Survival Gardening: Six Staple Crops

If you are off grid or gardening for sustenance needs then, you need to grow staple crops — those foods that are the basis of the human diet. The best staple crops for building food self-sufficiency should be easy to harvest and store, return good yields, and be calorie-dense to provide the food energy from carbohydrates that you need each day.

Below are 6 staple foods that will bring success to your sustainable garden.

Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes (along with grain corn) will give you the most calories for the least space. They are easy to grow — just bury a piece of potato about the size of an egg with a couple of “eyes” on it in the ground in a 4-inch-deep furrow. In climates with cool summers, plant early, midseason and late varieties two to three weeks before your last spring frost date. Potatoes will be ready to harvest in about 65 to 90 days, depending on the variety.

Grain Corn

There are three main types of corn: flint, flour and dent. Flint corn is suited to cooler, wetter climates and is the most difficult to grind. Flour corn, grown by American Indians in the Southwest, is the easiest to grind. Dent corn is characterized by the dent in the top of each kernel. 

Homegrown Wheat

To plant wheat, broadcast seeds into a garden bed and then chop the seeds in with a rake or cultivator to cover them. Come harvest time, use a Japanese-style sickle to cut the stalks. The initial yield of straw and grain must then be separated, or “threshed,” which you can do using a plastic baseball bat or your feet. The wheat then needs to be winnowed to remove the chaff, which you can accomplish by pouring the wheat and chaff from one bucket to another in front of a fan. After you harvest your wheat, the stubble remaining in your garden beds will be loose and the soil will be soft. You can put in your next crop without removing the stubble. 

At a yield of 6 pounds of wheat per 100 square feet, you could grow enough wheat in just 800 square feet to keep you supplied with a loaf of fresh bread each week for a year. Store whole grains of wheat in enclosed jars in a cool, dry place, grinding as needed, or grind grains into flour in larger batches and store the flour in your freezer.

Dry Beans

Dry beans, or legumes, are a mainstay of food plans. With an average yield of 3 to 5 pounds per 100 square feet, you won’t get rich growing this crop for market, but you will richly enhance your food stores. 

Winter Squash

Winter squash is rich in fiber and vitamins A & C. In spring, sow seeds in prepared beds or hills after your last frost has passed.

 Cabbage, Collards and Kale

Cold hardiness and health-giving qualities are why cabbage makes this list. It can stay in the garden late into fall and store in a root cellar or cold greenhouse. Sauerkraut, a fermented food rich in vitamins and probiotics, is a traditional means of preserving cabbage, and your kraut can keep in a crock for months. They are cut-and-come-again crops, and with a little safeguarding, depending on where you live, you can harvest these crops all through winter.

There you have it, six excellent staple crops to make your garden one that your family can rely on. 

Sources: Mother Earth News

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