• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • jordan barton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Mike Haasl
master gardeners:
  • John F Dean
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Stacie Kim
  • Jay Angler

I love the "idea" of perennial vegetables...

 
pollinator
Posts: 2555
Location: 4b
707
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love the idea of growing and eating them, but the taste leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion.  Look at the number of times you see Linden tree leaves being touted as a vegetable.  I have to believe no one that adds them to a list has ever eaten one.  If you try them, you'll quickly finding out they taste like, well, a tree leaf, and they aren't a good substitute for any vegetable I ever ate.  

So, here is my question.  What perennial vegetable actually taste good enough to be a substitute for the roughly equivalent annual vegetable?  I'm in zone 4b, so that rules out a lot of things I can grow.  I have dozens of fruit trees and berry bushes planted in my food forest, but I would really like to have some perennial vegetables growing, short of the few things I have.  Currently I have asparagus and horseradish, and that is about it.  Any ideas of great tasting, cold hardy veggies?

Thank for your time.
 
pollinator
Posts: 156
Location: Saskatchewan
39
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Asparagus is the only vegetable that I ever think of with perennial veg. Do you have rhubarb? Not really a veggie, but definitely a perennial. Spinach and lettuce are annuals, but if you let them go to seed they will often reseed themselves, which has the low maintenance factor of perennials. Lambsquarters, purslane, and dandelions all kind of taste like spinach as long as you pick them early in the growing season, and since those are actual weeds they are super easy to grow.
 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
Posts: 2555
Location: 4b
707
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Leora Laforge wrote:Asparagus is the only vegetable that I ever think of with perennial veg. Do you have rhubarb? Not really a veggie, but definitely a perennial. Spinach and lettuce are annuals, but if you let them go to seed they will often reseed themselves, which has the low maintenance factor of perennials. Lambsquarters, purslane, and dandelions all kind of taste like spinach as long as you pick them early in the growing season, and since those are actual weeds they are super easy to grow.



I don't grow rhubarb for the same reason I don't grow cranberries.  I have a rule (my own rule, that applies to me only), that if I have to add a ton of sugar to something to make it edible, it isn't edible.  

I am planting a lot more things like spinach that I can let go to seed.  I do have lambsquarters and dandelions growing, but I don't really eat them.  I've never tried cooking them, only eating them raw.  I can eat them, but I wouldn't say I enjoy them much.  I like purslane raw, but don't have it at my current land.
 
pollinator
Posts: 422
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
84
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Trace Oswald wrote:
I don't grow rhubarb for the same reason I don't grow cranberries.  I have a rule (my own rule, that applies to me only), that if I have to add a ton of sugar to something to make it edible, it isn't edible.



That's a smart way of looking at it, Trace. I like that rule.

 
gardener
Posts: 827
Location: the mountains of western nc
187
forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation wood heat
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
groundnuts are tasty. turkish rocket flowerstalks are a favorite of mine. lots of perennial shoots besides asparagus i find really good...though many of those are frequently on the foraged side of things a opposed to the garden - solomon's seal, milkweed...and hostas, wherever they're planted.

there's more that i'm blanking on.

people have different tastes, too. i enjoy rhubarb without sweetening pretty well - there's lots of applications in the kitchen for sourness, after all. and it can be eaten with sweeter things, too.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1831
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
778
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can't make suggestions for zone 4, but here where I am in Hawaii, I have several perennial veggies that we regularly use.
... Pumpkins - the plant goes on for well over a year, and if tended well, it lasts for years.
... Peppers. I have plants that are over four years old now.
... Basil, Rosemary, parsley. They plants last for years.
... Chaya, mamaki (for tea), moringa -- all perennial shrubby trees.
... Chayote (called pipinola here). Produces year around.
... Sweet potatoes.
... A perennial collard that I think is called Flash, or Blaze. I'm not sure.
... Kale and chard don't stop unless disease gets them, or they get too tall.
... Cholesterol spinach and Okinawan spinach.  
... Edible hibiscus
... Hawaiian landrace Lima beans

I'm sure that there are more, but these are the ones I have growing on my homestead and that we eat. Turmeric I guess could be called a perennial. If I don't harvest it, the plant simply resprouts the following year. Same with yacon.
 
pollinator
Posts: 201
Location: Melbourne, Australia
119
2
hugelkultur forest garden fungi trees books cooking food preservation writing
  • Likes 14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do understand your desire to have them taste good. I feel much the same way, though I feel that there are many perennial vegetables up to the task. Some that I highly recommend and personally enjoy the flavour of (though I know tastes are different for everyone) and I think most of these should be able to survive in zone 4b:

Egyptian walking onions
potato onions
Elephant garlic
Giant Solomon's seal
Sea kale
Turkish rocket
Herbs of all sorts
Sorrel (French & Red veined - red is better for soups imo)
Air potato (I am not certain this one will survive there but I was seriously impressed with it. I added the potato like tubers to stews and no one even realised they were not Irish potatoes)
Jerusalem artichoke (sun choke)

The Egyptian walking onions are like tougher green onions, instead of adding them after cooking I add them just a minute before cooking is done with great results and I top all sorts of things with them. Potato onions do not taste exactly like regular onions to me, but it is hard to describe, maybe it is just a hint of garlic I taste? But I use them in place of normal onions and after cooking they seem virtually the same, they are a bit of a pain to prepare as they are small but I feel it a worth trade off to not be having to start new seedlings every year.

Elephant garlic, I could go on about the virtues of this plant at length. It is expensive to get started, however it is more than worth it in my opinion. I always made sure to keep note of how many I planted each year and try to double that many for the next year so I wouldn't eat all my stock. These work wonderfully at most stages as a normal leek. In their first year where you get a softball sized smooth allium I use them in any recipe that calls for both onions & garlic as the flavour is of both to me. And the second year you get a wonderful segmented bulb of garlic that has the easiest to peel, giant cloves. I love garlic, roasted, as pate, as a dip, in almost everything so this plant was magnificent for me. And you can cut the garlic scapes to use in stir fries!!! I cannot recommend this plant enough. Every year after I harvest and cure my garlic, I prepare the bed well, I do not dig  but I rake it out, add fresh compost, add a thick layer of mulch (very thick and these grow right through my rough midwest 6b winters) I pull back mulch every 12" to plant and then push the mulch back around the plant as it grows. I weed the bed once or twice during the year and that is it. I have never watered them or anything.

Giant Solomon's seal is very similar to asparagus, I cut off the emerging stalks and cut off the leaf tip part because I do not like it. I find it to be far more ornamental and prolific than asparagus. Also, the deer or something was always eating my asparagus, where they left this alone. I added them to stir fries, soups, or would have them by themselves. A lovely treat early in Spring.

