Natasha Tymo and Foster Richardson from the Birds and the Beans spoke at our 2014 AGM about growing staple crops.
You may have seen them at their veggie stall at the Saturday Farmers Market.
Together with two other young people they are farming organic food crops with the idea of producing high protein staple crops for human and animal consumption. This would fill a big gap in what we are presently growing locally. Staple crops are also not as demanding on the soil as our heavy feeding vegetables and so are excellent for crop rotation, providing diversity and rest.
They shared with us what they have learnt – often the hard way, over the last two years.
Wheat, barley, oats, rye, grass. These have a high yeild potential of food per unit area.
What can go wrong;
- cereals are sensitive to high soil fertility. Plants grew tall and then fell over.
- Plants needed to be sown earlier
- harvesting etc not suited to human scale (man with sickle) – need machinery
- rain and wind destroys crops
- diseases like rust destroy crops
- fall varieties are better; ripen mid-summer
- Now have tractor and threshing machine
- researching varieties suitable to our climate (most research has been done for the Prairies)
- heritage varieties more resistant to rust.
They grew soup pea varieties, to be stored dry.
Many plusses to growing peas.
- Very little maintenance – they took care ofthemselves.
- Planted very early when soil is moist
- mature mid summer before the wet weather begins
- easy to harvest and process.
- Good source of protein
One disadvantage – people not as familiar with dried peas and don’t know how to use them.
Cool season legumes – lentils, chickpeas and fava beans.
All fix nitrogen from the soil and therefore are low input crops.
Problems – lentils were overwhelmed with weeds. Chickpeas not as vigorous as peas.
Favas can be planted in the fall for a spring crop.
Warm season beans.
They have been growing 7 varieties with many advantages
- beans are beautiful
- full of protein
- fix nitrogen
- easy to harvest and process by hand.
Must choose the right variety that matures early. Late harvest can get destroyed by rain.
Among favourites are Calypso, …….. to be continued.