Food For The Extinction

The 6th great extinction is here. Climate collapse is unstoppable. Civilization can no longer support us. Research into resilient crops for food security in temperate climates.




A Path Forward

Everyday I ask myself, what should I do? As our planet barrels towards an uninhabitable future, our governments become more repressive and everyday life becomes more dystopian, what can I do to stop all this? The most important realization is that none of us are going to change the world. We are not going to save the planet from another extinction (it's already happening). We are not going to save the billions of human and non-human lives that will perish. Already over 80 billion land animals are killed each year for consumption, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Words cannot do justice to the absolutely immense horrors we are responsible for. This is the nightmare you cannot wake up from. Clinging to some vision of a better future is tempting, but the evidence against this couldn't be more obvious. The destructive power of civilization has been growing for thousands of years now. Behind all the lies about progress is the simple truth: our planet is dying and there is nothing we can do about it. And so we are perhaps one of the few generations of humans to live through the momentous shift climate collapse is causing. Nothing like this has ever happened in the entire history of humanity. Mankind is entering a new era.

In the face of all this, how can I be of any meaningful service? Why spend my time researching and growing food? I wish I could do more, believe me. I wish I could stop the murder, the torture, the enslavement, the destruction. But realistically, my influence will be quite limited. I believe having a relationship with nature is one of the most direct ways to feel satisfied, loved and empowered. And only individuals engaged with nature are capable of forming communities that truly provide for our physical, social and spiritual needs. When our empire inevitably collapses, these communities have the potential to be the building blocks of a new society, to form a federation of self-sufficient tribes. Keeping land at the forefront of both individual and societal success is an effective path forward because it is meaningful at every level - whether you just want to not hate the world, or you want to improve the living conditions of your community, or you want to build a new society. Even disregarding the bigger picture, this perspective is nothing but practical. How will you feed your family when industrial agriculture fails and supply chains fall apart? Growing food is a concrete way of solving a very real and imminent problem without depending on people who don't care about us or our planet. There's nothing glamorous about this, it's hands in the dirt kind of change, but it's real and it happens right before your eyes.

Growing your own food doesn't have to be hard, lots of vegetables even grow like weeds! Grass lawns were once a symbol of wealth, yet now they sit in front of even the most impoverished homes. This paradox was intentionally designed through generations of propaganda. For years I was utterly confused, why are some vegetables considered to grow too well and eradicated while right next door people go hungry? Is there an abundance of food or isn't there!? I will leave you to answer this yourself, but either way it certainly doesn't have to be like this. Only within the last few decades did we gain access to thousands of seeds from every corner of the earth. Consider how many generations of work went into finding, domesticating and improving these crops throughout human history! This is a privilege few could even dream of until now. As the world transforms into something entirely new, it has in the very same moment bestowed upon us the plants of salvation. And with them comes the power to create a landscape unlike any before in history.

This research is an attempt to prepare for the extinction and help communities build resilient food systems. Most people have land with poor soil and very little knowledge about growing food. Finding crops that can grow in this environment and provide real sustenance is therefore of the utmost importance. Ultimately all this may accomplish very little, but every day that a garden lives it serves the creatures within.

The list of plants below is only what I have been looking into or trying to grow myself, it is not meant to be anything beyond that. Most should be of more general use but some are just of personal interest - you don't fall in love with plants without wanting to grow some of the less practical but rare/interesting/beautiful/threatened species. The list will be expanded and updated as I grow more plants and learn new things.




Nevertheless, a new breed of explorers has arisen, those who are disenchanted with the bland products of the supermarkets, those who still feel the primordial urge to plant, those whose tastes are adventurous. There are those whose pocketbooks are thin who can benefit from green leaves easily grown at home. Finally, there are the few who recognize that the vegetables we emphasize now are but a part of a larger, and mostly still available heritage, a heritage whose potentials have still not been fully realized.

- Edible Leaves Of The Tropics




Working With Nature

The methods I use all fit into a singular holistic approach - working with natural systems to incorporate food crops into the landscape. The plants are our teachers. This mean learning from them without any preconceived notions about how they should grow or what they should be doing. We are watching and listening, not expecting. It is absolutely essential that we approach this with a sense of humility, respect, and the recognition that plants are complex and intelligent living beings. We will never understand the endless layers of nuance that guide their growth, but lucky for us we don't need to. All we need to do is listen closely and offer our service.

Healthy soil is the backbone of temperate food forests, and plants are natural soil builders. Plants build soil using a few primary methods. Sending roots into the soil adds organic matter, cycles nutrients, aerates the soil and gives it structure. This builds soil from within. After the plants die, their stems and leaves fall over and act as mulch until they fully decompose. Dead plants keep the soil from drying out, return nutrients to the topsoil and offer a sheltered microclimate for everything happening at ground level. This builds soil from above. And the way plants naturally die and return to the ground creates a thick but not overly dense layer of mulch. Most importantly, it has structure. It allows space for other seeds to germinate and grow while still offering shelter from the elements. When one plant dies it creates the right environment for the next plant to take its spot, to work the soil with its roots, and then to become mulch for the next plant. This is the genius of nature.

So our two most important methods of building soil are using the power of roots to work the soil, and returning organic matter back to the topsoil as mulch. In the garden we can imitate these patterns by letting plants cover as much ground as possible. The more roots we have working the soil for us, the better. Of course, we can't let every single plant grow to maturity or else there would be no room for our food crops. This is where we come in. We can curate which plants to let grow and which to cut down. So instead of ripping everything up and dumping an even mat of mulch on our beds, we can build the soil more naturally. By cutting down plants in the garden and using them as mulch, we are imitating a natural soil-building pattern.

Practically, implementing this system is fairly straightforward because we are letting nature do most of the work for us. There will be a host of plants growing in our garden beds whether we like or not. If any plants are competing too much with our food crops, we just cut them down and let them fall where they are. The more aggressive the species is the more often those plants will need to be cut down. If we let them grow they may create too much shade or spread too aggressively. But the species that present little competition to our food crops need less management. Some of them may be edible themselves, some may attract beneficial insects, some may fix nitrogen, some may protect the soil. We are looking at the ground and seeing which plants are working for us and which ones aren't. Those that aren't get ripped up and now they are working for us as mulch!

As an example, in my garden beds I allow many plants to grow, some of which are: Duchesnea indica [mock strawberry] acts as a non-invasive groundcover; Trifolium repens [white clover] and any other leguminous plants fix nitrogen; Lobelia inflata [Indian tobacco] is a native medicinal; Stellaria media [chickweed] is a delicous edible; Zinnia peruviana [Peruvian zinnia] is a beautiful flower appreciated by local pollinators. There are also many that I rip up and mulch in place with as often as possible: Muhlenbergia schreberi [nimblewill] or any other weedy grasses spready quickly by rhizome and outcompete food crops; Erechtites hieraciifolius [American burnweed], Acalypha rhomboidea [copperleaf], and Persicaria maculosa [lady's thumb] all multiply rapidly by seed and can quickly take over garden beds. It is always helpful to watch how a plant interacts with the its environment before running to rip it up. Natural processes are constantly working towards a healthier ecosystem and are ultimately doing the vast majority of work for us. Our role is not to redefine these processes, but use them to help guide the environment towards productivity and diversity.

This system works particularly well for beds with annuals and biennials that rely on seed dispersal for their continued survival. A thick layer of mulch would lock in moisture but prevent the dispersed seeds from germinating. A thin layer of mulch would allow the seeds to germinate but dry the soil out. But mulching in place with native plants creates a structured mulch that is thick enough to lock in moisture but fluffy enough to allow seeds to germinate. Seedlings are usually able to grow around whatever dead plants or garden debris fall around them. This system also allows us to work within a sustainable, closed loop. We are not depending on mulch or soil delivered from somewhere else, everything we need is being grown right on our own land. We are not importing fertility, we are building it.

Encouraging plants to cover the soil and continuously decompose has added benefits as well. First, it creates the right environment for insects. Bugs need a diverse landscape with a variety of physical niches to take advantage of. They don't like flat sheets of mulch. If we didn't have the right balance of insects, we would constantly be fighting against them. This method of management invites them all in to sort it out amongst themselves. The bugs can then become our partners as primary decomposers of dead plants, continuously adding fertility to the soil. Second, it creates the right environment for beneficial fungal networks. Plants depend on fungi to survive and thrive. The more roots they can partner with and the more organic matter we can feed them, the better.

Moving beyond building soil, we can also imitate how plants naturally disperse seed. Direct seeding right into the ground is effective and produces high germination rates, but there are drawbacks. If all the seedlings germinate at roughly the same time, they are all subject to identical conditions during identical phases of growth. If a dry spell occurs right after germination and the seedlings are not drought tolerant enough, they will all die unless they are watered. Or a slug may come through and eat them. Or a bunny may walk on them. Or a heavy downpour may damage them. Or it may be too sunny and they'll get scorched. Any number of things could happen to affect them. Essentially, by forcing them to grow where you've put them and when you've decided to water them, these plants are now entirely dependent on you. But when seeds are naturally dispersed through whatever mechanism the plant uses, they tend to grow in slightly different circumstances. Many will not germinate at all, some will sit on a leaf until being knocked over a few months later, some will get moved around by the birds. Some will germinate and die because of the weather or because they landed in the wrong niche. Only a small percentage of them will grow to maturity - this is natural, and this is why plants produce so many seeds (hundreds or thousands). But even though the rate of germination is much lower, the resiliency of that population is much higher. So whenever possible we are imitating the natural dispersal of seeds and encouraging them to germinate intermittently in different conditions. This may be as simple as letting seeds drop of their own accord, but for me it often means spreading them out a bit and tossing them around the garden beds where I think they will grow well. If the seeds are in pods I leave them as they are, often still connected to one another, and just drop them on top of other plants or mulch. Lucky for them I have legs! I can move their seeds around farther than they can, and I'm sure they would thank me for this if they could. For most annuals or biennials, the pattern is fairly similar: help the plant propagate itself without getting in the way. We are giving power back to the seeds by letting them decide when to germinate and how to grow - our job is only to create the right environment for them to do it.

For annuals or biennials this method requires a lot of seed. A single plant can produce thousands of seeds, but in any given season less than a dozen may grow to maturity (this will vary based on the plant and how favorable the local environment is). Unfortunately, most seed packets come with comparatively few seeds. So our first generation should be grown in more carefully managed conditions and cared for until it goes to seed. This will get the plant acquainted with our local conditions while increasing our seed count to something more realistic. Once we have have hundreds or thousands of fresh seeds, these can then be dispersed more naturally into the garden beds and allowed to grow on their own. The soil is now functioning as our seed bank - every year we are depositing more and more seeds into it that will then wait for the right opportunity to germinate and grow. With every successive generation, the plants will be better acclimated to this specific method and will grow more easily. And as the amount of seeds in the soil increases, we can spend less time weeding because our food crops will be able to compete better and cover more ground.

We must remember that seeds and plants are intelligent, responsive living beings. They understand the particulars of every patch of soil. They understand the nuances of weather. In many ways they are much smarter than us. With my human eyes and hands I can only know so much about the soil. If one of us has to decide where and when to grow, it should be them. As a human I do, of course, have certain strengths: weeding, mulching, loosening and building soil, dispersing seed. But I don't bother trying to control how plants grow because I would just be getting in their way! It is a beautiful thing to partner with a plant. Honor that relationship and only good things can come.

But even with the help we provide - weeding, mulching, managing beds, seed dispersal - some plants will simply not be suited for our soil or climate without a lot of work. So it's just as important to find the right species for our specific conditions. We can't expect to drop any old plant in and have it grow! This is why our plant selection prioritizes resiliency, and those that do survive become become stronger with every generation. Before long the food will be growing itself. Of course, there will be regular maintenance like weeding and dispersing seed. Every garden requires maintenance (even mature food forests), but this method allows us to use natural processes to our advantage and intervene only when it is meaningful. This is not a step by step plan with a full proof outcome. This is a dance.