Sea kale is very similar in taste to normal kale, it is to me a bit tougher, a bit stronger, but I just chop it up finely and saute it, toss it into my eggs, or stir fries, or wonderful in soups. Rachel Ray has a recipe for chicken cacciatore stoup which I use this in place of the spinach and it is a HUGE crowd pleaser. I do modify the recipe some but not much, and it is a great use of a stewing hen to boot. Use the youngest leaves for more tender milder flavour.

Turkish rocket grows these amazing little broccoli raabi shoots, strong mustard flavour, wonderful in stir fries. The leaves can be eaten too but can be a bit strong if someone is not a mustard lover, the youngest leaves are best. As far as I can tell, so long as you keep picking, it keeps making these wonderful little broccolis.

Herbs, who can live without a magnificent herb garden, these range wildly and I highly recommend anyone try every new herb they can get their hands on to find flavours they treasure.

Sorrel is a great salad green, it has a natural lemon tang and I often don't even bother to make a salad dressing when I have fresh young leaves to add to my salad. Older leaves and the red variety are best cooked like greens but still retain that lemony burst which is wonderful in eggs, soups, stir fries, etc.

Air potato - I had such a hard time finding this little fellow. Make absolutely sure you get the edible variety and not the poisonous variety. I do not remember where I got mine, may have been Oikos? It was a huge surprise though. The delicate vines with their heart shaped leaves were lovely and the potatoes have a thin skin that can be slightly bitter. I tried them sauteed in butter though and they were good. I put them whole into soups and stews and no one even realises they aren't Irish potatoes. And I didn't have to dig at all. I grew mine in home made wicking tubs from cattle mineral feeders my neighbour was throwing away. I planted them, watered once, mulched and then just let them climb the nearest tree. These can become a weed so I wanted to be careful. Mine never escaped to my knowledge, the tubers are decently well hidden from birds so it was just a matter of going out and picking them when I wanted to cook them. The vines died back on me every winter though so I am not certain how well they would do in zone 4b but I think they are worth a shot. Maybe they would need some protection. These were not my highest yielder but the best actual potato replacement I have found.

Jerusalem artichoke - I mostly grew these for my mother who  is diabetic but I would eat them too. They are not like a potato, but definitely a tuber earth like flavour is present. They are sweeter. I liked them best in place of or with potatoes in my curries, and soups. My mother loved them though and would eat them in everything. Just to show what a variation personal tastes can have. They were very pretty and once I got them established they were problem free and very pretty with their flowers.

I hope this helps, sorry for being so long winded, trying to explain tastes is hard and I am sure there are more these are just the ones I have experience with that I am pretty sure can be grown in 4b (except maybe air potato.... sorry if that one doesn't work out)
 
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Ontario - Currently in Zone 4b
410
dog foraging trees tiny house books bike bee
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I largely agree with you - though I love rhubarb. I even eat a stalk or two raw, pluck and chew, tart and wonderful. Perennial vegetables are more of a short seasoned novelty in my garden than a staple.

I have had some success with perennials that other cultures actually regularly eat. Chinese culture/cuisine has some good examples.

Do you like stir fries? Hosta shoots and unopened daylily flowers are both good in stir fries. Fiddleheads are tasty, though ephemeral. I like purchased bamboo shoots, so if it was a tiny bit warmer, would consider planting bamboo to eat. Grape leaves used to wrap meat or rice are delicious.

Walking onions are pretty pungent, and arent all that productive for me. Chives I make a lot of use of in the spring though.
 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
Posts: 2555
Location: 4b
707
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Aimee Hall wrote:I do understand your desire to have them taste good. I feel much the same way, though I feel that there are many perennial vegetables up to the task. Some that I highly recommend and personally enjoy the flavour of (though I know tastes are different for everyone) and I think most of these should be able to survive in zone 4b:...



Aimee, thanks for that.  It had some things that I will definitely try.  I do grow sunchokes, I just forgot to add them to the list.  I like them, but we haven't figured out a great way to prepare them yet.  Currently we roast them, but mine are kind of small and it's tedious trying to get the skin off them.

I do grow onions and garlic.  I guess I just never really considered them vegetables, because I use them for flavoring rather than as something that you can eat alone.  I love them both though, and eat lots.

Again, thanks for your in-depth post.  I've never grown elephant garlic, sorrel, Soloman's Seal, Turkish Rocket, air potato, ...  All sound like things I need to add to the food forest.  
 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
Posts: 2555
Location: 4b
707
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Catie George wrote:Perennial vegetables are more of a short seasoned novelty in my garden than a staple.



Catie, that sums it up pretty well for me.  I like daylily flowers, but my lady has other thoughts about me eating them.  Some strange idea that she likes to look at them :)  We grow hostas, but I've never eaten them.  We split a lot of them out this year, maybe I will get to try them in the spring.  We have fiddleheads galore here, but I've never eaten those either.  I do grow lots and lots of chives.  They are great, easy to grow producers here.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2006
Location: Denmark 57N
503
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hawthorn and beach tree leaves taste pretty good in early summer, once they go from bright green to dark green they are not worth anything anymore. Nettles do taste ok, I'm not keen on the "furryness" but it can be gotten round by blending. Reedmace Typha latifolia also tastes pretty good though the roots are not worth the chewing in my opinion.  if you want a strong flavour for a bowl of ramen style soup then ground elder is good, but it's not something I would want to eat a lot of.
 
pollinator
Posts: 787
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
206
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm with you on the rhubarb, Trace.

I just planted them this year so I'm not sure how they'll perform, but I got a couple things from store.experimentalfarmnetwork.org that seem promising.

One is homesteader's kaleidoscopic perennial kale grex and the other is Deitrich's wild broccoli raab, which is a self-seeding biennial.

In 20 years I've never successfully grown kale. No matter where I've been or what kind of soil, including my current place, the kale has always been stunted and covered in aphids. This grex is all big and beautiful with no aphids. Most of the best plants are big leaved collard types.

The raab is in pots to be planted out when it cools down a bit. The leaves are a little strong to eat them raw in large quantities, but they're nice cooked. Like turnip greens. A few plants went to seed this year, and raabs are tasty. I only ate one, though, cause I want the seeds.

I have a patch of the raab growing that I don't even remember planting. I must have sprinkled some around in random places before hedging my bets with some in pots. The random patch came up and thrived all summer under very challenging conditions.

