Bulk calories have a bad name these days, and are considered equivalent to empty calories. This has come about because of corporate overprocessing of our foods and injecting sugar, fats, and toxic chemicals. We would be healthier if those calories were empty.
We need on average 2500 calories per day for 365 days a year. We have grown and eaten bulk calories of various kinds for millenia and it is no mean feat to produce enough annual calories for one person in a small garden. For my mountain garden, potatoes can consistently produce a lot of bulk in a small space. I would call it my first choice for small space survival gardening.
In my Food Forest garden, I have both raised and in-ground beds close to my home that are designated for my personal use to increase my Forest’s ability to support this human and to fully integrated my food requirements into the circular economy. It is close in size to a standard suburban garden in the United States.
Potatoes are native to the Andes and are a staple in their indigenous diet. Far from being empty calories, they are a good source of protein and nutrients. The brighter the color, the more phytonutrients they provide.
I have grown potatoes successfully in my in-ground bed and am pleased to say they were not subject to deer or rabbit depredation. Not broke, I won’t fix it. In country gardening, deer can be a scourge to your garden. A bulk calorie crop not likely to be decimated is a survival plus, especially one that can nearly sustain life by itself.
I will buy small red potatoes and plant them for early season harvesting and eating. I ordered Yellow Finn potatoes this year, which are a buttery yellow and tasty. Yellow is an indicator of beta carotene and more nutritious than white potatoes. I have Yukon Gold potatoes also, a common favorite, which I have from last year’s planting, so I will not have to purchase again. Keeping seed potatoes from year to year is easy, store them in a cool, dark place, above freezing. I haven’t ordered purple potatoes yet, but plan to do so. Another good source of phytonutrients. Then the ubiquitous russets, good eating, gives a “normal” value especially to children until they get to know the tastier varieties. They are good storage potatoes, too.
I grew up eating plain old russet potatoes and love them dearly. I love Yukon Gold more, and Yellow Finn the most. Potatoes are easily the backbone of bulk calories in a small garden, they are very productive. Use any of the systems available to deepen the soil for potatoes and you can increase your yield to impressive numbers. Anything from buckets to planting bags will do it. This year I will go for maybe 100 pounds of potatoes and test my storage facilities. Having several varieties reduces the monotony and varies the nutrient.
For those with diabetes, managing bulk calories is a little different. Jerusalem Artichokes have inulin which will not spike blood sugar. I planted these in Texas and they spread into a big patch. I will plant them here this year and see how they go.
I like these for food security simply because they are low maintenance. Plant once, eat forever. Like irises, they get overcrowded after a while. That’s where eating comes in. Dig up what you need and plant the rest back with room to grow. I have heard these called a nuisance and hard to get rid of. Those were enticements to this lazy gardener.
I suspect they would be like irises at a house I bought one time. Across the entire front yard were thousands of tiny irises. The owner took me out to show me the bane of his garden. He had a fair number of irises and hated them (I suspected mental health issues) so he rented a tiller and tilled them under. No, I am not kidding. Irises are propagated by root cuttings and he sure propagated his! Something to keep in mind if you want to multiply your Jerusalem Artichokes, like an experiment.
In Texas I planted the plain Jane variety of Jerusalem Artichokes. This time I ordered Hardy Red Fuseau Jerusalem Artichokes. More phytonutrients and a pretty color. Never discount the appeal of different colors of food if you take on your own food security. With the variety of foods available these days, you may think you want to stick with white like you are used to… but if you cannot grow tropical fruits and other colorful items… you may need the phytonutrients and boredom relief. Humans get bored easily.
I hope to increase my food production this year to something approximating a fully self-sustaining amount. That includes bulk calories and potatoes are an easy pick for mountain living.