Sunday, April 27, 2008

More in the garden

Recently I have decided that I will expand the "permanent" section of my vegetable garden. When I told my husband of this his first thought was how much he loves plums and could we get a few plum trees for that area.
So..I had to rephrase it to say that I would like to add a larger "soft perm" section to the garden. By that I mean somewhat permanent ---I can move it if I change my mind without destroying it as I would a section of trees. My reason? Well, how nice to have most of my garden producing food without me having to replant each and every year. By not replanting, and with a few years care---you get a weed free area that is pretty much self sufficient AND gives you good food.
Obviously I will plant fruit there too---but raspberries will do instead of trees that are unmovable.

So I began the search for more perennial food products---specifically veggies-- that will grow in my area.
During this search I came across a few interesting things.

The first is the oft repeated trivia question of: Can you name the only 2 perennial vegetables?
The answer to the question is suppose to be asparagus and rhubarb. This is incorrect though since there are more than two---and I did already know that----though unfortunately most people don't.
Of course it may depend on where you live, think Northern Canada versus Florida, since climatically those two areas differ greatly. But there are many for most "in between" gardeners and I will list a few of them that will grow in most people's garden (I think Florida would come out ahead in the number game on this issue) , overwinter, and come back strong and healthy without work the next year. This will be in addition to the "old standbys" of asparagus and rhubarb -- this is by no means the sum total but it's a start beyond just two!

1. Raddichio---if you don't mind it being green
2. Helianthus tuberosa---also known as Jerusalem artichoke but unrelated to artichokes at all (the name is a corruption of the original foreign pronunciation) We have grown and are again growing these.
3. Crosnes ( pronounced crones) a root tuber of the mint family--I haven't found these yet.
4. Oca (or oka) a root vegetable of the oxalis family grown and regularly eaten in south America. I purchased some of these for this year---we will see what they are like and how they do.
5. Fiddlehead ferns aka Ostrich fern---something I would love to have but have not gotten yet. I need a little bit more shade for these and figure the spot will eventually work itself out.
Of course "how many" also depends on WHAT you will eat since bamboo, horseradish and daylillies are perennials too---and the list can still go on!

Next is a book I found recommended for people like me looking for perennial and unusual veggies that think I might purchase called oddly enough, Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier.
The next time I am placing an Amazon order and need "just 12 more dollars will get you free shipping" I might throw this book in. Maybe..just maybe...I can borrow it from my library. I think it highly doubtful though.

So, consider like I am, adding some or more perennial veggies. They require a bit more preparation the first year but after that well, they just get easier and easier AND offer more and more with less work.


Jane said...

Hi Monica -

This is very interesting info about rhubarb and asparagus not being the only perennial vegetables.
So many are under this
assumption. Please keep posting your results.

Robbyn said...

wow, can't wait to see what you end up with! we'll have to look into some of these...I'd very much like to know some of the more unusual edibles...had no idea daylilies were edible! I just found out today taht there's a variety of sweet potato whose leaves are eaten boiled or stir fried in South America...we want to know more about so many plants we arent aware of or have taken for granted. So great that you've identified some perrenials!

Hayden said...

I am SO in line with your thinking! I've been keeping lists of perennial veggies for years, planning for my big Michigan garden, and the countdown is nearly over. One more year...

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Wow! Thanks for the comments. I didn't know so many people where as interested as I am. Nice to know we're not always "living on the fringe" by ourselves! :-D