IMG_20200819_071927627.jpg
kale grex
kale grex
IMG_20200819_071832221.jpg
raab in pot
raab in pot
 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
Posts: 2555
Location: 4b
707
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jan White wrote:I'm with you on the rhubarb, Trace.

I just planted them this year so I'm not sure how they'll perform, but I got a couple things from store.experimentalfarmnetwork.org that seem promising.

One is homesteader's kaleidoscopic perennial kale grex and the other is Deitrich's wild broccoli raab, which is a self-seeding biennial.

In 20 years I've never successfully grown kale. No matter where I've been or what kind of soil, including my current place, the kale has always been stunted and covered in aphids. This grex is all big and beautiful with no aphids. Most of the best plants are big leaved collard types.

The raab is in pots to be planted out when it cools down a bit. The leaves are a little strong to eat them raw in large quantities, but they're nice cooked. Like turnip greens. A few plants went to seed this year, and raabs are tasty. I only ate one, though, cause I want the seeds.

I have a patch of the raab growing that I don't even remember planting. I must have sprinkled some around in random places before hedging my bets with some in pots. The random patch came up and thrived all summer under very challenging conditions.



That kale is beautiful.  I'm going to try to track some donw.

I had never heard of Deitrich's wild broccoli raab.
 
pollinator
Posts: 636
Location: Chicago
186
dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Trace Oswald wrote:

I am planting a lot more things like spinach that I can let go to seed.  I do have lambsquarters and dandelions growing, but I don't really eat them.  I've never tried cooking them, only eating them raw.  I can eat them, but I wouldn't say I enjoy them much.  I like purslane raw, but don't have it at my current land.



I do not like either dandelion or lamb's quarters raw, but love them cooked. In my opinion, lamb's quarter's is an improvement on spinach in most any recipe involving milk or cream.  Dandelion has a stronger bitter flavor, can substitute for other strong-flavored greens like mustard green.
 
Posts: 98
34
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How about lovage? I use the stems as a replacement for celery, and the leaves are strong but very tasty (think more parsley than salad).

And it peeks first in my garden, and produces very generously for a long season (it's best in the spring, but keeps producing younger stems through the summer).

I also eat a lot of violet leaves in salads. Very mild taste, but it bulks up stronger-tasting greens in early spring.
 
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
122
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi foraging books chicken cooking medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm on board with most of these, except rhubarb.  I've held the too-much-sugar theory myself for many years.  I don't make jam or jelly for the same reason.

And this year I've expanded into wild foods!  I, too, have been eating violets, dandelion (the flowers are sweet!), mallow, plantain, and of course all those berries that grow like weeds.  

Also this year, I've been trying to grow more perennial vegetables.  I have Caucasian Mountain Spinach seedlings, and tiny sea kale (crambe) plants.  Regarding the latter, I've read that one can eat the shoots like asparagus, and (like asparagus) it used to be common to cover the early spring shoots with a cloche to keep them in the dark, blanching them.  Then, the leaves are edible (and huge).  I haven't tried these vegetables yet because they're still babies, in August!  When it grows up, it has beautiful white flowers.  It was grown as an ornamental for generations, but fell out of favor for some reason.

I tried to grow Good King Henry, but I didn't realize I had to cold-stratify them.  That was the holdup with getting the Caucasian Mountain Spinach in the ground, too.  Next year for the Good King!

I'm also "arranging" for self-seeding with ground cherries, cilantro, kale and asparagus.  And I have discovered that the plants I am struggling to grow from seed are available from edibleacres.org.  I'm putting together an order for next spring.  Turkish rocket, Fuki, skirret, ramps . . . so many things to try.

We have been talking on the Aging Homesteader thread about accommodations to keep us home longer, and perennial (and self-seeding) vegetables are a part of my plan.  I love gardening, and I'm not trying to get out of it!  But having some food that doesn't require seed starting, transplanting, thinning, and all the rest seems brilliant.
 
Aimee Hall
pollinator
Posts: 201
Location: Melbourne, Australia
119
2
hugelkultur forest garden fungi trees books cooking food preservation writing
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I probably eat way too many onions and garlic. I can eat onions that I have sauteed to caramelise (no sugar added!) and eat that as a meal, or just roasted garlic. When I was iving by myself meals were often very simple like that. It all balanced out throughout the day, just no need to get fancy for one. There are also perennial leeks out there that put babies out at the base that are worth looking into. I will be growing some here but I do not have the results to share yet.

I would love to hear how the Caucasian Mountain Spinach goes! I don't think it will grow here and I never could get my hands on it while I was in the states. I am glad to see the availability of perennial vegetables increasing. I imagine it is hard for companies to do because so many of us purchase our initial stock than make our own cuttings, etc and never buy again. Very hard for people who make their living on those annual seed sales and a bit of a niche market but I am very glad the interest is picking up enough for more places to carry them!

I get so excited talking about perennial vegetables though. I have very little time so I put a lot of time and effort into setting my systems up and getting them established so they can care for themselves while I am busy and that is something perennial vegetables thrive at. I do think it is a lot of trial and error finding the ones you like the taste of best. And if someone knows a good and easy way to skin those sun chokes, please share! I'd love to know too. =D Stay safe all!
 
Posts: 288
Location: Málaga, Spain
77
home care personal care forest garden urban food preservation cooking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
 I've held the too-much-sugar theory myself for many years.

Maybe not edible, but you might use tree leaves for dressing. In my country we have a recipe with fried orange tree leaves, search for "paparajotes". The leaf is not eaten, but the rest of the cake gets the flavour.
Also bay leaves in your pots.
Rosemary and thyme are perennials too, but I don't know if they can grow in your zone. (I have yet to get used to your way of zoning climates, since I usually say things like semi-arid warm mediterranean climate)
 
Posts: 30
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
4
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do you remember the Bill Mollison Permaculture video where the homesteader grew a palm tree next to a rock outcropping in Northern Washington?  It was two large boulders that were south facing.  The palm tree right up against it.  Well, I thought that you might experiment with Globe Artichoke.  I have a plant in my garden and I can't get rid of the thing !   Not that I want to.  I love artichokes.  The point was that it was hardier than anything else in my permaculture garden.
 
