Poll

Please note what crops you consider to be staples, especially for small scale production

Corn
0 (0%)
Beans and other Legumes
0 (0%)
Winter Squash
0 (0%)
Potatoes
0 (0%)
Sweet Potatoes
0 (0%)
Other
1 (100%)

Total Members Voted: 1

Author Topic: Staple Food Crops  (Read 202 times)

reed

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Staple Food Crops
« on: 2019-11-23, 06:56:48 AM »
I'm curious as to what folks consider as important staples in their gardens and also if they are working on collecting landrace style accumulation of those crops and or specific breeding. Also would be interested to know general location and conditions of your gardens and your reasoning for you choice.
I'v never set up a pole before so not sure how it will work but thanks to any that respond.

(ADD) Well shucks. The pole does not work as intended, it only allows one selection and it won't let me delete it. Admins, please delete this for me if you would.
« Last Edit: 2019-11-23, 07:02:42 AM by reed »

William S.

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #1 on: 2019-11-23, 09:19:03 AM »
In western Montana I think some of the best garden staples I've grown would be painted mountain corn, squash including maxima, moschata, and pepo, fava beans planted very early, potatoes, parsnips particularly short rooted, and sunchoke. I favor landraces and have the actuality or goal of mixing up just about everything.

Though I don't yet actually eat Favas or sunchoke. 
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

Steph S

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #2 on: 2019-11-23, 02:53:17 PM »
That is an interesting question, landrace vs breeding.   I think Joseph's work is really interesting and I'm certainly considering that possibility in future.  The shallots are pretty much in a landrace condition right now but will need some selection.   I wouldn't like to select down to a single plant and its offspring or clones.   I would rather a group of plants with useful traits, to cross pollinate and produce seed perennially.  Would not rule out bringing in some onions as well.   Onions really are an important staple for us, and eat lots of them (vs garlic which is more of a seasoning).  But bulb onions may or may not overwinter successfully here.  Some have, some have not, and it depends on the year as well, our winters are very fickle here on the Avalon, Newfoundland.
I have a tomato line I would have liked to grow out as a landrace, but there are a couple of reasons that hasn't happened.  We're getting a lot of colder than normal weather in recent years due to being south of Greenland here in the North Atlantic.  That will probably change again when everything's melted and/or if AMOC changes substantially, who knows?  Anything can happen, but the current trend is away from the chance of  growing tomatoes without greenhouse cover.     I was growing outside a few years but there was another problem: rats!   Anyway all told there is less motivation to focus on tomatoes now and I would rather buckle down on more important crops.
I had brassicas that crossed pretty wantonly last year, but I wasn't too impressed with the result.  Kale-ish mix nothing special for looks and not great tasting, they are okay for microgreens or baby greens but that's about it.   I may be better off isolating the ones I like, as I usually do.   I  have some interesting michihili cabbage though, which I just started from the 'most likely crossed' pack - there are at least 3 different leaf types so it looks like multiple crosses took place.   Jury's out until taste test..  I like em sweet.  ;D   I wouldn't mind making a michihili landrace, if there are good ones with variable traits from the others.

William S.

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #3 on: 2019-11-23, 05:05:32 PM »
I have an oddly strict internal definition of staple I've developed in recent years.

I've been growing mostly tomatoes as that's been my main breeding interest for a couple years now. I don't consider them a staple. They fall into a food sovreignty rather than a food security category to me.

Keeps you alive = staple = starch and calorie dense = food security in my brain now. Also = Carol Deppe's Resilient book.

Keeps you alive and happy = food sovereignty = Carol Deppe's Tao book

Though lots of folks staple = grow and eat a lot of.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

Steph S

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #4 on: 2019-11-23, 05:42:28 PM »
I feel the same way about tomatoes.  Not a true staple, although I've certainly eaten a lot of them.  :o
I could survive on onions and potatoes and greens, not so well without them.
Food security issues are pretty serious here, we import something like 90% of what we eat.  Although 70 years ago the opposite was true.  Potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, turnips, beets, everybody grew.   
So although we have the potential to grow food, it's by no means in place to do it now, as or whenever needed.
 When you consider biennials such as onions and carrots, what would happen if the major sources of seed crops failed?  You might not see an onion here for two or three years.   That's the kind of possibility I would like to remove from my landscape...   ::)

Ferdzy

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #5 on: 2019-11-23, 09:04:21 PM »
Just because it doesn't supply much in the way of calories doesn't mean a don't regard it as a staple, if we eat a lot of it and I would be upset if it disappeared from the garden. Staples for us are:

 - Potatoes (but about to be much less so, now I am pre-diabetic - being taken over by sweet potatoes and squash). We are growing potatoes from seed and keeping the best and I get vaguer and vaguer about which are which, but I guess not actually a landrace. Would grow sweet potato seed if they would only make some, but no luck so far. Moschata squash are more or less a landrace, but we grow acorn squash as varieties because we buy seed - they cross with our zucchini and results of that have been pretty bad.

