So here is another challenge, mostly brought to you Kymber (who actually took me up on my Five Books challenge): If you could only grow five things and take the seeds for future planting, what would they be?
A couple of rules: for me, I am basing this on my experience in my climate and the success rate that I have had. It may very well be different for other climates and areas (and frankly, other skill levels - mine seems rather poor). And it is not intended as a total replacement for other dietary inputs, but very much as a subsistence option: if I had too, I could get by on these (with a large enough plot).
1) Garlic: Garlic has been a perennial success story for me. I have been able to grow it successfully in two different climates and in four different locations. I may have never successfully grown anything else, but I have always been able to grow garlic. And it is super good for you as well - from Wikipedia:
"When expressed per 100 grams, garlic contains several nutrients in rich amounts (more than 20% DV), including vitamins B6 and C, and the dietary minerals, manganese and phosphorus. Per 100 gram serving, garlic is also a moderate source (10–19% DV) of certain B vitamins, including thiamin and pantothenic acid, as well as the dietary minerals, calcium, iron, and zinc (right table).
You can fry it, pickle it, can it, and cook it with other things. It is amazing.
2) Black-Eyed Peas/Cow Peas: This has come to me only in the last three years but has been a prolific and reliable producer in that time, often continuing to produce well into the winter. Nutritionally, it has all the benefits of a legume and an alternate protein source:
"Black-eyed peas contain calcium (41 mg) folate (356 mcg), protein (13.22 g), fiber (11.1 g) and vitamin A (26 IU), among other nutrients, all for less than 200 Calories, in a 171-g, one-cup serving." (Wikipedia)
As a legume, it also adds nitrogen to the soil - so it is a contributor to continuing fertility.
3) Wheat/Barley: I know many people exclude these from their diets because of gluten or digestion related issues. I get that - but we (thankfully) had not had to deal with this issue and these grains are among my most successful gardening examples every year. I have grown a number of different varies of wheat, some more successfully and less successfully. My barley has always been Jet Barley, a black variety. From Wikipedia:
Wheat: In 100 grams, wheat provides 327 calories and is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of multiple essential nutrients, such as protein, dietary fiber, manganese, phosphorus and niacin. Several B vitamins and other dietary minerals are in significant content. Wheat is 13% water, 71% carbohydrates, and 1.5% fat. Its 13% protein content is comprised mostly of gluten as 75-80% of total wheat protein, which upon digestion, contributes amino acids for human nutrition."
Barley: In a 100 gram serving, raw barley provides 352 calories and is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of essential nutrients, including protein, dietary fiber, the B vitamins, niacin (31% DV) and vitamin B6 (20% DV), and several dietary minerals (table). Highest nutrient contents are for manganese (63% DV) and phosphorus (32% DV) (table). Raw barley is 78% carbohydrates, 1% fat, 10% protein and 10% water.
4) Pumpkins: This is kind of a surprise, I am sure, and I would not have thought it before this exercise - but I have been able to grow pumpkins everywhere I have lived. And of all the plants I have dealt with, they are the most prolific coming up from my compost - I have not "planted" pumpkins for 3 years but them come up every year based on the compost I put into my garden! From Wikipedia:
"In a 100-gram amount, raw pumpkin provides 26 Calories and is an excellent source (20% or more the Daily Value, DV) of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A (53% DV) (table). Vitamin C is present in moderate content (11% DV), but no other nutrients are in significant amounts (less than 10% DV, table). Pumpkin is 92% water, 6.5% carbohydrate, 0.1% fat and 1% protein (table)."
(The vitamin C is interesting - who knew? And something we cannot produce ourselves).
5) Okra: Okra is my one item from living in a hot, humid climate as we do now. If I can keep the pests off of it, it produces prolifically. Okra is one of those things that is a bit of an acquired taste (most people have it pickled or fried) but per Wikipedia it too has nutritional benefits:
"Raw okra is 90% water, 2% protein, 7% carbohydrates and negligible in fat (table). In a 100 gram amount, raw okra is rich (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) in dietary fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K, with moderate contents of thiamin, folate and magnesium ."
You will notice that a lot of garden traditionals - tomatoes, onions, peppers, corn, cucumbers - are not on my list. It is not that I have not tried to grow them - I have, in some cases with moderate success. But the exercise is for known producers, things that if I had to I could tear up my back yard and do a mass planting of. And, if I look at the nutritional value, I am some moderately surprised to find out there is a fair amount of balance there.
What is on your list?