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Self-sufficiency Garden Crops
Self-sufficiency garden crops need to be the most nutritious. The foods listed here encourage maximum health because they are high in nutrients while being low in toxins and anti-nutrients.
For a more in depth discussion of nutrition and why so many crops were excluded, please refer to Nutrition Overview and Remaining Crops.
*************************************************** Greens: Collards (Brassica oleracea L. (Acephala group): (Point of origin: Eastern Mediterranean / Asia Minor) Nutrition: High in calcium, lutein, zeaxanthin , sulforaphane, luteolin, glutathione. Eaten raw is a good source of B1 and B6. Eat raw only if thyroid is healthy. Cook to de-activate goitrogenic compounds. Harvest after light frost for improved flavor. Advantages: Parboil and dry for late winter use. Disadvantage: Members of this Brassica family will cross Stager by years to save seed Insect susceptible. Varieties: Champion, Vates - excellent for cold weather Georgia Southern, Green Glaze - good for warm regions where insects survive winters F1 Hi-Crop, F1 Bull Dog - good for extremely adverse weather conditions Sources: Johnny's, Territorial, Seeds of Change, Sakata, Takii Green Cover Seed ************** Turnips (Brassica rapa): (Point of origin: Siberia) Nutrition: High in calcium, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin, B6, sulforaphane. Eaten raw is a good source of B1 and B6. Eat greens raw if thyroid is healthy. Cook to de-activate goitrogenic compounds. Preparation: Harvest when the leaves are young and not too spicy. Eat greens raw, cook root. Advantages: Very insect resistant. Will suppress weeds when planted as a solid bed ultra early in spring, 3-4 weeks before last frost. Ectomycorrhizal fungi relationship Disadvantage: Members of this Brassica family will cross. Stager by years to save seed Varieties: Seven Top (Brassica rapa var septiceps) - for greens only, root is small and very cold hardy. Sources: Territorial, Siegers, Seeds of Change ****** Kale (Brassica oleracea Acephala group): (Point of origin: Eastern Mediterranean / Asia Minor) Nutrition: High in calcium, lutein, zeaxanthin, B6 , sulforaphane. Eaten raw is a good source of B1 nd B6. Eat raw if thyroid is healthy. Cook to de-activate goitrogenic compounds. Advantages: Parboil and dry for late winter use. Will tolerate hard freeze Disadvantage: Members of this Brassica family will cross Stager by years to save seed Ratings: Cornell Varieties: Vates - cold hardy, blue/green, not as frilled Vates Scotch - cold hardy, good flavor very frilled Scotch Lacinato - very dark green and tasty. Easiest to digest. not as frost tolerant. Winterbor F1 - very cold hardy, good flavor, hybrid, Scotch type Ripbor F1 - very cold hardy, dark green, hybrid Scotch type Propagation: Plant in late summer and harvest until heavy freeze ************* Mustard (Brassica juncea): (Point of origin: Asia) Nutrition: Folates, K1, fiber, magnesium/calcium Preparation: boil, steep, and drain to remove toxins don't eat too much Varieties: Green in Snow, Tatsoi, Chijimisai, Osaka, Senposai, Unzen-kobu, Bald Head Propagation: Extremely cold hardy plant 4-5 weeks before last frost Sources: Reimers, Restoration, Nature and Nurture, Burpee, Baker Creek ****** Siberian Kale / Rapeseed (Brassica napus): (Point of origin: Northern Europe / Russia ) Nutrition: Similar to turnip. Advantages: Ultra cold hardy. Will only cross with other napus. Contains omega-3. Canola seed is excellant poultry feed for egg layers. Disadvantage: Smaller leaves. Use non GMO Canola to reduce toxins. Boil, steep, and drain to remove toxins. Varieties: Siberian Kale, non GMO Canola Suppliers: Restoration Seeds, Seeds and Soil, Magic Garden Seeds, Wild Garden Seed Terre Promise, True Leaf Market, Urban Farmer, MBS Seed Information: Use forage variety for greens. Young leaves for good flavor. Ultra cold hardy. Plant 4-5 weeks before avg last frost. Or, plant in late summer and harvest greens all winter. NCBI - omega 3 Biology of Rape Seed Ambassadors Semantic Scholar Science Direct ****** Cabbage (Brassica oleracea): (Point of origin: Europe ) Nutrition: Purple variety