Aimee Hall
pollinator
Posts: 201
Location: Melbourne, Australia
119
2
hugelkultur forest garden fungi trees books cooking food preservation writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sepp Holzer also has amazing information about season extension/growing in demanding climates in his books. Very much worth a read, I have found that I have not regretted reading and trying everything I can learn about/think of because I am often pleasantly surprised when things work out better than expected. The flip side of that is to also not let any failures get you down. Best of luck and stay safe evereyone.
 
gardener
Posts: 3587
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
479
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been working at turning  the merely edible into the desirable.
My mulberries and grapes produce lots of leaves and little fruit.
Both have edible leaves,  but neither humans,  bunnies or chickens really like them.
So I'm drying them, making them into powder.
So far,  I've only used pinches in smoothies, but I'm planning on trying a pesto for over grains, adding them to salad dressing, baking with it, thickening soups etc.

I also harvested some grapes this year.
They are tiny,  sour and seedy.
I dried these as well, now they resemble peppercorns.
They are now extra crunchy and tart.
I'm calling them grapenuts and adding them to oatmeal.
 
pollinator
Posts: 456
Location: Iron River MI zone 3b
44
hugelkultur fungi foraging chicken cooking medical herbs
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Trace Oswald wrote:I love the idea of growing and eating them, but the taste leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion.  Look at the number of times you see Linden tree leaves being touted as a vegetable.  I have to believe no one that adds them to a list has ever eaten one.  If you try them, you'll quickly finding out they taste like, well, a tree leaf, and they aren't a good substitute for any vegetable I ever ate.  

So, here is my question.  What perennial vegetable actually taste good enough to be a substitute for the roughly equivalent annual vegetable?  I'm in zone 4b, so that rules out a lot of things I can grow.  I have dozens of fruit trees and berry bushes planted in my food forest, but I would really like to have some perennial vegetables growing, short of the few things I have.  Currently I have asparagus and horseradish, and that is about it.  Any ideas of great tasting, cold hardy veggies?

Thank for your time.



I guess its all a matter of perspective. I happen to love linden tree leaves simply for the fact that they dont taste like much, at least compared to most of the wild edibles that grow in my area, which is also zone 4. Ive been getting more and more into foraging every year and you learn to appreciate slight bitterness, because that’s better than extremely bitter. I also eat rhubarb and cranberries raw without sugar. I grew up addicted to sugar and just came out of that fog 3-4 years ago. I really appreciate sour and tangy flavors now. They kind of cut through that sweet tooth like a knife.

I would recommend some foraging books by Samuel Thayer. He is from northern Wisconsin, which is also probably zone 4. His books A Forager’s Harvest and Nature’s Garden have tons of information on edible perennials in the area, how to identify, prepare and enjoy them.
 
Posts: 23
Location: Central Virginia
6
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have to throw in a good word for mallow (malva sylvestris) as a perennial that ought to be in every cottage garden. Leaves are ever-bearing here in zone 7 Virginia, so I've picked young tasty ones even in the depths of winter. I imagine that in zone 4, you'd have a period without growth, but these plants are fantastically hardy and prolific reseeders, in case you get a bad year and lose some. The seeds are edible and can be added to soups (but I'd chop them up dry in a coffee grinder or food processor first), and the stem, leaves and roots are medicinal. The flowers are technically edible but not much nutritionally, they're just pretty on a salad. The more you harvest the leaves, the fewer flowers you'll get, but if you don't harvest the leaves, this plant grows about 4 feet tall in a fountain of little purple striped flowers. The stalk has a tendency to lodge in heavy winds if you let it get that tall, and then your salad is growing down next to the mud, so I recommend pruning the stalk periodically through the growing season.

Anyway, use the leaves of malva sylvestris like spinach. Raw in salad, but they really shine when blanched with a bit of oil or butter and some onions (mmmm!) or added to soup. One of the only greens that I actually enjoy (I'm a picky eater). Also the root, once it's big enough, is quite starchy and can be used as soup thickener. Nutritionally a great plant; it's famous for having kept people alive during famines.

I second the recommendation for Egyptian walking onions. The bulbs are edible but they do take a long time to get big enough; mostly we use the greens. I feel you can't have a big enough crop of them, so they're tucked into corners all over my garden.

Scarlet runner beans are a wonderful perennial! In your climate, though, you'll have to winterize their beds or dig up the rhizomes and bring them inside over winter. Happily, you can store a lot of rhizomes in a little space. They'll start growing earlier and produce more beans if you treat them this way instead of growing them as annuals (and the rhizomes will grow big enough to bother eating, too; they're nutritious as well).

Mashua might actually really like your summer climate, but just like with scarlet runners, you'll have to bring the rhizomes in before frost every year. They look like nasturtiums, so your flower-lovers in the family will appreciate them (and the scarlet runners, which are great hummingbird flowers), but they send climbing vines up a trellis. When they're done for the season, you dig up a mass of tubers that are similar to sunchokes.

Daylilies (the common species) are known for the edible flowers, though the unopened buds are actually much more nutritious (equivalent to green beans), but did you know that the rhizomes are edible, too? That way, those who wish to see the flowers won't be so upset about you consuming the buds. Just wait till blooming is done and harvest big rhizomes, replanting the little ones. You can also collect the dry spent flowers and store them dry as soup thickener, though that's the least nutritiously valuable option.

Sunchokes, ground nut and multiplier onions get lots of love on Permies so I will just add my thumbs-up and move on.

Hazelnut and chestnut trees, while not veggies, are important staple crop foods that are perennial, winter hardy, and can be pruned to fit your garden space. Hardy orange might be another good choice for your climate, though again, not a veggie and not tasty raw; best used for orange peel zest and orange fruit leather or preserves. Good for adding a bit of vitamin C to your morning porridge. By contrast, Rosa rugosa rose hips are tasty as fruit leather without needing much sugar and those are hardy in your area, too.

I think there are native cattails that grow in your zone, so you might want to check varieties. Cattails are surprisingly nutritious veggies & starches.

I recommend looking up what the native tribes cultivated or harvested in your region, if you can find that information. Don't accept the stupid modern wisdom they exclusively grew the 3 sisters, year after year; it's a lie. Here in Virginia, the wealth of foods they nurtured or even domesticated (like seed chenopods) is impressive, and there are a considerable number of perennials in that list, but our climate is quite different from yours so... See if you can find out. There may be cool local perennials grown for roots or shoots that you've never eaten or even heard of.

