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search for perennial plants: bean, oats, pumpkin, rice...

 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 352
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Hi,

Here in Iceland, the climate is hard, especially the erratic spring and summer weather, and looking at nature, it is much easy to grow perennials rather than annuals.

I want to grow staple food. We have perennial and quite invasive lupins, but these are not edible. There is also a perennial species of vetch, but to my knowledge not edible. Peas and broad beans (fava beans) grow well in Iceland, but these are annuals. Therefore, I am on a quest to find a perennial pea and a perennial fava bean, that could be both cool season and perennial!

Othen than these, in my quest for a perennial pulse, adapted to cool climates, I have the honey locust and siberian pea shrub in mind, I only have seedlings of these. Even a perennial lentil would be great to find. Lentils grow well in Iceland, but are only annual.

In terms of brassicas, we have the 9 star perennial broccoli and a self-seeding biannual siberian kale, that are very adapted to this climate. Same thing for anything from the garlic family. But obviously these are not the stuff that feeds you calories.

Cereals. There are a few perennial grain possibilities. I have Tim's perennial rye, and there is also perennial wheat, both varieties still under development. I should know next year whether mines are perennial or not. However, I would love to find a perennial barley and a perennial oats. Are there related species that could be crossed and are perennial?

Potatoes here are a perennial. Tubers left in the ground will originate new plants and they will be just like seed potatoes, due to the very windy and cool climate, literally pest free. Other than these, I am experimenting with groundnuts and chinese yams, as other perennial starchy roots.

Any other ideas for perennial pulses, roots and cereals?

I also have been looking out to find a perennial pumpkin, perennial rice. Anyone also tried perennial buckwheat?

Perennials are the key here. And even the idea of permaculture is based in perennials: permanent agriculture. But there seems to be too little work done on perennials. Choices are not that many.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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What about jerusalem artichokes for tubers, would they work there? Is there any more inspiration you can draw from the local native flora? For example here in the UK there is the wild plant sea kale, which is sometimes used for its leaves but actually is more valuable for its large starchy roots. Perhaps there is some local equivalent up there? There has certainly been a huge amount of work done on perennials, but your choices will of course be limited by the severe climate.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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I think Eric Toensmeister's suburban forest garden in Western Massachusetts is kinda zone 5ish? Considering he wrote the book on perennial vegetables, I'd start there.

I think with a lot of the perennial crops it is going to be a process of a few generations of breeding to extend the range into colder climate zones, with those in harsher climates the last to benefit.

I live where Moringa O. is somewhat marginal due to occasional frosts in winter. If I ever get seeds from my seedlings, they will become part of a breeding experiment selecting for frost tolerance.

I got some seeds from a local guy that had a 4-year old cherry tomato I am currently growing out. If any survive this coming winter, they go into the breeding pool for a hardier perennial tomato. This won't do you any good, but maybe someone in zone 8 would benefit a decade from now, or zone 7 forty years down the road. This is permaculture after all.
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 352
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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I have one moringa in a container here and it had survived a few summer frosts outdoors, but very minor ones for just a brief period in the dawn. I also have siberian tomatoes, which have survived snowfall and -4ÂșC frost, but now have died, since frosts are nearly daily and soil is freezing quite often. Hopefully I can make them even more cold hardy a few years down the road. I heard rumours of certain siberian tomatoes able to stand much more severe frosts.

On crambe/ sea kale: I am growing it for the first year. Hopefully it will overwinter!

 
Jeff McLeod
Posts: 95
Location: New Hampshire
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I was curious how you are getting on with your search for perennial veggies? I'm up in New Hampshire, US. We're zone 4/5 and it appears as though the bulk of the work being looked at for perennial vegetables etc is aimed at warmer more tropical climates. Mostly what I've found is that some of the onion family seem to be hardy enough to be perennial. As mentioned jerusalem artichokes. I also have stinging nettles and ramp (wild leek). The ramp seems to be none the worse for wear after a cold winter. Not sure about my own nettles yet but I found a patch of wild nettles the other week so they are definitely viable in this climate. Milkweed seems to be pretty ubiquitous as well ... didn't know until recently they were more than a weed

Of course the other option is to put in a poly-tunnel and over-winter perennials that way. Maybe take a look at Eliot Colemans 4 season Harvest book for ideas.

Peace

Jeff
 
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