grow it cook it preserve it eat it wendy pillar blog gardener grow your own in dorset
Marvellous roots -
Every now and then I have a push towards self-
I haven't tried growing wheat, although there's no reason why you can't, but this year I tried growing seeds and pulses in bulk, along with tubers, to try to fill this gap. Now quinoa and amaranth are easy as can be to grow, but threshing and winnowing the grain clean enough to eat is a lengthy and fiddly job, and keeping the birds off the amaranth is difficult. Chick peas, likewise, are easy to grow, but back-
What becomes clear is that, for staple carbs, it's hard to beat a root crop, with pulses coming second and grains the least user-
The 'new' tuber crops have been a bit of a revelation. The yield from the yacon was massive, and the plants trouble-
With all the roots, you get good yields with little work, a broad window for harvest and easy processing and storage. All of which begs the question why grains have become the staple carb of choice the world over. Mechanisation makes grain production easier, but they were dominant foods way before the combine harvester was invented. Surely every stage of growing, harvesting and storage is easier with a root crop than a grain crop? After all, you only need a tiny hole in your sack of wheat to lose the whole lot over a journey!
On Springwatch it was demonstrated that birds instinctively pick the food that gives them the most energy and best nutrition for the least work when presented with a range of familiar foods. There must have been some factor in grain foods, from wheat to rice to quinoa to maize to sorghum, that made them the most efficient and nutritious food options for early agricultural humans. They can be stored for a very long time, of course, not just for one winter, which might have been a factor, or perhaps it is the ease with which grains can be turned into alcohol that is the missing link!