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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How Many Of Each Plant To Grow As A Percentage Of Total Calories

 
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I guess beans, squash, potatoes, corn, rice, wheat (harder to process), etc. are staples

This attachment gives an ideal about what 10 feet of soil may give you.
Yield-per-10-ft.jpg
[Thumbnail for Yield-per-10-ft.jpg]
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:
What variety are the cowpeas, do you know?


Packet label said "compact bushy cowpeas Minnesota 2014" so I guess that it is the variety. I didn't plant them till last year and germ was 90% +, so they store good.  Seeds are small, cream colored with tan or red eyes. I grew them right beside the bigger later ones, I never messed with researching if or how easily they cross.
 
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Michael Moreken wrote:I guess beans, squash, potatoes, corn, rice, wheat (harder to process), etc. are staples

This attachment gives an ideal about what 10 feet of soil may give you.



That's a neat little chart, and confirms the numbers I have. Though, I have to say that I'm curious about why it lists bush beans as yielding higher than pole beans. I mean, I don't grow bush beans and can't confirm, but everything else I've seen says the exact opposite. This page from Cornell University says the yield for pole beans, in the same amount of space, will be 2-3 times higher than that of bush beans. Which just makes practical sense, since a pole bean is significantly larger than a bush bean.

Not that that it's a huge deal breaker in our context. The figures given for beans (and corn) are for fresh eating, not mature seeds for storing. The numbers will inevitably be different.
 
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I've never measured it precisely but yield of pole beans is way higher than bush types in my garden. I would imagine that some single individual pole vines could by themselves beat a 10 foot row of bush, they just do it over the whole season instead of all at once.
 
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Mark Reed wrote:I've never measured it precisely but yield of pole beans is way higher than bush types in my garden. I would imagine that some single individual pole vines could by themselves beat a 10 foot row of bush, they just do it over the whole season instead of all at once.



That's always been my impression, and certainly what I've read from so-called experts, but I haven't personally grown them side by side to compare them. I'm pretty enamored with the three sisters method, so I just never grow bush beans. I'm curious if it's a typo in that chart, or if it was from someone growing in a short season where frost took out the pole beans before they could really produce well.
 
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Reviewing the subject from the beginning I think it would be good to consider the crops and amount to feed animals that will add calories and nutrition to your diet.
Many people avoid wheat because of its modern history and historical abuse but in our costal climate winter wheat is a very reliable and calorie rich crop even in a small area.  The experiment started with a friend planting a former horse paddock with winter wheat as a cover crop to be plowed in in the spring but the plowing never happened so it produced this huge crop of wheat. When the wheat was ripe I was offered the whole field to harvest with my scythe. I had spare barn space to just store it on the stalks. Each day I would throw an armload in the chicken tractor and they would peck the grain off and leave the straw for mulch. Some seed would get left and start the possesses over again. the wheat was providing me with eggs with very little extra work.  A later experiment was to feed the chickens from a 25 pound bag of bird seed mix while they were working an area in the spring that I would not be using for summer garden. As a result I got a good crop of millet amaranth and sunflowers to feed them when the wheat was used up.
 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:Reviewing the subject from the beginning I think it would be good to consider the crops and amount to feed animals that will add calories and nutrition to your diet.
Many people avoid wheat because of its modern history and historical abuse but in our costal climate winter wheat is a very reliable and calorie rich crop even in a small area.  The experiment started with a friend planting a former horse paddock with winter wheat as a cover crop to be plowed in in the spring but the plowing never happened so it produced this huge crop of wheat. When the wheat was ripe I was offered the whole field to harvest with my scythe. I had spare barn space to just store it on the stalks. Each day I would throw an armload in the chicken tractor and they would peck the grain off and leave the straw for mulch. Some seed would get left and start the possesses over again. the wheat was providing me with eggs with very little extra work.  A later experiment was to feed the chickens from a 25 pound bag of bird seed mix while they were working an area in the spring that I would not be using for summer garden. As a result I got a good crop of millet amaranth and sunflowers to feed them when the wheat was used up.



The problem with wheat in my area is that our soils produce really low protein wheat. Like, you literally can't make bread because it doesn't have enough gluten. Likewise, it's such a low protein feed that chickens would not be able to produce eggs if fed that as a significant part of their diet.

I do expect to have plenty of surplus to share with the chickens this coming season, but even if I don't, I at least have an arrangement where I barter eggs for feed and still have enough eggs left over to meet my needs. I do winnow my seeds in the chicken pen so they can eat anything that drops to the ground.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Also, if we ignore for a moment the satisfaction that comes from eating animal products, and the specific nutrients that are easier to get from animal products, and just consider the actual energy expenditures, it doesn't really make sense to grow food for animals that humans can eat themselves. You don't get as many calories out of an animal as you put in... that's just basic thermodynamics (of course, you might be getting fertility and labor out of the animals that helps justify the energy cost, but you aren't going to come out ahead on the subject of food value.) This is why people that traditionally raised livestock fed them primarily on forage/pasture and then did their slaughtering in the fall when forage was at a minimum, thus only requiring them to supplement the diets of animals that were being carried forward for breeding stock. If you're feeding livestock things that you can't or won't eat (weeds, grass, bugs, kitchen scraps, garden waste, surplus veggies, etc.), then you come out ahead. If you're growing things specifically to feed animals, it's a losing proposition.

