Monday, August 13, 2012

Growing Yuppie Chow

 Photo By ilovebutter
Photo by Phillie Casablanca

Yep, I guess I'm guilty of growing "Yuppie Chow".

Yuppie Chow is that stuff Foodies buy from upscale natural foods stores and farmer's markets, such as heirloom slicing tomatoes, garlic scapes, mesclun salad mixes, baby carrots and tiny squash, haricot verts, bok choy and such -- you know, expensive things, but not the bulk of one's calories. Yuppie Chow.

I'm currently rethinking what I can grow because if there's a food crisis, I don't grow enough to feed myself adequately without outside additions. In an extended crisis there will be NO food on the grocery shelves, and perhaps no gas to get there anyway. I'm open to growing food suggestions if you have any! 

Of course, Yuppie Chow is not all I grow. The heirloom tomatoes, various herbs, asparagus, and bulbing fennel are considered Yuppie Chow, but I also grow enough garlic, shallots, leeks, onions, and long-keeping winter squash to last through winter. The winter squash, of course, provide lots of calories. The other things simply add more flavor than calories. I hate insipid-tasting food.

I don't raise any meat animals or have chickens for eggs, so I'd be low on protein. My few small nut trees wouldn't produce 2 ounces of oils even if I could press them, so I'd be short on the essential fatty acids that come from meats and oils. Tubers don't do well for me here (other than Jerusalem artichokes), too many tunneling rodents that get to them first.

I'm looking to grow things that can flesh out my pantry in an extended crisis, both perennials, and annuals where I can save seeds for the next year. Currently, I only plant a few things where I save seed, like tomatoes and beans. I need to learn how to save seed from things like summer squash and cole crops because in an extended crisis, there may be no available seeds.

My fruit trees are small and won't bear for a few more years so I only have some perishable berries for fruits right now.

I'm thinking to try growing oyster mushrooms because they contain around 15% protein, as well as adding complex flavors to cooked foods, but I guess that might be considered more Yuppie Chow...


  1. beans, baby, beans! not just the baby fresh green beans but the exotic dried beans. i'm about to harvest and can some cranberry beans and also some horticulture beans. somewhere out there i've got some lovely heritage black beans.. and some kinda black and white variety. you can sell them dried for sure - and they are great keepers and protein for you. dont forget "baby beets" and micro greens! what about herbs too?

    1. Thanks. I grow some heirloom beans to dry every year, in addition to green beans that are good fresh, or later dried and shelled. My fav is Ky Wonder for taste. This year my heirloom bean is Cherokee 'Trail of Tears', a black bean, but KY Wonder is also an heirloom.

      I do lots of herbs, medicinal as well as culinary, and of course, micro greens. Tunneling rodents get any beets first, or anything below ground other than alliums. :( I may have to build some raised beds, much as I hate a structured garden.

  2. Fresh vegetables are "yuppie chow"?

    I doubt the various waves of immigrants and indigenous peoples who have built this nation would agree. My FIL owned & operated Northern California's largest produce brokerage in the 50's & 60's. Nothing "yuppie" about produce then. Fresh fruits & veggies are necessary staples in the diet. Basic food!

    How quickly perceptions change! Argghhh.

    Much of the world lives on chickpeas and lentils for protein. These are easy to grow and store well.

    Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beets, carrots will all grow well in barrels. You can line the barrels with construction cloth if needed to keep underground paws & jaws out of them. If rectangular raised beds are too structured for your visual aesthetic, what about keyhole gardens?

    My mom would line trenches with construction cloth to keep the critters from eating her crocus bulbs. You might give that a trial.

    Have you tried oilseed sunflowers in your area?

    1. Not all vegetables are "yuppie chow", just the ones less common for most folks other than cabbage, corn, tomatoes, potatoes and beans. My neighbor, who has a big garden every year has never eaten an artichoke, nor fennel, and has no clue about any of the Asian greens or micro greens.

      By "construction cloth" do you mean the metal mesh also known as hardware cloth? I've grown potatoes and carrots in totes; less production than in the ground but at least the rodents didn't get them.

      Keyhole gardens are right up my alley, and I do plan 2-3 for next year. At 72, I can't do as much as I once did.

      I like chickpeas and lentils; actually I like most dried beans, but they disagree more with me every year, even with soaking in aciduated water overnight before rinsing.

      I planted some oilseed sunflowers again this year but the weather hasn't cooperated much for my garden.

  3. We're trying peanuts and seed pumpkins (Lady Godiva, available from Sand Hill Preservation Center) this year. Both provide protein and fats and I think you should be able to grow at least one of them?

