Hi food forest fans,

I thought it would be useful if we created a list of perennial vegetables that would be suitable additions to food forests. It seems one of the benefits of food forests is that perennial plants produce more food for less work. That's clear with fruit trees, but perennial vegetables are a more uncommon idea.

You could reply to this discussion with any knowledge you have eg include name of vegetable, what climate or region it suits, any leads on where it can be bought/sourced, other useful facts to know.

By the way, Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier is a useful book, but written about what is available in the USA, hence why an NZ-focused list would be useful.


Kumara - naturally a perennial in warm climates, but treated as an annual in temperate areas. Can propogate by putting store-bought kumara in a box of sand in spring and letting sprout. Plant out sprouts late October. We live in Auckland and have left our vines in place to see if they can grow here perennially and produce more tubers. Leaves died down over winter. Will let you know if they come to life.



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Hi yes, this is a really useful discussion, this is my passion! Our nursery focuses on food forest plants and our website has a section on perennial vegetables. We are adding more to the list all the time and you can go on our newsletter for updates. Martin Crawford has a useful book on perennial vegetables and we have listed our plants according to his list, though some, like lemon balm, are not exactly what you'd call staples.  I haven't grown lettuce in ages, our salads are solely from perennials. Salad burnet and sorrel are two of my favourites.  See http://kahikateafarm.co.nz/perennial-vegetables.html

Glad I found this thread,  thanks Wayne.

I started the forest garden process in earnest with a new swale that we put in last year, partly as a way to keep the buttercup from taking over. Now, every time we dig one out we replace it with something, actually anything from among the stuff we want to grow. The main objective for planting the swale is new fruit trees but underneath them we are planting guavas, orangeberry, red currants (just jam the prunings in and let them go), a wide range of herbs and flowers that are endemic elsewhere on the place, such as calendula, phacelia, feverfew and comfrey of course, some tagasaste and a bunch of food crops like peas, broadbeans, parsnip, kale, sunflowers (all now seeding themselves) and as Wayne suggested, kumera. Its coming up fine, but how well did your experiment go?

We have also planted massed globe artichokes as a food source, insect attractant and as a wind shelter for one of our main gardens. Looking forward to that. Our Jerusalem artichokes are in a barely controlled block that makes great shelter in summer and plenty of compost materials in autumn. We have solved the fart problem to some degree by cooking with LOTS of ginger.

Thanks for all the lists, we'll work on them.

Love this link - keen to see more replies too!  We have a food forest group here in Alexandra, central Otago, and have just confirmed with council the opportunity to rescue a disused piece of council land to create a food forest.  Very excited!!  We've got a pretty good idea of some of the common perennials we'll be able to grow here, as well as some of those easy to grow annuals to fill in gaps and provide food and mulch.  Would be keen to hear more on some more unusual edibles / food forest beneficals too.


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