 - Carrots, onions, shallots, and leeks. I'm keeping one pure variety of onion (Rose de Roscoff), all the rest are mass crosses. Oh yeah, and garlic.

 - Dried beans and peas (want to increase these), as well as green beans and peas for fresh eating and the freezer. (Our two main frozen veg). Don't usually cross but when I find a cross I will often pursue it to see if it's any good.

 - Tomatoes and peppers for canning, drying, and freezing - used to make about 48 litres of tomato sauce, but less now that I'm not eating much pasta. We buy pepper seed because I want specific results, although I am growing out a couple of hard to get varieties in (I hope) isolation for seed. I have one variety of tomato I'm trying to keep going, we plant some named varieties from purchased seeds for fresh eating, and the paste tomatoes are a mass cross into which we throw one or two new named varieties each year.

 - Cucumbers for pickles. Beets too, occasionally. Did a mass cross of beets one year and the results were good but mostly purchase seed as they are not a priority. Saved cuke seed results have been poor to awful.

 - Zucchini daily in the summer. We buy seeds as we grow too many varieties and saved seeds were sometimes interesting but mostly not.
 
 - Spinach and Swiss chard for greens, fresh and frozen. Have always bought them.

 - Lettuce for salads. Frequently self-seeds but seems to rarely cross.

 - Cabbage for winter storage. Brussels sprouts if the little bastards will grow. We have saved seeds for both of these with good results. Cabbage was a cross between January King and a savoy, and Brussels sprouts had some kale in it. Both results were good but the Brussels sprouts are a bit variable in quality.

 - Asparagus in season; the two of us will eat a pound a day for as long as it comes. Seedlings pop up all over and are often saved; they're asparagus.

 - Strawberries, blackberries, and peaches for fresh eating, jam, and freezing. Mostly purchased varieties except for one strawberry that popped up as a seedling and turned out to be amazing.

I would like to grow and keep in the cold cellar more in the way of celeriac and rutabaga, both of which have proven surprisingly hard to grow. Kohlrabi too. We would grow eat more brassicas if they liked our soil better and had fewer pests. Corn would be a staple if we could grow it, but we can't. Well, we can grow it, I guess, the problem is getting to be the critter who consumes it. Easier said than done.

Actually kale is the one brassica that does really well here. We all hate it, so every few years I get excited by how pretty it looks, plant some, and admire it until it gets pulled and put on the compost. Not a staple.

William S.

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #6 on: 2019-11-23, 09:13:04 PM »
Steph,

How short season are the tomato strains you worked with? How short is your frost free season now that it's shorter? Or is it more that it's unpredictable now? Occasional killing frosts in all months?

Some tomato varieties are as ultra early as 35 to 42 days from transplant but even that's under very optimal conditions and small tomatoes.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian silty clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A with 100 to 130 frost free days

reed

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #7 on: 2019-11-24, 03:49:36 AM »
I was thinking along the lines of "keeps you alive" but the "alive and happy" would certainly be better. Right now I don't know that I could do either one but I'm working on it. I don't know much about the nutrition content of food, starches, carbs, calories and all that. I only know it in the most general way.

Beans have protein and people need that. I have a massive collection of beans and I have never, knock on wood, had a complete failure of them. Some I keep more or less pure for use as green beans but more and more I try to keep stocked up on dry beans. I grow more that enough of both to last harvest to harvest now but we don't eat them every day. If we did they would not last that long. I grow so far almost exclusively common beans but also some lima and runners, neither of which would make the cut in a pinch. I'm adding cow peas and tepary beans to my trials next year.

I stumbled and fell into sweet potatoes and I know they have lots of good for you stuff in them too. I used to think potatoes and squash were probably necessities but both are harder and harder to grow here and the sweet potatoes I think replace them both. I'v discovered they can also keep harvest to harvest but again we don't eat them every day. They make lots of seeds for me most years and if noting else I can grow them for greens in the south windows all winter long.

