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Practical 1-Acre Staple Foods?  RSS feed

Posts: 902
Location: Issaquah, WA
cooking ungarbage
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Mike Jay wrote:PS. I second Todd's comment about deer and turnips.  I haven't seen them eating them myself but I know they are a major component in deer plot seed mixes.  Possibly the deer only eat them after they've frozen and the other easy eating food is gone but I wouldn't risk them outside a fence if I wanted to get a good yield.

Turnips are not always grown for the root vegetable. Turnips are also grown as a seed oil crop(Rapeseed is named after the latin word for turnip(rapum) ), and as a late fall fodder crop. The green tops are eaten first, then as the season gets later, they will start to pull out the bulbs. Since turnips are relatively cold hardy, they continue to grow(though slowly) even later in the fall. So the foliage stays green where grasses might have turned brown.
Brassica fodder crops for fall grazing
High quality feed at a good price: Oats and Turnips for fall grazing

Adding turnips to your grazing pasture is easy, since they make like a gazillion seeds.
Posts: 353
Location: Montana
forest garden trees
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Chris Holcombe wrote:I did some rough calculations and added up square footage. I think one person could be sustained on about 1/4 acre with the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relying on trees and shrubs would have varying effects here depending on where you did it.

Almost fifteen years of experience planting trees and shrubs on two combined 16 acre grassland properties (mine and my moms) has left us with few food producers. To date we have currents, haskap, gooseberries, seaberries, buffalo berries, carmine jewel cherry, rose hips, and possibly nanking cherry producing some fruit, I have a single sand cherry, I used to have a whole row of European bush cherry- I may have one left. We have a single limber pine that could make pine nuts. We have also planted or attempted to plant apples, plums, pears, cherries, chokecherries, hawthorns, mountain ash, and elderberries. These have either not matured yet or died largely from pocket gopher atracks with a little work by deer as well.

In town on two properties my larger family has ten apple trees, four crabapples, two cherries, multiple currents, mulberries, pin cherries, three elderberries, a pear, wild grapes, hawthorne, rosehips, plums, mountain ash, chokecherry, and nanking cherry. On another hayfield property my parents have there is a couple acres with some old tree plantings and there are apples, crabapples, plums, and mountain ash there as well. There are no nuts as my dad has a severe allergy to most tree nuts.

In the right habitat I think you could come close in this area, riparian or naturally forested areas. 20 miles to the north is a small commercial sweet cherry growing area, there you might have success with the whole list Chris made. To the south in Dixon Montana there is an area of microclimate and sand soil with historic wild plum stands. A fruit-nut forest would grow there potentially as well. Michael Pilarski has written about some excellent fruit and nut forests in Idaho. I've visited some such areas in Idaho and Montana and the habitats were definitely naturally amenable to growing trees.

On my difficult site microsites are changing as 10 year plus ponderosa pines are maturing, that may change the math. However the math may be 10 to 15 years for windbreaks to mature than another 10 to 15 for fruit and nuts on a naturally hostile site. Even on a really good site it would be awhile before production was high enough. So my solution would be to use non tree crops to fill in that time gap however long by gardening between or on adjacent land to the trees.

My point is that starting conditions and natural habitat, are going to affect what grows where in the landscape. This is why some of permaculture can be earthworks which change habitat and make different growing conditions, though even then there may be limitations and unintended side effects. Like I've heard terracing can deprive riparian areas of sediment leading to downcutting.

The OP might be on historic forest which would validate a forest strategy in his situation.
Posts: 2385
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I agree that small is better. It is alot easier to "defend" and intensively garden just 1acre that trying to defend 16+ acres of land. In fact some counties have laws that say that one can only use their well to water 2acres. So if someone where to try and water/farm all 16acre in said county they would not have enough water and the governement would fine them. But if they were to intensively farm just 1 or so acres, they could fence it, water it and affordable add inputs to get it started.

Posts: 6
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I grow gallons of sunflower seeds every year. I don't know how to turn them into food.