Obviously, it's not that black and white. In permaculture my chickens have more value than just what they produce as food. They're a key part of my pest and fertility managment. But when the energy cost of keeping an animal starts to outweigh the benefit of keeping it, that's when it has to go into the soup pot. I just had to dispatch my first chicken the other week because she was a serial escapee that was causing more damage than she was providing value. She broke into the nursery this spring and kicked my broody hen off the nest a week before chicks were supposed to hatch. She'd gotten into the garden several times and made a mess of things. And she hadn't laid an egg in months. Even factoring in fertility and pest managment, I was putting far more in than I was getting out.

Energy-wise, I am losing with my birds. The vast majority of the eggs they produce go to someone else to cover their feed costs. They're essentially eating eggs that I would prefer to eat myself. But since they realistically produce more eggs than I can practically use, it's not really a loss that I'm feeling (though I'd prefer it if they weren't being fed on commercial feed, with all the problems with how it's produced.)

There are examples of people feeding flocks without commercial feed, or without growing food specifically for their birds. That's ideally where I'll be in a few years, but I'm not there yet. And if you took all of the rest of the benefits of keeping animals out of the equation, that's what you'd have to do to make it make sense.

 
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Just a quick update on the spreadsheet before I finally settle in for bed. I ended up getting wrapped up in it and working on it until like 5am this morning, and then only slept for about 3 hours, which I immediately regretted. I was hoping to get it done today and make it available for people to use, but my marathon wasn't enough to finish it and I was pretty worthless all day today after getting so little sleep. But, it is nearing done, and I wanted to share how it's looking since it's functionally complete, and all I'm really wrapping up is documentation (instructions, sources, FAQ, etc.)
staplecropupdate.PNG
Staple Crop Calculator
Staple Crop Calculator
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I'm not interested in doing the counting, but in case anyone is, here is a photo. I estimate that about 1/4 of the seeds in a sunflower head are empty. (Those near the center, and near the outer edge.)



I grew sunflowers last year and American goldfinch attacked my heritage oil seed in garden beds.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:

Michael Moreken wrote:I guess beans, squash, potatoes, corn, rice, wheat (harder to process), etc. are staples

This attachment gives an ideal about what 10 feet of soil may give you.



That's a neat little chart, and confirms the numbers I have. Though, I have to say that I'm curious about why it lists bush beans as yielding higher than pole beans. I mean, I don't grow bush beans and can't confirm, but everything else I've seen says the exact opposite. This page from Cornell University says the yield for pole beans, in the same amount of space, will be 2-3 times higher than that of bush beans. Which just makes practical sense, since a pole bean is significantly larger than a bush bean.

Not that that it's a huge deal breaker in our context. The figures given for beans (and corn) are for fresh eating, not mature seeds for storing. The numbers will inevitably be different.



notice bush beans can be planted a lot closer.
 
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Michael Moreken wrote:

notice bush beans can be planted a lot closer.



Yes, but notice that the Purdue article states that pole beans produce 2-3 times as much for the same amount of SPACE not the same amount of PLANTS. That's already taking into account that pole beans are larger and thus must be planted a little further apart.

It's hard to compare these numbers to the numbers I already have, since this is for green beans and not dry beans (I'm not sure how the weight of a green bean at the ideal picking stage compares to the weight of the mature seeds from the same pod, nor how much production you lose by allowing seeds to mature, which theoretically signals to the plant that it can stop producing.) If we assume that the figure given for bush beans was intended for pole beans and vice versa, that would result in a yield of 0.2-0.3 pounds per plant for the pole beans, for which the value I found of 0.25 pounds per plant for dry beans falls squarely in the middle. It's like comparing apples to oranges, but it seems to suggest the numbers were flipped.
 
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I may have accidentally hit "report this post to moderator" on the previous post. If so it WAS AN ACCIDENT, please disregard.
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:

Michael Moreken wrote:
notice bush beans can be planted a lot closer.



Yes, but notice that the Purdue article states that pole beans produce 2-3 times as much for the same amount of SPACE not the same amount of PLANTS. That's already taking into account that pole beans are larger and thus must be planted a little further apart.

