• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Perennial plant based diet  RSS feed

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
People often discuss perennial food plants here on permies, but to be honest I've had a hard time introducing them into my family's diet. The only perennials we grow which we eat regularly are herbs and various onion relatives. But these can hardly be considered to make up much of our diet.

Can those of you who eat perennials regularly please sharewhat you eat, are they nutrition crops (vitamins and minerals, like salad) or staples (carbohydrates, calorie crops).

Thank you!

Please note I am talking about plants, not animals.

 
ronie dee
Posts: 619
Location: NW MO
3
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Asparagus and stinging nettles. Berry bushes- blackberries, raspberries, strawberries. I like gooseberries and let them grow wild in the woods but haven't planted any in the garden because they are supposed to be bad for the evergreen trees. I am going to get some goji berries- haven't had time to plant yet. Fruit trees- Fugi apple is amazing. Nanking cherries don't require much care at all. I have peach trees and sweet cherries, also mulberry. I have Jerusalem artichoke and day lily plants but don't eat much of either- just feels good to have them around.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
9
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Perennial foods:
root: onion family, yam family, sweet potatoes family, earth nut (legume).
vegetables: we mainly eat annuals in the cabbage and spinach family for minerals so we still need to find and eat more perennial ones or switch to perennial nuts for minerals.
herbs: perennial lovage vs annual celery, more thyme/mint family and onion family
fruits: reduce tomatoe family/melon family fruit and eat more rose family/fig family/etc even dehydrated fruits
seeds: reduce corn seed/wheat seed/oat seed/rye seed/rice seed and increase walnut seed/almond seed/hazelnut seed
oil/sugar: perennial nut oil vs annual canola oil, sugar cane sugar vs beet sugar, maple syrup vs high fructose corn syrup

We currently get 50% of our calorie intake from annual grain seed, most people could easily eat a few handful of nuts throughout the day and get 1200 calories and really enjoy it. The only problem is that they would have to stop eating 1200 calories of cakes, bread, pasta, high fructose corn syrup and who wants to do that.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
S Bengi wrote:The only problem is that they would have to stop eating 1200 calories of cakes, bread, pasta, high fructose corn syrup and who wants to do that.


I do!
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 406
Location: Georgia
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So nuts, fruits, berries and herbs is a big world!

Poke salut requires care but can be eaten. I am not eating my daylilies.
Asparagus can be difficult in certain climates. Jerusalem artichokes have their
problems i.e., gas, rampancy and they are not as good as a potato.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
 
Boris Forkel
Posts: 19
Location: Heidelberg, South Germany
1
chicken forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
chestnuts are great, they used to be a main food crop in some areas in Europe during medieval times. Downsides are that they're only available in the fall, and they don't store for more than about two weeks. One good way to preserve them is to pickle them in honey, raw or cooked, which makes a delicious and highly nutritional food stock for the winter.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:
S Bengi wrote:The only problem is that they would have to stop eating 1200 calories of cakes, bread, pasta, high fructose corn syrup and who wants to do that.


I do!


Me, too. We are still using wheat but moving towards older varieties and hope to get to perennial wheat and chestnut flour over time
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Needless to say, Tyler, I've been giving this a lot of thought.

It's really great to see you moving towards a more climate- and planet-friendly diet, and thinking through how this applies to forest gardens, and I hope for lots of cross-pollination of ideas between us in the future!

First, you need to think about the ecosystem you are trying to mimic. There's a lot we still don't know about these novel ecosystems, but there are some things to think about.

The first is that grains are deficient in one essential amino acid (lysine). You'll get some lysine in nuts, but you will also get very fat in attempting to meet all your lysine needs from plants. Most herbivorous humans obtain most of their lysine from members of the pea family, and most edible members of that group are annuals (scarlet runner beans and winged beans (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) are exceptions, but are usually eaten as vegetables, not proteins). Hold that thought. This is not a reason to abandon the idea, because it's a case of thinking around the problem.

The fact that your ecosystem is based on perennials should not exclude the possibility of growing annuals. Much depends on the canopy density.

In closed-canopy natural and semi-natural forest ecosystems you see an early flush-and-flower of plants that usually store their energy in bulbs, roots and tubers, but more recent forest gardens are strictly savanna habitats with 40-50% canopy cover (Jacke and Toensmeier discuss this in detail in EFG). Many existing forest gardens have overplanted in the canopy layer (J&T talk about this, too). At your latitude you should be able to get away with, even need, a coverage towards the 50% end of this. Here in Scotland I'd be thinking closer to the lower end, but I digress.

With open canopy savanna-type woodland you have much more light getting into the shrub and field layers. I mean, use it!

Let's start with beans. There is nothing stopping you growing beans as annuals in the climbing layer in a forest garden, and then chopping and dropping the bits you don't eat. All of them fix nitrogen. Others can be grown in the field layer outside the root zone (which in most fruit trees equals the drip line). There is a critical need for shade-tolerant pulse varieties that can be grown in forest gardens, and there has been some discussion of this (and the related question of extending growing zones) elsewhere. http://www.permies.com/t/53665/plants/Growing-runner-beans-Portugal#439395 Also check out the plant breeding forum.

From these you can also make things like tofu and tempeh (which can be grown on most pulses, most grains and at least a few nuts).

People have talked about growing Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), and then implied you can't grow potatoes (Solanum tuberosum). I'd love it if someone can explain why this is. Both plants require digging in the rhizosphere, at least if it's done conventionally. Either way this involves interfering in mycorrhizal networks. With potatoes you can grow in straw. http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/mulching-potatoes-straw You'll probably end up with a smaller crop than you would growing in soil using conventional methods, but you also have the canopy yield and a lower likelihood of disease. I've seen potatoes semi-naturalised growing in thin Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) litter.

Don't forget winter squash, either in the field or climbing layer. Try growing them around the spuds and legumes.
 
Rarna Vanda
Posts: 7
Location: South Wales UK
4
cat forest garden trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well done for making the effort to get some seriously good food into your family's diet.

Swapping out the wheat...

