Monday, October 3, 2011

Perenial Vegetables - a holy grail of edible landscapes

Almost randomly, I came across a page of a book about perennial vegetables in one of those day-long Google searches where one idea leads to another. Curious, I checked out a library copy and proceeded to gorge myself on its almost too brief but highly informative entries on many potential candidates for the edible landscaping of our tropical yard.

The book:

Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles by Eric Toensmeier

The author has also posted some useful information on his website.

Toensmeier says he became interested in perennial vegetables as a sort of lazy-man's approach to sustainable living. I also love the idea of stocking the landscape with beautiful and edible plants. Especially here in the tropics, we have the ability to grow food year round and so much conventional gardening assumes a period of frost. Planting annual gardens is much more work than simply picking foods from year-round trees, bushes, and vines. Of course, I'll still be planting annuals, but developing a perennial edible foundation is a pantry you can always turn to.

The author used a few criterion for selecting the plants he highlights, including their potential to become invasive. I appreciate the thought and care he gives the topic.

After reading this book cover-to-cover, which, by the way, is intended for people in all climates not just the tropics, I bought a bunch of seeds. Buying seeds has become one of my favorite past-times. Planting new seeds is almost as satisfying, not quite. I've also experimented with some of Toensmeier's finds by buying them at the Farmer's Market. Some stand-out choices for our climate include moringa, breadfruit (not a vegetable but can be used like one), and winged beans. I will certainly be posting about all of these. In the meantime, I recommend getting each of them into your garden ASAP. 

I also recommend buying a copy of this book. I did. Because of its useful information on growing and cooking the various plants, it will continually be helpful to have on hand. 

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