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Perennial plant based diet

 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I found a decent way to eat the cactus pads - I made Pakoras with them and our native Canada Onion.
 
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Perennials that I'm currently eating include a wide assortment of wild and domestic greens including some tree leaves, a few nuts from my baby almond tree, fruits including blackberries, currants of various kinds, serviceberries, plums, peaches, and apples. Perennial/perennializing alliums are a steady thing. I eat a few sunchokes but don't care for them all that much. I am beginning to experiment with a few perennial tubers including groundnuts, but I'm just getting started and haven't tasted them yet. Would love to hear what experience others have had with them. This year I started growing Dioscorea batatas with the idea of using the arial bulbils as a perennial food source. I have no idea yet how it will turn out.
I know you excluded animals, but I'm able to feed my dairy goat largely off coppiced Siberian elms and perennial weeds. Plenty of perennials go to the chickens too.
 
Posts: 244
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Heather Ward wrote:Perennials that I'm currently eating include a wide assortment of wild and domestic greens including some tree leaves, a few nuts from my baby almond tree, fruits including blackberries, currants of various kinds, serviceberries, plums, peaches, and apples. Perennial/perennializing alliums are a steady thing. I eat a few sunchokes but don't care for them all that much. I am beginning to experiment with a few perennial tubers including groundnuts, but I'm just getting started and haven't tasted them yet. Would love to hear what experience others have had with them. This year I started growing Dioscorea batatas with the idea of using the arial bulbils as a perennial food source. I have no idea yet how it will turn out.
I know you excluded animals, but I'm able to feed my dairy goat largely off coppiced Siberian elms and perennial weeds. Plenty of perennials go to the chickens too.



I'm in a very cold zone 4, more like a zone 3(in the sands of Central WI) so peaches and good blackberries are out, as well as the ground nuts. (We get a few really ratty blackberries, but not the big ones you might get in Washington State). In the allium category, we use both chives, which flower pink in the spring, and also chinese garlic, which flowers white here around the first frost, when my bees suddenly have nothing to eat. They really appreciate having these close to the hives! Not a perennial but a flower that reseeds easily is nasturtiums. You can eat blossoms and leaves, which are really peppery. (I let my bees take the flowers: They will still flower through the first mild frosts when the bees are really looking for blossoms. Also for the bees, I planted 26 basswoods, but they are too young to give me any blossoms. When they do, I'll make some tea too.
Our serviceberries are almost ripe as I write. I have 2 types of sunchokes, one red but small and the other larger but tan. I discovered that although I love them boiled with a little mayo for a dip, they do not like me. (I get a lot of gas from them). Lots of folks who don't like them find that peeling them is a pain, but they are perennials here. Instead, I wash & brush them and eat them raw, like radishes. Easy peasy and they do not bother me as much raw. (I just have to contain my enthusiasm!) They are not pungent and I can eat them without the mayo, which is a plus.
I have made slips of sweet potatoes, but I don't care for the orange tuber sold in stores. Instead, I look for sweet Asian potatoes. Ipomoea batata. Red skin, white flesh, and their taste reminds me of chestnuts, which cannot be found anymore because of the blight. They could be made into "marron glacés" if you find the right kind. If not, it is still very versatile and satisfying. I use it in stuffing, or like mashed potatoes but a lot sweeter!  They say it is perennial in zone 5, but they will not survive Wisconsin winters even in zone 5 Wisconsin. I buy 4-5 tubers in March and get enough slips to give to friends. I'll still have 15 or more for my garden, which is 35' deep of sand.
Since sweet cherries will not make it here, I have a hedge of Hansen bush cherries and Nanking bush cherries. The seed is large in proportion to the flesh but they are good and not bothered by pests. Because they are bushes, they can be picked much easier than regular cherries on a tree. What I don't eat, I can give to the chickens. I planted 7-8 high bush cranberries and they are starting to look pretty good.
The soil can be made acid enough for blueberries so I had a trench built 4'X 4'X 30' long, a tarp laid in to retain the moisture and the acidity for a while (in sand, remember!) and I use the water from the roof and channel it in the trench. At the end of that trench, a huge gooseberry bush gives me loads of berries for jam.
I planted also 26 mulberries but they are slow to establish since we are on the northern end of their range and they need protection from the deer. I've tested only 3-4 fruit this year. They will need chicken manure, and lots of it in spring next year.
Elderberries grow well in sand here too. So do aronias, and I have a nice hedge of these.They are very easy to get established and they reward you with lots of fruit from which you can make jam. Honeyberries and Haskaps are also well worth trying. My hubby made the mistake to tell me that he LOVED rhubarb. Well, thirty plants later, I have enough for all our neighbors and food pantries too.
Also, around every tree, there is a zone that needs constant mowing and hand weeding. I don't like weeding! Well, since something will grow there anyways, I seed with alfalfa, clover, butterfly weed, tansy (Phacelia Tanacetifolia) or the pink milkweed (common asclepia). They flower after the tree they are under so I can spray the trees with Neem oil if bugs threaten with no risk to my bees. My honey bees go to the apple blossoms but come back later to the other flowering plants underneath, so per square foot, I have a lot more blossoms over the course of a year. The orchards are seeded with Durana or Patriot clover, which is a lot more floriferous than regular dutch clover and I do not mow until I made sure the flowers have made seed heads. This way, I can keep the orchards in clover pretty much indefinitely. In the spring we also get wild mushrooms: Pleurotus (Oyster mushrooms) grow well on poplars and I canned 34 pints this year. Asparagus and strawberries as well as currants also take more care than I like, but I love them so! It is my hope to get the entire 7 acres in permaculture somehow.
 
