stumped by calories and permaculture diet

locust(z9 CA)February 11, 2005

I've been thinking about which species to put into the permaculture I want to plant. I really see a lack of calories in designs, and I strain my knowledge to think of how to grow enough vegetarian calories. I know you can do things like potatoes, but I cannot eat that many potatoes, and they are annuals. I want eventually food forests.

I've thought about animals, but have yet to imagine a satisfactory design even if I wanted to eat meat. Aquaculture and moving to the tropics is the only answer I can come up with (those aren't options)

Or having a mega food forest (which would be nice.)

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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

Keep an eye out for the forthcoming book "Edible Forest Gardens" by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier. It's due to be released June 30th of this year (although the publication date has been pushed back several times). It's supposed to have a very long list of the most useful edible plants.

In the meantime, there is a good article from the Plants for a Future people:

Here is a link that might be useful: Staple seed crops from perennials.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 11:28AM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

locust, don't avocados grow where you live? Olives have a high oil content (a bit niggly to process tho), you could dry Hachiya persimmons (bountiful harvests), and also what about pine nuts (several pines produce edible seeds)?. Lastly, don't forget figs, you can dry those too. Corn is generally given to horses to fatten them up, especially if it's dried, ground and baked into bread, chips, tortillas, etc. Also there are certain bananas that are cold-hardy and bear fruit. I hope that helps.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 5:42PM
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Eric_in_Japan(z7 Japan)

How much land are you working with? 1/4 acre? Less?
I would think that a combination of fruits and nuts could help, but I think you will still need some annuals for variety if nothing else.

Good choices in my opinon:
almond, filbert, hickory, pecan, pistachio, walnuts, honey locust,
Tree Fruits- All the usual, then some rather unusual like pomegranate, figs, and other.
brambles- all kinds under the trees.
Vines- passionflower, of course grape, kiwi
Perennial grains.
bamboo shoots

Are you aiming for the classical 7 layer food forest?
I am still working on mine.
Eric in Japan

    Bookmark   February 17, 2005 at 3:19AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

I do believe Eric is correct -- it would be nice to plant once & just harvest after that, but it's not very realistic. And, unless you eat some eggs occasionally, a vegetarian diet *IS* generally low-calorie. Where are you getting your calories now?

Even in Zone 9, which has a lot more options than most zones except possibly for winter chill, there aren't really enough of a variety of perennial food plants. You can up your calories with fats, as long as you don't go overboard.

There is also the possibility of trading what you don't grow for things other people grow. I know a lot of people would like to be totally self-sufficient, but it's often not very realistic.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 10:10PM
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josie_z6b(z6b Philly)

I know you don't want annuals, but you can't beat legumes for calories. They're not hugely fussy, either. I'm not huge on peas aside from snap peas (I know they're good for you, I just can't get them down) but green beans and snap peas and peanuts are cool. And they fix nitrogen.

Jerusalem artichoke is a perennial sunflower with both seeds, (oil and protiens) and tubers (starch calories) and they recommend the tubers be cooked like potato. It is invasive. I haven't tried it yet.

In your climate I would take a look at olive, banana, and paw paw trees too.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 6:55PM
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I just posted a question about cashews on the tropicals forum, hoping to find a good nut that I can grow. My lot is too small for a walnut tree, and not many other kinds will do well in this zone. Pine nuts would be great, but my Sunset book says they take 25 years to bear! That will be great if and when my daughter inherits the house, but it'd be nice to have something sooner as well.

I agree with Josie, legumes are great, though annuals, it is very easy to save your own seed and be self-sufficient in that way. Same with the sunflowers.

I am trying to design my garden partly based on thinking about what we generally consume already. There are many annuals, but I can save seeds for many of them, so I think that's alright. I'm also going with a lot of trees. We just bought our avocado last week!


    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 10:09PM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

I just reread your post - lucky you to be in Sebastopol!

Any of the fruits/veggies that you grow can be morphed into high calorie wonders in your kitchen with the help of eggs, butter and cream/oil (maybe some flour). And cheese. Did I mention sugar (and chocolate)?

So, keep some chickens for eggs, a dairy goat and or ewe for milk & cream and cheese & yogurt making, etc. Or trade or buy those items. You would need some considerable equipment and land to produce flour from grain, but you could buy the grain and grind it yourself. Same with corn - cornmeal or polenta.

There is a monestery in the high desert near L.A. and they grow olives and take them to a press for oil extraction and bottling, maybe you could do the same (with walnuts, filberts, etc.).

If you plant apricots, there are some that are sweetpit, that is the pit is edible like an almond so you get fruit & nuts in one.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 2:33PM
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I know they are an annual but I recommend dry beans. Plant a 10' x 10' block in rows 6" apart. You will be amazed at the harvest. A lot of calories in very little space. A small seeder like the Earthway seeder will make the planting go a lot faster. The plants will quickly form a canopy so an extra bonus is that there is little or no weeding necessary with this technique. Thus there is no need to leave room for a path.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 9:44AM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

Very true David. Also winter squash - and they store too.
This topic keeps popping into my head as I research stuff I can grow - maybe because I have the opposite situation, heh, heh.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 2:24PM
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I'll add that many 'annuals' will freely reseed; Madagas. spinach (vine), my Hyacinth bean pops up everywhere all on its lonesone, maypops and such. While not high in calories they do return on their own. And yes save those seed of crops that don't return naturally like corn.
I'm in the S/E US so we have very different climates but the same problem with nut trees. We grow pecans and various oaks here that produce an edible nut but like ya say they can take decades to come into thier own. This is not so with fruit trees like figs, apples, pears, orential persimmons and all. They may take up to 5 years to really start doing their thing but thats not such a long wait.
I sincerly hope we are in the forefront of a revolution and what we start will be of use to the furture generations. Thats the way I have to think on things here as I being a 40 guy will barely see the results of what I'm starting now.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 2:50PM
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