8 Staple Crops to Plant in Your Home Garden

Potato Field

Potato Field in Birmingham

In order to be truly self-sufficient, you need to grow your own staple crops. A staple crop, according to the official definition, is one that sustains health by providing important nutrients, while at the same time, makes up a large part of any diet. These crops also can be used in many different dishes, and a surplus of them can be stored during the winter months. While some, such as quinoa, are native to South American countries, they can still be grown in particular areas of the United States that do not get too warm during the day or too cold at night. Here are eight staple crops that can be grown in a large home garden:

1) Potatoes – Potatoes are a staple crop that is indigenous to both North and South America. Like many vegetables, there are multiple varieties to choose from, and many dishes can be built around them. Potatoes are the most important of staple crops, because they contain every nutrient imaginable except for Vitamins A and D.

2) Corn – Corn can be shucked off of the cob and canned, or can be made into flour for cakes, tortillas and muffins. It can also be steamed and eaten directly off of the cob when topped with butter, salt and pepper.  Thanks to its many uses and its high fiber content, corn is second on the list of staple crops.

3) Beans – Whether they are kidney, navy, green, black or Lima, choose at least one type of beans to grow in your garden that will thrive in your climate. Once they are dried and stored properly, beans will last for a long time, which is useful if you live in a cold area and have to grow crops during the spring, summer and fall.

4) Quinoa – Quinoa is a superfood that is indigenous to South America. It can be grown other countries, as long as the climate is right. Quinoa is considered a pseudograin, because it is kind of like a grain, but does not belong to the same family. Some uses include stews and pancakes.

5) Wheat – It takes a lot of space to grow enough wheat to turn into breads, cereals and crackers, but the results are worthwhile. This staple crop contains plenty of protein, dietary fiber and carbohydrates, and will last for months after being harvested if stored properly.

6) Peas – Like corn, peas can be canned and therefore will last through a long, cold winter. They contain plenty of fiber, as well as carbohydrates and protein, and are fairly easy to grow. Peas can be baked into casseroles, served raw in salads, and cooked and eaten by themselves.

7) Rice – Although rice is commonly grown throughout Asia, as long as you have enough indoor space to plant it and have the time to care for it, this staple food can be grown and harvested anywhere in the world. Long-grain brown rice makes a great as a side dish for many meals, and can be made into porridge and bread.

8) Onions – There are several different types of onions that can be grown, including green, Vidalia, Bermuda and red, so choose one or two varieties that will thrive in your climate. Onions are used in many different dishes, including stews and casseroles. They are a staple crop because they contain many vitamins and nutrients, and are fairly easy to grow.

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Pic by Dave McLear.

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