is rich in anthocyanins. Advantages: Anthocyanins. Disadvantage: Not as high in calcium or as cold hardy as other Brassica. Information: Seeds of Change - Red Acre ******* Malvaceae family: Okra (Abelmoshcus esculentus): (Point of origin: North Africa) Nutrition: high in calcium, magnesium, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene Eaten raw is a good source of B1 and B6. The cooking water of okra is very soothing to the throat and digestive system since it is mucilaginous. The seed and pod is good to eat raw. The more red, the greater chance of lycopene. Rich in glutathione. Animal Feed: save the seed from over mature pods for animal feed Extremely large amounts can be toxic Preparation: eat raw when in season Young pods can be deseeded, parboiled, and dried for winter greens. Mature seeds are high in quality protein with a slightly off taste, but good in small amounts as curd to supplement other foods during famines. Extremely large amounts of seed can be toxic. Lost Crops of Africa Varieties: Red Burgundy - red pods 1988 AAS winner Emerald - developed by Cambell Soup Co. early producer Clemson Spineless - 1939 AAS winner heat tolerant Propagation: Soil must be >70 F consistently or the plants will be stunted. Once stunted, it never recovers. Direct seed because of tap root. Cultivation: Rhizobium meliloti, Rhizobium sp., and Bradyrhizobium sp. will inhibit harmful fungi on okra Sources: Bountiful Gardens, Seeds of Change ************* Daisy (Compositae) family: Chicory (Cichorium intybus): (Point of origin: Europe) Nutrition: High in calcium / magnesium, folate. Eat raw for a good source of B1 and B6. High in tannin like bitter compounds. Preparation: Eat raw or boil lightly and drain water to remove bitters. Varieties: Giant Catalogna, wild Propagation: Will cross with endives and wild chicory. Sources: Siegers, Italian Seed and Tool, Seeds of Change, Bountiful Gardens *********************************************** Greens not listed due to a lack of advantages: See Remaining Crops for more greens Broccoli was not listed because it is too inefficient. It is moderately nutritious, but it requires a large plant to produce a small head. And it has twice the nitrogen requirement of Collards but does not even produce half the nutrition. Multiple harvest varieties can be used to overcome this inefficiency. Pak choi was not listed because it is not especially high in magnesium. Cabbage was not listed much, because the other members of the same family have so much more calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients. Some of the exceptions are Pak Choi, which does not store well as a dry green. And red cabbage does have some lycopene and anthocyanidins. It is a good candidate for cloning. Red Express, Red Acre, and Red Rock are all good varieties. Lettuce was not listed because it contains very little nutrition: No fiber, no calcium, and no magnesium. Only a few varieties have vitamin K, zeaxanthin, or lutein. Spinach, beet greens, chard, rhubarb, lambs quarters, purslane, parsley, sorrel, endive, amaranth, and cactus are not listed much because they are high in potentially harmful oxalates which can bind calcium and exacerbate osteoporosis. Cilantro and horseradish were excluded because they are high in alkaloids. Lovage was excluded because it is hard on the kidneys. *********************************************** Root Crops: Root crops are very important because they are one of the better sources of potassium that can be grown in a temperate climate. Carrot(Umbelliferae Daucus carota var. Sativus): (point of origin: Afghanistan) varieties: Atomic red - open pollinated red carrot contains some lycopene Nutri red - open pollinated red carrot contains some lycopene Samurai - deep red carrot, hybrid contains some lycopene Thumbalina - weed competitive stores in soil well tolerates waterlogged soil since most of root is above ground Autumn King - stores well in the ground James Scarlet Intermediate - stores well in the ground Saint Valery - stores well in the ground F1 Merida - plant in fall and harvest in spring in warm climates propagation: biennial, will cross with queen ann's lace , white root indicates wild cross , mulch