Calorie Dense Crops

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Farside
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Calorie Dense Crops

#1 Post by Farside » Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:54 pm

Most gardening forums and articles focus on leafy greens, tomatoes, herbs and such. This is all great stuff, but in a GSM type of situation, you'll be dead from starvation before these crops are ready to harvest. In a survival situation, calorie dense crops (like oils) are essential. In most climate zones this is pretty straight forward. Not so much when in the colder zones like zone 3.

I'm starting this topic to discuss cold zone crops that are very calorie dense, and have storage abilities to feed you well into May after harvesting it in the previous fall.

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Re: Calorie Dense Crops

#2 Post by Elew » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:55 pm

This is a site I flip to for a cold zone planting schedule...left menu is separated by zones. Of course the zones and planting times in GSM would change, but it is a good base to go on...
http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/plan ... g-schedule

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Re: Calorie Dense Crops

#3 Post by Farside » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:33 pm

Hmmm something isn't right with that chart, or I'm reading it incorrectly. It has planting times in March (like with carrots). I live in zone 3, which is warmer than zone 1 and 2. In March the ground is frozen solid and still under a few feet of snow.

In April I look to sprinkle used coffee grounds on the snow pack to accelerate the melt so I can get enough ground thawed to get some early seeds in. But around here March is a total no-go for planting.

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Re: Calorie Dense Crops

#4 Post by Farside » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:50 pm

Apart from oil rich crops, starchy crops are also important. Potatoes are probably the number 1 crop in this respect.

But traditional growing is labor intensive and the technique is suited toward mechanical industrial scale systems.

For small scale or domestic systems, growing in bags, cardboard boxes, or towers is by far the most efficient and productive method. Potatoes need to be covered in soil as they grow to encourage development of tubers. The plant doesn't grow that much below where the seed potato is planted which is why covering them is vital. In a tower type of system, the seed potato is planted into the bottom, and soil is periodically added during the growing season. At harvest time, the tower is simply dismantled and the potatoes removed from the pile.

Another system I employ was inspired by Sepp Holtzer. I have a pile of garden trash (weeds, branches etc) in a corner that I toss all my pulled weeds and spent vegetable plants. In the springtime, I lift the pile and stuff some seed potatoes around the bottom edge. then I simply come back in the fall and pick out potatoes as I turn this pile over. It doesn't produce as much of a crop compared with other systems, but it is a no-effort system that utilizes that adds an additional function to the space. It won't feed my family all winter, but it will feed them for an additional week, which is a long time when you have run out of food.

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Re: Calorie Dense Crops

#5 Post by Farside » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:57 pm

Another root crop is sunchokes. In my opinion they are not in the same league as potatoes, but they perform multiple functions in the garden, and provide a useful variance in the diet. Not only that, but they are perennial. And in zone 3 and colder, perennial crops are key to successful food production. I can't stress this enough.

If you can choke these things down, and put up with the fart-fest, then sunchokes are a great source of starch and other complex carbs. The tubers don't store that well. I can store them at just above freezing in moist sawdust, and they last about 4 months. We have 6 months of snow around here so they tend to not quite make it through until spring.

The plant grows tall and has pretty flowers so it makes a great visual screen in the late summer and provides wind shelter in the fall. The tubers tend to last better if left in the soil. But of course when the ground freezes you can't dig them out. But it does mean that they grow back in the spring.

In fact, sunchokes have a tendency to take over in zone 3 so it's important that you stay on top of them and harvest them heavily every year. That being said, pigs just love these, and IMHO sunchokes are better consumed in the form of bacon than they are straight up roasted.

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Re: Calorie Dense Crops

#6 Post by Farside » Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:55 pm

There are some very limited options in cold climates with regards to oil crops. Sunflowers are touch and go as they are very sensitive to frost, and the seed heads mold extremely easily. I've pretty much ruled them out in this climate unless you are seed raising indoors.

Flax is a possibility but I haven't investigated it. It is multi-function in that the fibers are very useful in textiles and rope making. My concern is direct seeding in a short growing season.

Peanuts are an option. Unless they kill you.

Canola is a practical option. I certainly grows well in a cold climate but it's a controversial crop which tends to hog pollinators at the expense of other plants.

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Re: Calorie Dense Crops

#7 Post by Elew » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:32 am

Farside wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:33 pm
Hmmm something isn't right with that chart, or I'm reading it incorrectly. It has planting times in March (like with carrots). I live in zone 3, which is warmer than zone 1 and 2. In March the ground is frozen solid and still under a few feet of snow.

In April I look to sprinkle used coffee grounds on the snow pack to accelerate the melt so I can get enough ground thawed to get some early seeds in. But around here March is a total no-go for planting.
Those are the hot house, or indoor start dates...then when the actual zone planting date arrives your plants will have time to fruit before the season ends. Some of those plants would never make it in zones 1 & 2, unless they are started indoors...because the season is just not long enough.

For zone 3 it says carrots April 15 - June 15, so anywhere in that time frame you can plant and harvest before normal season ends.

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Re: Calorie Dense Crops

#8 Post by Farside » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:23 pm

Best potato growing system I've found so far:


This would be a great system for growing a gorilla crop in a vacant wasteland. Little input and maintenance...

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