The Plants We Eat

How do we even begin to feed ourselves? What are we growing and eating? I personally do not grow nearly enough food to feed myself (nor do I have the land to). It is a difficult task that most people throughout most of history have not attempted. Even after the advent of agriculture, a significant portion of food was often foraged from the local environment. But the natural abundance that once covered the earth has been almost completely destroyed. As agriculture evolved to power an ever-expanding civilization, forests were felled and landscapes were permanently disfigured. We burned down ecosystems masterfully designed over millennia, teeming with life and full of nutritious food, in an attempt to grow something a fraction as productive in their place, all with big clumsy hands and little human brains. The plants that sprouted in these graveyards were not grown for people, but markets and masters; they could not nourish us in the same way. All this is only to say that growing all of our own food in a truly sustainable way requires a monumental effort and has not been the norm for any period of human history. But the old world is gone and it is never coming back, so we must do what we can given our circumstances. Growing only a portion of our food still has enormous benefits and can certainly create some sense of food security, even if it is not complete. So returning to our original question, what should we grow? What plants do people eat to survive?

The broadest pattern that emerges for practically any species on earth is that the foods that provide the most energy and nutrition (and are digestible by the specific anatomy of the creature) in any given landscape become primary sources of sustenance. That means a guerilla that has access to fruits will generally prioritize those over leaves. Eating 20 pounds of fruit is much easier than eating 20 pounds of leaves. And like many other mammals, humans gravitate towards high-density sources of energy like nuts, fruits, roots and seeds to sustain themselves. Leafy vegetables, while an essential addition to our diet, require a much larger quantity to provide the same amount of energy.

This happens to work out quite well for us because nuts and fruits are some of the easiest, most productive perennial crops. Even with a limited amount of space we have many options, including hazelnut, plum and mulberry. Once planted, they can often continue producing for decades - talk about a return on investment! Tree crops also require significantly less resources to produce, meaning they will often tolerate poorer soil and less frequent watering than many herbaceous crops. In this way they are extremely efficient at producing food. The benefits of trees are truly endless and there is no easier way to improve the health of a landscape. Fruit and nut trees are therefore the first priority for us and can make up a significant portion of our diet.

Root crops are also a very dense source of energy, often more so than fruit. They usually require more work, however, as soil must often be built up and the crops must be regularly propagated, either by seed or division. Cold-hardy, perennial root crops usually need at least 2 years of growth before harvest. This includes plants like groundnut and doraji. However, some can be harvested every year like the super-productive sunchoke. While perennial roots are more work than simply picking fruit off a tree, they usually require very little maintenance once planted. Annual roots may require more work to grow, but can significantly expand our options with some heavy hitters like achira, taro or potato. Alongside nuts and fruits, roots are another significant addition to our diet.

Our next consideration is the smallest of the bunch: seeds, grains and pulses. When people grow all their own food, grains are usually how they do it. Grains are very calorically dense, easy to eat in quantity, and can be stored or transported easily. This is why almost every civilization on earth has been built on grains. But growing grain sustainably can be difficult - most often it results in a monoculture that degrades the soil while providing very little ecological value. And to top it all off, grains require the most labor of any food mentioned here to grow, harvest and process. This is not to say they should be avoided, only that how they are grown and incorporated into our diet needs to be reconsidered. It may be useful to look into other sources of seeds like the sunflower, a pollinator-friendly native. Pulses are also a valuable addition for their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil and help other crops grow. Even so, this category of foods is generally comprised of labor-intensive annuals that are difficult to incorporate into more permanent food systems. Ultimately it may be useful to think of seeds, grains, and pulses as another addition to a varied diet, and not necessarily the staple of every meal.

Finally, we arrive at leafy vegetables and the like. While they don't provide the bulk of our sustenance, they are necessary for vitamins and minerals (and flavor!). They also bring diversity and excitement to the garden. Here too we can focus on perennials that provide a crop every year with almost no effort after the initial planting. Plants like good king henry, turkish rocket and seombadi provide excellent perennial alternatives to some of the more common vegetables you may be used to eating. Succulents like prickly pear or dolnamul can turn barren land with very little fertility into an oasis of fresh food. Plants that generate a lot of biomass like udo can offer us regular harvests while producing lots of organic matter for mulching. Weedy annuals like perilla can compete with grass and turn unproductive land into a thicket of food in a single season. The options are truly limitless, and every plant has its own unique traits that can be utilized to our advantage.

The food we choose to grow is also fundamentally related to how we eat. If we only eat a few times per day, each meal needs to be extremely calorically dense, further deepening our reliance on grains. But what if we ate more like the guerilla? It's a lot easier to eat five pounds of fruit over the course of an entire day than it is to eat it at only three meals. Maybe changing what we eat also means changing how we eat.




Methods

The methods we use to grow, maintain, harvest and propagate crops can make all the difference in both the health of the ecosystem and how much work it requires to maintain. These are the basic principles I use in my garden.


  1. Feed the soil. Focus on crops that feed the soil. Plants like Aralia cordata [udo] and Canna edulis [achira] generate large amounts of top growth for mulching. Plants like Raphanus sativus [radish] and Brassica rapa [turnip] have fat roots that aerate the soil and feed beneficial bacteria when they decay. Plants like Elaeagnus multiflora [goumi] and Phaseolus coccineus [runner bean] fix nitrogen in the soil and keep it productive.
  2. Build structure. Loose soil gets compacted and washed away with heavy rains. Healthy soil has structure that improves drainage, aeration and water retention, all while holding it together and preventing erosion. Roots build structure within the soil, while mulching in place builds structure above the soil. Tilling is avoided because it destroys soil structure and the fungal networks that depend on it.
  3. Weed selectively. Native plants growing in our beds can serve important functions. Many are edible themselves, help protect the soil, fix nitrogen or attract beneficial insects Any plants that offer little function or compete with our food crops are ripped up and mulched in place.
  4. Disperse seeds naturally. Seeds should be dispersed on top of mulch and in their pods if they have any. Naturally dispersed seeds land in slightly different niches and germinate intermittently. This improves the resiliency of the population in the face of unpredictable weather patterns and pressure from disease or insects. This also allows the soil to function as our seed bank, holding large quantities of seed until they are ready to grow.
  5. Annuals alongside perennials. Perennials offer stability and reliable production. These can be transplnated, a small amount of work for many years of food. Annuals have a different niche altogether and should be treated as such. They love taking advantage of disturbed soil and quickly filling in empty spaces between our perennials. Their seeds should be dispersed all across the garden beds so they can spring into action when an opportunity presents itself.
  6. Roots alongside roots. Roots are an important source of energy, but require regular soil disturbance. They should be primarily grown alongside other complementary root crops. This makes harvesting easier, ensures we don't damage nearby perennials, and limits the impact on soil structure.
  7. Harvest rain water. Harvest as much rainwater as possible to reduce reliance on unsustainable sources of water. If plants can't be grown with locally available water, you might want to think twice about growing them at all. All you need to do is a purchase a few parts here, and hook them up to a large barrel (or trash can). The system is easy to expand as well.


The methods I use won't give you beds full of vegetables right away, and at first it may feel like nothing is working. This is totally normal! No amount of upfront work will change the fact that it takes time and persistence to build a relationship with plants. The first few years are always the hardest, but as time goes on it will get so much easier and so much more productive. If you trust the soil-building techniques, if you continue dispersing seed, if you continue transplanting, if you continue weeding, if you continue experimenting, if you continue offering your service to the multitude of creatures that reside in your garden, then it is inevitable you will see improvements. I spend a lot of time on this stuff and still kill so many plants. Things are going wrong more often than not! Haha. Be patient.




Lawn → Garden

This is a rough and generalized process for converting areas overtaken by native grasses and plants into usable garden beds. This is not meant to be used for larger areas or fields - these usually need to be cleared and reseeded with the right equipment, or slowly transformed over a much longer period of time.



Even if working in larger areas, this method can be used to create small 'islands' within the existing vegetation that are regularly maintained and expanded. But if grasses or other native plants are not removed in any way, different methods are needed. Slowly transforming the space by transplanting perennials, especially trees and shrubs, is your best bet. I am also experimenting with crops like kenaf and barley that can be direct seeded into compacted soil and succeed even with heavy competition from grasses.




What would it mean for us to come to terms with the knowledge that civilization, our whole mode of development and culture, has been premised and built upon extermination—on a history experienced as "terror without end" (to borrow a phrase from Adorno)? To dwell on such a thought would be to throw into almost unbearable relief the distance between our narratives of inherent human dignity and grace and moral superiority, on the one hand, and the most elemental facts of our actual social existence, on the other.

We congratulate ourselves for our social progress—for democratic governance and state-protected civil and human rights (however notional or incompletely defended)—yet continue to enslave and kill millions of sensitive creatures who in many biological, hence emotional and cognitive particulars resemble us. To truly meditate on such a contradiction is to comprehend our self-understanding to be not merely flawed, but comically delusional.

In the nineteenth century, the animal welfare advocate Edward Maitland warned that our destruction of other animals lead only to our own "debasement and degradation of character" as a species. "For the principles of Humanity cannot be renounced with impunity; but their renunciation, if persisted in, involves inevitably the forfeiture of humanity itself. And to cease through such forfeiture man is to become demon." What else indeed can we call a being but demon who routinely enslaves and kills thousands of millions of other gentle beings, imprisons them in laboratories, electrocutes or poisons or radiates or drowns them?

-John Sanbonmatsu




Favorite Crops 🖤

These are the crops I believe can form the foundation of a resilient and productive garden. This is based on a few different criteria: how easy they are to grow and use, their nutritional and medicinal qualities, their ability to regenerate soil, and how productive they are. Numbered in order of preference.


Vegetables

  1. Aralia Cordata 'Udo' (Perennial): Edible young leaves and stem on a productive die-back bush.
  2. Dystaenia Takesimana 'Seombadi' (Perennial): Stalks and leaves provide an excellent alternative to celery.
  3. Chenopodium Bonus-Henricus 'Good King Henry' (Perennial): Choice flower heads and spinach-like leaves.
  4. Bunias Orientalis 'Turkish Rocket' (Perennial): A perennial mustard, flowers every year and eaten like rapini.
  5. Opuntia Humifosa 'Prickly Pear' (Perennial): Cold hardy cactus for poor soil, both pads and fruit can be eaten.
  6. Perilla Frutescens 'Perilla' (Annual): Green varieties are used as a vegetable and can be grown in quantity.
  7. Sedum Sarmentosum 'Dolnamul' (Perennial): A fast-growing, edible sedum that forms a beautiful carpet.


Onions

  1. Allium Cepa Proliferum 'Walking Onion' (Perennial): One of the easiest onions to grow, used like scallions.
  2. Allium Hookeri 'Hooker's Onion' (Perennial): Another easy onion with delicious leaves.
  3. Allium Sativum 'Garlic' (Perennial): Grown as a perennial, garlic is straightforward and reliable.


Roots

  1. Helianthus Tuberosus 'Sunchoke' (Perennial): Grows anywhere in sun and produces heavily without any work.
  2. Canna Edulis 'Achira' (Annual): Peruvian root crop with large tropical leaves and sweet rhizomes.
  3. Colocasia Esculenta 'Taro' (Annual): Some varieties mature in under 6 months, producing small cormels.
  4. Tropaeolum Tuberosum 'Mashua' (Annual): Another Andean root crop, forming tubers in short days of fall.
  5. Platycodon Grandiflorus 'Doraji' (Perennial): Korean root crop, growing larger every year until harvest.
  6. Solanum Ajanhuiri 'Potato' (Annual): A potato species from Peru known for its frost resistance.
  7. Apios Americana 'Groundnut' (Perennial): A native with small, protein rich tubers.
  8. Lycopus Lucidus 'Chinese Bugleweed' (Perennial): Small juicy tubers on a plant that grows like a weed.


Seed

  1. Amaranthus Caudatus 'Amaranth' (Annual): One of the easiest and most productive grains.
  2. Phaseolus Coccineus 'Runner Bean' (Annual): A reliable and versatile nitrogen-fixing vine.


Fruit/Trees

  1. Corylus Americana 'American Hazelnut' (Perennial): A native nut tree small enough for the backyard.
  2. Prunus Americana 'Plum' (Perennial): Native, easy to grow and loaded with plums.
  3. Elaeagnus Multiflora 'Goumi' (Perennial): A great support tree with edible berries that fixes nitrogen.
  4. Actinidia Arguta 'Hardy Kiwi' (Perennial): The vigorous and hardy cousin to the kiwi with small, hairless fruit.
  5. Ficus Carica 'Fig' (Perennial): Will grow anywhere there is sun and very simply to propagate.
  6. Morus Nigra 'Mulberry' (Perennial): Dwarf varieties are perfect for smaller spaces, berries produced in quantity.




Polycultures

The following are experimental group plantings I am testing. I find polycultures most useful for root crops as they often require regular or deep soil disturbance and replanting, whereas many other vegetables and herbs can often grow alongside each other without much trouble.



