Sunday, January 22, 2012

Turmoil, and Garden Prospects

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker

I apologize for being "out on a limb" lately, with recent posts that are not positive upliftings... that is, no posts like a new garden, or growing technique, or a new recipe. Truth is, everyone's life has ups and downs, and I am lately inundated with less than a positive attitude (in general, but especially towards Monsanto!).

I'd really hate having a Life where everything was just the same, day in and day out, with even the weather being the same. So, I'll roll with the punches... and hope you will too.

Soon it will be gardening time again, and I am anxious to continue working towards a more sustainable garden that this year will include growing a greater variety of foods. There are many perennial vegetables I want to try in the quasi-guild system I am developing. My gardening zone is high 5 or low 6, and marginal for many of them, but having recently used the SunCalc to actually know precisely where the sun moves over my garden during various times of the year, I may have a better handle on protecting marginal perennial foods for survival over winters here.

Malabar Spinach, photo by La.Catholique

I have been growing some of the more common perennial vegetables for several years: asparagus, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, and French sorrel, but there are many more to try. On my list so far (assuming I can find seed) are Skirret (Sium sisarum), 9 Star broccoli, Chou Daubenton (perennial Kale), Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis), and even things that are not perennials but re-seed annually without being deliberately planted, like Malabar spinach. I've already ordered seeds for the perennial Welsh Onion, both red-stemmed, and white.

Chickweed photo by Jason Stumer 72

There are many "weeds" that are edible, used as salad greens and/or potherbs. Once I determine what I really have growing here already, then I may look for more. Mother Nature has seen fit to expand chickweed all over my grassy lawn areas and all my flower and vegetable beds, so there will be a surplus of it. Fortunately it's both edible and medicinal.

Hardy Kiwi Vine, photo by Joe+Jeanette Archie

I know many of the less common fruits are actually perennial in cold zones like mine, and I hope to start a greater variety this year, like the hardy kiwi vine, the Siberian sea buckthorn, and a couple of fruiting quince if I can find some that are affordable. I want to add a couple more hazelnuts and try the hazelberts too. I had hoped to start a few cuttings from a nearly elderberry clump that has the plumpest berries around here, but with the weather having been so warm, I wonder about their dormancy and my chance of successful propagation.

My intent with adding perennial vegetables and uncommon fruits is twofold, although I do not plan to neglect annual vegetables. One goal is hopefully less work replanting in the garden as I age. The other consideration is that should a frightful scenario actually happen, any invading hungry horde would have no idea what is truly edible. I doubt they'd even dig up the dandelions, although that is possible!



  1. I'm taking much the same approach ... there are so many gorgeous edible plants out there, and people seem to want to plant the same old dozen or so, all in rectangle rows ... it's nice to see someone willing to experiment!

    It's just an added benefit that most people don't know that daylilies are edible or what an okra plant looks like. ;)

    (ps: I love dandelion greens too! Great stir-fried.)

    1. Patty, thanks for reminding me about edible tubers like daylilies! Are ditch lily tubers edible too? I have scads of them!

    2. Hi Darius,

      Are ditch lily tubers edible too?

      Yes - According to Eric Toensmeier. His book Perennial Vegetables: From Artichoke to ‘Zuiki’ Taro, a Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious, East-to-Grow Edibles has really good information and even sorts by zone plants that would grow in your area.

      Many of these are wild and those that are not would naturalize easily.


  2. Hi. I do a similar thing. And want to encourage you not to think you should be less "out on a limb". I love your awareness and your honesty. Frankly, in this day and age, anyone who doesn't get a little frustrated (or downright angry) from time to time just isn't paying attention. Yes, we can balance that with the joys of life, of gardening, of cooking... But you're honesty is important. Your willingness to expose your struggles and concerns, this comes from a strength, an openness, that is required by many of us to be able to receive and create change in our worlds. If we don't see what is, express what is, own it, name it, then we can't embrace it and work with it and transform it. Keep on keeping on! Sara

  3. Sara, Thanks for the encouragement!

    I come from a long like of Pioneering Women, and we don't give up or give in easily.

  4. Can anyone tell me where I can get Daubenton Kale in the US?

    1. Sorry, I have no clue. I haven't even looked because it's not high on my list.


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