I don't know about the nutrition of tomatoes but I grow lots of them and canned juice and sauce keeps good of course as do the jellies and jams of various fruit.

I really want to increase corn and it grows very well here problem as Ferdzy mentioned, something else often eats it before I can. On the plus side of that is that some of the things that eat it can themselves be eaten.

I forgot about things like asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish and the like. All things I'm very thankful to have around but not really food staples I don't think. Also getting more interested in things like day lilies and hostas.  Don't know their nutritional value but they just grow on their own. I'v got onions and garlic that are pretty independent too and glad to have them but not really staple.

Where I feel real inadequate is in green stuff. An awful lot of it is biannual and getting very hard to get it through winter for seed. We go along for weeks above freezing then one day the wind comes straight down off the pole and we drop to -25 C for a night or two. So far when that has happened it only lasted a few days, I'm scared of what if it got stuck that way and lasted for weeks.

And it happens in summer sometimes too, highs of 10 or 12 C in July or cool rain everyday in August is very strange to us. Lots of things don't like it. Pole beans mold far less than bush and produce pretty good anyway. Sweet potatoes  may abort most of that year's seeds but still yield a crop. Both of these crops also produce in our more common and more normal hot dry summers. Although they are generally hotter and drier than they used to be. Not really higher temps than ever, just more often and for longer periods.

Anyway, I feel like I'm rambling a little so to sum it up, I do and I want to keep growing lots of things but sweet potatoes and beans stand out as by far the easiest when it comes to reliably producing lots of food.

As far as landrace vs breeding when it comes to anything I might consider a staple I go with landrace. I actually prefer the term mix but that's not really important.
« Last Edit: 2019-11-24, 03:58:30 AM by reed »

Ocimum

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #8 on: 2019-11-24, 06:03:25 AM »
...
As far as landrace vs breeding ...

Well, a landrace also needs breeding, even if natural selection still plays a role

reed

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #9 on: 2019-11-24, 07:18:06 AM »
Well, a landrace also needs breeding, even if natural selection still plays a role
Absolutely, but in my garden natural or what I might call conditions selected seems to hold the upper hand at least at first. Conditions being the weather, soil, bugs and so on. When that shows me what will grow I try to point what's left in a direction I want.

For example in what I call my "survivor" beans, named that because of the horrible conditions I grow them in I have started favoring those that produce the biggest crop by weight and those that dry seed the fastest. When I weigh them those that look alike get put in one bag, even though they might not even be the same in lots of other ways.  I also select for cleaner pods, those that don't have any bug bites or staining from molds or whatever. I don't bother to identify what disease or bug might cause an issue, I just try to save more from any comparatively healthier plants.

In the other garden where they are tended for production they are not so tangled up with each other and the weeds so I'v been able to pick out some individual vines to favor for the next year. I'm even trying to stabilize a couple nice out crosses.

Steph S

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #10 on: 2019-11-24, 07:27:08 AM »
Steph,

How short season are the tomato strains you worked with? How short is your frost free season now that it's shorter? Or is it more that it's unpredictable now? Occasional killing frosts in all months?

