We're used to growing veggies, but is growing protein possible in your garden?
by Dollar Stretcher Readers
In a previous issue, Susan McCanless wrote an article about "Growing Calories as Well as Vitamins," which is a very interesting concept. However, rather than calories, I think about protein. As most gardens grow fruit and/or vegetables, there is not much protein. I'd like to know more about how the home gardener could grow protein (without chickens or other animals). My wife and I grow (along with vegetables and some fruits) fava beans, which is definitely in the protein category, but I don't know what other items we could grow. Do you have any other suggestions on growing protein for me?
I am growing edamame (soybeans). Haven't harvested any yet but the plants are fruitful.
Raised 3 Growing Boys on Garden Protein
Soybeans are the best vegetable source of complete protein. Green soybeans are called "edamame." They can also be used as dry beans. Other beans and nuts are incomplete proteins, but can be used as well. We used to grow mung beans, and used them to make our own fresh bean sprouts. When we had a large garden, we grew many fresh vegetables and beans, and used just a bit of meat for protein, as needed. Never had a problem with three growing boys and two adults getting enough protein.
Protein rich beans are as easy to grow as it comes. I purchased a bag of mixed beans in the grocery store, sorted them into types, and planted. The beans were then allowed to grow and dry on the plant and then picked and cleaned. Another protein food I tried last year was chickpeas. I purchased some dried chickpeas from the bulk food store and grew them the same as the dried beans. The harvest is remarkably large for the plant. The cost for both the mixed beans and chickpeas were under $1 each but the harvest was tremendous.
Kim in MI
As a vegetarian of almost 30 years, I can say that for me, the easiest protein to grow is beans. Beans combined with rice make a complete protein. (Protein is not always complete and sometimes needs to be combined with another one to be a complete protein, which is what our bodies need.) Beans and rice are usually inexpensive to buy whether they are packaged or you grow them from scratch. If you sprinkle sesame seeds on your prepared beans and rice, you are boosting the protein content significantly.
The Baroness in Oregon
Many Sources of Protein to Choose From
I've read articles over the years on growing amaranth, which is a high-protein grain, as well as small backyard plots of wheat. See if your state agriculture department has a newsletter with ads. Georgia does, and heirloom bean seeds are often advertised for sale. Sunflower seeds and peanuts are two great sources of protein. I'm personally partial to garbanzo beans if grown successfully. If fresh, they taste like a fresh, unroasted peanut but with only 2/3 of the calories, and they make great hummus, salad dressing, snacks, calderita (Philippine stew) or various Latino or Middle-Eastern dishes, including falafel.
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