The Seacoast is home to an active permaculture community, which hosted a presentation on “Edible Forest Gardening: Perennial Food Production” with Jonathan Bates of Food Forest Farm last year. Much of the plant material Bates spoke about is available through his website. By chance, we remembered to place on early enough order this season, which just arrived. Descriptions are from Food Forest Farm:
Sea Kale, Crambo maritima (above): Mostly clumping, suckers if roots are broken by digging. Beautiful honey-scented flowers, fantastic edible broccolis. Ours are more than 10 years old. Shoots also edible in spring, and some tasty leaves can be harvested in fall without weakening plant. All parts edible.
Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata (above): Self-sowing herb for sun to part shade. All parts strongly sweet anise flavored, we love the green seeds which taste like black jelly beans. Flowers attract beneficial insects.
Skirret, Sium sisarum (above): Clumping perennial, self-sows. Forms clusters of edible roots that taste like parsnips, very nice. Flowers attract beneficial insects.
“Profusion” Sorrel (above): Rumex acetosa. Clumping leaf crop, wonderful sour flavor. “Profusion” is a variety that never flowers, so it makes tender greens all season long. Ours comes up under the snow!
Welsh Onion: Allium fistulosum. This perennial scallion forms clumps, which can be thinned for harvest once or twice a year. Very good flavor and lovely flowers.
Turkish Rocket: Bunias orientalis. Robust, clumping plant. Beautiful yellow flowers, young broccolis are much like broccoli raab – nutty and mustardy.
Hazelbert (improved): Corylus sp. Large multistemmed shrub, edible nuts. High in oil and protein, may someday replace soybeans. Order two for pollination.
• Food Forest Farm, Holyoke, MA
• Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier
• Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford
• “Perennial Vegetables: Growing More Food with Less Work,” Mother Earth News
• “Ye Olde Kitchen Garden,” New York Times