Have fun with the perennial garden and keep an eye out for when the perennial black oilseed sunflowers are available for sale! The Land Trust, I think, is developing those right now and I'm very excited for that!
IMG_20200531_171557.jpg
Mallow (malva sylvestris)
Mallow (malva sylvestris)
 
Posts: 114
Location: PA, zone 6a
20
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Udo (Aralia cordata) can be used for shoots and grows pretty well. Should be hardy in zones 3- 9. Aralia racemosa has some edible qualities as well. Cryptotaenia canadensis is edible, shoots, young leaves - zones 4-8. Cryptotaenia japonica pretty much the same. Marsh Mallow (Althea officinalis) is edible, roots are a bit too sugary for me - but the leaves are edible, hairy though. Malva sylvestris - zone 4-8. Phaseolus polystachios is a perennial in zones 5-9 or 6-9 pretty much a really small bean. Organic mulch might overwinter them in the ground in zone 4. Its a wild plant so there are probably hardier types as well. Apios americana - zone 3-7 shoots flowers, seeds and tubers are edible. There are other edible Apios species, but americana seems to be easier to obtain. Grape leaves are edible as well. Bakercreek sells malva sylvestris as zebrina, and also sells marsh mallow. Experimental farm network sells Phaseolus polystachios. Prairie moon nursery sells Phaseolus polystachios as well, might be different types - they also sell some other wild edibles - Cryptotaenia canadensis and Aralia racemosa and many others. I believe there are some better tasting wild species of rhubarb - but you can't really obtain them outside of Europe. Also believe there are some wild perennial ground cherries that should work in zone 4, pretty annoying/hard to get though. Oh yeah Cultivariable is selling Horse Radish and a few other perennials. Could check them out.  Some others mentioned Turkish Rocket (Bunias orientalis) - it is pretty hardy and grows well, but it can form colonies and take over if you aren't careful. So a word of caution there. A lot of the plants I listed can "naturalize" as well. I tend to enjoy having edible plants like that.
 
Posts: 118
12
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
some good tasting decent yielding zone 4 perennials

mitsuba, a celery like gourmet used in japan
caucasian spinach, vine thats tasty raw or cooked
Bunias orientalis, has broccoli like florets
Blonde de Lyon Sorrel, a gourmet sorrel variety used in french cuisine to make sorrel soup, pleasant lemony flavor
Opuntia humifusa, makes decent nopales, a very cold hardy cactus
salad burnet, with succulent leaves and a cucumber flavor, good for salads
Claytonia sibirica, has very tender leaves with a beet flavor
Good king henry, a close relative to quinoa, has oxalates but is quite good
udo, a japanese delicacy, the variety 'sun king' is quite hardy
shallots, not all are hardy but some varieties are
Dioscorea batatas, potatoes that grow on vines!
Phyllostachys aureosulcata, has tender bamboo shoots, and is at least root hardy in zone 4
hops, good for beer, but the shoots are also delicious
Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) has an edamame like seed
scotch elm (Ulmus glabra) supposedly have a quite nice edible seed
American olive (Chionanthus virginicus), not a lot of info on this one, but is supposedly used to make an olive substitute and is in the same family as Mediterranean olives
Japanese angelica (Aralia elata), another eastern delicacy

theres many more but these are just some of the interesting/tasty/productive ones

 
Aimee Hall
pollinator
Posts: 201
Location: Melbourne, Australia
119
2
hugelkultur forest garden fungi trees books cooking food preservation writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Those are some great species to look into I had not heard of, thank you C.! I think an edamame substitute would be an amazing asset! And those that I mentioned are your list, I definitely agree with the tasty part for sure!

Have you had any luck in your search Trace? Now is a great time to get many perennials established as seedlings if possible for Spring planting!
 
Posts: 14
Location: British Columbia zone 9a
3
cat rabbit bike
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just wanted to bump this thread because I struggled with the exact same hangup about perennial vegetables. Something that changed my outlook was realizing how valuable it is to have hardy perennial greens that don’t necessarily replace their annual counterparts, but help to bulk out a “mesclun mix” in the off season. Anything described as an edible wild or perennial leafy green is palatable in a raw salad when combined with the precious winter spinach and lettuces I’ve carefully tucked away in a tunnel or cold frame, along with hardy annuals like claytonia, mache, chervil, cilantro, frisée, and kale.

The only perennial that has replaced an annual crop for me in zone 9 is wild arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia). I can’t believe anyone bothers growing wimpy annual arugula that bolts moments after planting. It tastes so much better to me, even during its flowering period, that I feel it would be worthwhile even where it isn’t winter hardy.
 
pollinator
Posts: 196
Location: Providence, RI, USA
99
2
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Trace Oswald wrote:Look at the number of times you see Linden tree leaves being touted as a vegetable.  I have to believe no one that adds them to a list has ever eaten one.



Great question! Linden leaf buds are tasty. The leaves, themselves, are fine when young and still tender but tough when older. I do eat them, though not in quantity. I intend to eat more of the buds this year, though. I would have last year, but I didn't want to strip my young tree. The Homesteader's Kaleidoscopic Perennial Kale Grex, which has also been mentioned in this thread, is something I grow regularly. I also grow sea kale. I enjoy both of them. Sea kale broccolis are amazing - sweeter than regular broccoli, and I have a third year plant from the grex that tastes just like collards. I am including a video on this, but I've made dozens of videos about similar things that I actually DO eat. haha!

If you have any questions about any of the plants in my videos, just ask!

Cheers!


 
Posts: 5
Location: Gig Harbor, United States
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm trying skirret this year - not sure about your zone, but it's perennial in the PNW.

Started asparagus too, finay!
 
Posts: 7
Location: Central Texas zone 8b, blackland prairie thick clay soil
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Krystal Comerford:  any suggestions about how to get one's hands on will arugula seeds in the first place?
 
pioneer
Posts: 462
Location: Oregon 8b
119
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can't speak to what will perennialize in your zone, but Eric Toensmeier's Perennial Vegetables is certainly one of the best jumping off points.

I also recently found Food Plants Of The North American Indians, which is a 1936 compilation by the USDA of all plants known to be consumed by Native Americans, and I've been scouring it for things that might be a good jumping off point for breeding projects.

Personally, my focus is on carbohydrate rich vegetables like roots and tubers, since it doesn't do any good to grow a bunch of perennial food and then die from lack of calories. To that end, I have a lot of interest in the Andean root and tuber crops: oca, mashua, achira, ulluco, mauka, arracacha,yacon, dahlia, etc. This will be my first year with many of these crops so I can't comment on flavor, but most are purported to have qualities akin to the more common roots and tubers we eat: potato, carrot, parsnip, turnip, etc, though with some unique flavors and qualities all their own. Potatoes are also on this list, and I'm starting a breeding project to specifically develop potato lines from Andean stock that can be overwintered in the ground... though that is a much different proposition in zone 8 versus zone 4. I love the Andean potatoes for the variety of shapes and colors that we don't get in our more typical potatoes:



I know of people that grow potatoes as what it often called a "sloppy harvest" perennial in at least zone 6, and I know that Oikos Tree Crops has developed a spud for exactly that purpose.. The tubers are dug each year, but one or more tubers are left in place to grow the following season. Theoretically, most tubers and rhizomes could be treated in the same manner, the only variables are frost and disease resistance. They have to be able to survive in the ground no matter how cold it gets and in spite of the disease pressure. Again, easier here than there. It may take a bit of breeding work to get things that will tolerate that much cold.

