4.30.12 Edible perennials

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 OnionAllium fistulosum. This perennial scallion forms clumps, which can be thinned for harvest once or twice a year. Very good flavor and lovely flowers.

Turkish RocketBunias 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.

Resources:
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

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18 Responses to 4.30.12 Edible perennials

  1. Nice choice of plants-great to see a Welsh onion over your side of the pond! My favourite would be the sorrel-I grow loads from the cultivated forms plus can harvest the wild sorrel in the wood-would be a lovely addition to your Spring green oil!

    • leduesorelle says:

      Thanks for the wonderful suggestion for the sorrel, Green Dragonette! I was excited to see the Welsh onion on offer, and, of course, it made me think of you! Any particular ways you use the Welsh Onion?

  2. Liz says:

    They will be fun to experiment with in the kitchen.

  3. Norma Chang says:

    Tried skirrit years ago, was not impressed with it, honestly I do not remember much about it only that it was not worth the effort.

    • leduesorelle says:

      Given the choice between parsnips and skirret, parsnips would definitely win out. Mostly we’re experimenting to see which edible perennials can replace ornamentals, and create more resiliency in the garden.

  4. maryhysong says:

    I am just discovering permaculture and looking for ways to put in more perennial plants. Although many that will grow with you won’t make it here in our heat and alkaline soil without a lot of pampering and work.

    • leduesorelle says:

      The Permaculture Institute (permaculture.org) has a plant list for their New Mexico location, it’s high desert but might help you find things that work with your conditions. Gary Nabahn, though not specifically permaculture-oriented, has done a lot of interesting writing on desert edibles.

  5. Prairie Cat says:

    Loved the photos. My fiance has been on a total perennial veg kick as of late, and he took it upon himself to plant a vast amount of seeds while I focused on our ‘regular’ garden. They are definitely a good investment!

    • leduesorelle says:

      Once they establish, it’s nice to have some things you can rely on to come up by themselves!

  6. Huckleberry's Sanctuary says:

    Great info – thanks for taking the time to share.

  7. Jennie says:

    wonderful info…I love learning more about edibles. The sea kale looks wonderful.

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