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close this bookAmaranth to Zai Holes, Ideas for Growing Food under Difficult Conditions (ECHO; 1996; 397 pages)
View the documentOther ECHO publications
View the documentAbout this book
View the documentAcknowledgements
Open this folder and view contents1: Basics of agricultural development
Open this folder and view contents2: Vegetables and small fruits in the tropics
Open this folder and view contents3: Staple crops
Open this folder and view contents4: Multipurpose trees
Open this folder and view contents5: Farming systems and gardening techniques
Open this folder and view contents6: Soil health and plant nutrition
Open this folder and view contents7: Water resources
Open this folder and view contents8: Plant protection and pest control
Open this folder and view contents9: Domestic animals
Open this folder and view contents10: Food science
Open this folder and view contents11: Human health care
Open this folder and view contents12: Seeds and germplasm
Open this folder and view contents13: Energy and technologies
Open this folder and view contents14: From farm to market
Open this folder and view contents15: Training and missionary resources
Open this folder and view contents16: Oils
Open this folder and view contents17: Above-ground (urban) gardens
View the document18: What is ECHO?
View the documentAdditional ECHO publications
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes - issue 52
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes: issue 53
close this folder28 additional technical notes about tropical agriculture
View the documentA few alternate seed sources that we commonly use
View the documentAmaranth - grain and vegetable
Open this folder and view contentsArid region farming primer
View the documentCitrus propagation and rootstocks
Open this folder and view contentsCucurbit seeds
Open this folder and view contentsDry farming
View the documentMuscovy ducks for png villages
View the documentFruit crops
View the documentFruit vegetables
View the documentGrain crops
View the documentGround covers and green manures
View the documentGreen manure crops
View the documentIndustrial crops
View the documentThe lablab bean as green manure
View the documentLeafy vegetables
View the documentLeguminous vegetables
View the documentThe moringa tree
View the documentRecipes to learn to eat moringa
View the documentMiscellaneous vegetables
View the documentThe poor man's plow
View the documentPulses (grain legumes)
View the documentRabbit raising in the tropics
View the documentLetter from fremont regier, mennonite central committee, Botswana (and earlier in Zaire)
View the documentRoots and tubers
View the documentSunnhemp as a green manure
View the documentThe sweet potato
View the documentTropical pasture and feed crops
View the documentThe velvet bean as green manure
Open this folder and view contentsPrinciples of agroforestry
Open this folder and view contentsGood nutrition on the small farm

Roots and tubers

The root and tuber crops are all perennials or biennials by virtue of the storage root. The perennials contain large amounts of starch-their chief contribution to the diet-while the biennials contain very little. The perennials contribute some protein to the diet as well as starch, but this varies among the species. All roots and tubers also contain vitamin C, but only carrots and sweet potatoes contain useful amounts of vitamin A. Many roots and tubers contain toxic substances or antinutrients. As a general rule, it is best to cook them before eating. However, some cultivars of cassava may be acutely or chronically poisonous even after cooking.

Roots and tubers are extremely important crops on a worldwide basis and should be included on every farm. ECHO's collection contains a few selected cultivars of some of the best.

See A Comparison of Roots and Tubers

• Carrot.Daucus carota. Beta 3 (hybrid)-over 300 ppm carotene (Standard U.S varieties contain 60-80 ppm). Uberlandia-Brazilian; sets seed in the tropics in one season. (EDN 8-4, 12-1, 16-3, 31-3,4, 43-1, 44-4).

• Jicama. Pachyrrhizus erosus. Eat tuber raw; also remains crunchy like water chestnuts when cooked; low nutritional value; requires short days for tuber production; leaves and seeds contain the poison rotenone. (EDN 6-1).

• Sweet potato. Ipomoea batatas. ONLY SHIPPED OVERSEAS WITH IMPORT PERMITS; PHYTOSANITARY INSPECTION IS REQUIRED ($30 PER ORDER). Write with your needs and for instructions. We do not ship outside of Florida within the USA. Varieties: 'Topaz'-orange and sweet, closest to typical US varieties but 50% higher yields; somewhat less uniform. 'Ivoire'-non-sweet, "Irish" potato substitute; very dry if harvested after 12 weeks. 'Viola'-purple skin, white flesh, sweet, good flavor, has done well everywhere. 'Colorette'-low in sweetness, high yielding, light orange flesh, light purple outside. 'Suabor'-large, sweet, smooth, early maturing, yellow when cooked. 'Toquecita'-large, white flesh and skin, non-sweet, excellent for processing. (EDN 4-2, 22-2, 25-3, 28-6, 33-1).

• Wild Mung beans.Vigna vexillata. Cowpea relative with edible tubers.

• Winged beans.Psophocarpus tetragonolobus. Almost all varieties produce high protein edible tubers.

Special purpose trees

In addition to the more conventional crops, many trees are used around the small farm for a wide variety of purposes. These trees have little in common except that many of them are legumes. Leguminous trees are exceptionally valuable for the nitrogen they add when their leaves fall off, or their roots die back. A single species of tree often serves multiple purposes and if a legume is frequently called a multiple purpose legume. The potential uses of trees on the small farm are many, including the production of food, feed, industrial raw materials, lumber, and fuel; living fences, alley cropping, shade, source of nutrients for the soil, and erosion control. Altitude ranges (in meters) are given as a guide. We have a Technical Note on the Principles of Agroforestry if you are interested in this area.