Crops propagated by their root like achira, taro, mashua, potato and sunchoke should ideally have multiple varieties, and every season they should be rotated within the beds so each variety is growing in a different spot. Crops that can be propagated by either division or seed, like marshmallow and doraji, can be divided but should regularly be grown from seed as well to maintain genetic diversity.

These polycultures are not self-sustaining and should be regularly fed and mulched, especially if they are growing in the same bed from year to year. Japanese mugwort is an easy plant to use for mulch. Beans or clover can be incorporated for nitrogen. Depending on the local environment, plants that draw pollinators may also be helpful to control pests. Think of these polycultures as building blocks that interact with and depend on the diversity of the rest of the garden.

I am also interested in using these polycultures as successive steps in land regeneration. For example, a new bed might be planted with Annual Vegetables, Competetive | Kenaf + Perilla to shade out competition and create a layer of mulch. Next would be Annual Seeds, Field | Amaranth + Runner Bean to generate more mulch and fix nitrogen into the soil. After this would be Perennial Roots, 1 Year Harvest | Sunchoke + Chinese Buglweed + Crosne as these all have low needs for soil fertility, while still generating more mulch. Harvesting the sunchokes will also loosen the soil for the next polyculture. At this point the soil would be noticeably improved and could be planted with Annual Roots, Small | Potato + Oca + Walking Onion and eventually Annual Roots, Large | Achira + Taro + Mashua. Each season the planting would be suited for whatever stage the soil was in, continually improving it while producing food at the same time. And as the soil improves, it becomes better suited for more productive polycultures.




Energy

If our goal is to grow enough food to make a dent in our diet, it can be helpful to consider where our energy is coming from. Calories may not be the best symbol of how our food sustains us, but it's a useful way to compare crops.

The tables below include foods with available nutritional information, a rough estimate of their caloric value, and possible yields per growing season based on decent growing conditions in my climate. I like to think about energy per plant because that is how I tend to break things down in my head (but this does not take into account how much space is needed).


Roots

CropCalories/PoundPounds/PlantCalories/Plant
Achira37051850
Sunchoke33051650
Mashua31041240
Taro50021000
Potato3502700
Burdock4000.5200
Turnip1200.560
Radish70170
Crosne3300.166




Man, do not pride yourself on your superiority to the animals, for they are without sin, while you, with all your greatness, you defile the earth wherever you appear and leave an ignoble trail behind you -- and that is true, alas, for almost every one of us!

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky




Guide

Annual/Perennial: Designations for zone 7, may differ in other climates. I typically try to use the most common English name for the plant, although the Latin name is always the most accurate. I also sometimes include the name of the plant in the most relevant language to help with personal research.

Edible: Useful edible parts. Not comprehensive, not a reference, only a starting point. Often there will be more edible portions than indicated, but I may not mention them for any number of reasons. Do not eat anything you are not 100% familiar with. Always be certain of your identification and the parts edible. Consult multiple sources, see resources above.

I do not always indicate whether a plant can be eaten raw or must be cooked. Some plants cannot be eaten raw but can be cooked or prepared in some other way, such as drying or fermenting. Processes like fermenting will sometimes render a food safe to eat in the same way that cooking would. But it is not always this simple. Many plants must be prepared in a very specific way in order to make them safe to eat. Petasites Japonicus, for example, should always be both blanched and peeled prior to eating. Or consider Rheum Acuminatum, a little-known species of rhubarb. It is usually dried and pickled before being eaten. Does this mean it cannot just be cooked like other species of rhubarb? It may be totally harmless, or maybe the drying and fermenting accomplishes something that cooking does not, something we are not aware of. Tradition is wise, but it rarely explains itself. And even if it was harmful, the effects are unlikely to be obvious. Some plants can quietly build up toxins in your body for decades before manifesting themselves as symptoms of an illness. So just because a plant can be eaten without any noticeable adverse effects does not mean that it is safe to eat regularly over a longer period of time. This is why it is important to understand the history of how foods are prepared and eaten. After that, if you want to experiment then the risk is yours to take. But as far as this reference goes, I try to stay conservative.

Root: Plants that store energy in roots or tubers usually draw on this energy to produce flowering shoots. Perennial roots are therefore usually harvested after the plant has flowered and been given ample time to store more energy in the roots. This may be at the end of the growing season or it may be earlier. Annual roots are harvested before flowering as in this case it signifies the end of the plant's life. This is often at the end of spring or fall depending on when it was planted and the lifespan of the plant, but may be any time of year. After flowering occurs the root will be tough and inedible. However, whether annual or perennial the best practices for harvesting will depend on the specific plant and growing conditions.

Shoot: Shoot refers only to the young growth of the plant when it first emerges from the ground - in other words, the entire aerial portion of the young plant, often in spring. This is not the same as terminal or tender new growth (see below). How large the young plant is when harvested depends on the specific plant. Just because a shoot is edible does not indicate that any part of the mature plants is edible - if a plant contains harmful or toxic substances, these may be in low enough quantities when the plant is young but not when it matures. If the mature leaves of a plant are edible then usually so is the shoot, but depending on the plant I may not write this if it is not normally eaten that way (as in the case with many herbs). Shoots are valued for their sweet flavor and tender texture, especially when the mature plant may be bitter or tough. They are therefore often the preferred harvest of a plant.

Stem & Leaf: If the leaf is edible then usually so is the terminal or tender new growth, harvested with some of the new stem. In fact, when the leaves are small, young or tightly bunched, this can often be the best time to harvest. I only indicate separately that the stem is edible when it constitutes a meaningful portion of the edible harvest or when it can be eaten even when relatively mature. For example, amaranth or nettle are often eaten with some of the tender stem, but I only write the leaf is edible because the stem is relatively insignificant to the harvest. However, when water spinach, angelica, udo and many others are harvested, the stem is cut further down and constitutes a significant part of the vegetable, therefore it is included in the edible portions. Of course this is not always a clear line as it varies between plants and how you choose to harvest or prepare them.

Inflorescence + Flower: Flowering shoots are a separate identification and are indicated as inflorescence. These are eaten when still young, clustered, unopened and tender. If the inflorescence is edible then often so are the flower buds and flowers, although this may not always be practical or palatable. There are roughly three stages for harvest of most plants: entire young inflorescence while still tender, sometimes with some of the tender stem attached; the individual, unopened flower buds picked off once the flowering stem becomes tougher; the blooming flowers when fully or partially open. Some plants are only eaten during one stage, while some can be eaten during all three. Once a plant begins to form a flowering shoot, the leaves usually become more bitter and tough as energy is being drawn away to support the flowers.

Seed: I will occasionally indicate the seed is edible if it is useful in some way. Just because a flower is edible does not mean the seed is, and vice versa.

Some of the plants are marked as calorie crops. This is to indicate they are efficient producers of calories given one season and a limited amount of space. This is entirely root and seed crops. It does not include many other useful and potential staple crops that take longer to grow or are not as efficient.

The best way to know how to eat a plant is to do research, grow it and become familiar with it. Even with references, the actual details of how it's harvested and eaten can vary between plants. And keep in mind that many online references are just summarizing (often poorly or incorrectly) physical reference books that provide more detail. If a plant is uncommon, then especially thorough research is required. Typically we are looking to answer a few basic questions. Is there an extensive history of humans eating this part of the plant? If so, how is it prepared and in what quantities is it eaten? Are there any indications that this plant may contain harmful or toxic substances? The more information you have, the better.

Just because one species in a genus is edible does not mean that other species are. Consider the case of Angelica Keiskei and Angelica Japonica - both are in the same genus, both grow in identical conditions, and both appear very similar on the surface, but the former is a safe and medicinal vegetable while parts of the latter have been considered poisonous. And just because one part of the plant is edible does not mean that others parts are. These kinds of assumptions will put you in the hospital or in the ground. There are even cases, as with some members of the Calystegia genus, where one variety of a species is edible but another variety within the very same species is not. Therefore we must be thoughtful about what exactly we are eating and recognize that academic taxonomy has its limits. Even if an online resource says something is edible (including this one), you must do your own research!

Propagation: Useful methods of propagation. Usually seed, stem cutting, or rhizome/tuber/root division. Seeds that prefer cold stratification or sunlight to germinate are often noted as such. I usually try to get bare roots or potted plants if a seed is difficult to germinate.

Conditions: Rough guidelines for minimum sun requirements: Sun (≈90-100%) → Part Shade (≈60-90%) → Shade (≈30-60%) → Deep shade (≈0-30%). Estimating sun is difficult, but I do my best to give rough guidelines. Most of the time, if a plant prefers shade, it will also prefer rich and moist soil. And keep in mind that just because a plants prefers sun doesn't mean it can handle the heat summer usually brings. This is often true for plants that grow naturally in cooler climates, such as in high altitudes or in coastal areas. Some plants have markers that indicate they grow easily or self-sow, these are great plants to start with.

Wildlife: Impact of wildlife and insects on plant. We have lots of deer as well as chipmunks, rabbits and birds that live nearby. I try to grow enough food for everyone, but I can't let them eat everything! I have some fenced areas for sensitive plants I don't want being bothered. I try to be as hands-off as possible and rarely remove insects from plants or interfere with their growth.

Notes: Everything else. Observations about growth habits, useful varieties, hardiness, harvesting, interactions with other plants and more. Plants with photos were grown in Maryland, roughly zone 7a. You may notice some of the plants in my photos don't look perfectly healthy - this is okay. If it is a perennial, as long as it has a healthy root system it will grow just fine after being planted and given a few seasons to adjust. The conditions are fairly wet year round, although in the summer there are stretches where the soil dries out. Soil is good overall, some spots with heavy clay and some very sandy. Normally the only time I water plants is while they are getting established. Most non-perennial plants survive (or die) exclusively on rain water, unless they are lucky enough to be near a perennial I'm watering.




Herbs


Agastache Rugosa 'Korean Mint' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Members of this genus are known as hyssops. I love the aroma of this species, makes a great tea or garnish. A. foeniculum is common as well. Some others. Pollinators enjoy it too.

Photos: A. rugosa.


Anethum Graveolens 'Dill' | Annual

Edible: Stem, leaf, seed.

Propagation: Seed. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Attracts beneficial insects.

Status: Established.

Notes: Nice herb that can grow in between plants without competing. It takes up practically no space so I spread it all around the garden. Should reseed itself if beds are kept clean. Useful herb for pickling.

Photos: A. graveolens.


Asarum Canadense 'Wild Ginger' | Perennial

Edible: Rhizome.

Propagation: Rhizome, seed. Cold stratify. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Deep shade to shade. Woodland. Shelter from heat.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Rhizomes can be used as a garnish. Always eat in moderation as there are reports of toxicity for parts of the plant. Don't eat leaves. This species is most commonly sold here, but A. europaeum is also used the same way. Despite its limited use it makes a beautiful groundcover for shady spots. It really needs shelter from any direct sun in my experience. Grows alongside ramps in the wild, may be useful to imitate this in the garden. Rhizomes will give you a quicker start.

Photos: A. canadense.


Chenopodium Ambrosioides 'Epazote' | Annual

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Seed.

Notes: Mexican herb, not the most versatile given its aroma. May be useful as deer deterrent.


Diplotaxis Tenuifolia 'Wild Rocket' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: There are a few genera with species that get referred to as cress or rocket, so it's easy to get confused. This is a standard perennial species that's easy to find, a useful alternative to arugula. Used in moderation as the taste can be sharp. Should do well in shade.


Eruca Vesicaria 'Arugula' | Annual

Edible: Leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: None.

Notes: Prefers some shade so it won't bolt as quickly. Many different varieties to experiment with, some have much larger leaves than others. I thought the variety I grew would self sow but it has disappeared from the garden. I think part of the reason is that the growing season is relatively short considering it dislikes hot weather. I will have to try some other varieties.

Photos: E. vesicaria.


Foeniculum Vulgare 'Fennel' | Perennial

Edible: Stem, leaf, seed.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. DROUGHT TOLERANT

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established - bronze.

Notes: Hardy perennial herb, can spread rapidly in dry climates. There are basically two different kinds - those with a fat bulb that are cooked like a vegetable and those without that are used more as an herb. I believe the bulbing varieties would need more water to properly develop. I have the bronze variety which tastes good to me although I don't know how it compares to others. When mature it gets pretty big and bushy. An easy and worthwhile addition to the herb garden if only for the pollinators.

Photos: F. vulgare.