before planting Sources: Reimers, Jung, Territorial, Hume, Bountiful Gardens, Johnny's Information: AAS Winner - Purple Haze F1 Carrot Museum - red carrot, lycopene ********* Goosefoot or Chenopodiaceae family: Beet (Beta vulgaris): (Point of origin: Germany) Nutrition: High in folate, so root eat raw. uridine monophosphate Cook the leaves and discard water twice to reduce oxalate levels. Root is high in bitters, so peel the skin and do not eat too much. Soak whole root in water to reduce bitterness. Very medicinally rich; eat small amounts at each meal since the body can process only so much pigment and geosmin. Properties: Pollinates by wind up to 5 miles away. Soak whole root in water to sweeten. Tolerates waterlogged soil fairly well since most of the root is above ground. Variety: Detroit dark red - low geosmin Lutz - for greens Source: Stokes, Burpee, Seeds of Change Information: Geosmin eOrganic - clubroot prevention ******** Amaryllidaceae family - from Asia, will cross with wild onion. Extremely micorrhizal dependent. Garlic (Allium sativum): (Point of origin: Asia) Nutrition: Allicin helps keep arteries healthy. In animal tests at MDAnderson, garlic defended against radiation poisoning in mice. Some people cannot tolerate garlic. Rich in glutathione. Garlic increases thiamine absorbption Oregon State - cooking garlic Mercola Cooking garlic Properties: Deer resistant. Can cause nightmares for some people. Fermenting solves that problem. Sources: Territorial, Seeds of Change Preparation: Press garlic and expose to the air for at least 10 minutes and serve garlic without cooking for maximum effect. Cooking will destroy some of the compounds but not all if allowed to breath before cooking. Information: Garlic in Canada Garlic, Radiation, and DNA repair links: M.D. Anderson - garlic radiation experiments Live Strong Gaia Research Onion (Allium cepa): (Point of origin: Asia) Nutrition: Good source of B6, anthocyanin (red), and quercetin (yellow). The dry outer most peeling has the most nutrients. Some people cannot tolerate onions. Nutrient levels by type The green tops are low in oligosaccharides. Properties: For bulbs in the north, plant under cover in early winter and transplant in the very early spring. Or if in ideal conditions, direct seed in the very early spring. For bulbs in the south, direct seed no later than mid fall. Onions are hard to grow organically since fusarium is hosted by so many plants. Choose fusarium resistant varieties and practice good rotation. Information: When and what to plant Texas A&M - Onion Cornell - disease resistant varieties Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (L.)): (Point of origin: central Asia) Nutrition: Root bulb and lower stalk are extremely high in folates slice very thin and only cook lightly to preserve folates Properties: Plant a winter variety that will continue to feed the mycorrhizal fungus all winter. Varieties: Giant Musselburgh Leek Sources: Territorial, Johnnys Rodale - leek varieties Johnnys Seeds - leek varieties *************************************************** Legumes: Soak all legumes for 8-24 hours depending on seed hardness and temperature. Do not sprout any further since will breakdown the more desirable complex proteins. Instead, ferment in order to breakdown anti-nutrients. Cook with low heat. Making tempeh will also reduce the anti-nutrients. Most legumes contain out of balance proteins and are best when consumed as a complement to grains. Source for all legumes: USDA Legumes Pea (Pisum sativum) (Point of origin: eastern Mediteranean) Preparation: Enzyme inhibitors have not formed yet while still green. Will sprout while still green. Sugars will start to convert to starch about 2 hours after picking and enzyme inhibitors start to form. Advantage: Good crop for cold wet weather. Can regrow after being frozen to the ground. The only legume that will sprout without drying. Green never dried peas are the easiest legume to digest. But some people are too sensitive even for green peas. Nutrition: High in folate. Only the most sensitive cannot tolerate fresh green peas, since they have no enzyme inhibitors until they have been picked. Dried peas are extremely high in