Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review. How to grow perennial vegetables, buy Martin Crawford. 3.17.16

Red mulberry
This week I went to the local library and checked out the book, "How to Grow Perennial Vegetables" by Martin Crawford.  2012.

This book is interesting because growing perennial vegetables allows us to have plants that require minimal maintenance, fit into a permaculture landscape, and puts to work some plants that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered weeds.

The book is well written and interesting.  There is a comprehensive list of plants with descriptions, instructions for how to grow them, and culinary uses.  The format is easy to follow and informative.

Plants that were interesting to me -

Apple mint -  because I recently saw a video about how to make a tea from apple mint.
Asparagus - which I just planted yesterday, "Millenium".  I don't know how that will do, but it's worth a try.
Chives and Chinese Chives - which we already grow.
Columbine - for the leaves.  Salad greens.  I didn't know that.
Dandelion - multi uses, greens and root.   Planning to experiment with both the weed and improved cultivars.  One application is a sort of "wilted lettuce salad" which involves saute of the leaves.
Daylilies - for the flowers or flower buds.  The unopened buds can be used as a sort of green bean - like vegetable.
Hostas  - eat the young shoots as a fresh vegetable, apparently popular in Korea.
Horseradish - I think I will add some in the orchard row.  That should at least give the moles and voles extra flavors to savor as they tunnel through.
Sedum spectabile - I didn't know that!  Already growing many bunches for bees.  Use leaves as a fresh green.  The book states, "succulent and juicy and ready to add to a salad on a hot summer day"
Linden - leaves for cooking like spinache, or salad.  I imagine better in spring when fresh and young.
Mulberry - leaves can be used as a cooked green. Also, I imagine better when fresh and young.
Opuntia cacti - for nopales.  I don't know how they will do but I am experimenting with them.
Oca - I found these in a catalog but way too expensive.  If I can find a less expensive source I will try.
Rhubarb - mostly uses as a pseudo-fruit, but can also be savory.
Violets - leaves for soups, have a thickening effect.

The book describes many times more than this list, which other than oca and apple mint, I already grow.  All very interesting and useful

I'm fairly impressed at this list, so many edible plants already in my yard, and quite a few that I have not sampled.  I suspect some are better and some are not so good, but we can be sort of like Euell Gibbons, we can "Stalk the Wild Asparagus", in our own yards.

[All images via public domain website,]


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting book! Just read "Edible Wild Plant" by John Kallas. Its fascinating to see what you can find in the wild to eat. But I wouldn't go as far as growing dandelions because there are far better things to grow to eat. Also there's a chapter on poisonous similar plant which is very informative. I got an angelica that looks like poison hemlock so I was pretty spoof by it. Uncultivated things have certain unusual vitamins in them like dandelions, comfrey and stinging nettles. Perhaps I'll eat them for health reasons and with cautions.