It's hard to compare these numbers to the numbers I already have, since this is for green beans and not dry beans (I'm not sure how the weight of a green bean at the ideal picking stage compares to the weight of the mature seeds from the same pod, nor how much production you lose by allowing seeds to mature, which theoretically signals to the plant that it can stop producing.) If we assume that the figure given for bush beans was intended for pole beans and vice versa, that would result in a yield of 0.2-0.3 pounds per plant for the pole beans, for which the value I found of 0.25 pounds per plant for dry beans falls squarely in the middle. It's like comparing apples to oranges, but it seems to suggest the numbers were flipped.



I'll have to go back and find the Purdue article, or maybe not because I know that in my garden pole beans are more productive. I can't specifically quantify it because I just go by whether our storage jars are filling up, I don't much on measuring, tracking or recording. I have often resolved to do better at that but just as often got bored and let it slide.

On that one chart it might true that bush produces more.
If they are talking about green beans, not dry
And IF they are planted on the same day
And If they are harvested on the same day
And if the harvest of that day is all that counts
BUT the pole bean will continue making more for weeks where the bush might give one smaller harvest later on

For dry beans it is true that new pod set slows as the first ones start to mature but it doesn't stop completely and those that barely seem to slow at all can be selected for. You really don't even have to do it on purpose because you just naturally end up with more seeds of the ones that keep making.

The fact that they are more productive overall is just a bonus to me because I hate bending over to pick bush beans and my climate makes it near impossible to get a nice harvest of dry bush beans. Harvest of dry beans goes on for weeks here, just bringing  a 1/4 or a 1/2 or a full pound every tow or three days. Toward end of season if something like radishes or mustard hasn't already invaded the same bed where the beans are, I plant something.
 
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I believe that the total amount of calories is not of a great importance. The important thing are nutrients. While it is rather easy to grow starches, high valid proteins is a bit more complicated and if you want to grow high valuable fat you need to kill animals even if you don't like it. But it is very valuable to get self sufficient or more self sufficient because of the Great Reset planned.
 
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Angelika Maier wrote:I believe that the total amount of calories is not of a great importance. The important thing are nutrients. While it is rather easy to grow starches, high valid proteins is a bit more complicated and if you want to grow high valuable fat you need to kill animals even if you don't like it. But it is very valuable to get self sufficient or more self sufficient because of the Great Reset planned.



I don't like killing animals, any more than others. But I know I can grow things for all I need, including beans and other legumes, and nuts and seeds, and corn and other grains, with other vegetables and fruits. And I know of great meals to make from using the food from this.
 
Mathew Trotter
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The spreadsheet is officially available. It was another late night, but I got it done.

Go here: https://permies.com/wiki/153291/Annual-Staple-Crop-Calculator-Pay

There are options to throw me a few bucks if you're so inclined, but if you scroll all the way to the bottom there's a link to access the calculator free of charge. Really just want people to get some use out of it.

I recommend reading the whole post, since there are quite a few tidbits about using the calculator that might be useful to know. Otherwise, there's a fair amount of documentation inside the calculator as well and it should be pretty painless to get started. You can always ask questions here if something isn't clear. And I'm sure there are still kinks to work out and features to add. But for the time being, I'm going to bed and trying to catch up on sleep.
 
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Mark Reed wrote:

I'll have to go back and find the Purdue article...



My bad. It was Cornell.

I've been looking at so many Purdue variety trials that I mixed the two up.
 
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Has everyone actually seen Rob Greenfield's year of growing and foraging 100% of his food? Here are a couple highlights:





This was one of my many motivations for the project.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Okay. Now that the calculator is in a usable state (and I've had a couple days to catch up on sleep), is there anyone who is A) using the calculator, and B) growing a staple crop that isn't included in the list?

If you can provide the name of the crop and, ideally, sources for yield/calorie information (and ideally the yield per plant, though yield per acre/hectare is fine as long as there's also information regarding the seeding rate), I can get those added. If you can't find calories/yield information, I'll see what I can find. For the purposes of this calculator I've limited it primarily to crops that have 300 or more calories per pound. For crops lower than 300 calories/pound, I'll probably exclude them... but if you think you have a good argument for why it should be included, I'm open to hearing it.

I know Mark mentioned peanuts and a few other crops. If anyone who's using the calculator is growing peanuts, I can make that one of the next things I add. There are several more of the Andean crops that I want to add and just haven't gotten around to because I'm not growing them this year.

Also curious to see how the calculator is working for everyone. How many people are actually using it? (I know a few people have paid for it, but I have no way of knowing how many people are using it for free.) Is everything working as expected? Anything that can be clarified or improved?
 
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Mathew Trotter wrote:

Michael Moreken wrote:I guess beans, squash, potatoes, corn, rice, wheat (harder to process), etc. are staples

This attachment gives an ideal about what 10 feet of soil may give you.