Lavandula Angustifolia 'Lavender' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed, stem.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Compact herb that grows similar to rosemary but more tolerant of soil and cold. Limited culinary use but may be useful for its wonderful aroma when making things like soap or perfume. Many varieties within this species. L. latifolia is used in the same way.

Photos: L. angustifolia.


Melissa Officinalis 'Lemon Balm' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed, stem.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Another simple plant from the mint family and an easy way to add some diversity to the herb garden. Aroma is fantastic. Very easily grown, weedy. Medicinally used as a sedative, very nice in teas.

Photos: M. officinalis.


Mentha Spicata 'Spearmint' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Rhizome, seed, stem.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Leaves bitten by bugs.

Status: Established + multiple species.

Notes: Most species in this genus do well in almost any conditions. May be suited for spots where it can be given space and managed easily. I like planting mints in shady spots or poor soil as it slows down the growth and doesn't take space away from other plants that need better conditions. Can be planted directly into compact lawn and do fine. Can be cut back heavily and recovers fine as well. M. requienii, corsican mint, is the only species in this genus that forms a good groundcover. It grows slowly at first and is very small so it needs to be managed while getting established.

Photos: M. spicata.


Monarda Fisulosa 'Bee Balm' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed, stem.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Attracts beneficial insects.

Status: Established.

Notes: Many species in this genus, rarely used as a garnish but also used medicinally in teas. This species as well as some others have a pungent smell and may be less suitable for culinary purposes. Others like M. citriodora should have a more pleasant flavor. All of them are great for the pollinators though.

Photos: M. fisulosa.


Ocimum Basilicum 'Basil' | Annual

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed, stem.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. Prefers warm soil to germinate.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: This is the standard species, sweet basil. O. tenuiflorum, holy basil, is common as well and often used medicinally. One whiff of this plant and you are transported to another dimension, no wonder it is sacred! Some others. All prefer heat and sun.

Photos: Ocimum spp.


Origanum Vulgare 'Oregano' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed, stem.

Conditions: Shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Leaves bitten by bugs.

Status: Established - multiple varieties.

Notes: Makes an easy and useful ground cover, can spread quickly. Easy herb even for shady areas. Greek variety is much better for culinary use and is the one to get if you want the classic flavor.

Photos: O. vulgare.


Petroselinum Crispum 'Parsley' | Biennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: One of the easiest non-perennial herbs that I grow and very useful in the kitchen. It handles dry soil very well. Germination after dispersing seeds on bed is also typically very good. Can be used like a vegetable.

Photos: P. crispum.


Porophyllum Ruderale 'Quillquiña' | Annual

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Seed.

Notes: Mexican herb with dandelion-like seeds that float in the wind, great potential for reseeding itself around the garden. Good for dry soil.


Pycnanthemum Incanum 'Mountain Mint' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf, flower.

Propagation: Rhizome, seed, stem.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: This genus is like a mintier version of mint (and much prettier in my personal opinion). P virginianum is frequent as well, although with more narrow leaves. Limited culinary usage but very good in teas. In fact, if you want mint tea definitely get this plant, it's better than all the other mints for that. I just cut some new growth from the garden (even the flowers too) and use right away with some hot water. I also think it's a great breath freshener when not in flower. Very easy to control, not aggressive like common mint.

Photos: P. incanum.


Salvia Rosmarinus 'Rosemary' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Stem, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. DROUGHT TOLERANT

Wildlife: Deer resistant except for clary sage.

Status: Established + rosemary, clary sage, blue sage, and lyre-leaved sage.

Notes: Many edible species in the genus. Rosemary is a useful herb to have around the garden. Mine need to be in full sun or else they don't grow well. There is also a creeping variety of rosemary. S. officinalis is common garden sage. I've tried some other species of sage hoping for a nice aroma but this is the classic for a reason! Unfortunately mine keep dying, they may need to be in spots with better drainage. S. sclarea, clary sage, is a biennial with big leaves and a beautiful inflorescence. This one has very aromatic flowers which are edible along with the leaves. I grew a few and they produced large flowering shoots, but it was suprsingly unable to reseed itself. S. verbanica is wild sage, forms a low growing rosette unlike the common species. Leaves are edible but tough.

Photos: S. officinalis. S. sclarea. S. rosmarinus.


Sison Amomum 'Stone Parsley' | Annual

Edible: Leaf, seed.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: An uncommon species, leaves and seeds can be used as a garnish. Root can also be cooked like a vegetable.

Photos: S. amomum.


Tagetes Minuta 'Huacatay' | Annual

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Seed.

Notes: A showy Peruvian herb. T. lucida is Mexican tarragon. They do well in hot and dry conditions.


Thymus Serpyllum 'Wild Thyme' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed, stem.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: This is a creeping species and forms a dense ground cover, but many in this genus are very similar. Manage while getting established because it can easily be overtaken by more aggressive plants. Because of its growth habit it should be considered where in the garden it can best be appreciated and not shaded out. Edges and spots where it can overhang work well. Many references indicate the creeping varieties aren't good for eating but that is simply not true. Creeping thyme has an excellent taste, but T. vulgaris is the standard for culinary use. Many others.

Photos: T. serpyllum.




Vegetables


Angelica Sylvestris 'Wild Angelica' | Perennial ⚫

Edible: Shoot, stem, leaf, seed.

Propagation: Seed. Cold stratify. Prefers sunlight to germinate. May grow well in meadows.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Sometimes considered a biennial but can be a short lived perennial, although I imagine this varies based on the species. Many species like this one have edible stems and leaves that can be cooked as a vegetable. Prefers well drained soil as consistently wet soil seems to make it rot. A. atropurpurea and A. lucida also have edible stems. A. keiskei is perhaps the most prized species in the genus, it can be eaten the same way but exudes a yellow sap from the stems and is a longevity medicinal. There is supposedly a variety 'Mikura' that is more palatable. An important wild food from Japan. A. gigas and A. acutiloba are only eaten for their leaves, the latter being used for its medicinal root as well.

A. japonica/kiusiana is a lesser known species, Plants For Human Consumption and this paper only mention the seeds as being eaten. Plant Delights Nursery wrote in their description of this plant that the leaves are foraged for food in Japan, yet Useful Plants Of Japan, Described And Illustrated writes that this species is actually "very poisonous". Upon contacting the nursery and asking for any reference indicating the leaves are edible, they were unable to provide me with one. Do with that what you will. Many others in this genus with different edible or medicinal properties.

Photos: Angelica spp.


Aralia Cordata 'Udo' 'ウド' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Shoot, stem, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to part shade.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Considered a mountain vegetable in Japan (along with hostas and ferns). The interesting thing about this plant is that most English sources discuss eating the young shoots in spring, sometimes indicating they should be blanched. This is of course a great harvest, but a very small one for a plant so big. The main crop from this plant is actually the tender new growth, the young stems and leaves. No need for blanching or anything fancy. This is available for much of the growing season and so it is actually a very productive vegetable that can grow in moderate shade! It dies back every winter but can get quite large. A. racemosa has different edible properties and is less commonly cultivated for this purpose.

Photos: A. cordata.


Artemisia Princeps 'Japanese Mugwort' '쑥' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, leaf.

Propagation: Seed, stem.

Conditions: Shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: This is used in some traditional Asian cuisine. Seems to grow quite easily and quickly, forming strong clumps around 5 feet high. Grows fine in poor soil and has good potential as a soil regeneration or mulch plant. It creates thick stems when mature that make for good mulch. This plant is one of my favorite mulch plants, I have a few around the garden and regularly chop and drop them. Once established they grow quickly and are very resilient. Shoots are the best vegetable. Tender new growth can be used as a flavoring or vegetable as well.

There is a species that only grows about a foot tall and forms a good groundcover. I don't know what species this is, but it is useful as it doesn't get tall and can grow more easily under other plants. A. vulgaris, common mugwort, is edible in the same way along with many others. Said to be a lucid dreaming aid, can be infused as tea or smoked. Some plants in this genus are allelopathic (they can inhibit the growth of nearby plants). I have not personally observed this with any of the species I grow but it may be useful to keep in mind.

Photos: Artemisia spp.


Asparagus Officinalis 'Asparagus' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Takes a few years to get shoots big enough to harvest. Extensive root network. A few varieties available. A. schoberioides is edible in the same way, but with smaller shoots.

Photos: A. officinalis.


Asphodeline Lutea 'King's Spear' | Perennial

Edible: Root, shoot, flower.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Beautiful inflorescence, may be useful as flower crop. Historically grown for the edible roots and shoots. Will form clumps which can be divided. Seed may prefer cold to germinate but some will grow without this. So far it seems to require well draining soil, this being more important than getting full sun.

Photos: A. lutea.


Aster Scaber 'Chamchwi' '참취' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: A traditional Korean vegetable. Only the one planted in a sunny spot survived. Tender new growth eaten. A. tataricus has a medicinal root and is very occasionally eaten for its shoot in spring, although the plant quickly becomes very tough. Some others.

Photos: A. scaber. A. tataricus.


Beta Vulgaris Maritima 'Sea Beet' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf, inflorescence.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. COASTAL

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: This perennial beet relative is grown for its edible leaves. The root should be edible as well, but it is not typically grown for this purpose. Very tolerant of heat and poor soil, requires little care. The root develops quickly and goes deep. The seed I got looks to be fairly diverse, should offer a good opportunity for selection. Certainly an undervalued leafy vegetable.

Photos: B. vulgaris maritama.


Brassica Oleracea Ramosa 'Perpetual Kale' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf, inflorescence.

Propagation: Stem, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Mostly deer resistant, except in winter. Bunnies nibble on leaves. Many insect problems.

Status: Established.

Notes: B. oleracea has many varieties including broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower. This particular species of kale has some perennial forms, which is why it is one of my favorites. To propagate by stem simply place it in some soil and keep it moist until roots form. The seed here, highly recommended, produces mostly plants that flower. Once a plant flowers it will usually stop growing. The non-flowering specimens are the only true short-lived perennials.

I love the potential of this plant and it's got no problem growing, but it suffers from so many pests that it's not uncommon for plants have no usable leaves for portions of the year. The only solution I have found is to make sure the plants are not touching each other and are instead surrounded by a variety of other plants. This is important for most crops, but especially so in this case.

Photos: B. oleracea.


Brassica Rapa Purpurea 'Hon Tsai Tai' | Annual

Edible: Stem, leaf, inflorescence.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Seed.

Notes: B. rapa has many varieties including turnips, rapini and bok choy. This particular species is a type of choy sum, a vegetable common in China.


Brassica Juncea 'Mustard' | Annual

Edible: Leaf, inflorescence.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: B. juncea has many varieties including mizuna and brown mustard, although the forms aren't as distinct as some other Brassica species. Curled-leaf mustard is another variety that is one of the most cold-hardy leafy vegetables in my garden, not bothered even by snow. This variety seems to only germinate when the weather cools down, which is an interesting quality. It is quite pungent though.

Photos: B. Juncea


Bunias Orientalis 'Turkish Rocket' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Stem, leaf, inflorescence.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Young flowering shoots with some of the new leaves can be eaten like rapini. Or just harvest the inflorescence alone and eat like small broccoli. Easy to grow and propagate. Tolerates the poorest soil in my garden just fine, even in moderate shade. Useful perennial vegetable for the flower heads that appear every year. Think of it as the closest you'll get to a perennial mustard.

Photos: B. orientalis.


Capsella Bursa Pastoris 'Shepherd's Purse' '냉이' | Annual

Edible: Root, shoot.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Seed.

Notes: A foraged vegetable, common in Korea. The entire young plant is harvested before flowering, including it's root. It is cooked this way as well. Great potential as an edible weedy groundcover.


Capsicum Pubescen 'Rocotto Pepper' | Annual

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Potted - orange, red.

Notes: In climates like my own pretty much all peppers will be annuals. This species, a hot pepper, is a perennial in warmer climates but could be grown in a pot and brought indoors during the winter. There are a few different varieties from different locations and in different colors. If a scheme can be worked out to overwinter this plant, then it is valuable as a way to have a high yield of large hot peppers every year with little effort. I grow it in a pot and every winter I trim the plant to a more managable size, unpot it, trim the roots, replace some of the soil and bring it indoors to grow slowly inside until spring.

Plants can get over 4 feet across and high in one growing season. The main stem starts to get woody after a few months of growth. Like other peppers, if growing indoors or in a greenhouse it may need to be hand-pollinated. I have seen ants in the flowers, I believe they may be pollinators as well.

