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Biointensive staples

 
Tyler Ludens
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Though I'm currently growing vegetables primarily for vitamins and minerals, I want to grow more of them for calories. Roots and tubers seem to grow pretty well here, and I'm currently growing a few but they tend to be the low-calories ones like radishes, turnips, beets, and carrots. I just planted some salsify, and I have small patches of perennial leek (aka elephant garlic). I have a small patch of sunroots but we haven't learned how to incorporate them into our diet very well. I plan to grow a good big patch of sweet potatoes this year. Winter squash do really well for me and we're getting better about eating it, but it isn't included as a staple in Biointensive because it takes too much space and maybe is not sufficiently calorie dense. I want to grow some corn, but may not have the space for it in my present garden.

Staples in biointensive: http://www.growbiointensive.org/grow_main.html

What staples are you growing in a Biointensive or other small-space garden?
 
Travis Schultz
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I am on a very low to no grain diet. I eat only greens, eggs, and a few nuts until dinner, and with dinner I have a palm size of meat, a whole bunch more veggies, and for desert I can have some carbs. So for me, I grew lots of buckwheat last year.

Buckwheat to me goes way beyond a nurse crop. I can crush the seed up, hull included, and boil it to make buckwheat cereal, which is delicious. You can add it to breads by cutting the wheat with it, you could probably crush and make a no bake cookie. We just make hot cereal out of it, and we add a little honey for flavor.

Buckwheat also becomes an ingredient in fermented plant extracts because of its beneficial properties.

Besides that, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and my other main calorie crop I grow, and I grow a lot of it, is Rutabaga. In the fall when the apples are ripe you can make a huge 5 gallon pot of rutabaga and apple soup, which because the baga is pureed along with the apple, it can freeze for a year and never lose its texture. Though it won't last a year...

Cant really shed much light on growing grains because I do not grow many ancient grains besides amaranth and quinoa, which are grown for the leaf, not the grain. Any wheat or barley or oat member is out of the question, theres enough rye growing wild in the fields to harvest for compost crops anyway.
 
Travis Schultz
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Another thing I would like to add is this. Kale, spinach, lambs quarter, chard, collard, and broccoli, to name a few, are all greens that when eaten in large quantities not only bring SOME calories, but a good amount of protein as well. You already stated you are not interested in the veganic only approach which is awesome, I am right there with you.

Leave calories out of the equation, hunt, fish, buy in bulk healthy meats. Eat as much heart, liver, kidney, cull fat, and other organ meat and fat as possible. I start my morning off with a little kerrygold butter in my coffee, this easily fuels my brain and body unil noon or so, when I start getting hungry I will eat at least 6 ounces of greens, thats roughly 6 packed cups. along with a small handful of nuts, and a small slice of cheese, keeps me high energy until about 6pm. If I get hungrier I will eat double that amount of greens, its not uncommon to for me to eat a 1.5 pounds of raw greens a day, with no dressings or anything. Just handfuls of greens into the mouth. If I am feeling bored with it that particular day I keep a small bottle of raw coconut vinegar in my truck and will throw just a tad of that on. There is no reason why 100sq ft of bio-intensive bed couldnt produce enough greens to eat 2 pounds of greens a day, the calories there will add up. But the "calorie" is not exactly a good way to measure your food. Just like with cholesterol, there are many forms of it, some good some bad. Some calories, on a strictly prolonged energy basis are worth 5x as many calories to your body as say empty calories from grains and sugars. You can live on far less calories when eating super nutrient dense food than when eating junk, and I include all grains into the junk folder. I know my brain needs carbs daily or I will hate myself, so I make sure to eat carbs after dinner to fuel my brain while my body sleeps. This also makes you crash around 830pm which is great for getting up around 5am.

I know there is a ton of information and articles to dispute this if any of you wanted, and I do not want to say anything bad about vegans. BUT, there has been a ton of work done on this, and your body is much better adapted to burn fat rather than carbs. And there is 1 thing all nutritionist have in common, no matter how much their views may differ, and that is "EAT MORE GREENS". You can supplement your diet quite a bit with high protein greens. And right there, without growing grains, you have your entire diet in your garden (besides of course the meat and fat you wild harvest from water and land in all the spare time you gained by not growing grains lol).

The other day I had a squirrel wander into my yard. I kid you not, that was the best kidney, liver, and heart I have ever had, and I have had A LOT of organ meat. The smaller the animal, the tastier the organs.