enzyme inhibitors. Planting: Use pea inoculant. (Rhizobium leguminosarum var. Viceae) The earlier you plant peas and the quicker they mature, the better chance you have of harvesting before spring hail and warm weather diseases set in. Varieties: Plant bush peas in the very early spring to avoid hail and disease. Cold tolerant, quick maturing, bush peas that freeze well are ideal, such as Knight, FP2269, Alaska, Dakota, Little Marvel, Maestro, Laxton's Progress Number 9, Spring, Early Freezer, Northwind, Frosty, etc. Indeterminate varieties tend to recover more quickly from hail or severe late frost than the determinate bush varieties. They also make better use of limited space. Cold tolerant, quick maturing, tall vine peas that freeze well are ideal, such as Mr. Big, Freezonian, Ice Breaker, etc. Sources: Veseys, Rohrer Seeds, Siegers, Gallatin Valley Seeds, Debruyn Seed, Thompson Morgan, Reimers Seeds, Victory Seed Information: USDA - pea allelopathy Monatana State - cold region legumes ************* Green Beans (Fabaceae Phaseolus vulgaris): (Point of origin: Central America) Nutrition: Moderate in lutein and zeaxanthin. Properties: Fast early varieties are the most reliable. Golden has better flavor. Requires warm soil to sprout. Pole indeterminate varieties tend to recover more quickly from hail. Bush determinate varieties often mature faster. Varieties: Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder, Kentucky Blue, Romano types Sources: Territorial, Stokes, Vermont Bean, Burpee Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus): (Point of origin: Central America) Nutrition: Extremely high in lycopene. Properties: Indeterminate, requires a trellis. Contains phytohaemagglutinin - must be thoroughly cooked before eating Sources: Territorial, Stokes *************** Lentil (Lens culinaris): (Point of origin: Near East) Advantages: Quickly sets nitrogen as cover or intercrop. Easier to digest than most other legumes. Brown or red are slightly easier to digest than green. Prefers cool semi-arid weather. Requires some drought stress to set seed properly. Can regrow if frozen to the ground. Disadvantages: Small plant and seed - difficult to cultivate and harvest. Some people are too sensitive to tolerate even after sprouting and fermenting. Information: USDA - frost tolerant, 21 F Cook's Thesaurus - lentils *********************************************** Squash: Squash family (Cucurbitaceae): (Point of origin: the Americas) Nutrition: Good source of B6. Rich in glutathione. Insect control: Grow up on a wire cage to control the squash bug and reduce mold. Animal Feed: save the seed for animal feed. Seed Saving: Species will not cross, but varieties within species will cross. Grow only one of each species if you save your own seed. Properties: Deer resistant. Transplant to avoid hail. Winter Squash(Cucurbita moschata): Nutrition: Orange flesh. , high in calcium and carbohydrates. Preparation: Eat with the skin if possible. Properties: Resistant to vine borer. Varieties: Butternut, Dickson, Seminole, Black Futsu, Musquee de Provence, Golden Cushaw Sources: Territorial, Seeds of Change, Urban Farmer Cushaw (C. argyrosperma): Properties: Extremely drought and insect resistant. Resistant to vine borer. Formerly mixta. Varieties: Green Stripped, White Cushaw *************************************************** Seed: Sunflower (Compositae Helianthus annuus): (Point of origin: North America) Nutrition: astoundingly high in minerals, vitamin E, and B1 Eat raw sprouts for a great source of B1. High in copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium Advantages: heat and drought resistant shells are phytotoxic when used as mulch Sprouts are an ideal winter source of B1. Allelopathic. Disadvantage: Shelling is difficult Lehman's - dehulling sunflower Cultivation: Rhizobium meliloti, Rhizobium sp., and Bradyrhizobium sp. will inhibit harmful fungi on sunflower Varieties: Mammoth, Sunspot Sources: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Local Harvest ************************************************ Flowers: In general, flowers are more dense in antioxidants than most fruits. **** Bee Balm( Monarda sp. ): (Point of origin: North