Most people who have a garden think about tomatoes, lettuce, carrots as the typical crops. If you are more interested in providing your family with diet crop there are three dietary elements you should be first concerned with. These are crops that offer calories, protein and calcium. The diet crops that best work are crops such as wheat, rye, Irish potatoes, grain amaranth, millet, sweet potatoes, winter squash, dry beans, and peanuts. If I was limited on 5 items that would work best for us it would be beans, peanuts, irish potatoes, peanuts and sweet potatoes. I really like rice too and I am testing the usefulness of growing an upland rice crop this year. The other crops are good for calories and good for providing nitrogen and carbon from their straw to improve soil structure from their roots. Just a small car port size pot of wheat and rye give a significant amount of food value in the form of wheat and rye grains.
The other crops that we typically grow in gardens are really necessary for variety. Who really wants to eat the same 10 crops all year. Soon you would be tried of the lack of variety and will just eat to survive. They do have nutrients. We are all familiar with carrots being high in vitamin A. Their most imporatnat role is providing variety in our diets. This year I will grow almost another bed of tomatoes to give enough tomatoes to can. I used the Ball canning book canning chart to figure out how much I should grow for sauces and tomato soup we will consume in a year. I will be also growing more canning type of tomatoes that are meatier than slicing tomatoes.