That's a neat little chart, and confirms the numbers I have. Though, I have to say that I'm curious about why it lists bush beans as yielding higher than pole beans. I mean, I don't grow bush beans and can't confirm, but everything else I've seen says the exact opposite. This page from Cornell University says the yield for pole beans, in the same amount of space, will be 2-3 times higher than that of bush beans. Which just makes practical sense, since a pole bean is significantly larger than a bush bean.

Not that that it's a huge deal breaker in our context. The figures given for beans (and corn) are for fresh eating, not mature seeds for storing. The numbers will inevitably be different.



Matthew, are you considering adding a column in the calculator that would estimate the number of square feet needed to grow the number of plants that were calculated?  Forgive me if I missed that somewhere.
 
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I played with my copy today.   It confirmed my fears, that's a lot of seed and crop to harvest preserve.  The crop I find missing is onion.  The big deal with onion is I eat the whole plant.  It also is available to eat year round, just pick it when you need it.  I looked it up and found it listed as 11cal / oz.  Using the number 10# for a 10 ft row posted in this thread, that is only 1/6 of potatoes (20cal/oz*30#)calories but I can eat a lot more potato if there is onion toping on the potato. :)
Tom
 
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Greg Martin wrote:Matthew, are you considering adding a column in the calculator that would estimate the number of square feet needed to grow the number of plants that were calculated?  Forgive me if I missed that somewhere.



I have another spreadsheet that I'm contemplating cleaning up and making available to people that tells you how many you can grow given the dimensions of your beds/rows (as well as recommended starting dates and estimated harvest dates.) That includes more than just the staple crops, but it's definitely not finished yet, and there are definitely summer weird hacks to make functional for my situation that I'd have to clean up.

That's probably the only practical way to do it, given the assumptions that would have to go into doing it the other way around. Like, are you irrigating? If not, how much rainfall do you get relative to evapotranspiration? Are you planting in blocks, grids, or rows? What tools/equipment are you using (weeding with a hoe requires more space than weeding by hand; using a tractor/heavy equipment requires a different layout than doing everything by hand.)

For example, I use Steve Solomon's spacing for extensive gardening without irrigation and a guaranteed 3-4 months of drought during the peak of the growing season. That's much wider spacing than someone would need if they had fairly regular rainfall or were irrigating and doing intensive gardening.

I think I know a way that I can modify it to make it flexible enough to work for most situations.

I mean, the alternative would be to figure out the absolute bare minimum and the maximum and provide a range, but that doesn't seem particularly helpful. At the low end of the range, you'd almost certainly be wasting water to keep them alive, and at the high end it works out to about 25-50 sq. ft. per plant (which was the common spacing used by the Hopi and other southwest tribes.) I think it makes more sense to let people fill in as many of their own variables as possible and just try to make it super flexible, yeah?

Perhaps I'll work on getting that cleaned up and finished this week. It would certainly be a nice complement to the crop calculator.

 
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Tom Bolls wrote:I played with my copy today.   It confirmed my fears, that's a lot of seed and crop to harvest preserve.  The crop I find missing is onion.  The big deal with onion is I eat the whole plant.  It also is available to eat year round, just pick it when you need it.  I looked it up and found it listed as 11cal / oz.  Using the number 10# for a 10 ft row posted in this thread, that is only 1/6 of potatoes (20cal/oz*30#)calories but I can eat a lot more potato if there is onion toping on the potato. :)
Tom



My initial reaction is to say that it doesn't meet the calorie requirements, and while they might also be grown, they aren't a significant enough quantity of calories to bother including. But you've made a convincing point about frequency of use. I could realistically eat an onion every day, and maybe even more (plus, they store well enough that I could.) If you had one medium onion every day at 44 calories a pop, that'd be 2.2 percent of a 2000 calorie diet. I could probably go as high as 3-5 percent if they were already on hand. And that's already a higher contributor to calories than some of the things I'm growing in lower quantities. Plus, you're right that it makes everything else easier to eat (I do have ~400 seeds on the way for that very reason.)

I'll have to figure out a reasonable minimum harvest weight, but I think adding onions is justified. I'll try to get that added in tomorrow.

I think there are definitely some exceptions to the rule in the 180 calories/pound range. That's also about where winter squash flesh falls. While the squash is mostly justified because the seeds are such a power house, there are definitely things like onions that can justify their inclusion just because you can and probably do put them in almost everything.
 
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I haven't had time to really look the calculator over good. Wikipedia and other sources agree that calories in peanuts is 166 oz so 2656 per pound so that's pretty good I think. I can't find good numbers on yield per plant or yield per sq ft. One source said it could range from 5 to 10 pounds per 100 sq. ft. All of that depends so much on individual conditions but I think it might be low for my garden. I only had about 30 sq. ft. in my patch and got probably about 2 pounds, maybe a little less. If I give them a better spot protected better from rabbits I think they may do a lot better.  
 