America) Nutrition: M. fistulosa - edible pink flower Advantages: M. didyma - antibiotic Disadvantage: Toxic in excess. Cultivation: USDA zone 3-4 depending on variety **** Blue Mink ( Ageratum houstonianum ): (Point of origin: Central America) Nutrition: Medicinal flower Advantages: Tasty Disadvantage: Leaf has alkaloids causing liver lesions. Invasive. Cultivation: Annual, spring plant Blooms all summer **** Broccoli (Brassica oleracea ): (Point of origin: Mediterranean) Nutrition: anthocyanin Cultivation: Purple - freeze 20 F Varieties: Purple 120-200 days Blue 48-70 days **** Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea): (Point of origin: Asia) Nutrition: PubMed - improve hippocampus Semantic Scholar - neurogenic Advantages: Thrives in heat, not cold hardy Disadvantage: Natural pesticide Cultivation: Age and soak seeds. Fixes nitrogen **** Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla or recutita): (Point of origin: Eastern Europe) Nutrition: Polyphenol, flavonoids, phenolic acid Sedative, antiinflammatory Advantages: Cold hardy 14 F Disadvantage: self seeding Cultivation: germinate 52 F ideal, > 77 F suboptimal Requires light to germinate ***** Chive ( Allium schoenoprasum ): (Point of origin: Asia) Nutrition: Analysis Advantages: Easy propagation. Disadvantage: Toxic to cats & dogs. Invasive by seed. Cultivation: Common chives are perennial to zone 3. Varieties: Purple or red. **** Cornflower (Centaurea cyanis): (Point of origin: Europe) Nutrition: Anthocyanin and Flavone Advantages: cold tolerant Disadvantage: Cultivation: Germinate 60 F **** Carnation ( Dianthus sp.): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Nutrition: Petals are edible, clove flavor. But not the base. Red, purple Advantages: Cold tolerant Disadvantage: Leaf is toxic. Self seeding. Cultivation: NCSU - annual or perrenial **** Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus ): (Point of origin: Central America ) Nutrition: Edible red, orange, yellow flowers Advantages: Blooms all summer Disadvantage: Flowers with heat Cultivation: Heat loving, photosensitive **** Dandelion (Taraxacum sp. ): (Point of origin: Eurasia ) Nutrition: Polyphenols in yellow flower. Advantages: Flower, leaf, root are edible. Disadvantage: Weedy. False dandelion is toxic Leaf requires boil and drain. Cultivation: Better to let it seed itself. Varieties: Varieties **** Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Nutrition: Antioxidants Advantages: Blooms year round Disadvantage: Blossom only, Short lived, self sowing Cultivation: Prefers cool weather Germinate 68 F, grow at 25-39 F Transplantable, annual or biennial Varieties: Purple **** Echinacea (Echinacia purpurea): (Point of origin: North America) Nutrition: Polyphenol Anthocyanin Advantages: Drought tolerant. Disadvantage: Self seeding. Cultivation: Crown division 4 years Germination 65 F, zone 3 **** Elderberry American ( Sambucus canadensis ): (Point of origin: North America) Nutrition: Antioxidants in white flower Advantages: Low cyanide risk Disadvantage: Toxic seed Cultivation: USDA zone 3 **** French Honey Suckle (Hedysarum coronarium): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Advantages: Can be used as hay. Red blossom Disadvantage: Toxic seed Cultivation: USDA zone 3 **** Hollyhock (Alcea rosea): (Point of origin: Asia) Nutrition: Anthocyanins, polyphenols Advantages: Cordage Disadvantage: Suppresses starch digestion - eat between meals Cultivation: Hollyhock, zone 3, biennial Variety: Black **** Mallow (Malva sp.): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Nutrition: Polyphenols, carotenoid Antioxidants Advantages: M. sylvestris zone 4, tall M. neglecta - dwarf, zone 4 PFAF - M. neglecta NCSU - M. neglecta M. parviflora Disadvantage: Suppresses starch digestion - eat between meals Reduces carbo diegestion Cultivation: By seed ***** Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus): (Point of origin: Africa) Nutrition: Colorado State ***** Pansy (Viola sp.): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Nutrition: Antioxidants - Viola wittrockiana Advantages: Viola odorata - Medicinal Disadvantage: Viola tricolor - saponin Cultivation: Germination, 65-75 F, darkness **** Poppy (Papaver somniferum): (Point of origin: Mediterranean) Nutrition: Flower antioxidants Leaf edible Advantages: Germination at 55 F Disadvantage: Can be abused. Cultivation: Cold stratification Long day photo sensitive Varieties: Laurens Grape, Double Black, Black Swan, Midnight, Double Purple, Hungarian Breadseed **** Purple Sage ( Salvia officinalis (Purpurascens) ): (Point of origin: Mediterrainean) Nutrition: Medicinal Advantages: Edible flower Disadvantage: Toxic in excess Cultivation: USDA zone 6 **** Purple Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata ): (Point of origin: North America ) Nutrition: Edible Flower Advantages: Long medicinal history Disadvantage: Caution advised Cultivation: Zone 5 **** Rose ( Rosa canina L.): (Point of origin: Eurasia ) Nutrition: Healthline - Edible rose Plant index - Edible rose **** Red Clover (Trifolium pratense ): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Nutrition: WebMD **** Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Nutrition: Purple, biennial Cultivation: USDA zone 4 **** Squash(Cucurbita sp.): (Point of origin: Americas) Nutrition: Edible blossom all species **** Tulip (Tulipa gesneriana): (Point of origin: Asia ) Nutrition: Edible purple red flowers Cultivation: USDA zone 4 ********* Flower Rejects: Comfrey - cell proliferant Dahlia - requires greenhouse Begonia - toxic Borage - toxic alkaloid pollen Calendula - Saponin Chrysanthemum - pyrethrum Crocus - toxic Chicory - bitter Daylily - bitter Daisy - saponin Nasturtium - spicy Sophora japonica - strong medicine Salvia elegans - requires greenhouse Lavender - slightly toxic otherwise Marigold - toxic dogs cats Lemon gem - tasty but short Tangerine gem - tasty but short Verbena - toxic White clover - cyanide ************************************************ Grains: Rice (Oryza sativa): (Point of origin: Southeast Asia) Cultivation: Use the SRI method. Mulching is the most effective way ( least labor ) to control weeds and keep the soil aerated. Do not mulch with grass family or diseases may be transferred. Never intentionally flood paddies for more than a few hours. Steady moisture ( not saturation ) is required only during grain formation to maximize yield. In cool areas, direct seeding methods are not possible, but ARS has done good research for organic direct seeding methods in warm areas ( link provided below ). SRI does not adapt well to mechanical transplanting. In exceptionally cold areas, use double transplanting of non-photosensitive rice. (See 2010_crossroads_xuan_slides.pdf) Advantages: Commercial organic rice is only 1/3 as productive as conventional rice, so it is one of the few grains that still makes sense to grow manually for personal consumption. Manually mulched upland rice can be even more productive than commercial flooded rice. A small patch of rice would keep the knowledge and ability alive for times when limited rice availability could be overcome. Rice may be the only grain that the elderly can easily digest. Thrives in wet weather. Disadvantages: Labor intensive. Varieties: Japonica or Javanica type for temperate climates. Indica type for warm climates. Processing: Requires de hulling, but it can be done with a rubber roll paddy husker, or manually with an Engelberg type steel huller. Soaking the seed and cooking for 5-10 minutes first makes it easier. Saving Our Seeds - plans to modify grain mill into dehuller Preparation: Ferment for 1-7 days. Then cook with moderate heat to reduce anti-nutrients further. SRI: SRI - System of Rice Intensification SRI with ADRA No-till: Masanobu Fukuoka - One Straw Revolution Dryland Rice: IRRI - Upland Rice Direct Seeding: USDA ARS - organic direct seeding Double transplanting: Bangladesh - Double Transplant West Bengal India - Double Transplant General Information: Facts and Details International Rice Research Institute Treehugger - warm soil with solar heated water irrigation Northern Grain Growers - rice Univ of Arkansas - rice growing Univ of Vermont - rice in cold climates Examples: Example of no-till rice with mulch grown in place. Growing Rice in Vermont Boundbrook Farm Growing Rice in the Northeast Kickstart Back to Garden for Nutrition Index