On energy-producing foods


If I had any survivalist sense at all I would turn over the majority of my garden to starchy energy-filled grub like potatoes, carrots, rutabagas, turnips and beets, and not devote so much land space to those mamby-pamby salad stuffs.

Before the widespread use of silage (fermented fodder, usually the chopped-up entire plant of whatever grain you grew:  corn, oats, alfalfa ) in silos (those tall concrete and/or metal tubes found still on most Midwestern farms), many dairy, cattle and sheep farmers used other farm-grown things to supplement an animal’s winter hay ration.  Hay, by itself, doesn’t have as many nutrients as silage or grain.  And before silage was popular, many farmers grew mangels, mangel-wurzel, or stock beets.

You think this cylindra beet is big?  Mangels could reach 2′ in diameter and weigh 20 pounds or more.  They were dug up and stored like potatoes, and you’d chop them up and dole them out to your critters as needed throughout the winter.  Vitamin and energy rich, they’re also really easy to grow.  Perhaps they’re poised for a comeback?

Me?  I was raising this beet for its tops.  Now that the frost has hit, I’m pulling the plant for some nice borscht, or maybe a roasted-beet…salad.  Mamby-pamby indeed!

16 responses to “On energy-producing foods

  1. that is a big ass beet!

  2. Ha! Your beet and my carrot should meet for supper… they could feed all of us!

  3. Looks gorgeous! I love, love, love beets. I must plant many more of them next year. I’d love to find the really big kind that stay tender even when they get huge, and good keepers too. The Bubels mentioned such a variety in their Root Cellaring book. Can’t remember the name just now though.

  4. Excellent idea. Next year I’m planting some of those giant beets. If my horses behave, I might share. I have never known anyone to feed beets to their horses. Hay is so expensive right now that the idea might start a stampede (human) for beet seeds.

  5. i have mangel seeds all ready to go. i’ve been told the chickens will love me forever if i feed ’em mangels lol

  6. Now that’s a beet! We grew mangels for our goats this year. The goats love em, like candy for them. The spot we grew them wasn’t quite up to snuff so they only ever got up to about a pound each, but it was just an experiment this year. The chickens love the green tops, and the goats eat them tops and all. I never heard of feeding the root to the chickens, you’d probably need a good chopper for that.

  7. Now that is one BIG Beet! I love to eat beets! I like my pickled or boiled. No one else in my family does, except my animals! Ha! That way I get ALL of them!

    By the way I love your site and would like to link your blog to my blog. Would you be up to that?


  8. Dwight Schrute should be jealous! That’s a BIG beet!

  9. Holy Goat! That’s impressive!
    I totally got a sense of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, Farmer Boy when reading this post. I’m trying to remember if they mentioned Almonzo’s family feeding the animals like this in winter…? At any rate, how awesome!

  10. I feel a post/recipe for ‘One Beet Borscht’ coming up! How wonderful!

  11. Kelly, I think I have another 3 or 4 out there just as big. I’d canned all the others and somehow never got around to harvesting these. But yeah, big!

    Liz, it was your carrot that inspired this post. Vive la carrot!

    Kate, I will let you know if this baby is still tender. I was able to keep quite a few in the root cellar last year, and none of them were particularly pithy though they were a different variety (Detroit Dark Red). I love the Bubels’ book but somehow always wonder if I am raising things to be stored or raising things to be eaten. (I lean toward the latter, see…)

    Pamela, my info comes from an old farming book, and it didn’t address horses per se but for sure they’d love the tops and maybe the beets too in moderation. I hear they have somewhat laxative properties, especially if fed after eating nothing but dry hay for about forever. Nothing wrong with that just a note of warning.

    Jayedee: I have found that chickens love ME forever if every time I walk by their pen I drop in a little bit of food love to them. I have one girl who gets quite loud if I don’t. So I am sure mangels would work for them too…if cooked that is.

    Freija, yeah! Goats certainly would love this thing. Goats are a lot more discerning than we are likely to give them credit for: I, for one, adore anything in the beet family. Do you raise anything else specifically for your girls, like squash or turnips?

    Linda, we sound just alike. The only other folks who love beets around me are my mom and my mother in law. So I will make them and we’ll all sit there going ooh and aah and the men in the family just roll their eyes. But certainly, feel free to link to this blog if you would like…I am always up for more company!

    Lindsay I am such a cloistered person I had to google that name. But oh I get it! 😉

    Amanda, Tom found the whole series of books at a junk store recently. Our daughter is not quite up for a long read like the series but we’ll just give her time. She’s just learning to read now and is much more interested in the words on the page and not the content…soon enough, though! But yes what a treasure trove of information, those books…

    HDR: Well, I was making baked beans and bread last night so I baked it instead of souping it. I chopped off the leaves and wrapped the whole thing in tinfoil to bake. I will pull it out of the fridge for lunch today, peel it, chop it, and toss it with some vinegar and salt…dang, that’s making me hungry just thinking about it…

  12. Hah! I consider garlic a food group, too! I ended up doing what I said and throwing some feta on top of it, and some chopped celery. Yummm.

  13. Could there possibly be any world hunger after THAT beet??? Hope it was good!

  14. Impressive root. Some of my new favorite vegetables also got almost that big: parsnips. I’ve been eating them roasted every night. Real survivalist food.

  15. Laurene, yep it was (burp)!

    Hiya Michele. I saw your parsnip harvest and was salivating. They’re such spotty germinators but so worth it if they actually do up and grow for you. Eliot C. was on to something, especially if brown butter and a cast-iron pan are involved. I’ve got three big patches: one in the new greenhouse (Feb. eating), one in the root bed, and one next to the stick compost where I dumped the seed stalks. Guess which one produces the most?

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