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Mark Reed wrote:I haven't had time to really look the calculator over good. Wikipedia and other sources agree that calories in peanuts is 166 oz so 2656 per pound so that's pretty good I think. I can't find good numbers on yield per plant or yield per sq ft. One source said it could range from 5 to 10 pounds per 100 sq. ft. All of that depends so much on individual conditions but I think it might be low for my garden. I only had about 30 sq. ft. in my patch and got probably about 2 pounds, maybe a little less. If I give them a better spot protected better from rabbits I think they may do a lot better.  



Well, that's at least a start. I'll poke around and see what I can find.

We're currently having electrical difficulties, which totally fits the theme of this year... I'll at least try to find numbers, but probably won't be able to add anything to the calculator until tomorrow... or whenever I have the power to boot my computer. The Calculator just throws a fit trying to edit it on my phone, and even if it didn't, it's too easy to mess something up by accident and not even see it on such a small screen. That, and I'd be inclined to work on the live copy since it's such a pain to go back and forth on a phone... and working on the copy that people are actually accessing is a recipe for disaster...

Onions and peanuts are next on the list, though.
 
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Okay. I haven't been able to add them yet, but the conservative estimate I came up with for peanuts was about 0.017 pounds (just shy of 8 grams) per plant. Peanut yields have doubled in the past 50 years, but that's probably a safe low-end estimate for people growing heirloom varieties. Home growers might out-perform commercial growers on a per plant basis (as we discussed with peas), but the high end estimate puts the maximum commercial yield at 0.057 pounds (almost 26 grams) per plant.

The lowest weight I found for a small onion was 70 grams, which is probably a good low end estimate per plant. Of course, there's lots of variability in onion size, so that's something a lot of people will probably have to adjust once they get an average weight for their varieties and growing conditions.

I'm hoping we have our electrical sorted out tomorrow and I'll be able to get these two added to the calculator, but things never go as quickly as I hope. I'll let everyone know when these are ready to go.
 
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5 hundredths of a pound per plant? You'd have to grow twenty plants for a full pound? I think that might be way low. I'll try to pay better attention and actually measure what I get next year. I'm gonna run up and get my copy of "Seed to Seed" and see if there is info about them cause I don't even know right if they cross or not.
 
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Mark Reed wrote:5 hundredths of a pound per plant? You'd have to grow twenty plants for a full pound? I think that might be way low. I'll try to pay better attention and actually measure what I get next year. I'm gonna run up and get my copy of "Seed to Seed" and see if there is info about them cause I don't even know right if they cross or not.



I mean, that's the same problem I had with peas and sunflowers... The numbers just seemed too low. But again, these numbers are coming from commercial production with really high plant densities. I did see a video where a gardener suggested a yield of 40 pods per plant, and based on the conversion I found for pods to pounds, that puts it at 0.17-ish pounds per plant. This number is probably more accurate for home growers (again, the commercial yield for peas is about 7 peas per plant... so not great.) But this is one area where it's something I can't grow, so I can't confirm the numbers. I'd rather underestimate than overestimate, but close to the low end of what the home grower might expect is ideal, at least for the starting values. Of course, I encourage people to adjust the values based on their past experience in their own gardens. I expect most crops to yield better than the calculator estimates, since I'm using the absolute worst values I can find in the research.

To put the numbers in perspective, the average yield is a little over 4,000 pounds per acre today with a seeding rate of 70,000-105,000 plants per acre (according to Perdue.) Prior to 1968, the average yield was a little over 1700 pounds/acre.

The value I saw for peanuts in shell was ~235 pods per pound. At 40 pods per plant, that's probably closer to a reasonable weight? But again, can't grow them here, so I have no frame of reference (which is why I initially wasn't including things that I can't or am not growing...)
 
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Alright. I finally shelled the corn that I'm planning to keep for seed. I came up with 2 pounds and 8½ ounces from 22 cobs. With an average of 2 cobs per plant, that means the average was about .23 per plant, down slightly from the .25 pounds per plant estimate that I have in the calculator. Granted, I had some short cobs which I'll be selecting against in successive generations, so I expect my average to go up a bit over time. But, the calculator is supposed to represent the lowest yield one ought to expect, so I'll be dropping the yield estimate to reflect my actual yield.



I actually decided to measure my cobs so I could figure out what the range was. The shortest was a mere 4.25 inches and the longest was 9 inches. Most were in the 6-8 inch range. The overall average was 6.33 inches. Going forward, I'll try to select for plants which can produce 8+ inch cobs under my growing conditions, which should increase the yield by around 25%. After this next season I'll have a much better sense of how crops perform under my growing conditions and I'll be able to update my copy of The Calculator with values that make sense for my site, which is definitely what I suggest everyone does for the most accurate results.
 
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I have updated The Calculator with 5 new crops:

  • Mashua
  • Mauka
  • Onions
  • Peanuts
  • Ulluco

  • You can access the newest version through the digital market. If there are any issues accessing the newest version just let me know and I'll look into it.
     
