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Self-sufficiency Garden Crops

Greens Root Crops Legumes Squash Seed Grains

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.

Collards (Brassica oleracea L. (Acephala group): 
(Point of origin: Eastern Mediterranean / Asia Minor)
    Nutrition: High in calcium, lutein, zeaxanthin
               , sulforaphane.
               Rich in 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.
           Parboil and dry for late winter use.
           Members of this Brassica family will cross
           Stager by years to save seed
           Insect susceptible.
              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)
               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 
                 Harvest when the leaves are 
                 young and not too spicy.
                 Eat greens raw, cook root.
               Very insect resistant.
               Will suppress weeds when planted 
               as a solid bed ultra early in spring, 
               4 weeks before last frost.
    Ectomycorrhizal fungi relationship
           Members of this Brassica family will cross.
           Stager by years to save seed
               Seven Top (Brassica septiceps) - 
               for greens only, 
               root is small and cold hardy.
               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.
               Parboil and dry for late winter use.
               Will tolerate hard freeze
               Members of this Brassica family will cross
               Stager by years to save seed
               Vates - cold hardy, blue/green, 
                       not as frilled
               Scotch - cold hardy, good flavor
                        very frilled
               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 
               Plant in late summer and harvest until heavy freeze

Rapeseed (Brassica napus): 
(Point of origin: Northern Europe / Russia )
               Similar to collards.
               Ultra cold hardy.
               Will only cross with other napus.
               Seed high in omega-3.
               Excellant poultry feed for egg layers.
               Smaller leaves.
               Use non GMO Canola for seed to
               reduce toxins.
               Use hierloom rape for greens.
               Ultra early cover crop;
               plant 4 weeks before last frost.
               Or, plant in late summer and harvest 
               greens all winter.

               NCBI - omega 3
               Biology of Rape
               Seed Ambassadors
               Semantic Scholar
               Science Direct

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 
               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

Tendergreens (mustard spinach cross) were not included, 
even though they are very high in calcium, because they are 
also in the Brassica family and they do not dry well. 
They are also a hybrid, so seed saving will not work. 
But they are very cold hardy (-12 C) and might be ideal for 
cold climates.

Mustard greens were not included, because the other members of the same
family have more calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients.
It is very nutritious, but there are only so many greens in the same 
family that can be grown in rotation.
Seed is high in omega-3.
Mustard is superior for fumigating the soil if you have a weak 
crop rotation.

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

Cabbage was not listed, 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 were excluded 
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)
         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 - 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
        Carrot Museum - colors indicate nutrients
        Carrot Museum - purple carrots
        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
              eOrganic - clubroot prevention

Amaryllidaceae family - from Asia, will cross with wild onion.
      Extremely micorrhizal dependent.
Garlic (Allium sativum): 
(Point of origin: Asia)
          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
          Cooking garlic
    Properties: Deer resistant.
          Can cause nightmares for some people.
          Fermenting solves that problem.
    Sources: Territorial, Seeds of Change
            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.
        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)
          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.
                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 
                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.
        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 

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)
            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.
            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.
            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
          USDA - pea allelopathy
          Monatana State - cold region legumes

Green Beans (Fabaceae Phaseolus vulgaris): 
(Point of origin: Central America)
                    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 
             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)
                    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)
          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 
          Can regrow if frozen to the ground.
          Small plant and seed - difficult to cultivate 
              and harvest.
          Some people are too sensitive to tolerate
              even after sprouting and fermenting.
    USDA - frost tolerant, 21 F
    Cook's Thesaurus - lentils

Squash family (Cucurbitaceae):
(Point of origin: the Americas)
                Good source of B6.
                Rich in glutathione.
       Insect control: 
                Grow up on a wire cage
                to control the squash bug and reduce 
       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.
                 Deer resistant.
                 Transplant to avoid hail.

Winter Squash(Cucurbita moschata):
             Orange flesh.
             , high in calcium and carbohydrates.
              Eat with the skin if possible.
              Resistant to vine borer.
              Butternut, Dickson, Seminole,
              Black Futsu, Musquee de Provence, 
              Golden Cushaw
              Territorial, Seeds of Change, 
              Urban Farmer

 Cushaw (C. argyrosperma):
            Extremely drought and insect resistant.
            Resistant to vine borer.
            Formerly mixta.
             Green Stripped, White Cushaw

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.
      Disadvantage: Shelling is difficult
           Lehman's - dehulling article
      Cultivation: Rhizobium meliloti, Rhizobium sp., and Bradyrhizobium sp. 
                 will inhibit harmful fungi on sunflower
      Varieties: Mammoth, Sunspot
      Sources: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Local Harvest


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 
         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) 
         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.
         Labor intensive.
        Japonica or Javanica type for temperate climates.
        Indica type for warm climates.
        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 - System of Rice Intensification
        SRI with ADRA
        SRI in Cambodia
        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
        Example of no-till rice with mulch grown in place.
        Growing Rice in Vermont
        Boundbrook Farm
        Growing Rice in the Northeast

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