Back to Garden for Nutrition IndexChoose your background color:
Greens Root Crops Legumes Squash Seed Grains
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. 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. 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 ************** 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 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 bed. Ectomycorrhizal fungi relationship Disadvantage: Members of this Brassica family will cross Stager by years to save seed Varieties: Seven Top (Brassica septiceps) - for greens only, root is small and cold hardy. Sources: Territorial, Siegers, Seeds of Change, Bountiful Gardens ****** 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. not as frost tolerant. Seeds of Change High Mowing Seeds 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 ****** Rape (Brassica napus): (Point of origin: Eastern Mediterranean / Asia Minor) Nutrition: Similar to kale. Advantages: Ultra cold hearty. Will only cross with other napus. Disadvantage: Smaller leaves than kales. Information: Biology of Rape Propagation: Plant in late summer and harvest all winter. ******* 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 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. It is a good candidate for cloning. Lacinato was not listed because it is the least cold hardy of all the kale. It is very rich in chlorophyll, but will cross with other kale. Pak choi was not listed because it is not especially high in magnesium. 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) 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 - 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 Sources: Reimers, Jung, Territorial, Hume, Bountiful Gardens, Johnny's Information: 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 Source: Stokes, Burpee, Seeds of Change Geosmin ******** Sweet Potato (Convolvulaceae ipomoea batatas): (Point of origin: the Americas) Nutrition: Converts to sugar at a moderate pace, so a good source of carbohydrates. High in magnesium and potassium. High in vitamin E. Skin is high in B6. Contains a moderate amount of oxalate, so do not eat too much. Preparation: Cook and eat root with the skin. Properties: Very drought and disease resistant. Requires warm weather. Varieties: Centennial Georgia Jet Information: Stokes Purple Sweet Potato - harder to digest University of Washington - sweet potato is very reponsive to endophytes ******** 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 SAC, DADS, DATS, cooking, fermenting 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 Life Extension Live Strong Gaia Research National Cancer Institute 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. Blend to microscopic particle size. Some people cannot tolerate onions. Nutrient levels by type 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. Sources: Sustainable Seed - Onions categorized by region Fedco Bountiful Gardens Information: When and what to plant Texas A&M - Onion Cornell - disease resistant varieties North Carolina State - onion 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
Peanut (Arachis hypogaea):(Point of origin: South America, West Africa) Nutrition: High in resveratrol, biotin, niacin, and protein. Best use may be to sprout for the increased resveratrol. Boiling removes inhibitors more evenly and thoroughly than roasting. As long as you are not allergic and it is stored and cooked properly, it is one of the easiest to digest legumes. Many times peanuts are boiled in the shell for additional flavor and phenols. Sprouting Increases Resveratrol Resveratrol - Sensitive to heat, light & oxygen Resveratrol research Roasting decreases disgestability Alabama A&M - boiling makes more digestible. Aflatoxin: World Oilseeds - Cooking peanut reduces lectins and aflatoxin. FAO - cooking peanut only partially reduces aflatoxin. Aflatoxin dangers and bio-controls. Holistic bio-controls: Journal of Plant Pathology - no-till preserves bio-control agents Include animals, good crop rotation, mulch, PH Commercial bio-controls: Although most research on commercial bio-controls is designed to prop up monocultures, this research can be instructive for those who want to take a more holistic approach: Use of nematodes Arizona - Non-toxic competitive strains Research Gate - Non-toxic competitive strains Academia - bio-control review. IJCEPR - bio-control review Cultivation: Harvest directly to a drying barn instead of a windrow to reduce aflatoxin risk. A few varieties will grow in cool weather climates. Peanut types Advantages: Grows well in loose sandy soils. Only requires moderate amounts of water. Has below ground protection from high wind, hail, etc. Survived the breakup of Pangea. Disadvantages: Unless properly harvested, processed, and stored, it will harbor toxic aflatoxin from fungus. Requires cold storage. Can cause severe allergy symptoms. Not tolerant of wet soggy soil. Performs best in dry areas. Varieties: These varieties can be grown in cool weather regions. Soak for about 8 hours. Then boil for 2-4 hours. Taste is more like a bean than a nut. Nutty varieties require a warmer climate. Unfortunately, the Virginia and runner types that require a long season are also the easiest to digest. Carolina Black - 110 days Tennessee Red - 110 days Spanish, Valencia - 120 days Southern Exposure - peanut Iowa State - peanut Peanuts in cold climates 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. Pole vs Bush 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: 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. Sources: Territorial, Bountiful Gardens Cook's Thesaurus - lentils *********************************************** Squash: Squash family (Cucurbitaceae): (Point of origin: the Americas) Nutrition: Converts to sugar quickly so do not eat too much. Good source of B6. Rich in glutathione. Insect control: Grow up on a wire fence to control the squash bug and reduce mold. Squash vine borer very seldom bothers large plantings of squash which are isolated in fields far from human dwellings. There is still a debate as to what attracts them ( lights, heat, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet, etc. ). Mold control: Grow on a trellis. 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. Winter Squash: Butternut (Cucurbita moschata): Nutrition: Tan skin. Orange flesh. , high in calcium and carbohydrates. Preparation: Eat with the skin. Properties: Immune to vine borer. Varieties: Waltham, F1 Early Sources: Territorial, Seeds of Change Rouge Vif d' Etampes, Red Kuri, Golden Delicious, or Victor, etc. (C. maxima): properties: these are all red pumpkin squash the more red, the greater the possibility of lycopene Sources: Rare Seeds Catalog Hulless Seeded Pumpkin (C. pepo): Properties: The Styrian Hulless Pumpkin of Austria; grown for it's hulless seeds which are proven to help reduce DHT in men through a steriod called delta-7 stearine.? Sources: Seedman **************************************************** 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 C.S. Bell Co. - dehuller 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 ************************************************ 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. C.S. Bello - grain mills 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 SRI in Cambodia 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