C. flexuosum is a hot pepper with tiny fruits that is the hardiest of all species, possibly even to my area. Seed is difficult to source though, and even then it is very difficult to germinate and get started. Due to the difficulties associated with this species it is not particularly practical.

Photos: C. pubescen. C. annum.


Chenopodium Bonus-Henricus 'Good King Henry' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Shoot, leaf, inflorescence, seed.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Young inflorescence are a great crop, one that many references seem to miss. Flower buds can be picked off and eaten if the shoot is left to mature. Leaves are a good perennial substitute for spinach. Young, unfurled shoots can be peeled and eaten as well, lots of ways to prepare this plant. Produces lots of seed like others in this genus. A classic staple vegetable.

Photos: C. bonus-henricus.


Claytonia Perfoliata 'Miner's Lettuce' | Perennial

Edible: Bulb, stem, leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Deep shade to part shade.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Beautiful ground cover for shady spots, spreads by seed once established, all above ground parts are edible and delicious. The best plant for salads I have come across, very tasty and succulent. The special quality of these plants is that they taste great even after flowering, whereas most plants are harvested before this stage to reduce bitterness. It looks amazing when served with the flower.

This species is most commonly available, C. sibirica is also great. Cold-tolerant to about Z7, so hopefully it will overwinter in my climate. Does not handle heat well. Even within species there seems to be a great deal of variation. Some other species in the genus are edible as well. The plants are very small and fragile while getting established, direct seeding has not worked too well for me given how messy my beds are. Transplanting seems to work well, although even then they need to be managed because they are easily overtaken by competition. They should be prolific seeders once established though. Beautiful plants. Would be worth more research.


Cryptotaenia Japonica 'Mitsuba' 'ミツバ' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Sometimes called Japanese parsley for its likeness to the plant, although this is a perennial so it may be a good substitute. The taste is somewhat like parsley but less fresh and more musty, plus the leaves are tougher. So less paletable but still has good potential in the kitchen, especially if cooked. Excellent vegetable for shade and easy to grow. Tolerates my neglect and doesn't need much after transplant. C. canadensis is American species.

Photos: C. japonica.


Cynara Cardunculus 'Cardoon' | Perennial ⚫

Edible: Leaf, flower bud.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. May grow well in meadows.

Wildlife: Deer resistant? Slugs.

Status: Established - gobbo di nizzia.

Notes: Both artichoke and cardoon fall under this species. Cardoon is hardier and more resilient. Artichoke was domesticated mainly for the flower head and bracts while cardoon is eaten for the leaf stalks. Very strong plants with big showy leaves that are tolerant of poor or dry soil. Creates a fair amount of biomass when mature. A classy vegetable that is well worth growing. I only grow cardoon as of now, but overall is has been easy to care for. Once established it effectively shades out nearby competition with large leaves. The leaf stalks are often blanched, this is not strictly necessary but with my limited experience they do not taste great when eaten raw right off the plant, very sour and bitter. Cooking will help.

Photos: C. cardunculus.


Dystaenia Takesimana 'Seombadi' '섬바디' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Shoot, stem, leaf.

Propagation: Seed. Germination may be poor.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Also referred to as Korean celery, may be a good perennial substitute for celery. The flowering stem is not eaten, only the young, non-flowering stems and leaves, of which there is a good quantity on older specimens. Traditionally only eaten in spring. Easily grown in sun and will tolerate shade, although the seeds should be relatively fresh.

In the same subfamily as both angelica and alexanders, and the growth habit is noticeably similar. In my mind this is the easiest to grow as it does not require cold stratification (unlike angelica) and is a true perennial, whereas the other two die after going to seed. They all fill similar niches in the garden, however this plant is the most limited in that no parts of the flowering stem are eaten. Still, it seems to be the most approachable and the shoots alone can provide a good quantity of vegetables.

Photos: D. takesimana.


Galinsoga Parviflora 'Gallant Soldier' | Annual

Edible: Shoot, stem, leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Entire plant eaten when still young. Used in at least a few countries. Goes to flower almost as soon as it starts growing, and these flowers mature into seeds quickly. So even a very young plant has the ability to reseed itself - this is why it can be difficult to get rid of. Once it gets older it produces tons of flowers. Flowers are edible but not palatable. Preferable in areas where it won't overtake other plants of interest and can be easily managed.

Photos: G. parviflora.


Chrysanthemum Coronaria 'Shungiku' 'シュンギク' | Annual

Edible: Shoot, stem, leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Nowadays often considered to be in the genus glebionis (at least here in the west), but for the sake of comparing it with some other notable chrysanthemums I have grouped it with them. There are two general types - one with smaller, serrated leaves and another with larger, more tender leaves. Easy to get established and should self-seed. Just toss the seeds around on exposed or disturbed soil. The germination has been excellent and they have proven to be resilient to dry soil as well. Overall a very easy vegetable to cultivate.

While it will grow in dry soil and full sun, it may bolt too soon for harvest in stressful conditions. May be better suited as a fall crop, but even if growing in spring/summer it will go to seed in time for a successive crop anyway. Useful Plants Of Japan, Described And Illustrated indicates this plant was sown in the fall and overwintered, however in my region it does not overwinter. When eaten as a vegetable it is cooked. A Dictionary Of Japanese Food writes that the raw leaves and small flowers are used as a garnish. C. nankingense is cultivated in China and eaten the same way.

C. morifolium is a perennial in my climate. Some forms have edible flowers and leaves. There is a variety 'Abokyu' cultivated in Japan for its larger flowers. I would recommend against eating random varieties - stick to those cultivated for food or medicine. Strictly Medicinal has standard varieties good for eating. C. parthenium is feverfew, a medicinal herb renowned for its ability to treat migraines. Once established it will pop up everywhere. Very fragrant. Many others, although the few that can be eaten as vegetables as opposed to just garnishes/teas stand out as excellent crops because of how easily this genus grows.

Photos: C. coronaria.


Gynostemma Pentaphyllum 'Jiaogulan' '绞股蓝' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to part shade. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Good leafy vegetable for shady spots or thickets, great potential for food forest. In my mind vines are one of the trickiest elements to really incorporate in temperate climates - many fruit vines must be trained up something and would smother shrubs or small trees if planted below them. Perennial vines with edible leaves are also rare in temperate climates. Fortunately this checks all the boxes, dying back every year and happy to sprawl wherever it can. So even if you already have a nice shady plant setup, this can just be planted nearby and will instantly add another layer of food and another layer of diversity. Older specimens still have the potential to smother shrubs but can be cut back easily.

Most reports discuss the medicinal benefits of drinking as a tea, but the leaves can also just be eaten like a vegetable after being cooked. Not very cold hardy and takes time to get going after winter in my climate. Need a male and female to produce viable seed. I have some planted by shrubs I don't need and some are just left to sprawl. Looks somewhat similar to Virginia creeper but jiaogulan has visible leaf petioles and leaf hairs, as well as a different arrangement of leaflets. Works well as a houseplant in colder regions.

Photos: G. pentaphyllum.


Hemerocallis Middendorffii 'Daylily' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, flower.

Propagation: Root.

Conditions: Shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer sensitive, only eat flowers.

Status: Established - multiple species.

Notes: Many people seem to have bad reactions to this plant despite a long history of edible use. If you are concerned, my recommendation is to stick to the varieties with a history of being eaten. Along with this yellow flowering species eaten in Japan, this includes H. fulva (common orange ditch lily) and H. lilioasphodelus/H. flava (shorter plant with sweet-scented, yellow flowers). I don't think any species are toxic, but try new varieties with care and in small amounts. My official recommendation is to stick with these three species only.

Flowers are eaten as buds or fully opened. They are cooked, dried, pickled, or sometimes eaten raw. The flowers are sweet, tasty and produced in quantity. Some of the best tasting flowers. Shoots or very young leaves are occasionally cooked as vegetables as well, leaves quickly get tough. Edible Wild Plants Of Vietnam indicates the roots of at least one species used for edible flowers has mildly poisonous roots. Granted this book isn't the most reliable but it's worth noting. The Encyclopedia Of Edible Plants Of North America mentions the roots are eaten but Food Plants Of China makes no mention of it for any of the species. It is possible only certain species are used for the root, so do not assume they can all be eaten like this. I am personally not very interested in eating them either way. The main crop is the flower.

Daylilies will grow in most soils and do fine in fairly deep shade. They can be aggressive spreaders so put in a spot that's easy to manage. Overall, they are an excellent perennial vegetable very well suited for food forest projects.

Photos: Hemerocallis spp.


Hosta Montana 'Hosta' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, flower.

Propagation: Rhizome.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established - multiple varieties.

Notes: All species of hosta should be edible but this species is the standard in Japan as far as I'm aware. Young shoots and very young leaves. Tolerant of most conditions, but not too dry. Useful for deep shade where edible options are limited. Although the deer love it, there shouldn't be a problem harvesting the shoots as they typically only eat it later on in the growth cycle. That being said, if a small plant is continually eaten to the ground then it may simply die. Bigger species will give you bigger shoots.

Flowers are mild and pleasant. I would say the same for hostas as I would for daylilies - most species should be fine but try new varieties with care and in small amounts at first. An excellent perennial vegetable for food forests. Can be blanched.

Photos: Hosta spp.


Ipomoea Aquatica 'Water Spinach' | Annual

Edible: Stem, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. Wet soil.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: In the same genus as sweet potato and morning glory (with similarly beautiful flowers). Common vegetable in southeast Asia, normally grown in more tropical climates but seems to have potential for growing and reseeding itself in temperate climates. Good potential because it can be eaten in quantity and spreads by rhizome, which is a relatively unusual quality. But grown as an annual in this climate you'll need to plant at least a few to get enough of a harvest to make it worthwhile. Wait until the nights start to warm up to plant.

The difficulty with this plant is that it prefers a wet and sunny spot - not an easy combination in many temperate climates. Interesting companion planting possibilities. In my climate the first flowers appear in late August and by October the plant will have new flowers every day. Theoretically there should be plenty of time for it to produce seed. But for some reason very few of the flowers are forming seed pods, I'm not sure why. There are narrow-leaf and broad-leaf forms (what I have), I don't know how they are different though.

Photos: I. aquatica.


Ligularia Fischeri 'Gomchwi' '곰취' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed. Germination may be poor.

Conditions: Shade to part shade.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Leafy vegetable from Korea, often used as a wrap. Older leaves or those picked later in the season should be blanched as they're tough when raw. Early spring leaves will be softer and better suited for eating raw. Amazing potential as a perennial for shady spots, grows low to the ground and doesn't get in the way but covers soil well. Beautiful plant overall. There is a variety 'Spiciformis' within this species that has slightly different characteristics, culinary differences are uncertain. It is useful as a source of genetic diversity. Some other species of Ligularia also have edible leaves, but none others are cultivated for this purpose.

Photos: L. fischeri.


Malva Verticillata 'Chinese Mallow' | Biennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Potted.

Notes: An important crop from ancient China, now considered a weed! High quality leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. M. sylvestris is also common, along with a few others which can be eaten the same way.

Photos: M. verticillata.


Peperomia Pellucida 'Pepper Elder' | Annual

Edible: Stem, leaf.

Propagation: Seed. Prefers warm soil to germinate.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: Seeds only sprout when temperatures have warmed up. Has a nice fruity, citrus, peppery flavor, similar to some other peperomia species. Tender new growth eaten. I haven't seen references to indicate the inflorescence is edible, but it seems hard to avoid when harvesting, so I do eat the young ones with the leaves. A beautiful plant with good potential as a groundcover. Medicinal qualities.

Photos: P. pellucida.


Perilla Frutescens 'Perilla' '들깻잎' 'シソ' | Annual 🖤

Edible: Leaf, inflorescence.

Propagation: Seed, stem. Prefers sunlight to germinate. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established - 38N Kkaennip, Green Ao.

Notes: Fragrant and delicious leaves, reseeds itself easily. Red varieties used more as a garnish, but leaves of green varieties can make for a great vegetable. The leaves of the green variety can also be used to make kimchi. Whole young flowering shoots or flower buds/flowers once the shoot matures are also edible. P. frutescens var. crispa is the Japanese variety often called shiso, and P. frutescens var. frutescens is the korean variety often called perilla, although the names are sometimes used interchangeably.