Check out Abel James- The Fat Burning Man Podcast. He came out with a book recently called The Wild Diet. It so fits my lifestyle, and its a comfortable and happy lifestyle where I still get to enjoy meat and fat. Sometimes I do miss bread, but I have 1 day a week I carb backload so I usually eat a slice of bread a week.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, Travis. I usually can't afford to buy meat, so we eat little of it besides local venison and sometimes one of our chickens. I'm working toward reducing grains in our diet, but we still eat at least one grain product a day. Except for a little corn, which we'd probably end up eating as sweet corn, the only other "grain" I'd like to grow is amaranth. I did grow it one year but never cooked with the seeds. We sometimes have weedy amaranths growing, which we eat as greens, but I think they may have died out of the garden - I guess I over-harvested. I'm definitely with you on the "eat more greens" idea!
 
Dan Boone
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Winter squash do really well for me and we're getting better about eating it, but it isn't included as a staple in Biointensive because it takes too much space and maybe is not sufficiently calorie dense.


I'm still getting my head wrapped around biointensive and it's not really my thing so far, but I have been focusing on what a good staples/calories crop would be for me up here in Oklahoma. Sweet potatoes should be good but I have not mastered them yet, too much nibbler pressure on the vines. I am working with sunroot but it seems to need a lot of water to produce much yield for me. My big push this season is going to be squash (I have many gardening challenges but lack of space isn't one of them) because it's looking like a good option for bulk, long-storing calories.

A challenge for me has been that I'm not greatly fond of squash. So this winter I have been purchasing some, to learn to eat it (and to steal seeds). One thing I've discovered is that the little squashes I've been able to grow so far (grapefruit sized, thin flesh, lots of rind and seed) are a lot harder to work with and use as a bulk staple than the bigger winter squashes, such as the butternut with the long cylinder-neck shape that's so easy to peel, yielding a huge chunk of pure squash. So I'm going to try some bigger varieties this year. I've also discovered that I particularly like squash as a major ingredient in vegetable stews (one of my regular menu items) that also include carrots, celery, and soup peas. So now I have at least one way (that I like) to eat it as a major meal component.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'll have to try that vegetable stew with the squash. That's my biggest problem with the home-grown staples, learning to eat them in place of store foods like rice and pasta.
 
Alder Burns
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Having spent many years growing both, I would highly recommend both white and sweet potatoes. White potatoes in particular love fluffy and super-fertile soil, and would work great in a newly amended bed. Sweets are better grown in a bed that has already grown something demanding as they prefer less fertility, or they will go more to vine and fewer stringier roots.
 
Dan Boone
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Alder Burns wrote:Having spent many years growing both, I would highly recommend both white and sweet potatoes. White potatoes in particular love fluffy and super-fertile soil, and would work great in a newly amended bed. Sweets are better grown in a bed that has already grown something demanding as they prefer less fertility, or they will go more to vine and fewer stringier roots.


White potatoes are tricky for me. Here they are sort of a two-season crop; you can plant them now for harvest before it gets too hot, or (if you can get them to sprout and grow at that time of year) you can plant them in late August for a harvest at first frost in October or November. The trouble for me is unlike sweet potatoes and squash, they want cool storage, which I don't have access to in any quantity.

However I grew up in the boreal forests of the upper Yukon river. There, we grew at least six hundred pounds of potatoes every year, plus lesser quantities of carrots and rutabegas, and had an all-winter root cellar to store them in. They are without question the awesomest calorie staple for short-season (we had about 85 days reliable, 95 on a good year) northern growing.
 
Dan Boone
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Tyler Ludens wrote:That's my biggest problem with the home-grown staples, learning to eat them in place of store foods like rice and pasta.


One partial substitution that I'm just starting to consider is gnocci, those doughy little dumplings that you cook like pasta. There's a prepared (with some additives for shelf-stability that I'd like to ditch by making my own) whole wheat brand that I can sometimes buy around here, and they are very tasty and satisfying in any pasta dish. Most of the recipes I can find call for about 70 percent white potatoes (squash and sweet potatoes ought to work too) with wheat flour making up the other 30% of their bulk. If this works with my homegrown veg and makes an acceptable substitute for 100%-wheat pasta, it cuts 70% out of the store-content of a given meal, which is not perfection but neither is it to be sneezed at.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I use bland squash as a pasta substitute, but there is a significant texture difference. Maybe I'll look into making gnocchi.

Ooo, squash gnocchi recipes:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/squash-gnocchi-gnocchi-di-zucca-recipe.html

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/butternut-squash-gnocchi-with-sage-brown-butter-361270

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/winter-squash-gnocchi-with-brown-butter-and-sage
 
Judy Bowman
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Southern peas are one of our preferred calorie crops here in southern Oklahoma. Squash can be iffy for us because of squash bugs but we have pretty good results with sweet potatoes and they store well in our warmer climate. Most years we grow a small white potato crop and preserve it either by canning or shredded and dried.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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