Of the other Andean crops, I think mauka has the best cold tolerance. This will be my first year growing it so I can't comment on flavor, but they're purported to develop a 5 pound root if given 2 years in the ground and could get significantly larger with more time in the ground. They are one of the highest elevation crops that was developed in the Incan empire and as such are pretty rare. They were cultivated in the highest elevations where nothing else would grow, but were practically unknown outside of those areas. They are primarily propagated by caudices, which means that it's easily to rapidly multiply a plant even when harvested the root for food. Harvesting on a 2 or 3 year rotation seems like the best way to maximize production, but the plant can still produce a 1-2 pound root in a single season.



It should be noted that most of the Andean crops also have edible foliage and are a dual purpose crop in that sense. Mauka leaves have a purported 17% protein content and would make an excellent livestock fodder if they are found to be undesirable as human food.

On the North American front I'm looking at breeding things like camas, wapato, balsamroot, and yampah. These were all part of the native diet in my region, and while they were well-managed, few were truly bred for qualities that might be desirable, like size or productivity. That's part of what I want to work on with these crops.

Another North American crop that I'm excited to do work on is the Maximilian sunflower. It's one of those things like cattails (which I also heartily recommend) which could potentially be eaten in one form or another year round. It's supposed to develop a tuber like your typical sunchoke (though I haven't seen a lot of reports on the quality or productivity of this species in this regard), as well as being able to pick the unopened buds and enjoy them as one would artichoke hearts, and finally the seeds can be harvested and pressed for oil (this is currently the focus of a lot of breeding work in order to develop a perennial oilseed crop.)

Greens, shoots, alliums and the other typically recommended perennial vegetables have been pretty well covered by others, but I wanted to make a note about why some of these plants still leave a lot to be desired. Toby Hemenway has a great talk about agriculture versus horticulture, and how grain agriculture developed in Eurasia as a consequence of that landmass's east-west orientation... i.e. the entire landmass shares a narrow band of climate zones, so it was easy for a group of people, once they developed grain agriculture, to breed like rabbits, wage war on the surrounding cultures as the need for agricultural land increased, and take their new crops with them. On north-south oriented landmasses it's impossible to have portable annual agriculture because the climate changes dramatically has you move either north or south and few plants are adapted to such a wide range of climates. Corn is one of the few things that spread north via mesoamerican trade routes, but it took a long time for that corn to adapt to increasingly cooler climates. Perennials were a much more dependable food source in this narrow climate bands, but most of the knowledge of those crops were wiped out by European colonizers. Also, it's just the nature of perennials that once you have a plant there isn't much need to start more from seeds. Most people aren't rushing out to start apples from seed, for example, because the results of planting a known variety are more practical for most people. As such, you're not getting the annual selection for desirable traits like one does with annual crops which must be started from seed each year. Most perennials haven't gotten a lot of breeding attention as a result and can't really be compared to annual crops with have had thousands of generations to develop the yields, flavors, etc. that we find desirable. If you aren't finding what you want in what's generally available, you may have to start with seed and select for the traits you desire. Bill Whitson has been doing that with the Andean crops and has done a lot of great work to adapt them to northern climates and our modern expectations for yield, flavor, etc.

Here are some videos that I think add to the discussion, both in the broader sense (like Toby's lecture) as well as looking at specific species and their uses, as most of this knowledge has been lost to history and commercialization:





















 
Karl Treen
pollinator
Posts: 196
Location: Providence, RI, USA
99
2
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mathew Trotter wrote:I have a lot of interest in the Andean root and tuber crops: oca, mashua, achira, ulluco, mauka, arracacha,yacon, dahlia, etc. This will be my first year with many of these crops so I can't comment on flavor, but most are purported to have qualities akin to the more common roots and tubers we eat



Mathew, I'd love to hear the results from your root crops this year, especially mauka. Please let me know how it goes.

I can comment on edible dahlia. I started growing seeds from Cultivariable a couple of years ago and have been perfecting the genetics of a compact variety that I tastes quite good. Many of them taste like you're eating a pine cone, and I have heard that some taste like radishes. I haven't experienced the radish flavor and, since radishes are much easier to grow, wouldn't go out of my way to work on that flavor. The one I am isolating is like a slightly floral Jerusalem artichoke, with a similar crunch. It grows under a foot in height with about half a dozen tightly clumped, round tubers that are each about the diameter of a quarter. I have finally gotten the hang of over-wintering dahlia tubers here in Rhode Island. It's not hard once you get the hang of it, but there is a steep learning curve.

There are many larger, and more attractive, varieties of dahlias, but I am all about saving space - so this one fits my needs quite nicely. I only have about 1/10 of an acre and try to fit in as much diversity as possible into my various plots.

I don't have much patience for perennial vegetables that don't taste great or are difficult to harvest in quantity. Some of the best perennial vegetables I grow (USDA 6b) are hosta, sunchokes, perennial collards, walking onions, and sea kale (sea kale broccolis, especially). I grow Apios americana, but more as a hobby than as a food, since production doesn't meet my standards and they tend to overtake a garden without enough payback to make them worth the trouble. Rhubarb is another perennial vegetable that grows, almost out of control, in my yard. I grow garden sorrel, too, but eating too much of that is dangerous. I'm starting perennial arugula and French sorrel this year, among other things.

Here is a video I did in February, which pretty much sums up my trials and tribulations with edible dahlias:


Cheers!
 
pollinator
Posts: 279
Location: SE Indiana
163
dog fish trees writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Those are some really interesting videos you folks posted. I have lots of daylilies and hostas but haven't experimented all that much with eating them. Daylilies are also wild here, I know of patches of them nearby that cover acres. I remember Carol Deppe talking about them and that some are more tasty than others. They are not difficult to grow from seed so I have wondered about breeding them for better food quality. I didn't know you could also eat the roots so breeding for bigger roots would be a fun project. I wonder how they and hostas are as far as calories and nutrition. Also on daylilies since the the roots are also good if they might be just left in the ground and harvested any time as that would make for a pretty good food reserve. Hostas come up from seed here all the time so they would be even easier to breed, I've wondered if the flower buds were edible and the one video says they are and they produce abundantly. I've also wondered regarding both if the immature seed pods can be eaten as they both produce lots of them.