The 38N Kkaennip variety from Kitazawa Seed is an old Korean variety that has done exceptionally well for me after just tossing the seeds around the beds. This variety is wonderful and a standard. A bit tougher than other varieties but makes up for it in how well it grows. This variety also sometimes 'catches' the flowers that fall off on the leaves below - these can be collected and used as a garnish. Green Ao is a nice Japanese variety, a bit softer and better for eating raw, but not nearly as vigorous. This one flowers and dies earlier too.

This species can get surprisingly large and bushy to the point that it can easily shade out other plants. Having it in the garden beds makes this a concern, so I prefer growing them out of the way where they can be given their own space. It is easy to imagine filling large areas with this plant in just a season or two. Big specimens will also produce a suprisingly thick and woody stem. This sort of carbon generation combined with its vigoros growth and ability to shade out weeds makes me think it could have a place in soil regeneration. As long as it can be controlled and easily removed for succession.

Some sources claim these plants need consistently moist soil - this is not true. They have proven very tolerant of dry soil. Remember they are an escaped weed, so no need to baby them. Overall an extremely valuable plant, although it can be an aggressive spreader once it goes to seed so plant it in a spot that is easy to manage.

Photos: P. frutescens.


Petasites Japonicus 'Japanese Butterbur' 'フキ' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf petiole, leaf, inflorescence.

Propagation: Rhizome, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Shade to part shade. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Plant has toxic alkaloids, consume in moderation and always prepare according to traditional methods. Leaf stems are called fuki, must be blanched and peeled. Can be pickled after peeling and blanching as well.. I was under the impression that only young leaf stems are eaten, although A Dictionary Of Japanese Food seems to indicate even the mature stems can be eaten as well. Still, I would imagine the younger ones would be safer and more palatable. The flower buds appear as spring shoots before any of the leaves, one of the earliest vegetables. These are called fukinoto, typically eaten before opening. Very young leaves are edible but this is less common. Larger ones may be used creatively for wrapping other foods like banana leaves (but not eaten).

Can be an aggressive spreader once established, plant where it will not escape and can be easily managed. Useful for wet and shady areas, preferring little direct sun if any, although it can tolerate some heat. P. japonicus var. giganteus is a larger variety, growing taller with larger leaves, edible in the same way. Useful Plants Of Japan, Described And Illustrated writes that this larger variety is inferior in taste. Related to P. frigidus, arctic butterbur, which is used for the young flowering shoots.

Photos: P. japonicus.


Peucedanum Japonicum 'Coastal Hog Fennel' 'ボタンボウフウ' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Excellent potential, easy to grow and very nutritious. An important medicinal for longevity among many others and a traditional vegetable. Taste is suprisingly paletable as well. I really love this plant, it's just an excellent example of an uncommon perennial vegetable that has everything going for it. I would love to get some wild-collected seed for this.

Photos: P. japonicum


Polygonatum Commutatum 'Solomon's Seal' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot.

Propagation: Rhizome, seed.

Conditions: Shade to part shade. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: This species is larger than others, so should make a larger edible shoot as well. P. multiflorum and P. biflorum can also be used. Many others also have edible shoots. Sometimes bare roots can be found online, these will give you an easier start than seed. A high quality vegetable for shade.

Photos: Polygonatum spp.


Portulaca Oleracea 'Purslane' | Annual

Edible: Stem, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. DROUGHT TOLERANT

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Groundcover that should self-seed and spread easily. A few different varieties. Great choice for sunny spots with dry soil. None of the seed I dispersed grew out, probably due to all the competition. So the first season growing it has been transplanted. The taste is nice but the texture is a bit too mucilaginous for me, at least when raw. As far as succulents go, I personally prefer the taste and texture of dolnamul over this, however that does get more bitter.

Photos: P. oleracea.


Rheum Acuminatum 'Rhubarb' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf petiole.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: This is the species I grow, a relatively small one, petioles of this plant are normally dried and pickled. It it can be pickled fresh. This species appreciates shelter from heat. There are many other alternatives to the average garden rhubarb, R. rhabarbarum, that also have edible leaf petioles (often confusingly referred to as stalks). R. australe is edible in the same way. R. nobile is a gorgeous species with transparent leaves, creating a greenhouse effect for the flowers underneath. Cultivation is difficult though and all my seedlings have died.

Photos: R. acuminatum.


Rumex Alpinus 'Alpine Dock' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established + R. thyrsoides.

Notes: This species of sorrel produces huge leaves and is very ornamental. Young leaves and leaf stalks are eaten. To me this is the most exciting version of sorrel and just as easy to cultivate as the rest. Common sorrel, R. acetosa, is the standard and there are many others. All grow easily in a variety of conditions. A great vegetable to grow if just starting out.

Photos: Rumex spp.


Sedum Sarmentosum 'Dolnamul' '돌나물' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Stem, leaf.

Propagation: Root, stem.

Conditions: Shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS DROUGHT TOLERANT

Wildlife: Deer resiliant?

Status: Established.

Notes: Supposedly most sedums are edible to some degree, although I wouldn't recommend eating most regularly as vegetables. But along with some others in this genus, this species has an extensive and historic use as a vegetable. Often eaten raw in salads in spring. During hot and dry months it gets more bitter, maybe better for cooking. Grows quickly and can blanket large areas if left unchecked. Very well suited for growing in pots, it will hang over the edges in a very classy way. A useful vegetable that doesn't get the attention it deserves! There might be a few different forms, make sure to get one specifically used as food. There are also many edible sedums that are native if you are into that.

As far as edible succulents go, most immediately think of purslane. But I personally prefer this for both its taste/texture and reliability as a perennial. It is also much easier to harvest in large quantities. It handles competition well and tolerates a wide variety of conditions.

Photos: S. sarmentosum.


Sanguisorba Minor 'Burnet' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: An easy perennial that produces low mounds of small leaves. Often eaten raw in salads. Tossing the seeds around the beds was enough to get many plants established. Quite tolerant of dry and poor soil. Not a very common vegetable nowadays, but it is listed in the Chiu Huang Pen Ts'ao, a book on famine foods from ancient China.

Photos: S. minor.


Silene Vulgaris 'Bladder Campion' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: None.

Notes: Tender new growth is edible.


Smilacina Racemosa 'False Spikenard' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, fruit.

Propagation: Rhizome, seed.

Conditions: Shade to part shade. Woodland

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: A vegetable very similar to solomon's seal, it looks similar and is eaten the same way except this one also has edible berries (apparently a laxative if eaten in large quantities or if the body is not accustomed to them). S. japonica has edible shoots.


Smyrnium Olusatrum 'Alexanders' | Perennial

Edible: Root, shoot, stem, leaf, inflorescence, seed.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Seed.

Notes: A resilient alternative to celery. Cultivated by Romans but now largely forgotten, every part of this plant is edible. Biennial or short-lived perennial. This species is more well known, but S. perfoliatum and S. rotundifolium (the prettiest of the bunch) are fairly similar and can be eaten the same way. Seeds can also be used as an alternative to black pepper. There are other species within this genus that may also be of use but I haven't found any information on them. Amazing potential as a vegetable crop. Some sources indicate that the seed needs cold stratification but I have not found this to be the case. The seedlings are nice and big so they are easy to identify and transplant.

Photos: S. olusatrum.


Stellaria Media 'Chickweed' | Annual

Edible: Stem, leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Another vegetable that grows like a weed and is very tasty. One of the best salad crops. Makes a great groundcover, provides good shelter for germinating seeds but doesn't usually spread aggressively enough to block out sun or compete with them. Cornucopia writes that the flowers are edible as well. Identifiable by the vertical line of hair running along the stem, alternating sides after every joint.

Leaves of S. neglecta can also be eaten. S. pubera is a native perennial, growing into small mounds. I purchased this plant thinking it would be good for eating but the leaves are actually quite tough and not at all like the annual species. Some species in this genus looks similar to species in Cerastium genus, those are usually much fuzzier but also edible in the same way. I won't make a separate listing for that genus but I think of them similarly - less tasty though.

Photos: S. pubera. S. media. Cerastium spp.


Talinum Triangulare 'Waterleaf' | Annual

Edible: Stem, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Seed.

Notes: Also referred to as T. fruticosum. Should reseed itself in this climate. T. paniculatum is eaten the same way. There are some ornamental forms, although if you plan on eating it I would recommend the standard unvariegated form.


Taraxacum Officinale 'Dandelion' | Perennial

Edible: Root, leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Shade to sun. DROUGHT TOLERANT SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Classic leafy vegetable that every yard has, couldn't be easier to grow and propagate. Used as a food by many cultures throughout history. Tolerant of drought, heat and practically any soil. Food doesn't have to be difficult! Crowns can also be prepared as an unusual vegetable. It's nutrition, caloric density, and ease of growth make it a great famine crop as far as leafy vegetables go. I encourage them to grow anywhere I can, their taproots are great for the soil as well. When grown in the garden beds they actually become very nice plants with large leaves. T. albidum is the Japanese white dandelion, eaten the same way.


Tropaeolum Majus 'Nasturtium' | Annual

Edible: Leaf, flower.

Propagation: Seed. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: I wasn't expecting to like this plant as much as I do. I figured it would be another annoying annual to deal with but boy was I wrong! Seeds can be planted a few inches deep in the soil and still grow just fine (I suspect planting them deeply also helps with drought tolerance). They are very tough, handling hot sun and dry soil well, they look beautiful and go to flower quickly. The leaves and flowers taste good although they can be quite hot and peppery, so are best eaten raw in small quantities or cooked. The flowers are a lovely snack, their texture is so soft with a pleasant sweetness.

In my conditions the plant itself and the flower production picks up speed towards the end of summer - before this they aren't very impressive. But when they get going they are a real statement plant. They may self sow but can be easily controlled. I planted the 'Jewels' heirloom variety which I have been liking. T. nanum is very similar, some others.

Photos: T. majus.


Urtica Dioica 'Stinging Nettle' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, leaf.

Propagation: Root, stem, seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Tender new growth eaten. A highly nutritious, tasty and easy to grow plant - the only problem is that most varieties have stinging hairs that can be painful. Fortunately there exists a subspecies 'Galeopsifolia' that has little to none of that whatsoever! I have a non-stinging variety that grew randomly in the garden, although I am not fully certain of the identification just yet, it may be some form of hybrid. The main stem and leaves still have hairs but they are soft and relatively harmless. Towards the bottom of a more mature plant, the hairs become more rigid and pointy, but still I can touch them just fine and they are barely an inconvenience. It does still seem possible to get stung but I'm not sure yet.

Photos: U. dioica.


Zingiber Mioga 'Myoga Ginger' | Perennial

Edible: Shoot, flower.

Propagation: Rhizome.

Conditions: Shade to part shade. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established + Z. kawagoii.

Notes: In the same genus as common ginger, but this species is the hardiest (Z6) and the main crop is the shoots and flower buds. Good understory plant, preferring shade and rich soil. Looks a bit sad during summer when the soil dries out but seems quite tolerant. Will spread and form clumps easily. Flowers used as a garnish. In my climate any other ginger would need some sort of protection from the cold. A valuable vegetable for it's ability to quickly form clumps and the variety of conditions it will tolerate.

I grow Z. officinale, common ginger, as an annual. It also has edible shoots. Z. kawagoii might be hardy enough for my climate and the root seems to be used medicinally but I couldn't find much information about that.

Photos: Z. mioga. Z. kawagoii.




Onions


Allium Ampeloprasum 'Leek' | Perennial ⚫

Edible: Bulb, leaf. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Bulb, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: None.

Notes: Usually grown as an annual but there are perennial forms. Excellent potential as a perennial staple onion.


Allium Cepa Aggregatum 'Potato Onion' | Perennial ⚫

Edible: Bulb, leaf.

Propagation: Bulb, seed. Slow from seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: In same cultivar group as common shallots but slightly different properties, can grow larger and store longer, may be better suited for perennial patches. Most varieties will not set seed and propagation by bulb is easiest. Plant in fall and harvest the following year. Green Mountain looks to be the most promising variety. I have tried growing these from seed but it is even more frustrating than other onions, I prefer to start with bulbs.

Photos: A. cepa aggregatum.


Allium Cepa Proliferum 'Walking Onion' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Bulb, leaf, bulbet.

Propagation: Bulb, bulbet.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established - multiple varieties.

Notes: One of the most resilient and versatile onions. Tolerates dry soil, multiplies quickly, and can be used for bulbs or scallions. Easy to propagate, simply bury bulbets around garden or divide the bulbs at the base of the plant. Some varieties have larger bulbets than others, and some have sharper tasting leaves than others. After dividing a clump, planting the divisions deep into the soil will result in a larger, blanched bulb good for cooking. A wonderful plant I can't imagine a garden without.