Some tomato varieties are as ultra early as 35 to 42 days from transplant but even that's under very optimal conditions and small tomatoes.
Overall it's a cloudy, rainy, cool and windy climate.  Some years no frost in summer, other years we can have frost every month.  The major contributor now is cold ocean water and ice, making spring even colder (picture snow on ground for two weeks in June last year), and we've also had very cold and wet weather into July, which is when we would normally get our 2-3 weeks of tomato growing weather.    We never had 35-42 days of tomato optimal summer temperatures, and tomato crops can fail even in the greenhouse in a bad year - this was the reason for the breeding project.   I've grown out 80+ varieties of heirloom/OP and there are some that do well even in the 60's F.   The latest varieties we can grow in greenhouse are "midseason" such as Indian Stripe.    I trialed a bunch of early reds and only found a few that were worth eating.  Kimberley is one I used in breeding, that is earlier than Stupice or M.Div because of early flowering but doesn't actually ripen the main crop any earlier in cold weather.  Stupice is the parent for another line that did just as well or better, because of better plant health.  The Kimberley lines produced some great tasting fruit but there is a problem with susceptibility to pests and disease cw other lines.   Napoli a Fiaschetto is the determinate red parent I used, which is not the earliest but the fruit are great and plant is rugged and healthy.  Alaska is another good tasting determinate red but didn't do so well in my greenhouse conditions.  I would try it again though.  I made crosses with favorite blacks to get early non-red lines (Black Cherry, Indian Stripe, Black Early).  Zolotoe Serdtse is a semi-determinate Beta orange I used - that is super tricky because of linkages to Beta, but did contribute some good qualities IMO including cold tolerance and sweetness.  I have a yellow project on the back burner out of Kimberley X Zolotye Kupola, that used V. Desyatku as the determinate parent, but will need a big growout to find the taste I want in a determinate plant.    That is for my personal goal of having delicious tomatoes of all colors that can be grown with minimal effort and have a decent fruit to shoot ratio.  ;D  My farmer friends both prefer indeterminates so those are the lines they're growing out, which are nearly stable. 
So, to return to the subject of security/sovereignty, we are in a much better position than we were ten years ago for greenhouse tomato production, with a stable of reliable OP varieties including our own.  But there is no real prospect for production in the field.  The season is just too cool and short for them to ripen.  We did a field trial at one farm in 2012 or 2013 of Kimberley, Moravsky Div, Alaska and one other using black plastic mulch.  They set lots of fruit but from the farmer POV it was a failure because most of the crop didn't ripen by season end, and that was in a rare "good summer".   So the goal of making tomatoes a profitable crop is pretty elusive.  Greenhouse space is expensive, maintenance of tomatoes is labor intensive, and the yield value doesn't compare well to other crops.  So it is unlikely that tomatoes will be a "staple" crop for us in my lifetime (unless Greenland melts a lot faster than expected). ;)

Steph S

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #11 on: 2019-11-24, 10:02:17 AM »
Well, a landrace also needs breeding, even if natural selection still plays a role
For sure, there is a distinct difference between the original concept of landrace, and the process of "landrace breeding" as I understand it.  :)  Have read some dispute over definitions, but I think of a 'historical' landrace as containing as much genetic diversity as the environment will allow with minimal reduction of that diversity by human selection.  While landrace breeding is a diversity build that is driven by farmer selection to cull undesired traits.
The advantage of landrace vs conventional breeding or conservation of many diverse but distinct lines depends on the crop IMO.
For a selfing crop like tomatoes, for example, there's the advantage that certain traits which are best expressed in heterozygous plants can continue to circulate and be expressed in a continuously crossing population.   Disease resistance is a well known example, but IMO other  qualities can also hit a bottleneck in F4 or F5, where the traits that were predominant in F2 and F3 suddenly drop out of the picture or become rare.  And that is a sign that the trait was more easily achieved, if not exclusively expressed, in a heterozygous condition.    OTOH the breeding and conservation of diverse pure lines which have outstanding traits is also worthwhile.   In a selfing crop, positive traits that express in a homozygous condition are worthy of conservation in pure stable lines.  The rare stable OP that had, for example, all QTL's for sweetness adding up, is worth a hundred delicious F3's that will be missing half of it (as linkage also messes up the ratios) when they self in F4 maybe because of a bad year for outcrossing.  Another issue is that invisible genes like resistance for specific diseases would have to be continually added to the mix unless there is selection happening due to the presence of the disease.  With strong selection for other traits, the unselectable character is likely to be lost.  If you have incidence of the heterozygous-gene diseases every year it wouldn't be a problem, but if not, you have no way of knowing the amount of resistance still circulating in your population without high tech until you have a catastrophic disease year.   
For a crop that is outcrossing like carrots, I think landrace breeding is the obvious way to go.   If you can grow rainbow carrots and get a rainbow from the seeds you saved, that is fantastic with all the plusses of selecting for local adaptation and maintaining your own seeds. :-*
The multi-brassica crosses I accidentally/carelessly made were not a good way to go.  Phenos blurred into something half-way and boring instead of getting a nice mix of different things.  :P  You could probably get back a bok choy with a big fat petiole by 100 years of selection.  ::) Oops.   I wouldn't rule out the landrace approach to something specific in the group, like Bok Choy, using multiple varieties, but I would have to be sure there was going to be value added vs just save your 40 day and your 60 day varieties separately.