Acorn nut and flour

I have tried this myself, although I do not use acorn flour on a regular basis, it is great to do on the odd occasion when you have plenty of time, soak acorns in fresh water, preferably for 24 hours, change water every few hours, (obviously not needed overnight as you would be sleeping!). When water is clear then you are done. This leaches out all the tannin which can otherwise be harmful and very bitter tasting. Once acorns are leached, then dry them off, and roast them in a low oven. This may take an hour or two, do not let them go black. Once cooked then shell them. You can shell them before cooking, but I find it is easier to get the shells off afterwards. Put the shells in compost bin, then use the central part of the acorn. Grind it up, blender or pestle and mortar are both fine, or use whatever method you find easiest. Even wrapping them in a tea-towel and bashing them with a rolling pin works haha. The desired consistency for your finished product is small nutty chunks, if you want to use them to flavor food, in place of other nuts. They can also be used in place of peanuts for peanut acorn butter. The desired consistency if you want to use them as flour is more milled, so use the pestle and mortar on the chunky bits, and grind them right down. Then use as you would normally use wheat flour. Personally when I am making bread with acorns, I tend to use wheat flour and acorn flour half and half, and toss in the smaller chunks of acorns, aswell as the more ground down floury stuff, this makes a lovely nutty loaf. But if you want 100% perennial crops, or have allergy to wheat products, then 100% acorn flour is great to use, as long as you have done the leaching process to remove the tannin.

One oak tree can give a huge harvest every year, literally thousands of pounds from a mature oak, if you can beat the squirrels to them. But if you are going to plant your own oak, then remember 2 things...

1. Obviously they do grow very slowly, but can live for hundreds of years, and you will not get much of a crop for at least 5 years, 10 years before you have an actual tree sized oak.

2. Oaks come up as male and female trees. So if you are planting oaks, it is a good idea to plant more than one, and also not all females produce a lot of acorns. Traditionally many oaks were planted, and then the best croppers and a couple of the largest males were left to grow, the rest thinned out for timber. However they do not need to be planted very close together to pollinate each other, an oak at one end of a football field can easily pollinate an oak at the opposite end of the field.

Having brought up 4 children, I can also say that no matter what you put on the table, at least one of them will make some fuss about it, but remain firm, remember you are helping them to be more healthy, which is a very important task, and don't just throw out every recipe that they turn their nose up to, try it a few times and they will get used to it, and grow to love it
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you, Neil. There are several native plants which I want to explore as climate-appropriate food sources. We have a perennial native squash here, Cucurbita foetidissima , but only the seeds are edible. Winecup, Callirhoe involucrata, is a beautiful small native mallow with edible leaves and roots, but I have not eaten it yet. I hope to try it later this year; the roots are supposed to taste like Sweet potatoes, which reminds me to mention that Sweet potatoes have tendencies toward perennializing in this climate.
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3671
Location: Anjou ,France
176
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shouldn't we count sweet potatoes , potatoes and other clone type root crops as perennial ?


David
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1183
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
199
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In our climate some people's "perennials" are our annuals - we can get pretty deep freezes for most species of tuber.

What grows here on site:
Rhubarb, horseradish, onions, garlic, berries (currants, saskatoon, strawberry if sheltered with mulch over winter), loads of tree fruits (apples, pears, apricots, cherries).
Native food plants like lichens, pine nuts, meadow herbs, Indian ice-cream, I haven't quite learned how to prepare yet.

What we eat from other local farms:
All of the above, minus the lichen and pine, plus:
- Sunchokes, mulberries, more berries and fruit varieties, herbs, edible flowers.

I think Jerusalem artichokes are tastier than potatoes. I sometimes serve them with cheese or Hollandaise sauce. Haven't had fart problems ourselves, but maybe it's a question of personal tolerance as well as of how they're prepared.

Nettles are a good one, we actually eat a lot of them dried, from a friend's farm, not quite brave enough to confront the in-laws for permission to plant here.

Dandelion blossoms make good fritters - use any flour, add egg for coarse low-gluten flours or crumb-sized stuff like ground-up nuts, or water and oil with your nice fine starchy flours, to make a tempura or pancake-type batter.
Dip and fry them. Experiment with spices if you like, or just salt lightly.
This works for a lot of edible blossoms (including maple florets, squash blossoms, herb flowers, bolted mustard plants), fruits, and vegetables, makes them tastier for those accustomed to higher-calorie treats.

Berries - almost all are good raw, cooked, etc.
One variety of cherry (sand cherry? Nanking?) from a local farm, translucent red flesh, the pit was thin-skinned enough that we could chew them after cooking, I want to try a cherry-almond "pemmican" the old-fashioned kind, with pits included.
I made a mulberry sorbet, then looked at all the strained seeds and thought, "That's a lot of food there." Ground them up a little, made a pemmican-fruit-leather thing, nice higher-protein fruit snack.
Experimenting with spices in dried fruit leather: add pepper to mulberry and it tasted like peanut butter. Weird, very "brown" flavor. Coriander gives a nice citrusy note, brings out the "berry" instead of the bland.
I did this by putting 8 little piles of mulberry goo on a plate, sprinkling a different spice on each one, and taste-testing. Then shared the most interesting 3 flavors with my hubby. (I try not to make him taste anything nasty or not worth noticing, although I had to share the peanut buttery thing because it was so weird.)

Almost any kind of berry, and most fruits, go well in pancakes, crepes, or as a jam or compote with cheese or nuts.
Crepes can be made easily with low-gluten flours (such as nuts, buckwheat, etc) because they're mostly egg.

Small plug: Ernie's chocolate truffle recipes are listed on our Kickstarter or at Pantry Paratus, Gourmet Truffle Trifold. They include ideas for spices to match with specific fruits, for more deliciousness.

I want to find edible, non-invasive thistles, because our invasive ones sure do great up here.
But I think artichokes would not be perennial in hard frost conditions? Just guessing, they seem to grow great on the CA coast but I've only seen small ones in Oregon, and now we're inland, more of a Rockies or high-desert type climate.

And I know you said plants... but goats make wonderful milk from all kinds of perennial branches. Coppiced or pollarded trees can be used as "tree hay" for dairy herds, over-wintering with less dependence on annual hay crops.
Adding cheese makes a lot of things more palatable. Butter and bacon are cold-climate fats, that can be produced reliably with on-site conditions.

Almost any equivalent vegetable oil is going to be imported from someplace tropical or sub-tropical, we don't grow a lot of oil seeds in my region. Hazelnut or almond oil are expensive, and the conditions in which almonds are growing make me thing that some annuals would be a better choice. (Hazelnuts seem OK, I have always enjoyed passing the smaller orchards in Oregon's Willamette Valley, and even the bigger plantation areas seem to intersperse with hops, evergreens, or other crops so it's not as bad a monoculture as some places. I would believe they are sprayed less than some other oil crops, though I have no real basis for that - it's probably just personal nostalgic bias.)

If it's a vegan diet you're after, getting some good-quality oils, like coconut oil, or nut oils, will add important nutrients. Frying, sauces, and other rich touches can make a new food palatable more quickly.

I did a long post about a similar topic not too long ago.... introducing new foods, favorite dishes. People seemed to like it. Where is it ...
It's the really long one on page 4 of this thread:
http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/120/51692
The ethnobotany reference I mentioned there might be good for basic guidance on native cooking methods for some of the native perennial foods, or look for similar local references for your climate/area.

You know what else is perennial, and goes great with onions? Mushrooms. (Also olives, if your climate will support them.)

I have learned to safely identify about 4 kinds of edible mushrooms, out of the dozens or thousands the region has to offer. Ernie knows a few more.
You can plant mushroom spawn from fungi perfecti, but the crops may take a while, and be unpredictable (they fruit according to weather, moisture, and even crowding of their food supply, not just season or sunlight). And you may get wild mushrooms in there unless you have a sterile grow room, so it still takes some ID skills.
Once you have a mushroom crop, get as many as you can.
Most can be sauteed with butter or olive oil, go great with garlic, onion, or any alliums. Shaggy manes are best fried up and eaten fresh (and they will make an inky-purple color, you just have to make it a feature, or play games with it. If they get left more than a day or two in the fridge, they become ink).
Chicken-of-the-woods AKA sulfur mushroom also makes a heckuva creamy mushroom soup; I haven't tried drying it. (We trim off the tender tips and leave the rest to grow, so it's usually a special meal not a big crop.)
Other varieties - boletes, most "wild mushrooms" that are sold in stores like chanterelles, oyster, morels, porcini, shiitake - they can be dried in a dehydrator or even on a string, and then soaked in hot water, wine, or wet foods (like pasta sauce) for reconstituting and using them later. You can also do mushroom "teas," like is done with chaga and others for medicinal purposes. I have not tried any of the "magic mushrooms," either on purpose or by accident, not my thing.
Lobster mushroom, we chopped it up and made a stuffing with cheese and onion and breading, used it to stuff button caps from the store, amazing.

My policy with mushroom ID is to confirm with 3 reliable books and 1 experienced local person, before eating them. In rare cases, if I know and trust the person's expertise, I may take someone's word for it. Some farmers' markets have skilled mushroom foragers, and I will buy from them, especially if they throw in a good ID lecture.
If serving to others, this is a life-or-death responsibility, and you don't always know if someone else may have a sensitivity.
For example, alcohol inky-caps can cause fatal alcohol poisoning, but are non-toxic and lovely to eat as long as you don't drink alcohol for a few days to a week afterwards. Did your guests stop for cocktails before coming for dinner? Would they admit it to you if they had?
In general, when serving new mushrooms or any new food to others, follow the "taste a little bit and wait" protocol described in my earlier post.

Olives are awesome, make good pizza toppings, tapenade, snacks, also go great in tuna salad, egg salad, potato salad. Also fun to put on fingers and play "English Royal Guards Losing Their Hats."
Our co-op does an olive tapanade and cream cheese sandwich, with salad fixins on whole wheat - lovely.
Almost all olive varieties are brined or pickled before eating, for edibility, palatability, and keeping. Different styles go better with different flavors of fruits, cheeses, etc.
Olive oil is great for low-temp cooking, seems obvious... a key ingredient in pesto, pasta primavera, etc.

There are perennials in the pea family, but I don't know if any are edible/palatable.
There are perennial leafy greens, and broad leafy roll-ups can be a fun way to eat. Depending on climate, kale, chard, and other tender greens can be perennial.

Acorns and other tannic nuts can be made edible by fine grinding and extended soaking in cool water. John Kallas has good recipes for acorn pudding, muffins, etc.
They can also be made edible by feeding to pigs ... not a plant sorry.

Edible lily-family flower bulbs include camas, day lily, chocolate lily, rice lily, wapato, etc. Most are perrenial but are killed when harvested.
May require cooking or other preparation for edibility and palatability. We did a wapato stew with salmon and other root vegetables and mushrooms, came out pretty good. But these bulbs can be slightly bitter. If trying to wean over kids raised on potatoes, it will not be a happy substitution.
Bitters can be cut with acid, rich fats, or certain spices like pepper. (Don't try to sweeten it away, the combination can be disgusting).

Grapes are perennial, and grape juice can be concentrated and fermented into all kinds of different useful things. I use grape or apple concentrates in place of refined sugars a lot, for example making apple butter.
There's also maple sugar; I would use these before either cane or beet sugar, for soil-building and food-forest health.
And honey, if that's plants - you can count it as flower nectar and not bee spit. If that works for you, bee pollen is also a nutrient-dense food. A little weird to get used to - I sometimes sprinkle it on berries, eat it plain like halvah, or it can be used in salad dressings.

That's probably more than enough from me for now.

Anybody know if cacao or carob are perennial? because I sure love dark chocolate.
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1183
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
199
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Boris Forkel wrote:chestnuts are great, they used to be a main food crop in some areas in Europe during medieval times. Downsides are that they're only available in the fall, and they don't store for more than about two weeks. One good way to preserve them is to pickle them in honey, raw or cooked, which makes a delicious and highly nutritional food stock for the winter.


OH YEAH. Chestnuts also freeze well, and I've had some success drying them. They are a more balanced food - sweet, savory, rich without being oily. Make great stuffings, roasted snacks. Sweetened they can be a treat by themselves, or made into a spreadable paste. Actually I did the spreadable paste without sweetening, just used the fresh-cooked nuts, it was wonderful.

A lot of seasonal bulb staples were cooked and then dried (camas, wapato), and then boiled or steamed to soften for eating. Some were cooked with other foods like meat or berries that were stored separately, or harvested in different seasons.
You can do this with other things too.
Starchy stuff that's processed into strings and dried, or cooked and diced and dried, or freeze-dried, can re-constitute as pasta, "cous-cous," gnocci, hash browns, gravy base, or soup/pie thickener. Play around with size and re-constitution methods until you like the results. Finer grinds can go into breads, pancakes, etc, but get a feel for how long the hard little nodules need to be steamed and softened.

Tapioca is a good example - it does not grow in little pellets, but that's the only form most of us know.

I'm also remembering that the chestnut paste was delicious, but a little went a long way.
You may find that kids eat less of these foods than they would of empty-calorie staples.
Wild foods and well-rooted perennial crops can be pretty micronutrient-dense. Pair that with the unfamiliar flavors, the kids may eat slowly, and feel full sooner.

It's OK to eat a bit less with new foods; often, we need less.
Just don't skimp on the oils in cold weather or heavy work, or the proteins and salts during growth spurts.

-E
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Erica, two perennial "thistles" to try are Globe Artichoke, Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus, and Cardoon Cynara cardunculus. Cardoon does especially well here. So far I haven't been able to incorporate much of it into our diet.

And yes, both Cacao and Carob are perennial (trees) but, sadly, won't live in a cold climate.
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1832
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
91
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, Erica, Cacao is a perennial.

Someone listed kale as an annual, but it is a perennial. Even here is high desert Colorado, some individual plants come back after a hard winter. Letting the ones that come back go to seed, and replanting will get you started on your own landrace perennial kale.

The leaves off linden trees are eaten as greens, so I've heard, but have not tried.

If you are eating the tender greens and or the flowers off daylilies, you are not disturbing the soil at all.

The seed off the Siberian elm is tasty when it is in the green phase, easy to strip off the trees by the hand full and eat or put in a salad.

Perennial greens that do well (in small amounts) in a smoothie and or salad: alfalfa, cheeseweed/button weed / Malva parviflora, day lily, leaves off that spiny wild or mountain lettuce / sow thistle, Sonchus arvensis and Sonchus oleraceus, parsley (a self reseeding bi-annual), curly dock, clover, lemon balm, rose geranium leaf (pelargonium graveolens), nettles, hollyhock leaves and flowers, chicory... I'm sure there are more, and I could think of them if I went for a walk around and gathered ingredients for a smoothie.

Moringa leaf.

I'm glad dairy has already been mentioned, but I'll say again, ruminants eat perennial, their resident populations digest some of the cellulose, and the lactating animal converts it into milk. Chickens convert perennial greens into eggs.

Off topic here, but related to the spirit of the question (eating no till crops, as that's what perennials are), if you want to grow some annuals to supplement your perennials, and don't want to disturb your perennials, you can seed them as they seed no till cover crops, just make a single slice through the existing root mass and add the seed. Keep the canopy of the existing plants VERY short, so the plants can come up, and you can SEE them, then keep the surrounding perennials canopy LOWER than the canopy of the annuals you are encouraging. You could also germinate the seeds, then dig a hole in the plant cover and put the annual plant's root system in to the hole. Kind of what many do with most vegetable starts, only without pulverizing the soil first.n This is what I'm doing now to get more big blue stem integrated into pasture that has a lot of low quality grasses.

Though lettuce is an annual, if you let it go to seed you will usually get some germination next year that comes back by itself.
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6701
Location: Left Coast Canada
841
books chicken cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Boris Forkel wrote:chestnuts are great, they used to be a main food crop in some areas in Europe during medieval times. Downsides are that they're only available in the fall, and they don't store for more than about two weeks. One good way to preserve them is to pickle them in honey, raw or cooked, which makes a delicious and highly nutritional food stock for the winter.


I adore chestnuts! Pickled in honey sound delicious.

Up to about the end of the second world war, my family would store them buried in the ground in clamps, spikes and all. They would keep till new year's. Apparently they would taste sweeter than at harvest time. A September harvest in southern England, but traditionally roasted at Christmas.
 
Deb Rebel
garden master
Posts: 1802
Location: Zone 6b
187
books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had health go seriously sideways and the journey has been about six or seven years. I have gotten off of meat, refined sugars (such as corn syrup) and a lot of other added sugar, and because of celiac, no wheat, rye, or barley. It is possible to live without all of that. I eat a vegan diet because of genetic cholesterol. If you can give up the hidden sugars (that withdrawal will take a good month) and the wheat, rye, barley (I can only guess, that one was probably a YEAR or more) your cravings will die. That is nirvana, when you are just hungry, not drooling over something you can't have.

A mainstay now is acorn flour, and yes I go through the pain of collecting, soaking, roasting and grinding and making a lot of flour as no way could I afford it. Hazelnuts are just plain wonderful. Both of these I consider an acquired taste. I have started my own hazelnut grove, and am lucky enough to have several neighbors with fairly good sized and well producing oak trees so I can have all I want for the collecting. I am a night person and my spouse is a morning person so we CAN change the water every few hours for the first day which I think does a much better result.

Dandelions were a go-to green for a few years between totally getting off anything that resembled meat, and aren't hard to coddle a bit in a coldframe (I can get 9-10 months growing season with coldframes. Our spring is often three months with 4-5 nasty cold dips, I'm sitting here with my peach blooms all frozen out and snow on the ground, my coldframes are fine). Coldframes also allow me a season to get cauliflower and broccoli, as when our summer comes it stays hot and baked.

Another plant is hot peppers, they are perennials in zone 9 or warmer. Ol' Flame my jalapeno, just turned five. It comes in every winter and I play bee when it blooms, it produces 1-2 crops indoors and 2-3 outside (goes outside after hardening off for 5-6 months) a year. It's getting woody and slowing down so I have to propagate it this year and make baby Flames. Hot peppers are tasty and add to your general blood and heart health (or I like to think so. Nothing else will blast a cold or stopped up nose like some good hot salsa or dried pepper flakes added to your quinoa and lentil stew).

One other plant that would be a perennial, that takes a pretty warm climate or lots of dedication that is outside of most permaculture, is a green called tree collards, which are very good, prolific, but need a bit of care to propagate from top cuttings and are hardy really only zone 8 or warmer. 7 with a lot of care. I bring cuttings in to overwinter. Plants will get huge, trust me.

Only thing I still really break down and buy are cashews, which I make vegan cheeses and nutmilk from. They need too warm a climate for me to grow them.

On a plus side, I have recently been cleared from having type II diabetes and have genetic cholesterol in range now of 'normal' and good HDL levels. That involved permanent diet change and losing over 60#. It is possible. Even if I may never be 100% Permie I do try to lessen my footprint and produce what I eat, then I know what's in it. I feel a LOT better not eating many processed food products anymore. My goal project for 'new tools and gadgets' this year is to build a nice big solar tower/drying box to preserve foods.

Getting yourself or your family to eat different foods, takes some dedication too. I will be reading this forum with interest, to see what else is suggested.
 
Deb Rebel
garden master
Posts: 1802
Location: Zone 6b
187
books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I forgot, paddle cactus/Nopales. Paddles can be burnt to get rid of those horrible hair spines and made into green bean fakes, and the fruit ('tuna') are very good juiced or made into jelly. The latter is also good if your fighting high blood pressure. I started a natural inner fence liner of them to provide tuna's for my health. They pack antioxidants and vitamins. The juice or pulp freezes well, and the jelly will keep for a long time if processed properly. I sourced some from another plant that was growing well here, and also found some of the local variety (that are much smaller and have a more intense flavor).
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
Posts: 48
Location: Wisconsin Rapids, WI
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:People often discuss perennial food plants here on permies, but to be honest I've had a hard time introducing them into my family's diet. The only perennials we grow which we eat regularly are herbs and various onion relatives. But these can hardly be considered to make up much of our diet.
Can those of you who eat perennials regularly please share with you what you eat, are they nutrition crops (vitamins and minerals, like salad) or staples (carbohydrates, calorie crops).

I'm sure you are already doing strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb. Those are so easy. In the farther out of the way, I love Jerusalem artichokes. They fill several duties too: Hedge if you leave the mains stalks in the ground while picking the side tubers, pollinator forage if you allow the multi-branched flowers to bloom in the fall (similar to sunflowers but smaller)... Finally, the tubers: They are called the potato of the diabetic. They are delicious in every recipe calling for potatoes: pan fried, boiled, mashed, raw in salads or like radishes etc... Even in my poor sandy soil, one tuber will yield 10- 20. Here zone 3, they survive our winters easily in the ground and without protection. In the early spring, around the time of asparagus, they will start peeking timidly. That is when you can "thin" them. The roundest tubers seem to be on the outside, farthest from the mother plant, so you can keep the hedge growing. In good soil, the main stalk may grow as big as my wrist. If you unearth a tuber that is not to your liking,(too big, too knobby, whatever, just replant it elsewhere, out of the way. I would not recommend tossing it in the compost, though: It will grow!
In Europe, my parents survived on sun-chokes during WWII. All the food was confiscated by the Nazis and people lived on ticket rations for at least 5 years after the war ended.
I have to fight the deer for them though, as those critters know what is good: In the spring, they eat the shoots and may kill them, yet you may not want them in your garden because they will keep growing from 3-4 ft away for the mother plant each year. On the minus side, they are invasive if you let them and they are knobby, which is the main reason they are not a commercial crop. They can also give you gas. If that is too much gas for you, you can also offer it as a forage to pigs, cows, deer and chickens. The red tubers did not yield as well as the big brown/ beige ones in my soil. I do not know if you can improve their shape by consistent selection, but that would be something to try. To me, they taste much better than potatoes, with a nuttier taste. With a dollop of mayo, they are unbeatable!
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3671
Location: Anjou ,France
176
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler in a word berrys
Raspberrys , Tayberrys blackcurrents etc etc easy to grow and propergate I went from 6 blackcurrents to 30 in three years at zero cost others similar
Quince as well .
If you lived round the corner I would have given you loads by now

David
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
Posts: 48
Location: Wisconsin Rapids, WI
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David Livingston wrote:Shouldn't we count sweet potatoes , potatoes and other clone type root crops as perennial ?
David

David, bonjour du Wisconsin! Nope. A perennial stays in the ground and does not need to be replanted. While I might think of regular potatoes as "perennials" because I can keep them over winter and plant, they are not technically perennials: You have to go out there and poke a hole to get them going.
I can grow sweet potatoes in Central Wisconsin if I start the slips very early indoors, but they will die in the winter. In particular, I have grown some *Asian* sweet potatoes. They have a wonderful chestnut taste, not at all like the orange tuber we normally thing of at Thanksgiving. (I don't care for those, so I don't grow them, but they might be easier. I just don't know) The Asian ones have absolutely no fiber and this year, I even plan to use them as "chestnut puree" and try my hand at "marrons glacés". They definitely would do great for goose stuffing, or any other stuffing.
 
Jan White
Posts: 104
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Deb Rebel wrote:
Only thing I still really break down and buy are cashews, which I make vegan cheeses and nutmilk from. They need too warm a climate for me to grow them.


Zone 6b should be able to support almonds, which I know arent' as nice a cheese as cashews, but they're a good second choice. Someone I know in 6b also grows pistachios with no special care.
 
Deb Rebel
garden master
Posts: 1802
Location: Zone 6b
187
books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jan White wrote:
Deb Rebel wrote:
Only thing I still really break down and buy are cashews, which I make vegan cheeses and nutmilk from. They need too warm a climate for me to grow them.


Zone 6b should be able to support almonds, which I know arent' as nice a cheese as cashews, but they're a good second choice. Someone I know in 6b also grows pistachios with no special care.


We get an almond crop about every ten years, and peaches every three, apricots about every five. It's called our spring tends to have some really severe cold snaps and the trees flower out before the last really bad one. This year my peaches went early on the bloom and I've had two cold snaps in the teens (the one last night also gifted us with a few inches of snow) that totally froze off the blooms. Others with apricots and almonds reported the same thing. Last year we had the dice roll our way and all three gave crops. Some of my current plant work is to superdwarf all three so I can have a chance of covering/protecting the trees through the snaps. I have at least two to go yet this season, and our last frost/snow day is mid May... to get those three months of spring growing season you have to earn it here. Cherries, apples, quince are not out of bud yet, pear burst a few small leaves, and neighbor's Bradford (my cross pollinator) already bloomed out. Grapes won't wake up for at least another month. Blackberries put out a few leaves and strawberries and rhubarb woke up. (the last two got covered) Part of growing is knowing your climate, and soil. This is my 50th year of growing and my 8th growzone (including altitude or no altitude, we're altitude) and my 10th growing season here, with meticulous notes--so I can predict what MIGHT happen. I wish I could go "no care" but that won't happen if I want to unlock the potential of my microclime and the quirks. As a side note, we had harvestable dandelions by first week of March in the wild, and my coldframe babies were on it by second week of February.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:
I'm sure you are already doing strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb.


Of those, I have only been able to grow asparagus, which is a very tough plant in this climate, but doesn't produce enough to be much of a feature in our diet. I've found cattails in my little frog pond to be much more productive, though not quite as tasty. I'm growing Jerusalem artichokes/sunroots, but here they don't seem to want to become invasive, I think either the soil is too much clay for their taste, or it might get too hot for them to really like it here. I'm trying another kind this year. My husband likes them more than I do - to me they have a strong unpleasant odor while cooking, which he doesn't detect.

I've tried a couple times with berries, and intend to try again. I think Blackberries might do well here, as they grow wild in the area. There used to be a big patch up the road but I think someone sprayed it with herbicide because it wasn't grass.

I've killed various nut trees but intend to try again! I have killed most kinds of plants, but I won't give up!


 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2140
69
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Apricots, pomegranates, loquat, pistachio, there is a native persimmon, but also regular persimmons, grapes, mulberry, figs, medlar, APPLES! , pecans.
John S
PDX OR
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3671
Location: Anjou ,France
176
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Ceceil
The French are just getting into Sweet potatos and I have been amazing folks that I was able to grow 1 yes that was my crop last year . This year I am starting early and hope to do better . You can get mainly orange ones white ones and if you are lucky purple ones . I am on the look out for purple ones for next year . I would like some of those asian ones maybe I will check out Japanese shops
Goose stuffing - apple and black pudding it needs to soak up grease

David
 
Deb Rebel
garden master
Posts: 1802
Location: Zone 6b
187
books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
@ Tyler Ludens,

I have adobe clay, you could literally make bricks of it, and the best thing to do is amend with compost. Break till (go deep) a lot and if you can get river sand versus blow sand, mix some of that in too. This will loosen that clay and the clay is full of all sorts of goodies that will grow good plants IF you can get it to drain (hence deep breaking to two or three feet and adding at least a foot of amendments) It will help with you getting trees established too, and water, water, water those trees. They need a lot of help their first few years. After you get that soil draining then you can go to less stirring up (your first year after a deep break may be a poor crop from having disturbed the natural layers and microbes and worms) and let it go back to 'natural'.

Other 'perennial' that I grow, is to allow Lambsquarters to grow. It's an annual weed but it tastes warm instead of cold and very similar to lettuce. Also, purslane. They are self seeding and keep coming back.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Saltveit wrote:Apricots, pomegranates, loquat, pistachio, there is a native persimmon, but also regular persimmons, grapes, mulberry, figs, medlar, APPLES! , pecans.
John S
PDX OR


Do you find any trouble having such a large amount of fruit in your diet? I'm a little worried about the health effects of too much fructose.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding people who are posting about fruit, maybe it doesn't form that large a part of their actual diet? I'm more interested in what people are actually growing and eating themselves, rather than suggestions about what I can grow and eat.

Reiterating my topic: Can those of you who eat perennials regularly please share what you eat, are they nutrition crops (vitamins and minerals, like salad) or staples (carbohydrates, calorie crops).
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Deb Rebel wrote:

One other plant that would be a perennial, that takes a pretty warm climate or lots of dedication that is outside of most permaculture, is a green called tree collards, which are very good, prolific, but need a bit of care to propagate from top cuttings and are hardy really only zone 8 or warmer. 7 with a lot of care. I bring cuttings in to overwinter. Plants will get huge, trust me.
.



This is an object lesson for the use of scientific names.

I hadn't heard of this plant, so I looked it up. I found that another name for this is "walking stick kale".

I thought: I know that plant, but it's biennial, not perennial. Kale is one of my favourite winter greens, and produces a really nice raab at the end of the season (not to mention being wildly popular with the smaller bumblebees).

Then I found that this is a different plant. My walking stick (or Jersey) kale is Brassica oleracea 'Palmifolia'. https://www.victoriananursery.co.uk/Walking_Stick_Cabbage_Seed/ (I hate to give gratuitous advertising, but I've had interesting seed from these people.)

Deb Rebel's tree collards is a variety of true perennial B. oleracea var. acephala, which seems to be restricted to the US. It's also completely new to me. This site insists that my kale is a variety of B. napa, but every other source I've seen says it's a different variety of B. oleracea: http://treecollards.blogspot.co.uk/
 
Jan White
Posts: 104
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For calories, the most important perennials are probably nuts. I can't think of anything else as high in calories. Nut loaf is a good way to eat a lot of them. I do one with mashed chestnuts instead of the usual lentil or bean component and lots of walnuts, since that's what we have the most of. Nuts braised in whatever tasty broth you like is another way to eat them in quantity. Hazelnuts, another one we have lots of, is a good one for that. Chestnuts dry well for storage, rehydrate okay, and make good flour. Aaand they don't have the tannin and masting issues you often have to deal with in acorns/oaks.

Erica mentioned it, but using concentrated fruit as sweetener is great. If you cook the juice down into a syrup or farther, to molasses, it should have high enough sugar content to store well. I plan on experimenting more with this with apple, grape, and melon - sorry, not perennial.

Fruit of whatever varieties you have is obvious, and probably second best for calories. It's also more nutrient-dense than grain or nuts. Right now I rely on the freezer a lot and collect blueberries, strawberries, and stone fruit for the whole year. Grapes get turned into raisins. If you use more interesting varieties of grapes than the typical table ones, the raisins are delicious. I think of my dried Himrods as home made wine gums. My stomach doesn't like them, but my husband goes through 150-200 lbs of fresh apples every year, dried. Apart from raisins, I find dried fruit digests better when rehydrated, but the texture isn't great so they needs to be made into something afterwards. Rehydrated plum smoothie with cinnamon is one of my favourites.

Greens and vegetables are for minerals. My favourite is parsley. Apparently some people can't eat it in large quantities, but I often have a salad of nothing but parsley and easily put down 200-300 grams in a sitting. I have a variety that doesn't get spicy or bitter. That salad's almost all my iron and over a third of my zinc and calcium for the day. Incorporating more herbs into cooking and into green (think marjoram, oregano, basil, parsley) and fruit (think tarragon, basil, so many mints) salads is a good way to get trace minerals.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10007
Location: Portugal
923
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The portuguese kale, couve galega, is considered perennial. BUT you have to keep taking the flowers off, so it's not a true perennial. It's like a stubborn biennial that won't die. So I guess in terms of botany it doesn't count as perennial, but in terms of gardening and carbon sequestration it does count.
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:

Reiterating my topic: Can those of you who eat perennials regularly please share what you eat, are they nutrition crops (vitamins and minerals, like salad) or staples (carbohydrates, calorie crops).


I hate to dodge the question when you've explicitly asked us not to but, so far, very little of my diet comes from perennials that I'm growing.

Hopefully that will change when I finally get access to enough land but, for the moment, I'm working out how to grow annual staple carbohydrate and protein crops in the context of a predominantly perennial ecosystem.
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3671
Location: Anjou ,France
176
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil
There are other perennial Kales , Burra sent me some seeds . These tree Kale can last years if you dont let them flower That counts as perennial to me
http://www.permies.com/t/11755/plants/Bush-Cabbage

David
 
Jan White
Posts: 104
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:Do you find any trouble having such a large amount of fruit in your diet? I'm a little worried about the health effects of too much fructose.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding people who are posting about fruit, maybe it doesn't form that large a part of their actual diet? I'm more interested in what people are actually growing and eating themselves, rather than suggestions about what I can grow and eat.


My understanding is that fructose, when eaten as part of the whole food, with fiber etc. intact, is not an issue. This is coming from Robert Lustig. Someone on a fruitarian forum had some correspondence with him, and I miiiight be able to dig up the email if you want. I think not mixing sugar with fat, as I talked about in another discussion plays a huge part as well. People like John McDougall, Dean Ornish, Doug Graham can give more information on that if you're interested.
 
Deb Rebel
garden master
Posts: 1802
Location: Zone 6b
187
books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil Layton wrote:
Deb Rebel wrote:

One other plant that would be a perennial, that takes a pretty warm climate or lots of dedication that is outside of most permaculture, is a green called tree collards, which are very good, prolific, but need a bit of care to propagate from top cuttings and are hardy really only zone 8 or warmer. 7 with a lot of care. I bring cuttings in to overwinter. Plants will get huge, trust me.
.



This is an object lesson for the use of scientific names.

I hadn't heard of this plant, so I looked it up. I found that another name for this is "walking stick kale".

I thought: I know that plant, but it's biennial, not perennial. Kale is one of my favourite winter greens, and produces a really nice raab at the end of the season (not to mention being wildly popular with the smaller bumblebees).

Then I found that this is a different plant. My walking stick (or Jersey) kale is Brassica oleracea 'Palmifolia'. https://www.victoriananursery.co.uk/Walking_Stick_Cabbage_Seed/ (I hate to give gratuitous advertising, but I've had interesting seed from these people.)

Deb Rebel's tree collards is a variety of true perennial B. oleracea var. acephala, which seems to be restricted to the US. It's also completely new to me. This site insists that my kale is a variety of B. napa, but every other source I've seen says it's a different variety of B. oleracea: http://treecollards.blogspot.co.uk/


Brassica oleracea var. acephala is the latin for the kind I grow, and they can grow for twenty or more years and top twenty feet. The ones I grow tend to get too woody to produce good tasting leaves in 2-3 years so taking the top tender green shoots in every winter allow me to grow lots of tender leaves and keep the plants going. My apology for not offering the latin name. Mine will get a good eight feet if not more by the end of the growing season, and I can easily double the amount of plants for the next year without trying. They claim a zone 7, I have a sheltered natural area that 'reads' close to 7b on my land and they won't winter there in my climate so I consider them 8 and up. Neil, it can be difficult sometimes to get a positive ID on a plant, you may need to have an expert look at yours and even then they might not be able to identify it 100%. When I adopt new plants and keep mama plants, I use a metal embossing label maker to make permanent tags with the latin and common names and color if applicable, and fasten it on the support or plant itself, so if I make more I know what I grew. I never tagged my tree collards, and I'm making a tag now. Also I don't propagate PP or PPAF varieties until the patent runs out. It may take 20 years from development to the patent, so you may get one that is and not know it. I've had nurseries not tag their plants correctly!!! So my shame that I didn't provide the latin. My apologies.
 
Sarah Colwell
Posts: 1
Location: Montreal, Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I noticed a comment about artichokes and where they might be winter-hardy. A few yrs ago I planted one (started seed indoors) for a lark, and was surprised to find it came up again for a few springs. It was near strawberries which were staw-covered but I'd made no attempt to cover the artichoke as I assumed it would die.
I live in Moncton, New Brunswick in Canada, which has pretty cold winters, but usually good snow cover also, which does protect things a bit.
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 314
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
38
cat dog duck food preservation forest garden fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:
Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:
I'm sure you are already doing strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb.


Of those, I have only been able to grow asparagus, which is a very tough plant in this climate, but doesn't produce enough to be much of a feature in our diet. I've found cattails in my little frog pond to be much more productive, though not quite as tasty. I'm growing Jerusalem artichokes/sunroots, but here they don't seem to want to become invasive, I think either the soil is too much clay for their taste, or it might get too hot for them to really like it here. I'm trying another kind this year. My husband likes them more than I do - to me they have a strong unpleasant odor while cooking, which he doesn't detect.

I've tried a couple times with berries, and intend to try again. I think Blackberries might do well here, as they grow wild in the area. There used to be a big patch up the road but I think someone sprayed it with herbicide because it wasn't grass.

I've killed various nut trees but intend to try again! I have killed most kinds of plants, but I won't give up!




That asparagus should only get more productive over the years if you keep throwing more mulch on top. If you keep any animals at all (chickens, ducks, guinea pigs...even cats if you use organic-y litter and keep it "clean" of "droppings") that you can save a "litter" from, that enriched litter will be a major boon to your asparagus bed(s) if you put it down in the early spring or fall. They do appreciate more moisture which can be a problem down your way, but more mulching and maybe even a touch of dappled shade if they don't have it should promote more crop even there. Same for your jerusalem artichokes / sunchokes - they, too, would benefit from some dappled shade for the summer to keep them cooler and extra mulching with (literally) whatever you have available.

Nature is not very picky about organic materials when it comes to making soil - there's always going to be something available to break that material down to humus given enough material and some moisture.

Check Oikos for a pretty eclectic selection of sunchokes - he's got some claimed to be not artichoke-y at all that might fit your taste preference better. They also host a selection of oaks that have low-tannin acorns that need no leaching to be palatable (so called "sweet acorns").

Always remember that if you have something growing in the area "wild", you can be pretty certain that it will grow for you. Definitely give blackberry a try. My finds with blackberries, which are wild all over the property here, is that they prefer growing on the edges of banks with strong morning sun but afternoon shade. They don't like wet soil but do seem to like access to the puddles below them. Many of the old skid trail's are lined all along the western edge with blackberries 8ft tall while the eastern edge of the same trail might have a few plants that only reach 3 or 4 feet. Needless to say, their berries are smaller and less juicy/sweet by several orders of magnitude. They don't seem to mind the nearly pure clay that was "pressed up" along the edges of the skid trail ruts, and even seem to prefer it - raspberries, on the other hand, are growing anywhere the loggers left behind some slash. They definitely prefer the wood piles and organic soil, tend to grow where there's less puddling and better drainage, but do prefer morning as opposed to afternoon sun like the blackberries.

Seek out what grew there natively, and "wild", then find species that will either feed you or support the species that feed you. It's a trick to figure out sometimes considering how far we've degraded things from what they once were, but that's your ticket to getting things to grow well for you.

I like to keep in mind that nearly this entire continent was a "forest garden" when the european settlers came through - that no "wilderness" existed in the sense of large unmanaged areas. Over hundreds/thousands of years, the american indians had carefully crafted a nearly perfect permaculture paradise of food, fuel, medicine and support species, complete with textured earth, polycultures and guilds, and even multitudes of specialized ecosystems. There's often a sort of mythical wisdom attributed to the way they did things, and rightly so considering how productive and fruitful things were at the time. They had already done the work, figuring out what grows well and where, what's useful to us and what does well with which others - in fact, there's probably a whole forest garden already planted in your soil, laying dormant for the last 150 years, just waiting for the right conditions to sprout

It reminds me of the notion that we go through life dragging our ancestors behind us and throwing descendants out in front of us - that it's all a continuous flow with no real separation. Those who came before did "X", so now we have "Y" conditions - 150 years from now, you will be counted among those "ancestors" who did "X" and produced the contemporary "Y" our descendants have to live with. A smarter way to think about where we are today, how it was that we got here, and how to go about correcting the course for the future

Back to topic though - we're working on it. So far, things like lovage, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, along with standard "wild" greens (dandelion, plantain, etc, which are self-seeding biennials rather than perennial) are incorporated into our diets. Lovage we dry and use throughout the winter. Berries are being made usually into jams for preservation so far, but we're doing more brewing and vinting this year so will preserve a lot them and their nutrients/calories through fermentation. Only so much of our perennial food systems are planted with so much more still to go, and very little / none of it is producing yet. Many of the perennial things we'll be producing, though, are already incorporated into our diets - apple, grape and other fruits preserved through drying, jams/jellies and brewing/vinting; nuts, nut flours and nut butters; tree sap derived syrups such as maple, birch, walnut, etc; copious amounts of dried herbs (when I make a pizza, oregano is more of a vegetable than an herb/spice); and so on. The one area we don't have a good (affordable) source to introduce into our diets what we'll be inevitably eating as our systems come online is the root crops. Wild yams, wapato, yucca, water lily, lotus root, etc are all things that we plan to or have already started incorporating into our plantings, but finding places to buy them up here in the woods of Maine is like trying to buy a Porche in Zimbabwe - someone might have them for sale but you have to travel far and spend twice what the retail should be.

There's no reason to discount the white potato or sweet potatoes when talking about perennials - both are exactly that, though throughout much of the US, they are not. Same goes for tomatoes and, as mentioned, peppers Potatoes can withstand frozen soils to a degree (not sure how cold hardy they'd be, but we know even the tops are mildly frost-hardy), and if you can set up a simple hoophouse in a zone 7 or 8, a lot of the things we think of as annuals will perennialize inside that no problem. Not so much luck in a zone 4/5 like me, but in a heated greenhouse even we can pull this one off. Right now, I'm watching our "Michael" variety parthenocarpic eggplants for regrowth - they lasted into December before giving up and there's still green on some of the stubs left above ground! This is in our "sunroom" which we let fall to low 30s ocassionally over the coldest nights of the winter months. Several unknown volunteer cherry tomatoes that were VERY indeterminant (made excellent sauce!) didn't fair quite as well, but with added protection probably would have made it too. In Florida, we had a pot planted with a store-bought bell pepper plant and genovese basil that lived for 3 years and produced nicely all the way through - they gave up the ghost when we moved to Albuquerque and the pot dried out too badly along the way (was one sad day in a string of them).

Likewise, many biennials can be kept going by removing the seed stalks and flower heads, like Burra mentioned. Perennials and annuals/biennials are not so different and should not preclude one-another, as Neil pointed out. Listening to something from Bill Mollison the other day, the idea of tilling in watermelons (yes, he was talking about discing fields of ripe watermelons!) leads to a perpetual supply of watermelons for both people and livestock feed. Annuals and perennials should never be thought "evil", especially those that are self-seeding or otherwise "easy" and productive. Permaculture and other things like carbon farming are more about how things work in nature and the application of that to our own systems, not about making our lives more difficult
 
Diane Emerson
Posts: 32
Location: Vashon Island, Washington, USA
1
bike forest garden toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We live in a clearing in the forest in Western Washington, Zone 8a. Nothing gets full sun here. We are gradually planting more and more perennial food plants, and perennial versions of annual vegetables. We never need to buy salad greens now, between the wild plants and the perennial or self-seeding kale, spinach, onions, French sorrel, nasturtium, fireweed, chives, mint, hawthorne tree leaves, and more.

For perennial or self-seeding vegetables, we have ozette potatoes, nettles, asparagus, perennial spinach and self-seeding and overwintering kale, angelica, and a few more. We just bought some plants of Yacon, Smallanthus sobchifolius, aka Bolivian sunroot or Peruvian ground apple. Looking forward to seeing how it grows in the garden.

Fruits we have many. The ones we regularly harvest and eat include rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, apples, plums. We expect to start harvesting goji berry this year, grapes and feijoa next.

I love the idea of a completely perennial food garden, but will always save a sunny spot for cherry tomatoes....
 
Water! People swim in water! Even tiny ads swim in water:
Mike Oehler's Low-Cost Underground House Workshop & Survival Shelter Seminar - 3 DVD+2 Books Deal
https://permies.com/wiki/48625/digital-market/digital-market/Mike-Oehler-Cost-Underground-House
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!