Hi, Assuming soil, weather, water all good & access to any seeds, what is the quickest way to get non animal food from your garden/land?
I'm thinking peas, green beans, followed by tomatoes and maize. What else is quick?
I'm growing all sorts of stuff that takes years eg asparagus, blackberries, various trees, and it would be nice to have some nearly instant gratification to balance out some of the long waits.
So far its mainly peas and beans for me which are great, but a bit more variety would be good.
Radishes. Most people don't know you can cook and eat the greens....they are comparable to mustard or turnip greens, but they grow almost twice as fast! If the weather is cooperative you can have greens enough to cook in three weeks after seeding, and get repeated cuttings from a patch.
But on the longer term I've realized that salads and greens are easy, it's the calories, fat, and protein that are the backbone of a meal, and they are harder and longer to grow. Buckwheat is pretty quick, as are white and sweet potatoes (with both of these you work your fingers down around the plants and start stealing a few potatoes early before the main crop matures, or else have a dedicated area for immature harvest. (Sweet potato greens are good cooked, too....another little-known factoid)
Sprouts are number one. But then, the seed isn't something that you produced from your new garden.
Radishes are number two for me. I harvest greens at two weeks from the thinnings. Radish roots are ready as early as 21 days though most take longer.
General greens are next. This can include young lettuces, beets, turnips, etc. I sow these rather thickly with the intention of harvesting the thinnings for greens. I also thickly sow kale, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, plus many others, again with the intention of eating the thinnings. And leaving the most robust plants for growing on.
Since I can grow year around, I plant my extra sweet potato tip cuttings each week. One month later I will harvest the tips for a meal.
With six weeks of growing, young turnips and beets are ready. So are many herbs.
Lots of veggies are ready for me in two months.....beans, peas, early potatoes, etc.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
My unconventional answer for pacific northwest region:
Get a bowl and fill with beer and place near your garden.
Come back the next day and harvest the snails.
Follow proper procedures from cleaning and cooking.
Escargot in one day!
..technically not a correct answer since you asked for non-animal and these are invertebrate animals, but I like this answer.
My other answer would be grow nothing, just walk in the woods and get blackberries, other berries, nuts, wild edibles, and mushrooms. Or just pick dandelion weeds from yours and neighbors yards....I'm sure they won't mind at all.
Sweet Potato greens are very quick and keep on producing. My neighbor grows them up a pole and clips off the young leaves. They are good steamed or stir fried. Very dark green and flavorful, but not bitter. Sprout from an organic sweet potato with an eye.
My "fast food" strategies are to plant and harvest radish greens then other micro greens from thinnings. Meanwhile, sprout alfalfa, radish, broccoli, and especially lentils, which can be eaten cooked or raw within 3 days. Also soak sunflower seeds overnight then spread a layer onto soil and cover with about .25 inch of soil. Keep moist. When plants are a few inches tall, cut w/ scissors at soil level and eat raw or stir fry.
my chia was microgreen sized in 2 days I think, in full sun in Cali. amaranth too. bigger every day. amazing.
lettuce grows pretty fast in wetter climates
mung beans are also cheap quick thick sprouts
foraging dandelions and plantains etc has been the fastest food for me!
Here in south central alaska, near homer, with zone 6 climate but cool summers, averaging 50-60 fahrenheit all summer with a few days in the 70s,
what i have found is the fastest harvest in this order is
radishes- * also if you leave the radishes til they flower the seed pods are very good raw (spicy like a radish) or cooked (tastes like 'vegetable')
and like others have mentioned, the edible wilds are out first thing in the spring, -
black currant leaves
dandelion greens (actually very tasty early spring and flowers are tasty too)
stinging nettles devil's club buds
and i definitely second the notion that calorie crops take longer
but here it seems the fastest calorie crops are
Beets (does this count as calorie crop?)
barley should grow here but i haven't tried it.
Kangkong (ipomoea aquatica) is the fastest growing, most productive perennial edible green leaf for tropical regions, or as an annual in hot summer climates. grows in water or wet soil. i intend to grow it indoors next summer in front of my southern wall of glazing.
If you sow your peas extra thickly, you can thin them by snipping the extra pea shoots for super-tasty greens.
Squash blooms and tips and leaves can all be cooked and eaten before the squash fruits even set.
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of radish roots, but I do like radish pods. They take about 40 days to mature, and make the most wonderful, edible stubby pods filled with 3-4 pea-sized seeds that are rather a cross between a pea and a radish. More zesty than a regular sugar pod pea, but sweeter and more starchy than a radish root. Totally yummy!
As for fruits, ground cherries seem to be the quickest I've seen. They are stubby plants, so there's not a lot of time lost between germination and fruit set. Physalis needs a lot of heat, but if you give it that, you can get fruit starting in about 40-45 days.