What the Romans did with their olives is squeeze them. Most things of theirs were copied from the Greeks, but the one big thing they came up with was oil. They used a screw press, but you could probably get away with using just a simple lever.

Posts: 51
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I grow gallons of sunflower seeds every year. I don't know how to turn them into food.

Somewhere I think I still have a little booklet from Rodale Press (or maybe Mother Earth New....) It was about self sufficiency and such and gave numbers for the area of sunflowers needed to grow for oil. It showed how to process them with home built tools. A grain grinder with the stone set just far enough apart to crack the shells of the seeds. Then a winnowing box, I think it used on old vacuum cleaner motor, some how it separated the shells from the seeds.  Then a small press to press the oil out. I dont' remember any more of the details but if I find it I'll let you know.

If you just wanted to separate the shells from the seeds you could crack them in your grinder then put in a bucket of water, the shells should float off and the seeds should sink. Then spread out to dry. You could add to granola and trail mix, breads and crackers, sprinkle over lots of different kinds of foods. If your grinder can handle oil seeds or you have a food processor you could make sunflower butter and of course your chickens will pick them right out of the flower heads and turn the into meat and eggs ;-)
Posts: 12
Location: Mendocino County, California, 9a
earthworks forest garden greening the desert
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Acorns! :)

"The yield of acorns per acre compares well with grains. When the long-lived, deep-rooted oaks can reach sufficient water; acorn production can be very high, with yields of more than 5,280 kg/ha (6,000 pounds/ acre) (Bainbridge, 1986). High acorn yields can be maintained on hilly lands where annual grain crops cause severe soil erosion" -David A. Bainbridge, 1987

Grandmother Corine Pearce's Acorn Love Style is roughly as follows:
0. Put that 1 acre that the OP mentioned in a bunch black or red or tan oaks because they're badass fatty gumdrop makers.  And/Or plant those oaks around the region.
1. Cause ocean stuff (seaweed, oyster shells, wet stuff) to land on oaks somehow and tell them how much you love them.  (This was salmon's job... butt dam)
2. Help the birds plant acorns in the fall.
3. Ride your bike to collect hella acorns in spots you can tell some are not ganna be eaten anyway.
--[Collect extra in the 20% of years that they have bumper crops]
4. Dry them in shallow layers in greenhouse or that car parked in sun... for weeks
5. Keep them dry for... basically forever. I've eaten 8 year dried acorns.  Great taste!
6. When you're hungry: whack to crack the shell, mac.
7. Remove the thin, papery protective inner layer.  Most white people don't. Most Pomo do and think its kinda embarrassing to leave it.
8. Pound or grind or blend or meditate on them hard enough to get them into a "flour" particle size.
9. That's not fine enough.  Grind it more!
10. Put a collider in the sink, put a clean t-shirt over the collider, secure the t-shirt like tight like a drum head if possible.
11. Put the *fine* flour (only) onto the shirt drum.
12. Drip water on the acorn flour until its yummy and not acidic (4 to 14 hrs)
13. Squeeze out the last water by spinning the mound acorn mound up in the t-shirt
14. Dry fully and store like flour for a month or so.  Or store in fridge and use fresh in a week or so.
15. Cook them up with some greens! Cook them up in some bone broth, bro-stallion!
17. Invite Corine and I over for dinner!

Nutrition Facts

Acorn Flour
Amount Per 100g
Calories - 501 Calories from Fat - 272
Total Fat 30.17g
Saturated 3.92g
Polyunsaturated 5.81g
Monounsaturated 19.11g
Cholesterol 0mg
Total Carbohydrate 54.65g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 0g
Protein 7.49g
Vitamins and Minerals
A 3µg C 0mg
B-6 0.69mg B-12 0µg
D 0µg E 0mg
Calcium 43µg Iron 1.21mg
Magnesium 110mg Zinc 0.64mg
Potassium 712mg Sodium 0mg

Calorie Breakdown:
Carbohydrate (41%)
Fat (54%)
Protein (5%)

Nutritional Facts:
Corine's Basket Website (she's a master weaver too):
Ever since I found this suit I've felt strange new needs. And a tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
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