NOTE: Our tree seed inventory changes frequently. Most are added when we purchase or are given some seeds, and are deleted when that runs out. Moringa and leucaena are the only ones we always try to have on hand. We recommend the suppliers on the last page for most of your tree seed needs.

See Comparison Chart for Special Purpose Trees.

• Acacia angustissima (Prairie acacia). Large shrub. Pods eaten in Mexico. Provides fuel wood. Used in tanning.(EDN 34-5).

• Acacia auriculiformis. Widely adaptable to harsh climates (pH 3-9). Used for eradication of Imperata grass. Acacia mangium. To 720 m. Very fast growing on acidic degraded soils, needs full sun. Good timber and fuel wood, high quality charcoal. Quickly suppresses aggressive weeds. Not drought, flood, or wind tolerant; not good for fodder or coppicing.

• Albizia lebbek. aka Woman's tongue; for reforesting dry alkaline soil.

• Albizia lucida. Fast-growing, nitrogen fixing tree.

• Azadirachta indica . Neem. Seeds viable <1 month; available seasonally. To 1500 m. Extremely drought resistant, grows quickly to yield fuelwood, excellent charcoal, and durable timber. Seeds used to make insecticide; twigs as toothbrushes. Various medicinal uses with caution.

• Bursera simaruba (Gumbo limbo). To 1000 m. Used as a living fence, for timber and fuelwood. Coppices well, tolerates salty conditions. Poor drought resistance.

• Calliandra calothyrsus. To 1900 m. Vigorous, bushy, fast-growing reforestation tree; leaves used as fodder; excellent coppicing, fuelwood production. Moderate drought resistance; good for humid tropics. Prolific flowering for honeybees. Some weed potential.

• Erythrina berteroana. Small tree used as living fence, living trellis, forage. Dense foliage; soft wood; poor drought resistance.

• Flemingia macrophyla. 'Wild Hops' Woody, leguminous, deep-rooting shrub. Grows up to 2,000 m and needs 1-200 mm of rain per year. Tolerates droughts, poor drainage, acid soils, and high aluminum. Useful for fodder, alley farming, fuelwood, and green manure.

• Gliricidia sepium. Fast growing, living fences, green manure, fodder, beekeepers.

• Grevillea robusta. Silky Oak. From 1000-2400 m in tropics. Excellent timber; for high altitudes and wide climatic range. Requires medium soil fertility. Moderate drought resistance; windfirm. Some weed potential. Temporarily out of stock.

• Leucaena. Leucaena diversifolia.. Better than L. leucocephala for 500-2000 m and higher rainfall levels. Not drought tolerant. Fodder quality lower than L. leucocephala but lower in mimosine. Hedgerows, intercropping, alley cropping. Varieties K156; K784- low/mid-altitude; growth superior to K156; psyllid-resistant.

• Leucaena leucocephala. To 1000 m. pH 4.3-8.7, ideal 6.1-8. Moderate drought tolerance. Fast growth, coppices well. Leaves a fodder supplement (small amounts only). Salvador (Hawaiian giant) varieties. K28, K67[high seed production]-tall and tree-like. Peruvian K6-tall with extensive branching; good forage. Cunningham K500-excellent forage. K4-low in mimosine, a toxin when fed to animals in quantity. K636-resistant to the defoliating psyllid.

• Moringa. Moringa oleifera. To 1000 m. Drought resistant. Grows well on infertile, dry soils. Coppices well. Light crown density good for intercropping with many crops. Does not fix nitrogen. Multi-purpose: see under Leafy Vegetables. Moringa stenopetala. Larger leaves and seeds, more drought resistant than M. oleifera. (EDN 32-5).

• Sapium sebifarum. Chinese tallow. To 2000 m. Seed oil and fat used for soaps and candles. Not drought resistant. Frost tolerant; insect and disease resistant. Tolerates a range of soils. Used in erosion control. May have weed potential.

• Sesbania grandiflora. To 800 m. Perennial tree with rapid early growth even on flooded/waterlogged sites; good fodder, green manure, pulpwood; edible leaves and flowers. Not drought tolerant. Prune lightly; does not coppice well.

• Sesbania rostrata. Annual shrub legume which grows to 5 meters in height and is exceptional at fixing nitrogen (forms nodules on stems). Green manure. Grows in hot rainy season, mostly in low-lying flooded and waterlogged soils. pH range of 2-4.8. Short days may induce flowering.

• Sesbania sesban. From 300-1800 m. Fast-growing perennial with moderate drought resistance, good coppicing ability(EDN 17-2).

• Tagasaste. Chamaecytisus palmensis (TN). Temperate counterpart of leucaena. Used in alley cropping in upland tropics. Tolerant of marginal soils, drought, and wind. Palatable high-protein fodder. Harvest regularly for best production.

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