What are staple crops?
Staple crops provide a high percentage of calories in your diet and technically take less calories to grow than what they yield.
If you are looking to cultivate staple crops, or simply expand into different crop varieties for the next growing season, here are some staples to consider:
Winter Squash – this is a versatile crop and a very easy keeper. It stores for a long time, yielding delicious squash “meat” that can be incorporated into all sorts of hearty, scrumptious dishes.
There are a lot of varieties of winter squash to choose from as a gardener. Seed companies generally offer an array of winter squash cultivars to choose from. You may already be remembering your favorite meals using butternut, acorn or a “sweet meat” variety.
Perhaps you bought or harvested squash recently and can’t wait to incorporate them into your meals. Here’s a recipe we spotted that looks exceptionally delicious: http://www.inspiredtaste.net/25065/cinnamon-roasted-butternut-squash-recipe/
Corn – For many of us, when we think corn, we think of that amazing fresh sweet corn, dabbed with butter and perfect for summer barbecue.
There are a lot of amazing varieties of corn that make for an excellent staple crop for making corn flour (masa harina). Homemade masa harina is the base for corn tortillas and chips. Corn is also used to make polenta, grits and cornbread.
There is a reason why you see corn listed in so many products, because it is highly diverse. Farmers know that its best to use every part of the plant, which is how its byproducts have become a staple in several of today’s favorite items. You can use corn in the same way. With some precautions in mind, corn stalks, for instance, can be used as animal feed.
If flint/maize corn sounds like a good staple, you can have a lot of fun perusing seed companies to choose a corn variety that fits your tastes and growing needs.
Amaranth – This is a highly versatile crop that can be used for many functions. It is a low maintenance plant that offers high yield in edible product.
Sow Amaranth heavily and densely. You can thin it out, using the young, vibrant colored leaves like you would cook spinach.
Once Amaranth has fully grown, you can feed the leaves to sheep, goats or other livestock. If you keep the leaf sets in tact, they also provide beautiful filler decoration for florists!
What many know Amaranth for though, is the rich bounty of alternative grain it provides.
To invigorate your creative Amaranth cooking, I’m including a really fun Pinterest board for your enjoyment:
Potatoes – The tried and true spud variety of the Nightshade family. There’s so much more to this crop than a Russet (no knocking a good Russet).
Potatoes come in an amazing assortment of types, flavors, colors and even growing times. This means with a little planning, you can open up a world of variety and pace them throughout the year.
When you grow your own, fresh from your own garden or crop field, you’re getting the most nutrition from your potato. Incorporate blue and red potatoes to get the extra benefits of anthocyanins and lycopene.
There are many, many more staple crop options to incorporate. It all depends on your tastes and growing situation. If you have the space and growing conditions, tree nuts are another great consideration.
I encourage you to read through this forum thread for more ideas and tips: https://permies.com/t/51692/Staple-crops