I knew you could eat cattails but didn't know they had such good nutritional content. They along with waterlilies though would be quite a messy chore to harvest considering where they grow. I know of few places to harvest either one without wading in knee deep muck. In the case of waterlilies I have to thin them out in my little garden pond each spring and they are quite productive, growing long thick roots or rhizomes or what ever the proper term is. The smell of the pond muck is nearly impossible to remove though so don't know what you would have left after trimming enough to get rid if it. I reckon though if you were hungry enough a little pond muck would be tolerable.

I've been dabbling with dahlias for a few years. They grow really well here, in all cases they far exceed the size the seed suppliers indicated they would. So much so that unless they are very high in calories and nutrition I almost don't have space for them. Out of about 200 or or so from seed I have two that taste fairly good. One is sweet and reminds me of carrot, the other a little like celery but even they still have a hint of that off putting perfumey flavor.

I'm definitely going to look into that Nine Star perennial broccoli that one lady spoke of, I'd love to add that into my brassica mix that I'm working on now.

When it comes to the perennial foods the hostas and daylilies seem to have the most promise for me as they are already here and are so easy to grow and propagate. I think I might go to a couple of those very large wild patches and dig a bunch up and see if there is any variation in root size. If I could find some that seem to have larger roots than others maybe I could use them to begin a breeding project for larger roots.

Pecans though are by very, very far the most productive and reliable perennial food source for me and I've been seeding my entire neighborhood with them for years. I haven't looked up numbers on them but pretty sure they also have plenty of nutrition, protein and calories and they are easy to store without any special treatment or conditions.






 
Karl Treen
pollinator
Posts: 196
Location: Providence, RI, USA
99
2
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mark Reed wrote:I've wondered if the flower buds were edible and the one video says they are and they produce abundantly. I've also wondered regarding both if the immature seed pods can be eaten as they both produce lots of them.



Mark - yes, indeed, the immature flower buds (and bud stems) are not only edible but "choice" in my book. I have tons of them and eat them, cooked like asparagus, for a few weeks every summer. Snap off as much of the stem as bends and snaps easily. The stem is as good as the pod, above the woody lower section. They're especially good with a pesto sauce. My stomach is rumbling just thinking about them! I also eat the spring shoots. Simply cover them with a pile of leaves, or forcing pot, to blanch and make them grow tall without leafing. They are one of my spring favorites but, oddly, after eating them for few weeks, I lose my taste for them so it works well that they aren't around for very long.

I haven't yet found a hosta leaf that I like to eat when they are fully leafed out. My most prolific variety tends to be a little too mucilaginous for my taste and the flavor is usually too strong. That said, I have really only experimented with one variety. I have been expanding my diversity over the past year and hope to have some new varieties to taste this spring.

I seem to communicate best through videos, so here are a couple on eating hostas. The first is a really old one of me harvesting, cooking and eating the buds. The second is more informative.
I'll be doing more videos on hostas this year as I taste some of my new varieties. If you're interested in seeing how that goes, please subscribe to the second of the two channels "Karl's Food Forest Garden":




 
Mark Reed
pollinator
Posts: 279
Location: SE Indiana
163
dog fish trees writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Karl, once again I enjoyed your video. Sorry I can't say the variety of your purple flowered one but it sounds and looks exactly like one I have. As far as how big they get I brought my purple ones from when I lived in the valley beside the Ohio River. Where I live now they get about the same size as in your video but down in the valley soil and in a little more shade than here they got twice that big, with bloom stalks easily four feet tall.

We have a lot of different kinds but my my favorites are that big purple one and one I'm pretty sure is called Royal Standard. Royal Standard is similar but a little larger and the flowers are white and fragrant, a little like honey suckle. Another which may be a cross between those two or maybe just a variant of Royal Standard has slightly larger, fragrant flowers with faint pink streaks. I don't worry the ​tiniest bit about keeping a variety pure, I like when they cross up and make new kinds, especially if those new ones become better adapted to my garden.

Glad to know the buds and stems are also good to eat.  I suspected they were, and like you said you can harvest some and still have flowers. I was hesitant to do much harvesting of the spring shoots for fear of damaging the plants and the woman here didn't take kindly to that Idea at all. Now if it turns out the immature seed pods are also good that would be icing on the cake cause you would have all the flowers (which the bees and hummingbirds greatly appreciate) and since they make so many seeds still have plenty of them too.

Most of the others we have are smaller plants, several with yellow or white variegated leaves. They are mostly newer versions that the woman has bought and in my opinion all pale in comparison and in all respects to those older bigger ones.
 
Mathew Trotter
pioneer
Posts: 462
Location: Oregon 8b
119
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Karl Treen wrote:
Mathew, I'd love to hear the results from your root crops this year, especially mauka. Please let me know how it goes.  



I'm planning to do videos on all of these crops, especially on propagating them from cuttings/slips, which is purported to work as a way to rapidly propagate all of them (though the method varies slightly by species.) I haven't had the time and energy to do a lot of video, but I'll at least post here if I don't get around to it. I'm subscribed to your channel now.

Karl Treen wrote: I can comment on edible dahlia. I started growing seeds from Cultivariable a couple of years ago and have been perfecting the genetics of a compact variety that I tastes quite good. Many of them taste like you're eating a pine cone, and I have heard that some taste like radishes.



I know that Bill Whitson says that they need to be tasted within two weeks of harvest, which make me think that the flavor fades if you wait much beyond that... don't know if that applies equally to the undesirable flavors as to the desirable ones. I have tasted one tuber that I dug up from one of my mom's plants. It was bland, reminding me somewhat of jicama. That plant had already died back at that point, and for who knows how long, so I'm not sure if it would have had more flavor if tasted sooner. I think this could either be a good thing or a bad thing. You obviously don't want the flavor to fade if it's one that you enjoy, but if you have a well-yielding dahlia with an undesirable flavor, it may mellow to a more desirable blandness as it sits in storage. They could be used in stir fries in place of water chestnut which their texture resembles and where they're used for texture more than flavor.

Mark Reed wrote:I remember Carol Deppe talking about them and that some are more tasty than others. They are not difficult to grow from seed so I have wondered about breeding them for better food quality. I didn't know you could also eat the roots so breeding for bigger roots would be a fun project.