Photos: A. cepa proliferum.


Allium Fistulosum 'Bunching Onion' | Perennial

Edible: Bulb, leaf.

Propagation: Bulb, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Will multiply and patches can be divided for propagation. Best to find varieties that are suitably cold hardy for your climate in order to establish a perennial patch. Like some other onions, mulch can be hilled up for blanched base.


Allium Hookeri 'Hooker's Onion' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Root, bulb, leaf.

Propagation: Bulb, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: A less common onion here in America but grown widely in Asia. Grows in clumps similar to chives but more substantial leaves. Once the plant is a few years old the actual roots are large enough that they can be eaten as well (in addition to the bulb and leaf). Grows by rhizome which can be divided. Love the taste of these. Definitely deserves to be more common.

Photos: A. hookeri.


Allium Oschaninii 'Grey Shallot' | Perennial

Edible: Bulb, leaf.

Propagation: Bulb.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: The only true shallot, originally found growing wild in China. Not the same species as common shallots. Good potential for perennial patch.


Allium Sativum 'Garlic' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Bulb, leaf, scape. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Bulb, bulbet. Slow from bulbet.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Some pests.

Status: Established - multiple varieties.

Notes: Easy to propagate via bulbs. You can plant the aerial bulbets, although they will take longer to produce a good crop and easily get lost in the garden. Varieties originally collected growing in the wild may have interesting qualities. Scapes and leaves make for good vegetables as well. Garlic only grows well and forms good bulbs in cooler weather - this is why it is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer. Once the temperatures warm up the plant will stop growing and start to dry out. If the conditions are right this will lead to a regular head of garlic that has excellent storage properties.

I am primarily interested in growing garlic as a perennial, leaving it in the ground as it goes dormant over the summer. This means the clove will turn into a bulb after one season, and then this bulb will become many cloves, and they will continue multiplying in this way. This forms a garlic clump that will produce small wet bulbs, leaves and scapes in quantity. These are all crops in their own right. At any point you can divide the clump and plant out individual bulbs to start new patches. This is easier than growing it as an annual because there is no need to worry about getting the right conditions for proper storage bulb formation. I don't like weeding or watering if I don't have to, so why not grow it as a perennial? The downside is that it is way less prodocutive and there is no crop that can be stored for very long. I like fermenting garlic to make it last longer. However there is no reason you cannot also grow it as an annual in addition to the perennial patches if it is important to have storage bulbs.

Photos: A. sativum.


Allium Tricoccum 'Ramp' | Perennial

Edible: Bulb, leaf.

Propagation: Bulb, seed. Slow from seed. Cold stratify.

Conditions: Deep shade to shade.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Grows in forest understory, getting all its light in early spring before the trees leaf out. Takes years to reach maturity from seed. Any shady spot with rich soil should work. Bulbs can be purchased for a much quicker start, but be sure they are not being harvested from the wild. I believe A. victorialis would be a similar alternative, although much rarer in cultivation here.


Allium Tuberosum 'Garlic Chives' | Perennial

Edible: Bulb, leaf, scape, flower.

Propagation: Bulb, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Another resilient onion. Similar to common chives but has a garlic aroma.




Roots + Tubers


Adenophora Triphylla 'Ladybell' 'ツリガネニンジン' | Perennial ⚫

Edible: Root, shoot, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant? Chipmunk?

Status: Established.

Notes: One of many genera in the bellflower family with species that grow edible roots. This species is the standard for edible roots within this genus, eaten as a vegetable. Shoots and leaves also used. A. latifolia and A. communis also used for the root. A. liliifolia is the most common here in America, often grown as an ornamental but also with an edible root. I purchased some roots of this plant and they have taken off without any care, producing beautiful flowers in the summer.

Many other species in this genus produce edible roots and/or leaves, seed can be difficult to source though. Harvest after 2-3 years like other perennial roots. From seed it seems to be slow and a bit picky.

Photos: A. triphylla.


Alpinia Galanga 'Galangal' | Annual

Edible: Rhizome, shoot, flower.

Propagation: Rhizome. Prefers warm soil to sprout.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Potted.

Notes: In the ginger family (along with common ginger and turmeric), used in southeast Asia. I like growing plants in the ginger family as annuals in large trash cans. Of all the other gingers I grow, this seems to be the easiest to grow and the most heat tolerant. It looks perfectly fine even in the greenhouse on the hottest days of summer! It is also the prettiest in my personal opinion. A. officinarum is grown and used the same way.

Photos: A. galanga.


Althaea Officinalis 'Marshmallow' | Perennial ⚫

Edible: Root, leaf, flower.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer and bunny sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Good potential as root crop. Leaves, flowers and roots have medicinal applications for relieving soar throat and coughs. The leaves are okay for eating raw in cooler months although they are hairy. Flowers are bad when eaten raw. Tolerant of most conditions, even moderate shade, and easily grown. Portions of the root can be harvested and the remaining can be replanted.

Photos: A. officinalis.


Apios Americana 'Groundnut' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Tuber, seedpod.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun. Woodland. NITROGEN FIXER

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Grows well in rich soil, spreading by rhizome, great for partial shade with something to climb on. Some varieties are bushier than others it seems. There can be big differences in root size between varieties, make sure to get an improved variety. Small harvest after one season or leave in ground for as long as you want so tubers can grow larger. Probably best on a 2-3 year rotation, similar to other perennial root crops. Nitrogen fixer, but since the root is harvested it's unlikely to benefit the soil as much as other fixers.

As far as food forests go, I am interested in this species as being able to grow around other plants in partial shade and climb on other crops. Production will be lower this way but it serves a niche that few other root crops are able to. When weeding around it care must be taken as the vine climbs on any plants around it. Other species within this genus may also be useful but there is very little information available.

Photos: A. americana.


Arctium Lappa 'Burdock' | Biennial

Edible: Root, leaf. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Deep shade to part shade. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: A root crop that actually prefers shade, so very useful in that regard. Root is eaten in a few countries in Asia. The root is difficult to harvest, you'll need some space to dig it up. So either grow it next to other root crops, give it plenty of space in the garden or grow it in a deep container of some sort. A. minus is a smaller speceis, eaten the same way. This one is more commonly escaped and luckily enough there was one growing in my backyard.

Photos: A. minus.


Beta Vulgaris 'Beet' | Perennial

Edible: Root.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: This species is the standard, a biennial but Experimental Farm Network has a form that should live a bit longer. Old roots probably won't taste good but there is potential as a leaf crop. B. trigyna is a little-known perennial alternative to the common beet. This species is said to have edible roots. Very little information available. Culinary appeal is uncertain. My first shipment of seed was confiscated by customs.

Photos: B. vulgaris.


Brassica Rapa Rapa 'Turnip' | Biennial

Edible: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Turnips are light feeders, so they don't need great soil to flourish. I like to think of them as being more efficient producers of food because of this - many more popular vegetables need lots of nutrients, but turnips can create the same amount of food with a lot less. So you get more mileage from your soil with them, at least that's my thought process. This is probably one of the reasons they used to be a lot more common, before fertilizer was so readily available.

Of all the species in the Brassica genus, I think turnips show the most potential. They can be eaten for their leaves or flowering shoots, just like the others. In fact, they are nearly as good as the others in this regard. But they also have a root! So not only do they do what the others do, they also provide a great source of energy in the form of a taproot on top of that. This is great for two reasons. One, it is an additional harvest. Two, it is a wonderful way to feed the soil. So even if you don't care about the root, you can harvest the leaves and let the root die, aerating and feeding the soil! Just like other taproots, if you filled a bed with turnips and then let them die in the soil, the improvements would be massive in just a single season. But none of the other taprooted plants create such high quality leaves, and very few of them grow as easily as the turnip.

I think there is potential to use turnips as the foundation for breeding a super-mustard. In my imagination this is a mustard that makes a fat taproot, produces an abundance of mild leaves and tender flowering shoots, and only sets seed after overwintering. Now that would be nice, right?

I have been impressed with the 'Scarlet Ohno Revival' variety from Wild Garden Seed. I collect the seed pods from plants left to flower and just toss them around the beds. They come back up reliably and seem more resilient than other mustards, especially for summer-growth. Plus they are super easy to overwinter, so they basically grow year round. Overwintered plants can produce a significant amount of greens. Let best plants go to seed, harvest others before flowering. Used to pelt ancient roman governors, not just a nutritious food but also a revolutionary weapon!

Photos: B. rapa.


Campanula Rapunculus 'Rampion' | Biennial

Edible: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Another edible plant from the bellflower family, this one cultivated until only recently. The seeds and seedlings are tiny and seem to take a while to get established. Also used as a leaf vegetable. Let best plants go to seed, harvest others before flowering. I think this species should produce the best root, but there are many others in this genus. Not to be confused with C rapunculoides, a perennial eaten in the same way but considered an aggressive weed that is probably best left out of the garden. C. latifolia should be a better perennial alternative.


Canna Edulis 'Achira' | Annual 🖤

Edible: Rhizome, shoot. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Rhizome, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: One of the earliest crops to be cultivated in ancient Peru. Young rhizomes can be eaten (almost all of them if grown as an annual). Can be a perennial in warmer parts of the country. If growing as a perennial, to harvest just slice off the newer rhizome with a shovel and pull them up, leaving the older ones in the ground. Shoots are a vegetable as well but seems to be rarely eaten and less practical if growing as an annual. Once the main shoots become big enough, new shoots will come up as the rhizome expands. Heavy wind may rip some leaves or bend over some stalks but these plants are pretty tough. Flowers start to form in October here. I am testing the following varieties:

Overall I believe this plant may be the single most underutilized crop I have come across. Many know of the other gems bred by andean cultures but few are familiar with this one. First off, the growth is easy. Despite the tropical appearance, it can produce even in temperate climates with relatively short seasons. It can grow in tough soil as long as it gets enough water. People say it needs consistently moist soil, and while it does prefer this, it certainly does not need it. The soil can dry out no problem. In my area it has no pests of any significance. They are quite susceptible to viruses, however.

Second, it produces tons of top growth with nice, thick leaves that are not only stunning but make perfect mulch when the plant is harvested. I would grow this plant just for the mulch even if it didn't produce an edible root! And lastly, it is productive. In temperate climates with good conditions expect yields of at least 5 pounds per plant. The only issue is poor storage, although this shouldn't be a problem if the root is brought indoors and stored in a cool, slightly moist medium during the coldest part of the year. Given all this, if it is perennial for you it is basically the perfect plant. As an annual it's still amazing too.

Plants sold with viruses are common. Rhizomes are available from a few sources, but only Sacred Succulents offers multiple varieties. C. indica can be grown and used the same way but there is no reason to do this because the yields are much lower.

Photos: C. edulis.


Chaerophyllum Bulbosum 'Root Chervil' | Biennial

Edible: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Seed. Cold stratify.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Seed.

Notes: Young shoots and leaves are edible, but the main crop is the root. Tastes best when given a period of cold, so leave it in ground over winter and harvest once the shoots start coming up. Then replant the best ones so they can go to seed. Or store it in the refrigerator for a month if harvested before winter. Some will bolt before winter, just like the carrot. And just like the carrot, I will be selecting for long-lived plants that only bolt after winter.


Codonopsis Lanceolata 'Deodeok' '더덕' | Perennial ⚫

Edible: Root.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Potted.

Notes: Many species with edible roots, both vining and not. This species is the korean vine grown for food and the species known as deodeok. Plants For Human Consumption writes that the young plant of this species can also be eaten. C. pilosula is the chinese medicinal vine, known as dang shen (党参), although the root can be eaten like a vegetable as well. This one is easier for me to cultivate. Hardy to about Z6 or Z7, but there are more cold hardy species as well. Most species in this genus seem to produce edible roots. Tubers grow larger every year, often harvested around 3 years old. Amazing potential as a root crop for the forest garden. This genus is unfortunately a bit difficult to grow and can be picky about conditions. For a different but easier alternative, see doraji.

Photos: Codonopsis spp.


Colocasia Esculenta 'Taro' | Annual 🖤

Edible: Corm, petiole, leaf. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Corm.

Conditions: Shade to sun. Wet soil.

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Virtually no problems.

Status: Established - Miyako, Bun Long, Korean + C. gigantea.