Richard Watson

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Re: Staple Food Crops
« Reply #12 on: 2019-11-24, 12:14:36 PM »
 Potatoes     -    ive grown an old Maori variety called Moimoi, waxy and tasty but inconstant yield between individual plants, I would think that's because of virus load, tried growing its TPS over a few years but nothing showed up that was as good as the parent clone. At the moment ive added some other TPS from a friend who's been growing and saving his own seed for 30+ years, even after all those years he still get wide variability, so that TPS should add a bit more interesting genetics to my Moimoi   

 Carrots      -    The one crop I get a 12 months supply of, by the time the previous seasons carrots are starting to go to flower I have new ones coming on, which was two weeks ago. But to get through that November between crops period I need to still have enough left in the garden so that even when some are starting to go to flower there's still enough that are not and are still reasonably eatable. This is where my years of selection have helped as Ive breed my Benhorn line to be 100% bolting free.   

 Onions    -    grow four varieties plus my weird mutant red clone (Amuri) which bulbs up earlier than all the others, its the first for the season because it winters over in the garden from bulbils sown late summer. Pukekohe longkeeper keeps us supplied till Amuri is big enough. Growing a new onion this summer https://www.mammothonion.co.uk/cgi-bin/trolleyed_public.cgi?action=showprod_ONP1 purely for its skit factor at our local show where there is quite a rivalry in who can grow the biggest onions, this should blow them out of the water.

 leeks    -   perennial and annual, Ferdzy and me swooped seed and I have a wonderful crop flowering atm, between the perennial and the annual we have leeks year round.

 Garlic     -   year round supply thanks to my on going attempts at TGS, the theory being that by sowing heaps increases my chances of success.

 Beans    -   only green beans, we dont like them dried, so these are just a seasonal crop.

 Peas      -     Have two types growing atm, one climber and a dwarf (greenfeast) which I do a sowing every two weeks so there's always a picking for salads, its only a 6 month crop and I dont bother freezing any. The dwarf is Grandus and is for seed.

 Tomatoes     -    Grow a 12 month supply either fresh of frozen, make sauce also. 

 Capsicums     -   Dont grow hot peppers, only capsicums and they are only grown in the tunnelhouse, about a four month period for them

 Cucumbers   -   grown in tunnelhouse and only eaten in salads, if only I could heat the tunnelhouse in winter then I would grow more of these and tomatoes and Capsicums, but..

 Beetroot    -   I grow a lot, for grating into salads and pickling, doesnt quite make winter if left in the ground so I store roots in polystyrene boxes, will still be able to use them way into spring, by then a new younger crop is ready.

 Zucchini     -     Will always grow one plant every growing season
 
 Spinach      -    Growing the native NZ spinach for the first time this summer, idea is to grow it for seed to put up on the website, may even eat some too.

 Swiss chard      -    Birds give it arseholes here so it has to be netted, very popular in this household so great care is given to it

 Lettuce     -     Seed is scattered Morris dancing style, if it pops up in the right place, I hoe around it, one side of the garden Ive had a wild lettuce cross a few years back, all self sown lettuces that come up over there get the heads cut off, one day that cross should disappear. Between the tunnelhouse and grown outside we are supplied i lettuce for salads for 12months.

 Cabbage    -     12 month supply and can stay in the garden if I keep the head dry with a small square of plastic placed over the head. Spring is the only time where there is no cabbages.

 Brussels sprouts      -    They grow well here and are a family favourite, but they are only a short season crop though.

 Asparagus   -    I only have Pacific purple which is by far better tasting over the green types. Do find though that the odd crown dies so I need to sow new seed to replace plants every year

 Celery    -    Another crop that I aim to grow as a 12 month supply. Start off young plants in large pots plus a few planted in ground in the tunnelhouse late winter, these give us the first picking for the season, then the plants in pots get planted outside when its warmed up enough, these give us pickings summer - autumn, late summer a new sowing in pots outside, these get planted in the tunnelhouse for winter/ early spring picking.

Corn / maize     -   Only plant one type each year but each growing season I harvest around 25kgs of seed, this summer is a maize which I have not grown before, it was given to me by a old bloke who was getting past being able to keep it going. Should be enough seed for grinding and should last us 3-4 years. Already have a 25kg sack of popping corn from last year. Next year is a sweet corn, whats dried will be for the hens.

 Pumpkin    -    60 plants sown atm. Doing a stabilisation of a cross between many different varieties. The fruits I harvest keep us and many other friends families supplied for a good six months.

Fruit, leave that for another day, so much to cover there.     
Changeable year round climate with warming winters - just under 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial out wash from the Southern
alps.