    Mathew Trotter
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    SEEKING BETA TESTERS

    I've set up a feature that will allow you to enter the number of plants you want to grow of a given crop and have it automatically calculate the percentages for you (rather than you having to calculate them by hand, as you do in the current version.)



    You should be able to enter the number of plants you want to grow in order to calculate the percentage, enter 0 if you don't want to grow a particular crop, or leave it blank and it will keep your percentage as it was. Hit the update button and it will run all of the calculations. It requires a little bit of code since the alternatives would break the existing formulas that The Calculator depends upon. I need a few people to beta test it to make sure the code runs correctly for other people, that the new functionality is easy to understand and use, and that it doesn't break any existing functionality. Once I know it's working correctly I'll write up the additional documentation and make it available to everyone.

    As a side note, I also fixed a bug where you'd get some DIV/0 errors if you entered 0 for any crops. Had to fix my formulas so that they didn't reference the entered values and instead calculated the Plants Per % from values that would never be 0.
     
    Mark Reed
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    I was looking through some seed books today and suddenly remembered another new crop I want to try next year along with the amaranth and it is soybeans. They are a common farm crop around here so should do fine. I guess there is a lot of GMO in the commercial fields but they are a good ways from here. It's real hilly here where I live by the river but going north or west just 20 miles or so Indiana starts to flatten out. A quick peek at calories per comes up with some conflicting information but looks like roughly 3000 calories per pound. Unfortunately another crop that may not be much use to folks in the PNW.

    Might also, just for fun, pick up some sorghum I used to grow it once in awhile just for decoration and because the birds like it. I doubt I could ever produce and process enough to really matter but I like sorghum molasses, I bet it has lots of calories. I'll stick it in the back garden and if it holds its own there give it more attention the next year.  
     
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    Mark Reed wrote:I was looking through some seed books today and suddenly remembered another new crop I want to try next year along with the amaranth and it is soybeans. They are a common farm crop around here so should do fine. I guess there is a lot of GMO in the commercial fields but they are a good ways from here. It's real hilly here where I live by the river but going north or west just 20 miles or so Indiana starts to flatten out. A quick peek at calories per comes up with some conflicting information but looks like roughly 3000 calories per pound. Unfortunately another crop that may not be much use to folks in the PNW.

    Might also, just for fun, pick up some sorghum I used to grow it once in awhile just for decoration and because the birds like it. I doubt I could ever produce and process enough to really matter but I like sorghum molasses, I bet it has lots of calories. I'll stick it in the back garden and if it holds its own there give it more attention the next year.  



    We were literally just talking about sorghum. I've had sorghum molasses when I wanted to try it and see if I thought it would be with growing to process. I have some grain sorghum to try this year that's supposed to have a tendency to perennialize. We'll see if I have any luck on that front. I've wondered if molasses could be made from the grain types, and it's just that they have lower sugar content and thus require more to get the same yield.

    I've started to see more varieties of soy offered by regional seed suppliers that are supposed to reach maturity here. Previously I've only seen varieties offered for the purpose of eating as edamame, since that's as mature as they'd get here. At any rate, soy isn't on my list for this year since tarwi is supposed to have a pretty much identical nutrient breakdown and should yield considerably better. Maybe in future years I'll check into the varieties being offered locally and give them a try. At any rate, I'll add soy in the next round of updates...
     
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    The soy varieties I have picked out are advertised as being for edamame but I picked them mostly because they were shorter season. I don't see any reason why they can't just be allowed to fully mature and be used like any others. Although, it is another crop I have no idea how to use, maybe in soup like beans? I'll figure it out.

    All the sorghum varieties I picked are for molasses or sugar. I don't know that a feller has to make molasses. I think you could just squeeze out some juice and dehydrate and crystalize it. Or if the mood hits ferment it and make booze. Will see how it goes. It is a fun plant to grow, some of it gets really huge! Would make tons of mulch material if nothing else.
     
    Michael Moreken
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    One comment fast is add simple column for storage possibilities.  unless all are storage capable?  For example fava do poorly here?
    any plan to add Okra?  Tomatoes, Rice, Wheat (hard to process), naked barley  Nice spreadsheet, not sure I'll be growing 100%, but we can set new goals each year.  To reach 100%.

    Maybe boost my bean production, dry as a goal for this year, freeze green beans.

    I like one guys idea (Jerry?), no real rotation, annual rye grass, peas, beans, corn, peas, annual rye grass in small spot every year;  I set a 25 foot squared to try idea; so guess the annual rye grass has special scrubbing potential?
     
