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Plants that are like X

 
Posts: 75
Location: North Idaho at 975m elevation on steep western slope, 60cm annual precipitation, zone 4
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So, I hear so much this sentiment in permaculture discussions "Plant what grows well in your climate and go from there" Or "look at what's growing and plant stuff like that"

Practically, I have not so much botany knowledge and I was wondering if anyone had a good online resource like Plants for a future that instead of entering conditions, you enter in a plant name and it gives you useful stuff similar to that which would grow. I'm talking no irrigation "SHUN" stuff.

I researched on this site and found out about PFAF, but there's no option to do "Similar to ______________" Any ideas or is PFAF really the best bet right now and just try to narrow the conditions down. I ask because saying soil is "sandy" and needs to be "drought tolerant", etc is useful, but the plants themselves describe a climate much better than the words because other sandy and seasonally wet/dry sites have WAY different plants growing than at my site, even just a few miles away!
 
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Posts: 1508
Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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I believe the key word here is "microclimate". As you said, "a climate much better than the words because other sandy and seasonally wet/dry sites have WAY different plants growing than at my site, even just a few miles away!" That's how it is where I am. Just a few miles away is like worlds apart.

I think in considering PFAF concepts, you need to start with what has worked (even somewhat) for others in your area and go from there. As far as "no irrigation" have you tried a hugelcultur? They take a few years to be at their optimum but worth it in the long run. If not, a heavy wood chip mulch has proven worthy in keeping the moisture in many of my plant beds.

Another thing I have always noticed is, all websites and seed catalogs that are trying to sell you something (be it plants, garden tools, ideas, or what have you), their pictures are always modified to be extraordinary and nowhere near realistic.

I wish you much good luck. Maybe another Permie will have more suggestions that will help.
 
Let me tell you a story about a man named Jed. He made this tiny ad:
Wild Homesteading - Work with nature to grow food and start/build your homestead
https://permies.com/t/96779/Wild-Homesteading-Work-nature-grow
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