Posts: 71
Location: San Francisco
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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 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.



I highly recommend reading the recipes of "vrat" foods. In Hinduism certain holidays and even holy days of the week observant Hindus do away with grains and legumes, oilseed derivatives, meat, alliums and instead work with tubers, fruits, nuts, pseudo-grains (and sometimes millets), dairy and veg.

Of course you don't have to be strict, incorporate meat and alliums but it's great ways to reimagine how perennial foods can be incorporated into whole dishes and be satisfying as well as wholesome.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I apologize if I missed it, but I didn't see autumn olive mentioned.  I have several different varieties growing and they are excellent.  I have amber autumn olive which produces yellow berries, as well as a few types that produce the red berries.  The red have a tart taste at first, and then turn to sweet.  The amber berries are consistently mildly sweet.  They produce heavily and I eat a lot of them while they are in season and they last quite a while on the bush.  I also have and really like honeyberries, although mine don't produce much yet.  I have a few varieties of apple, with honeycrisp producing for a couple years now and a macintosh that has it's first apples this year.  My others are too young to produce yet.  I have a couple of mulberries that produce well and I enjoy them.  I have loads of sunchokes.  My favorite way of preparing them so far is to roast them on a flat sheet in olive oil.  I have a pretty good sized asparagus patch.  Nothing real groundbreaking here, and certainly not a large portion of my diet, but those are the perennials that I actually grow and eat.  Forgot to mention, I'm growing hardy kiwi as well, but they haven't produced yet.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
Posts: 244
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Todd Parr wrote:I apologize if I missed it, but I didn't see autumn olive mentioned.  I have several different varieties growing and they are excellent.  I have amber autumn olive which produces yellow berries, as well as a few types that produce the red berries.  The red have a tart taste at first, and then turn to sweet.  The amber berries are consistently mildly sweet.  They produce heavily and I eat a lot of them while they are in season and they last quite a while on the bush.  I also have and really like honeyberries, although mine don't produce much yet.  I have a few varieties of apple, with honeycrisp producing for a couple years now and a macintosh that has it's first apples this year.  My others are too young to produce yet.  I have a couple of mulberries that produce well and I enjoy them.  I have loads of sunchokes.  My favorite way of preparing them so far is to roast them on a flat sheet in olive oil.  I have a pretty good sized asparagus patch.  Nothing real groundbreaking here, and certainly not a large portion of my diet, but those are the perennials that I actually grow and eat.  Forgot to mention, I'm growing hardy kiwi as well, but they haven't produced yet.


Hi, Todd. I live in the Central sands of Wisconsin as well and I enjoy the same things you do. My mulberries are not quite producing yet as they are having a hard time in this really zone 3 area. (Yes, there is a tiny circle of zone 3 in the Portage area, town of Grant, and that is where I live..) Amber autumn olive is a new one to me, and I'd like to try. You are in for a treat with the Honeyberries/ Haskaps. As they develop, the new growth tends to hide them but when you lift the tips of the branches, there are loads of them little blue cylinders under..
Another one I make jam with is aronias. Not really great out of hand but abundant and they make a great protective hedge against winter winds. I have some as tall as me.
As an understorey, small tree, the juneberries can't be beat. They tend to grow a little tall and spindly, but if you tie a small weight when they are young, you won't need a ladder. I hope we can connect and you can show me your amber autumn olive.
About the sunchokes, the yellow variety produces much better and I present them as radishes. Scrub them good and they are ready.
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:Amber autumn olive is a new one to me, and I'd like to try. You are in for a treat with the Honeyberries/ Haskaps. As they develop, the new growth tends to hide them but when you lift the tips of the branches, there are loads of them little blue cylinders under..
Another one I make jam with is aronias. Not really great out of hand but abundant and they make a great protective hedge against winter winds. I have some as tall as me.
As an understorey, small tree, the juneberries can't be beat. They tend to grow a little tall and spindly, but if you tie a small weight when they are young, you won't need a ladder. I hope we can connect and you can show me your amber autumn olive.
About the sunchokes, the yellow variety produces much better and I present them as radishes. Scrub them good and they are ready.



The autumn olives are easy to propagate from cutting.  I can try starting some for you if you like.  

I have one juneberry "bush".  I planted it 3 years ago and it's all of 6" tall  That poor thing has been eaten to the ground by rabbits several times.  I put fence around it, the wind blows the fence over, and the rabbits bite it off before morning.  I may plant a couple more and protect them better if they are doing well for you here.
 
She'll be back. I'm just gonna wait here. With this tiny ad:
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