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    Mathew Trotter wrote:

    Tom Bolls wrote:I played with my copy today.   It confirmed my fears, that's a lot of seed and crop to harvest preserve.  The crop I find missing is onion.  The big deal with onion is I eat the whole plant.  It also is available to eat year round, just pick it when you need it.  I looked it up and found it listed as 11cal / oz.  Using the number 10# for a 10 ft row posted in this thread, that is only 1/6 of potatoes (20cal/oz*30#)calories but I can eat a lot more potato if there is onion toping on the potato. :)
    Tom



    My initial reaction is to say that it doesn't meet the calorie requirements, and while they might also be grown, they aren't a significant enough quantity of calories to bother including. But you've made a convincing point about frequency of use. I could realistically eat an onion every day, and maybe even more (plus, they store well enough that I could.) If you had one medium onion every day at 44 calo

    I think there are definitely some exceptions to the rule in the 180 calories/pound range. That's also about where winter squash flesh falls. While the squash is mostly justified because the seeds are such a power house, there are definitely things like onions that can justify their inclusion just because you can and probably do put them in almost everything.



    Tomatoes might be one of these. They definitely are for me. Yields vary so wildly depending on type, though... Might be a tough one.
     
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    Mark Reed wrote:The soy varieties I have picked out are advertised as being for edamame but I picked them mostly because they were shorter season. I don't see any reason why they can't just be allowed to fully mature and be used like any others. Although, it is another crop I have no idea how to use, maybe in soup like beans? I'll figure it out.



    Darker coloured soybeans are easier to digest, and are good used like any other dry bean. I like growing soybeans cause they can tolerate drought well.
     
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    Hello,
    I just stumbled upon this discussion and your excellent project. I’ve been thinking about the calorie issue for years now, so it's great to see someone put together calorie-based modeling tool. One resource that I highly recommend is John Jeavon’s “How to Grow More Vegetables.” The title makes it sound like an ordinary gardening book, but is actually the published results of an outfit in California called Ecology Action, which has been working on this exact same project for decades: trying to design subsistence calorie diets that can be grown by hand on the smallest amount of land possible. They have compiled several model diets (I’ve got One Circle: Mexico and One Circle: Kenya floating around my bookshelves somewhere), but most usefully they provide quantified yield data for a wide variety of foodstuffs, both per weight and per area. The per-weight data is taken from the USDA Standard Reference, but combined with per-area data allows you to calculate both the amount of food to grow and how much space it will take up. The area data is expressed in high-intensity 100 square foot beds, which I think makes it easier for the would-be mini farmer to calculate how much to grow, as opposed to factors like per-plant or per-acre yield.

    They also provide three yield levels for each plant (low, medium and high). I’ve been measuring my own yields (weight/area) to compare, to see if their numbers are in the ballpark to my own garden. Generally the “low” yield has been accurate for a new-to-me crops, or results under crappy weather, or pushing a plant out of its ideal climate. The “medium” yields were accurate for crops I have experience with, know which varieties to grow and know will do well here. “High” yields were only obtained under exceptional circumstances. (For example, dry peas, the thing you all were discussing upthread, usually comes in at 8-12 lbs per 100 square feet, but my best ever variety was a whopping 21 lbs/100 sf. Jeavons lists the medium yield for dry peas at 10lbs/100sf, and high yield at 24lbs/100sf.) For your purposes, the low yields are probably sufficient, since it seems you want to establish a comfortable floor to plan from.

    One nice thing about their yield charts is that they include a lot — grains, tree crops, fruit, oil crops, tropical and temperate crops. This makes it easier to plug in every major crop for in your climate, and spit out all the results for both calories/weight and calories/area. There’s no real reason that grains aren’t on this calculator, for instance. You may not want to get out there with a scythe whacking on hulless barley, but at 1583 calories/pound someone might, even knowing it only yields 5 lbs/100 square feet. Plugging everything in also generates potential crops that you may have dismissed without real data. For instance, all of the following have a higher caloric density (calories/pound) than winter squash (I’ll use 200 Kcal/lb as the cutoff, since USDA lists raw butternut as 204):

    * Apples (242)
    * Aronia berries (212)
    * Blackberries (264)
    * Blueberries (259)
    * Sour pie cherries (242)
    * Sweet corn (400)
    * Garlic (676)
    * Grapes (270)
    * Figs (363)
    * Kale (224)
    * Leeks (227)
    * Pears (252)
    * Plums (272)

    This isn't an argument that everyone must include sweet corn in their models, just to not dismiss crops out of hand solely because we have the impression that they're low density. In some respects we are really talking about two categories of foodstuffs: high density (mostly seeds) and medium density (mostly roots, fruits, and other starchy storage structures). It's okay to include both as caloric staples, so long as the total mass of food eaten per day doesn't get out of hand, more than six pounds-ish. Supposedly the modern gut can only take so much roughage.