I think Carol was the one that first turned me onto dayliles as food... or at least as a tuber crop. Or perhaps it was Eric Toensmeier. And I don't think that it was simply that some are more tasty than others, but rather that most of the ones sold as ornamentals are hybrids between more than one species and their edibility is unknown. I think most sources generally consider them all to be edible, but authoritative sources are hesitant to make that claim for fear that somebody might discover the exception to the rule. I've definitely been interested in breeding for bigger roots, and have poked around to see if I could find anyone already doing that work, but never came up with anything. With the unknown edibility of other species it seems like a difficult project to get off the ground. Honestly, I think it's going to take someone a little more wreckless than me to sample all of the hybrids and figure out which ones would be helpful as breeding stock... and that's barring polyploidy or sterility making a mess of things. I guess it's always possible that, given a large enough patch, that a mutation for larger tuber size might occur. But that seems like a needle in a haystack kind of endeavor. Still, I'm hopeful that there will be progress in breeding daylilies for a tuber crop in my lifetime.

I knew you could eat cattails but didn't know they had such good nutritional content. They along with waterlilies though would be quite a messy chore to harvest considering where they grow.



I've been workshopping solutions to this, because it is kind of a messy thing to harvest. Kinda worth it, though. The rhizome reminds me a bit of cassava in flavor, which I absolutely adore, though I do tend to chew it for the starch (which melts in your mouth) and then spit out the fiber, since it's a bit more chewing than I care to do. That's one reason it was traditionally turned into flour. I haven't sampled pollen or shoots yet. My patch is still small so I'm being careful not to overharvest, though I expect to get some pollen this year. Cattail pollen pancakes are quite popular.

As far as easing harvest goes, I've got a few ideas floating around. The first is to grow them in a spot that stays damp all year but doesn't have standing water. I have a small patch out here that spontaneously occurred in just such a spot... it was so unexpected to see them out of the water that I had been planning on importing cattails for our pond before I found that patch growing on seemingly dry ground. The other ideas I have are to get them established in a pond such that picking from the ponds edge provides a sufficient harvest. Another idea is to stack branches, especially of something rot resistant like black locust, into a little network of paths through the boggy area I'm try to establish them in. That way you can reach a good deal of the cattail patch without any kind of wading. I have a friend who did some restoration work in some swampy areas and confirmed that this is how they made their paths. They would also possibly be a good choice for container growing, just like in the wapato video. If desired, the whole container could be drained to harvest the rhizomes. Or the most obvious solution is to just accept wading in the much as a necessity and possibly invest in a pair of waders to keep oneself mostly warm and dry.

I'm definitely going to look into that Nine Star perennial broccoli that one lady spoke of, I'd love to add that into my brassica mix that I'm working on now.



I've been trying to hunt down Nine Star for years now. I've only ever found two sources in the states, but they've both been out for probably a couple of years now and just this year both removed Nine Star from their websites. If you happen to find some, I'm very interested. But, given the difficulty of tracking that one down, I'm now thinking about crossing the Kaleidoscope perennial kale with my annual broccolis and trying to develop a perennial broccoli that way. I'm not sure what the odds of success are, but since broccoli is my favorite brassica, I'm willing to toil with that project for a while.

 
Mathew Trotter
pioneer
Posts: 462
Location: Oregon 8b
119
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh, and my  other thought was to just plant cattails in swales on contour. They probably stay moist enough for the cattails to thrive but could be easily accessed from all sides, and they probably dry out just enough at some point in the season to make harvest easier. At the very least, it would be an easy way to set up cattails for shoot, flower, and pollen harvest.
 
Karl Treen
pollinator
Posts: 196
Location: Providence, RI, USA
99
2
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mathew Trotter wrote:
I've been trying to hunt down Nine Star for years now. I've only ever found two sources in the states, but they've both been out for probably a couple of years now and just this year both removed Nine Star from their websites. If you happen to find some, I'm very interested. But, given the difficulty of tracking that one down, I'm now thinking about crossing the Kaleidoscope perennial kale with my annual broccolis and trying to develop a perennial broccoli that way. I'm not sure what the odds of success are, but since broccoli is my favorite brassica, I'm willing to toil with that project for a while.



Mathew, I really, really have to put in another plug for using sea kale for perennial broccoli production. The flavor is, truly, even better than broccoli. The broccolis won't arrive until your sea kale is in its second year but will proliferate with age until you have lots of reliable broccoli with almost no effort whatsoever. The toughest part is getting your sea kale plants through year 1. After that, they're pretty nearly unstoppable unless you have very persistent animals eating them.

If you are in the states and need sea kale roots to try, reach out to me using the contact form at the bottom of my homepage FoodForestGardenClub.org. I think the ground is warm enough for me to dig some up for you. I'm very happy to send them to you.
 
Mathew Trotter
pioneer
Posts: 462
Location: Oregon 8b
119
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Karl Treen wrote:
Mathew, I really, really have to put in another plug for using sea kale for perennial broccoli production. The flavor is, truly, even better than broccoli. The broccolis won't arrive until your sea kale is in its second year but will proliferate with age until you have lots of reliable broccoli with almost no effort whatsoever. The toughest part is getting your sea kale plants through year 1. After that, they're pretty nearly unstoppable unless you have very persistent animals eating them.

If you are in the states and need sea kale roots to try, reach out to me using the contact form at the bottom of my homepage FoodForestGardenClub.org. I think the ground is warm enough for me to dig some up for you. I'm very happy to send them to you.



Thanks, Karl. I got some "sea kale" seeds last year that I finally got around to starting this year, and they ended up being bogus. They were shipped without pericarp, so I had a feeling that they weren't really sea kale. It's still on my list, but I'd honestly love the larger florets... which I'm obviously not going to get with the sea kale.

Have you tried eating the roots? I think I heard that one of the related crambe species had slightly better roots for eating, but I've always been curious what people think about the flavor and eating quality.
 
Mark Reed
pollinator
Posts: 279
Location: SE Indiana
163
dog fish trees writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm also a little dubious of eating just anything because someone says it's OK and I know there are a variety of daylily species. The ones I have most commonly seen as being eaten are the wild orange ones and they are the ones in abundance here. It's worth a shot to try digging some up to see if I can find any variations in root size, although it might just as likely be due to environmental conditions rather than genetic. Still I could bring more of that type back closer to home.

Just occurred to me that if I wanted to harvest cattails, at least the tops rather than roots in would be most convenient to utilize my kayak, eliminate all the fuss and muss and maybe catch a fish too. Wonder how "cattail on the cob" would be with a nice mess of pan fried bluegills.
 
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes; art is knowing which ones to keep. Keep this tiny ad:
paul's patreon stuff got his videos and podcasts running again!
https://permies.com/t/patreon
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic