side dish the first day. The second day use it as the base for soup - add loads more water, veg, leftovers, whatever you like. Perhaps this will entice your fella to love favas.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Sounds tasty, especially with bacon. Unfortunately we don't eat bacon because no supply of humanely-raised pigs.

I hope other folks will join this thread and tell us what they're growing for calories. I find it a challenging aspect of food-growing that many gardeners don't address. Human does not live on salad alone!

 
wayne fajkus
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Potatos is the only crop I grow that can be a meal by itself
I never grow enough though. But next year.....
 
Nicole Alderman
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wayne fajkus wrote:Potatos is the only crop I grow that can be a meal by itself
I never grow enough though. But next year.....


I'm with you on the potatoes. We harvested less potatoes out of the ground than we planted, which is just plain sad. We probably did a bunch of things wrong, though, and it didn't help that the deer and the ducks loved eating the stalks.

Thankfully, we like sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes, and we can successfully grow them. We'll be expanding our growing area for them this year. I just wish they were more calorie dense!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Nicole, have you tried Hardy Yams? http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=60

I have one plant of Hardy Yam but it isn't doing much because it doesn't get sufficient water.

Regarding deer; I wouldn't be able to grow anything without fences.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tyler Ludens wrote:What staple crops are you growing these days? By "staple" I mean those that provide the majority of the calories in your diet.


I grow and eat dry beans, corn, and winter squash.

This time of year I eat squash for every meal. Boiled, fried, baked, sautéed, mashed, etc. I eat it plain, or it's added to soups, stir-fries, casseroles, and roasts. I eat so much squash that my skin turns orange. I hear people say that the squash I grow are so big that they can't eat them. Ha! I sometimes cook 2 to 4 squash at a time.


I eat lots of beans: I sprout them and eat them as a vegetable. I boil them and make soups, or chili, or refried beans.


I nixtamalize flour corn and make tortillas, or hominy, or pancakes. I make masa harina. The hominy goes in soups, stir-fries, casseroles, and roasts. The masa harina is used as a thickener for soups or gravies.


I feed corn and squash to the chickens and eat their eggs.




 
Tyler Ludens
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Excellent Joseph!
 
Dana Jones
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R Ranson wrote:Great topic!


Amaranth is another low bother, high yield crop. The young leaves are another 'cook like spinach'. The old leaves can be fed to the sheep. The flower stocks are popular with florists. The grain is tasty, especially when dry parched. I plant them about two weeks before the rains stop (and the rains do stop - suddenly but on schedule) in a part of the yard with decent supply of soil moisture. They grow deep roots and need no watering. I weed them twice at the beginning of the season, but they soon crowd out the weeds with their massive root system. The seedlings are tiny, but I grow the bright red amaranth so I can easily tell which is grain and which is weed.



Thanks for posting this! I have wondered about Amaranth for livestock as well as for the family. We just moved to 8 acres in the Tyler, Tx area and bought 4 ewes! Got my Baker Creek catalog today and was seriously considering Amaranth. You just helped me make up my mind to grow Amaranth. I like the red leaves idea too!

As far as growing enough calories to keep me out of the store, our spring/summer garden was a total wipeout. Poor soil, too much rain, then no rain, grasshoppers and rabbits all conspired together to make all my efforts fail. So right now, in the newly fenced garden are 3 high calorie producing pigs. LOL We dumped seven 8-yard loads of pine shavings (horse stall cleanout) in the next-year-garden and bags of leaves. We'll take the pigs out for slaughter in the spring and try again in the garden. I have gotten good ideas from this thread, thanks Tyler Ludens for starting it.

At out previous house, I gardened for years in small beds. I raised a large amount of our food in those beds. But I never looked at it as daily calories. Putting it into that perspective makes a lot of sense. I'll be planting fruit and nut trees, berries and grapes. But I have to have my vegetables too.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I recommend the Amaranth variety Golden Giant. It produces huge seed heads and of course the leaves can be eaten as well. http://www.bountifulgardens.org/Amaranth-Golden-Giant/productinfo/VAM-2010/

 
Dana Jones
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Tyler, I read about that variety. Is that what you grow? How do you prepare amaranth grains? What do you cook them with?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I grew it a few years ago and was amazed by the productivity, but I never ended up actually cooking with the grain!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Those of you who are growing your own staples: Have you faced any challenges changing your diet to accommodate these new foods in place of store food? How has your family reacted? What have been your big successes on the table, and what have been your big failures?

I've had the most challenge incorporating Jerusalem Artichoke into our diet. I don't like it much - I think it smells weird. Fortunately my husband likes it more, and we both seem able to digest it without the "Fartichoke" problem.



 
Casie Becker
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We've been adding a new food or two almost every year of my life. My mother liked to experiment and there's always that new variety that you had to try. The ones that last in our diet are the ones that we can prepare in several different ways.

Introducing them successfully is a matter of being willing to try cooking them in different ways until you find the one/s that complement the food. Don't be afraid to look for recipes online or to add them in small amounts to other items till you grow familiar with the taste.

By now people are probably coming to expect me to pull up an example: Yard long beans are great stir fried until they just start to brown on the edges, they make good dilly beans and they're a fun snack for kids to eat raw. My mother tosses them with olive oil and garden herbs and then slow roasts them until they are crispy and eats them instead of chips. They also complement traditional greens beans (such as Kentucky Wonder) if you mix them in equal amounts and then cook them together with butter. After one summer of growing them, I see them as a permanent of our summer gardens.

Casie
 
Tyler Ludens
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Are you growing any staples (major calorie crops like potatoes or grain)?

 
Casie Becker
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I'm assuming this is directed at me as the last respondent. I did sweet potatoes for the second time this year, but pulled them too early. I'm saving the roots that had just begun to plump to make next years slips, again. Next year I'm going to give them till the first real freeze before pulling.

If I just resist pulling them early, they make a great dual purpose plant. The leaves are a nutritious, delicious, relatively high protein green and then the roots are a nutritious, delicious, high calorie storage food. They even grew without supplemental watering.

Most of my gardening exposure has been to my mother's garden and she's always focused more on nutrient density and variety rather than calories. Lots of green beans, tomatoes, summer squash and greens.

I requested and received a copy of The Resilient Gardener for Xmas. Every page I look at I'm learning something new and this book focuses on growing 5 staple crops from seed selection and breeding, through cooking and long term storage. Next year I'm trying two different species of winter squash, several species of beans (at least two of them for dry beans), and flint corn.

Just as a side note, until I started cooking with them a couple of years ago, my family only ever ate sweet potatoes as candied yams at Thanksgiving (which I think is one of the worst recipes for them). Like with a new garden vegetable I had to experiment and try a lot of different recipes from online to learn I like them much better as a savory vegetable.

Casie
 
Tyler Ludens
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I've found sweet potatoes to be somewhat perennial down here (a bit south of you). I definitely plan to plant more of them next year and try to plant more varieties so maybe some will set seed.



 
Gilbert Fritz
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To the original poster;

Just a quick point; radishes don't actually contain that many calories per pound. 69 for radishes, as compared to 375 for sweet potatoes.

Not that radishes, turnips, beets, and carrots aren't good to grow for other reason, but they just don't make as good of staples.

I've grown lots of winter squash, but I would have to grow tons more if I was actually going to feed our family. I grew a little bit of Kamut wheat, but saved it for seed. It was certainly easy to grow, but probably would have been hard to process. I also managed to grow sweet potatoes in a sweet potato tower, but they take extra work in my climate.

Next year I will be doing a big experiment with Irish potatoes in trenches in the ground and in different kinds of towers, and I plan to grow a lot of squash and more sweet potatoes. I will also try small amounts of some of the grains.
 
Tyler Ludens
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You're right about radishes!

 
Roberto pokachinni
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My starch focus this year was on potatoes (I grew three varieties of spuds), and although I have the acreage and the perfect conditions for this crop, partly because of my lack of will to further 'break' the sod on my amazing meadow, and partly time/energy constraints, I did not grow as big of a crop as would be sufficient to sustain us for the year. Plus I was working away for most of last season and could not focus enough of my own calories to grow enough of my own calories!

My aunt and uncle gave us a good box of spuds, plus some beets, but even that isn't nearly enough.

My parents moved into the town nearby (and where I work out of), and we eat tons of spuds! I also grew zuchinni, and squash, but not in abundance this year. Turnips, carrots, beets, and squash/pumpkin/zuchinni/parsnips have been and will be staples in larger amounts in years to come. I'm looking forward to expanding the growing area and experimenting with sunchokes, and ancient grains and hardy corn.

I do like the idea of growing more beans and peas for storage/consumption. Peas of course are a given here, and Favas are definitely possible, although I did not grow them this year, as are lentils (which I have never grown but they do grow at this latitude). I'm not sure what other varieties will grow this far north ( but would appreciate any ideas ), but I definitely want to do more of this.

Fortunately, my retired parents have now moved into the area and are going to be gardening and building with me on my land-And they LOVE eating stuff from the garden, and are totally willing to bust into spuds on a regular basis. The extra help and devotion to the garden/preservation will go a LONG way to creating a solid caloric base for our year. The fact that I can, indeed, grow all the spuds I could ever want should go a long way to supplying the family with calories... just gotta break the sod a bit... I did buy a fancy bulb planter tool thingy for the purpose of removing a core of sod just big enough for a potato, so I don't have an excuse this year.



 
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Roberto pokachinni
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Something that I would definitely focus on if I lived where you do Tyler, is nuts. If I could grow pecans, almonds, and other nuts I would be Very happy to do so.

try some hardy stuff like this: http://www.permies.com/t/14353/plants/Reforestation-Growing-Trees-Arid-barren

One that I can grow, and intend to at some point, is hazelnuts/filberts. There is a wild hazel shrub in my area that I'm hoping to figure out how to propagate on a decent enough scale to make a decent caloric crop from. I'm also hoping to get some domestic filberts in the ground.

I have heard of native people mashing the whole fruit of cherries (which I can grow, and which have a wild variety in the area) and eating the whole thing (pits included) at caloric gain. I've also heard of people in Central Asia eating the pits of apricots as 'almonds'. My neighbor has a hardy apricot! So these are possibilities.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hi Tyler,

Yes, I just looked up the calories per pound numbers for a bunch of things a few days ago and was really surprised at how low some of them were. And due to poundage per square feet, one can grow more calories per square foot with some vegetables then most grains! Of course, the weight of food per day would get really crazy! I was also surprised at how low the yields per square foot were for dry beans of any sort, even with top biointensive care.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Roberto, I have planted a number of nut trees and they died. But I am exceptionally good at killing plants....

Gilbert, yes, it's difficult to eat enough vegetables to get sufficient calories, even though they may be efficient in the garden, they are not efficient in the kitchen. Before the Potato Famine, the Irish were in the habit of eating several pounds of potatoes per person per day, as this was their primary source of calories. And that's the problem with the One Circle vegan diets - it's just really hard to cram down enough vegetables to obtain sufficient calories.
 
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Roberto, I have planted a number of nut trees and they died. But I am exceptionally good at killing plants....
LOL. i'm no slouch in that department, either, I must say.

My success has more to do with a preponderance and perseverance with prolific produce production and not with great success with each individual plant, or even every species. I would fail if someone was to grade me on the death rate in my garden, especially this year. I almost planted more pounds of carrot seed than I got in harvested carrots this year! (well not really, that would be a ridiculous lot of seed). The fact that I was away, and it never rained, and all that didn't help, but still... the poor buggers never had a chance with me this year.

That said: NUTS !!! There must be a way. These things do grow well in your type of climate. I'll leave it at that.

*N*U*T*S* (alright I'll shut up.)
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Tyler; it might be as simple as getting a little bit of some kinda inoculate (dirt) from a yard that has a nut tree. How the heck does Kosta bust it out in the desolate of Southern Greece...
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, I would love to have Pecans and Almonds. I may try again some year.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Those of you who are growing your own staples: Have you faced any challenges changing your diet to accommodate these new foods in place of store food? How has your family reacted? What have been your big successes on the table, and what have been your big failures?


I grew up on the farm where 5 generations of my ancestors have lived, so my diet has pretty much consisted of what we grew or caught ourselves: eggs, chicken, milk, cow, deer, lamb, fish, potatoes, sweet corn, squash, green beans, honey, apples, bottled tomatoes, garlic, and onions. During the warm months supplemented with greens, berries, cucumbers, peas, turnips, carrots, cabbage. and tomatoes. We bought grains and beans from the mill when I was growing up, even though we might have been growing a crop of wheat. The mill cleaned it really well.

These days I raise my own wheat, rye, flour corn, and beans. Today I consider my staples to be beans, corn, and squash. This time of year squash is eaten pretty much at every meal. Digging potatoes is hard work. And I ain't getting any younger. Don't currently have a good way to store them.

I eat a lot of soups, casseroles, stir-fries, and roasts. Pretty much any vegetable and/or any meat can go into them depending on what is in season, or in storage. Today I ate eggs, potatoes, bacon, canned green beans, cabbage, turkey, carrots, and wine.

Today I also shelled and cleaned the flour corn. I harvested about 9 gallons of seed. Next warm sunny day we get I intend to shell and clean the corn from one of my breeding projects. After I save the seeds that I want out of it, the rest can be cracked for animal food.

 
William Whitson
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We produce roughly 40% of what we eat. I'd like to get it up to 60%, but that will probably require waiting for more fruit and nut trees to come into production. The past couple of years have ranked pretty close to this:

Potato
Ulluco
Rutabaga
Oca
Apples
Broad beans
Filberts
Mashua

It is too wet here for most long season grains and too cool for most short season grains, so root vegetables are on the menu every day.
 
R Ranson
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Going from City diet (with an allotment) to eating mostly homegrown staple foods, the biggest challenge we've had was adjusting to the increased fibre content. Both the people living in the home have gut illnesses and require low fibre diet. High fibre foods cause hospitalization and/or death, so it's been a challenge.

For example, when we mill our wheat, we sift in some unbleached white flour to lower the total fibre content. It also helps with nutrition, believe it or not, as our local soil is deficient in Selenium, whereas commercial flour is grown in areas high in Se.

Another focus has been on chickpeas instead of the more usual beans. Chickpeas (favas and lentils too) have easier to digest fibre than many of the New World beans. But for me, chickpeas taste best of the Old World Beans.



Random thought: should we include home grown drinks like wine, beer and cider (or Hard Cider as it's known in the USA) as a staple crop? They have quite a few calories and other nutritional benefits, for relatively little work. Of course, with home grown alcohol, you need to be aware of your local laws - since the laws are so varied, lets assume each knows their own local regulations.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Though some disagree about health benefits, alcoholic beverages have been a traditional method for storing fruit and grain calories, so yes, to me they qualify as staples if you consume them often enough to be getting significant calories from them (not just on special occasions).
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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My preferred staple crop at this point is beef and dairy. Grass is super easy to grow, I can't eat it but my cattle can. I feel like as 2e go forward we'll be deriving even more nutrition from our good grass fed/finished beef and dairy. Chickens are great to, but I don't live 8n a jungle so they require pretty extensive inputs up here in Idaho the cattle don't. Hogs may come down the pipe to help clean up the excess yields, but they'll be few in number. I finished about 3500 pounds of beef on the hoof (around 1500 pounds of cut meat) last year on six dryland acres with around 23 inches of precipitation. Thoughtful management can yield fantastic results, don't limit yourself to plant crops. This year we've added a milker so we should bring the dairy aspect into play this season as well, an ongoing highly nutritious yeild.
 
Kate Muller
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My husband I also want to grow more of our calories. We are trying a whole bunch of different things in a zone 5 sandy yard. Since we have a short growing season we are working on finding crops that grow well and store well. I am looking for foods that will keep in my basement, can or dehydrate well. We have 2 freezer chests but we would love to reduce the use of them.

Butternut squash. We grew them by accident last year. One plant sprouted in our compost and it produced 7 squash with zero work on our part. We didn't keep the chickens away form it so they kept it bug free and their attempts at pecking the fruits resulted in minor scars that did not affect the squash. We ate them all winter.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes. I am still working on getting these to do well here but they will store in my basement so I will continue to try and improve my yields.

Blue corn. I grew Hooker's Sweet Indian Corn this year. It can be eaten as a sweet corn or let it finish the season as dent corn. I haven't tried making corn meal out of it because I am going to replant it. Going with the blue color will make it easy to spot if it crosses with other corn in the area.

I grew my first successful carrots this year. I like having them in the ground during the fall. It allows me to harvest them as I need them. I am hoping to expand my root crops with beets and parsnips. I can leave these in the ground till the ground freezes solid. I will also try storing them in buckets of sand in my basement.

I tried turnips and I don't like them. Unfortunately the chickens don't like them either. I do like the diakon radish. The bees love the flowers and the diakon is reseeding itself.

We have sunchokes in the ground. Many of the other perennial tubers need a warmer space than I have.

Sunflower. The bees and birds love them. We are slowly spreading them everywhere and they are starting to reseed themselves

The first hazelnuts were planted this year. Last year we planted various fruit shrubs and trees. We have been trying various nuts to see what we like. The back part of our property will be planted with full size fruit and nut trees so we are experimenting with cooking with various possibilities now to see what we like. Our latest experiment was grinding chestnuts in the food processor and making pancakes out of them. They are really good with our honey.

We grow lots of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, beans, snap peas and dozens of other veggies. I am really glad I learned to can and dehydrate before I had the huge garden. Canning and dehydrating has allowed me to preserve so much more from the garden. I have tomato sauce, salsas, barbecue sauce, jams, pie fillings, soups, stews, fruit butters, apple sauce and other goodies in my basement. When I am busy during the harvest season I will clean and prep batches of stuff to be canned and through it in the freezer till the weather gets cooler and I have more time to can.

Of course blanching and freezing veggies for winter use is worth the time it takes. They are far taster than what you can get in then stores.

Having dehydrated herbs and veggies makes crock pot cooking easy and they take up so little room. Dehydrated fruit is a favorite around here too.

You are warm enough to do winter crops with low tunnels and cold frames. Check out some of the varieties of veggies that are designed for northern fall growing seasons. Short season cool weather crops would allow you to take advantage of your spring and fall growing seasons without fighting the dry heat of the summer. Your warm winters would allow you to store a bunch of root crops in the ground and harvest as needed with a low tunnels. Elliot Coleman has a great book the Four Season Harvest that covers wintering over crops.



















 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, I do have a super advantage of being able to grow year round most years without protection.

We are growing a lot of meat on the hoof in the form of native and feral deer, but our hunter has not been successful so far. The neighbors do better. One of our neighbors uses a spare bedroom as their deer blind, shooting from the open window! They have given us many pounds of venison.

 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Sounds like a pretty effective hunting technique, I've used my deck as a blind before, but the extra bedroom blind sounds much more luxuriant!
 
R Ranson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Though some disagree about health benefits, alcoholic beverages have been a traditional method for storing fruit and grain calories, so yes, to me they qualify as staples if you consume them often enough to be getting significant calories from them (not just on special occasions).


You're right, I should have qualified that they need to be imbibed in moderation to be 'healthy'. In pre-industrial times (and beyond) they were a vital source of Vit B, Vit C, and other nourishment during the winter when fresh foods can be scarce. Not a food on their own, as an accessory to a meal they can provide some rather useful nutrition in a high calorie format.
 
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