    1. Thanks. I could grow seed pumpkins if I had a patch well away from my regular winter squash area. C. pepo cross-pollinates far too easily, making seed-saving difficult. Might be able to grow some nearby, though.

    2. Yes, that's true. I chose to grow the seed pumpkins instead of the others this year, but I'm not crazy about most winter squashes.

      I thought about chia also but I've read it won't produce seed in our region.

    3. Winter squash are a staple for me. I don't like potatoes much, prefer sweet potatoes to white potatoes but the tunnel rodents get both of them.

      I need to try chia anyway, although it prefers fairly dry conditions. Good article on chia here:

  4. Darius, you might consider American groundnut for protein, hardy kiwi, goumi, and goji to supplement your fruit trees, and chia for omega 3's and potentially for the oil. Useful Plants Nursery has a great website with recommendations for your general region:

    1. I did plant 2 hardy kiwi this year, and intend to plant more. Same for hazelnuts. I hadn't considered chia, but groundnuts have been on my list.

      Useful Plants Nursery is connected to Earth Haven and I get their newsletter. Their pricing is geared to the more affluent Asheville market.

  5. has regular posts about seed saving. He's also a columnist at

    He may have posts on seed saving for squash since he does so many other types. If not, ask him. He seems eager to share all that he's learned.


  6. I've scavenged a bunch of rusted out small stock tanks for raised beds. I'll set them on top of hardware cloth before I fill them. Then they'll be for my tubers. Paint them dirt colored, grow marigolds & cosmos in front of them... tah-dah.

    And corn, knowing how to get a good stand of corn. Another great starch, lots of calories, stores well & plenty of ways to prepare it. Dried roasted sweet corn, known as chicos, are a great addition to soups & stews. Growing a sweet corn & a flint corn for flour.

    Then there's amaranth for greens & grain. I know it's not paleo, but if push comes to shove in the economy, it's a very nutritious grain. As is buckwheat. Get them growing in the hedgerows.

    I'm not growing any substantial amount of any of these, I'm just practicing & working towards getting a good, healthy stand, learning about them so that if I ever NEED to grow them on a larger scale, I'll have the info up in my ol' braincase.

    Food's going to go out of sight this winter. =0(

    1. I've not had much success with amaranth, but the buckwheat I planted 3 years ago for a ground cover continues to pop up everywhere. I'd like to do flint corn too. Makes good hominy. Chicos sound interesting.

      Good deal on the scavenged stock tanks!

  7. why not try your had at chickens?

    They're CHEAP to purchase as chicks and you can let them on pasture during the summer. It is also possible to feed them from your leftover foods/compost without having to put a lot of expense into it.

    If you get meat birds they need to be fed more but they are only around 6 weeks (or less) before you butcher...

    And the egg layers don't need a huge coop if they are able to get outside during the day...just enough room for sleeping...

    I think chickens for eggs are one of the easiest, low-maintenance ways to get some protein and if you have a rooster, you can let some raise chicks to perpetuate your flock...

    Leah's Mom

    1. Sue, I raised chickens years ago and would do it again in a heartbeat IF I had the money for some fencing and labor to put in the posts. Lots of predators here so their pen needs a screened top as well. I could scrounge probably half of the materials for a small coop but I'd still need some money for the project.

      Health issues have eaten up my budget this year!

    2. Bummer, again, that we don't live closer so we could come over and help put together something for you... Also wish I knew someone in your neighborhood that I could send your way! With a day or 3 of work, you could be set up to go!

      I ended up borrowing a trap this spring and got 11 raccoons, 3 raccoon children and 2 opossums. I know more will move into the territory but at least I can keep them thinned out. LM

    3. I bought Hav-a-Hart traps last year and I "think" I have eliminated the opossums... maybe. They tore up the heat pipe insulation under the house, cost over $1,000 to repair.

      Raccoons don't seem so much of a problem, but now I have a resident groundhog that sets the dog to barking for longer that I'd like. I hear you can eat them.

  8. My neighbor got it into her head to feed the squirrels this year. So far we have captured & dispatched over 2 dozen from around our house & I still hear their warning peeps coming from up the hill.

    Thank you, kind hearted neighbor. I'll always have meat... %^\

  9. Have you thought about a chicken tractor? It would protect them and you could move it, eliminating the need for so much cost and labor.

    1. Yes, I have, but if it had to serve also as winter quarters, it would be so heavy that I'd never be able to move it in warmer weather.


I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.