"It is, of course, one of the miracles of science that the germs that used to be in our food have been replaced by poisons." - Wendell Berry
Of things that are most likely already in your garden you could consider Chenopodium album L. - lamb's quarters. My uncle use to cook soups with it. From what i gather you eat only the young leaves because older leaves as the rest of the plant (but not the seeds) have some alkaloids.
I've not tried it but thistle is supposed to be edible as well.
It's winter here so sprouts and microgreens are very much in mind and on our kitchen bench, (counter). It also occurred to me recently that mixing up all the surplus seed which it is easy to produce and sprouting it would be the way to go. If you're saving seed it often requires a minimum number of plants in order to maintain a good strong gene pool. The result is plenty of surplus seed. Some matching of germination times would be sensible to get a reasonably uniform result.
Microweeds. In your flats in the winter, use compost from your pile and a bit of soil from your land and a good percentage of what sprouts in a few days should be edible. Weeds are higher in nutritional value than cultivated greens, plus you have to pull them anyway if your'e starting seedlings indoors so may as well pop them in a bowl/mouth.
Also, what the person who said foraging said. I'm learning that just about everything I thought wasn't edible is edible. Pretty soon they're going to have to put a muzzle on me so I don't eat the world. Beach tree shoots, hosta shoots, sumac shoots, scarlet runner bean leaves, to name a few of the weirder ones I've learned about.
Community Building 2.0: ask me about drL, the rotational-mob-grazing format for human interactions.
For the longest time I was obsessed with growing super short season tomatoes. I started with 2 Russian varieties; Siberia and Stupice, saved my own seed every year from only the earliest ones. Wound up focusing on Stupice. My personal record was eating a fresh tomato 42 days after planting out at 6 weeks of age. Then I thought why the heck do I want to eat this hard, green shouldered, super tart tomato anyway? They weren't that good! Now if I want tomatoes out of season I just grow long keepers...
As for other early foods I vote sprouts, weeds, I have tons of lamb's quarter, plantain leaves (still trying to perfect a recipe for that) radishes (I too love the pods), and all manner of greens. While not technically planted by me, the seed is self sowing so not sure of the time frame, I grow a biennial chard (fedco billed it as perennial chard but I think it's a super reproductive biennial) that is one of the first things I can eat from my garden every spring.
Daikon radish is 45 days from seed in the ground to carrot sized or larger eating. About the quickest I've seen for something substantial. If you don't much like radishes (I don't) slice them thin or use a box grater to "slaw" them and drizzle with some kind of acid, oil vinaigrette dressing, or (maybe) lemon juice to cut the heat.
Turnips in about 60 days.
The easiest way is the long term planing way. Work hard at the beginning and become a lazy gardener that does a little maintenance instead of major turning of soil or crop rotation. Has the advantage of being much cheaper over time too.
I helped out at a community garden and got Egyptian onions. I planted 5 at one of the old age homes I work at and a co-worker gave me 15. Perennials like mint/ Rosemary/ raspberries/ trees that grow saplings multiply and if you inter plant in a system your great grandkids will be eating your ruhbarb. Combine this with natural foraging;(we found out we have wild plums/ gooseberries in addition to raspberries and dandelions yesterday) Now that's easy but requires a lot more work at the beginning. If the land fed its family; the kids wouldn't sell it when the parents died.
The season is short but the land is extremely cheap. Let's help each other grow food!
Eric Grenier wrote:If the land fed its family; the kids wouldn't sell it when the parents died.
This. This is why I am on these boards. I love my kids, but they would blow through an inheritance of money, and they might neglect the house.
But they already cherish the family growing plot, and it will never be worth enough to make selling it a temptation. If we loose the house, we will pitch a tent there.
I second Daikon, mine are not true daikon, rather they are " torpedo radishes". But they make greens, roots and seed pods, and mine self seed prolifically.
The roots get huge, woody and hot, but take wel to pickling.
Swedes, turnips and beets are all nice, giving greens before they give roots. Not sure if the swedes greens are edible...
Buckwheat grows like mad, and is eaten as a green in some parts of the world. Come to think of it, so is bindweed!
Shrooms. Oyster. Not sure if you can feed them from the land ( boiled/ steamed straw?) but they are fast.
Alium greens are pretty fast and they are cut and come again. Someone mentioned plantain, I wonder how the seeds taste?
Sunchokes are like potatoes, you can harvest as they grow.
If you have tree sap, you could drink it or you could grow yeast( brew) with it. I wonder if edible yeast can be grown on food stock inedible to humans.
I have eaten rose of Sharon, and would like to pickle the buds. The requirement that the leaves be young makes them questionable as a reliable gree in my mind, unless you strip the plant of leaves, and come back for the new ones in a couple of weeks...