    Some other high density calorie crops to consider adding, that I don’t already see on the calculator: barley, buckwheat, chestnuts, chickpeas, flax, hazelnuts, hempseed, lentils, oats, quinoa, rapeseed, rye, safflower seed, walnuts, wheat. All of these grow well in the PNW and come in at over 1500 calories/lb, so there’s no good reason to exclude them. People can look at the calories/square foot and decide if it’s worth the effort for themselves. I would also include warmer weather crops such as almonds, avocado, cassava, millet, mung beans, olives, pecan, pistachios, rice, sesame, soybeans. We all may be living in a warmer world in the very near future, so it’s good to keep mind adaptable crops that we may have to turn to in that world.

    Anyway, combining together all the data allows you to put together many different of models for potential diets. It’s a fun and informative exercise to think about different combinations, and how much to grow of each staple. One of my models had apples, favas, common beans, corn, garlic, hazelnut, kale, leeks, parsnips, peas, potatoes, quinoa, rutabaga, squash, and sunflower seeds as the caloric staples. Some of these were picked solely for the calorie density, others for the calorie density AND yield. For instance, you can cram more leeks into a small space than bulb onions, so the calories/sf for leeks is higher. Other models worked in enough wheat to grow a loaf of bread per week, or estimating how much space for grains and greens needs to be allocated to keep a few chickens for eggs. Other people will undoubtedly pick different sets. But its nice to have a model on hand, and then be able to go out there and plant and measure results from real gardens, to see how close to reality the model can get.
     
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    Michael Moreken wrote:One comment fast is add simple column for storage possibilities.  unless all are storage capable?  For example fava do poorly here? any plan to add Okra?  Tomatoes, Rice, Wheat (hard to process), naked barley  Nice spreadsheet, not sure I'll be growing 100%, but we can set new goals each year.  To reach 100%.



    These are all storage crops. There are other resources that explain how to store specific crops, but the grains and legumes will basically store indefinitely (though the nutrition or cooking quality may decline with age), the tubers will store for 6-12 months as long as they have relatively high humidity and low light (they may sprout or lose some moisture, but they're still edible... I posted a Charles Dowding video earlier in the thread where he prepares 11 month old potatoes), and things like squash can store for 1-2 years or more depending on variety, growing conditions, and storing methods. Even under less than ideal storage conditions, all of these crops should store for months without any additional processing. If one chooses to do so and has the time and resources to devote to it, most of roots/tubers/fruits can be canned, frozen, or dehydrated if you don't think you can use them before they eventually do go bad, but that's beyond the scope of this project. Everything here can fairly carelessly be thrown into the pantry and will last a relatively long time.

    That's also the reason I haven't added okra or tomatoes. I'm growing both, but once they're picked they either have to be eaten or processed, not simply left on a shelf for months until you get around to it. Okra and tomatoes may make up a considerable amount of my diet while they're in season, and I may even preserve a considerable quantity to eat through the year, but if you lose power you lose all of your frozen stuff and the ability to dehydrate (sans a solar dehydrator or a climate with low enough humidity to hang things to dry), and canning is limited by the resources you have on hand. Basically, imagine it's a zombie apocalypse. Where are you getting more jars? Where are you getting electricity if your solar panels (or whatever) go out?

    Definitely grow them, enjoy them, and preserve them... I certainly will... but they fall just outside the scope of this project.

    As far a rice, barley, etc., I'm happy to add them if someone tells me that they're actually growing them and makes some attempt to find yield and calorie information. These are things that I'm not growing and can't confirm the numbers for, so I'm relying on other people to tell me what they're growing and help determine what yield numbers make sense. I can always pull random numbers off of the internet, but I won't know if those numbers are accurate, and unless someone is actually growing them it's a wasted effort. If you're growing those crops and try to find me some yield information I'll look over it and try to get them added.

    I like one guys idea (Jerry?), no real rotation, annual rye grass, peas, beans, corn, peas, annual rye grass in small spot every year;  I set a 25 foot squared to try idea; so guess the annual rye grass has special scrubbing potential?



    I think Charles Dowding or Huw Richards (?) talked about rotating through crops in a single season rather from year to year? I'll be doing some experimentation with that this year. There are also a number of other techniques with anecdotal or scientific evidence to suggest that rotation isn't necessarily necessary. One end of that spectrum usually focuses on the health of the soil, the hypothesis being that healthy soil excludes enough of the pests and diseases and/or grows healthy enough plants that pests and disease are essentially non-issues. I've definitely seen no-till operations that are decades old where this appears to be true, and I've seen some studies that appear to back up that hypothesis, but I wouldn't risk a crop on it until we better understand what factors need to be present to make it true. Then there's a focus on plant health and landrace (as championed by our very own Joseph Lofthouse), where you simply grow a wide genetic pool and save seeds from the things that are actually able to thrive and produce in spite of your pest and disease pressure. I'm not sure if Joseph himself rotates crops, but one arguably wouldn't have to if you've bred your crops to be resistant to all of the pests/diseases that occur on your site.
     
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