Notes: This species has hundreds of edible varieties. Some varieties are ornamental but even those that are edible often have different edible uses depending on the variety. Some are grown for corms while others are grown for leaf stems or young leaves. All parts of plant contain calcium oxalate, so must be cooked thoroughly to be safe to eat. Corms need especially thorough preparation. I have a few different varieties that I am currently trialing. Named varieties are difficult to find outside of Hawaii so these are anything I can get my hands on.

For an index of some varieties, see the classic source Taro Varieties Of Hawaii, or University Of Hawaii and Kupuna Kalo. Most do not reliably overwinter below Z8. In colder areas, bring the corms indoors over winter and store them in a cool, slightly moist medium (same as you would a canna rhizome). They are better producers when annually harvested and separated. They prefer sun but will tolerate a good amount of shade. The more water they have the better, but are fine with normal garden conditions as well. Many are under the impression taro can only be grown in tropical climates, but this isn't true. It will still produce well in temperate climates if you have the right variety!

Taro is a plant that you need to be familiar with how each specific variety is eaten. With varieties like Tsurunoko or Miyako, the main corm is too acrid but the dormant cormels are the main crop. Others are used for the main corm, and some others may be used only for the leaves. Corms are formed continuously as the plants grows, so even if it doesn't grow very long you can still get something out of it. If not for eating at least to replant next season. High on my list is the variety 'Iliuaua' as it is very hardy and productive, but I haven't found anyone selling it yet.

C. gigantea is used only for its leaf stems, the corm is not eaten. The leaf stems are an excellent vegetable, great for soup and produced in quantity, known as Bac Ha. Many references indicate they need to be peeled, although I believe this may only apply to the older and tougher stems. I have eaten tender stems without peeling and they have been very pleasant. Some clones such as 'Thailand Giant' or similar ones sold in nurseries are not used for food and are less hardy. However the common variety used for food can be found on ebay or etsy. This species seems tougher than taro, I believe it is less domesticated. Spreads by stolon, so after a season of growth it will start to form patches.

Given the large leaves and how vigorously this plant grows, it is also a good mulch plant. This species overwinters in my climate with no protection, even with wet soil, sprouting in late June. I imagine it could overwinter even in colder areas (I have seen reports of it overwintering in Z6). However it gets off to a very slow start when grown as a perennial in this climate, and the fact that is sprouts only when rain is becoming infrequent doesn't help either. Will tolerate fairly deep shade but prefers sun.

Plants in this genus are very closely related to those in the Alocasia genus, some of which are used as food as well. Bac Ha is often incorrectly identified as coming from this genus (even in a reference book I have). I don't think any Alocasia species are cultivated for food in temperate climates.

Photos: C. esculenta. C. gigantea.


Crepidiastrum Sonchifolium 'Goddeulbbaegi' '고들빼기' | Biennial

Edible: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Seed.

Notes: Uncommon, bitter vegetable in the daisy family. Great potential as an edible weedy ground cover. Let best plants go to seed, harvest others before flowering.


Curcuma Longa 'Turmeric' | Annual

Edible: Rhizome, shoot.

Propagation: Rhizome. Prefers warm soil to sprout.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Potted.

Notes: Only sprouts when the temperatures have warmed up enough, for me that is early July. When grown outside in the ground they don't have enough time until frost to reach maturity, so I don't think it's practical unless you are growing in a greenhouse. C. amada, mango ginger, grows similarly but has a sweeter mango flavor.

Photos: C. longa.


Daucus Carota Sativa 'Carrot' | Biennial

Edible: Root, leaf, seed.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: These plants don't seem to appreciate my methods. They don't like staying in the ground for very long, many of them rotting and dying. I am currently trying to get a population going that can grow over a longer period of time (preferably the entire growing season if need be), survive the winter, and then produce seed the following year. Add to these difficulties that not all varieties are hardy enough to survive a winter here. So a frustrating plant but with the right selection it should have great potential.

They have good qualities if not for their short and fickle lifespans. Seeds germinate very well and even young plants are fairly drought tolerant. The young plants are able to grow right through low-growing weeds because the leaves shoot upwards as soon as they start growing. This allows them to handle competition well and poke through to the sun fairly quickly. Can be used to improve soil in the same way as a radish, although the roots tend to be smaller. Has some very poisonous lookalikes, so be careful. Let best plants go to seed, harvest others before flowering.

Photos: D. carota sativa.


Dioscorea Batatas 'Chinese Yam' | Perennial

Edible: Tuber, aerial tuber.

Propagation: Tuber, aerial tuber.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Sometimes referred to as D. polystachya, although I don't know if they are actually the same species or not. The old name is D. opposita. Most yams are only grown in the tropics (or grown as annuals), but this species is particularly cold hardy. Aerial tubers can spread and propagate themselves, best planted in a spot where it cannot escape and where management is easy. Roots are fragile, should be grown in bag/tube/barrel that can be easily dug up without disturbing root. Plastic drainage pipes are used as well. Root takes about 2-3 years to harvest, aerial tubers are good crop until then.

If growing for aerial tuber crop, best to set aside some roots to leave in ground indefinitely, as older roots will produce more and larger aerial tubers. Needs a large trellis to climb on. When planting aerial tubers, be aware they may take weeks or months to send up leaves. It's a great plant but given that it's difficult to harvest straight out of the ground and that it can spread rapidly by bulbils makes it more annoying to grow than other perennials. Once you have a good setup in a good spot it's no problem though.

The book Ethnobotany and Useful Resource Plants of Dokdo and Ulleung Island in Korea indicates that the young leaves and tender new growth of this particular species can be eaten after being cooked. I was a bit skeptical having never seen this references anywhere else, but the creator of Sesame Sprinkles confirmed that korean recipes that make use of the leaves do in fact exist. She informed me they are usually pickled in soy sauce (마잎장아찌). D. japonica, the Japanese species, is also cold hardy and Cornucopia indicates it can be eaten the same way. This make sense considering how similar these species are.

Photos: D. batatas.


Hedychium Coronarium 'White Ginger' | Perennial

Edible: Rhizome, flower.

Propagation: Rhizome.

Conditions: Shade to part shade. Shelter from heat.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Potted.

Notes: This species is an interesting and hardy alternative to common ginger. It prefers cool temperatures so I grow it in the shade. In direct sun the leaves start to look very bad. Flower bud eaten as vegetable. Plants For Human Consumption writes that the rhizome is edible and Richo at Strictly Medicinal writes it can be used the same way as common ginger! The Wild Edible Plants Of Honghe table in the resource section above indicates the shoot is edible as well. Many sources indicate it is hardy to Z8 but I believe it should be fully hardy to Z7. Flowers in October and probably the best smelling flower I grow. The aroma is truly incredible. If I had to put a flower behind my ear I would choose this one.

Photos: H. coronarium.


Helianthus Tuberosus 'Sunchoke' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Tuber. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Tuber, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established - topstar, white fuseau, shiawassee.

Notes: Vigorous grower, great for poor soils. Best planted in a spot where it cannot escape and where management is easy. Roots contain large amounts of inulin. Keeping roots in ground during winter will help reduce this, as will certain methods of preparation (such as pickling/fermenting or cooking with lemon juice). Harvest as needed once tops have died back. Varieties can differ a lot in taste, size and shape. May be useful as barrier or trellis, some varieties can grow 10+ feet. Bigger plants will often flop over without some support.

The large plants make for good mulch once they die back, and it can even grow in compacted lawn (although shorter and more slowly). Once established it can shade out weeds and aerate soil with tubers, making it potentially useful for revitalizing soil. The only issue is removing it when you are ready to plant something else - the plants should be cut down once they are close to maturity mid-season, before flowering. This way you get all the mulch and there will be less tuber growth. With persistent weeding or mowing afterwards it can be removed.

One of the most important herbacious crops native to our continent. An excellent famine crop. Some other species in this genus can be grown similarly and have edible roots as well, but are less productive.

Photos: H. tuberosus.


Inula Helenium 'Elecampane' | Perennial

Edible: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established + I. racemosa.

Notes: The root can be grated and used as a garnish (although may not be very paletable). You can pull the root up, clip off what you need and then replant it. Young leaves are edible although I don't imagine they are very palatable. Mature leaves are very large, a real statement piece, effectively blocking out any immediate competition around them. Once established it grows quickly and easily. Both this species and I. racemosa are used medicinally.

Photos: I. helenium. I. racemosa.


Lepidium Meyenii 'Maca' | Perennial

Edible: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Seed.

Notes: Seeds have not been germinating for me.


Lycopus Lucidus 'Chinese Bugleweed' '地笋' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Tuber, leaf.

Propagation: Tuber, seed.

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: One of a few tuberous species in the mint family. Not a particularly common food, although it has been eaten in Japan. The Wild Edible Plants of Shangri-la table linked in the resources section and this profile suggest the young leaves/tender new growth are also eaten. Tiny flowers form at the leaf nodes, popular with the pollinators. Similar tubers to crosne further down but I prefer this one because it grows more vigorously in my conditions, handles competition better and I think it is prettier. Some other species within this genus have edible roots as well, like natives L. asper and L. americanus.

Photos: L. lucidus.


Mirabilis Expansa 'Mauka' | Annual

Edible: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Root, stem, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: None.

Notes: One of the least well-known Andean root crops with the most potential. Perennial in roughly Z8 or above. Can be grown as an annual, bringing it indoors to overwinter, but may need two growing seasons before harvest/division. Each root portion has a woody core that should be removed after cooking. The only nursery I know of that sells this is Sacred Succulents (they even have multiple varieties).


Oxalis Tuberosa 'Oca' | Annual

Edible: Tuber, stem, leaf.

Propagation: Tuber, stem, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Tubers form during short days in late fall. Yields are generally lower than potato even in the right conditions. But it doesn't really suffer from pests or disease so it is valuable in that sense. Some varieties tuberize a week earlier, you may get better yields from these. Stems/leaves are tart and sour, not much use for them. Tubers are traditionally left out in sun after harvest for a few days to sweeten them. Flavor ranges from sweet to potato-like. O. stricta is a common garden weed, all above ground parts edible.

Photos: O. tuberosa.


Petroselinum Crispum Tuberosum 'Parsley Root' | Biennial

Edible: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Seed.

Notes: Let best plants go to seed, harvest others before flowering. Leaf can be eaten but it was not bred for that like common parsley.


Platycodon Grandiflorus 'Doraji' '도라지' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Root, shoot, flower.

Propagation: Root, seed. Prefers sunlight to germinate.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. May grow well in meadows.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: A korean root crop with beautiful flowers. Of all the root crops in the bellflower family, this one is by far the easiest to grow and no less productive than the others. It has incredible potential as a staple crop and is very cold hardy. There are a few cultivars used for their edible roots - the standard variety with blue flowers, one with white flowers, and one that produces an especially large root. Although it doesn't seem that any vegetable markets sell these cultivars separately from one another. Will have to grow these out to see how different they really are. I think any form should be fine, even wild or ornamental ones, it just may be that the right cultivars will give you a better root. Like other perennial root crops, best harvested at 2-3 years old. Root division may succeed. Older roots will have stronger flavor and may be better used medicinally. Shoots also used as vegetable.


Psoralea Esculenta 'Breadroot' | Perennial

Edible: Root.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. NITROGEN FIXER

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Seed.

Notes: Will take 2-3 years until harvest similar to other perennial roots, but mature root size looks to be much smaller than most. Nitrogen fixer.


Raphanus Sativus 'Radish' | Annual

Edible: Root, leaf, inflorescence, seedpod.

Propagation: Seed. Prefers sunlight to germinate.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: Famous now not only as a food but for improving soil if left in ground to decompose. Let best plants go to seed, harvest others before flowering. Can be harvested well before maturity for a milder flavor. Some daikon radishes survived winter here (Z7) and some died. The young seedpods are actually a wonderful vegetable that can be produced in quantity, although they can be a bit hot. The seedpods fall over and take a while to dry, making them a bit awkward in the garden. R. raphanistrum is the wild radish which can be eaten the same way except it is far less palletable.

Photos: R. sativus.


Scorzonera Hispanica 'Black Salsify' | Perennial

Edible: Root, shoot, flower. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Seed.

Notes: Will spread itself around after going to seed. Flower buds are supposedly a great harvest from this plant. Excellent potential.


Solanum Ajanhuiri 'Potato' | Annual 🖤

Edible: Tuber. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Tuber, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive. Many pests, affecting some varieties more than others.

Status: Established.

Notes: Potatoes are a miracle crop well known for their ability to keep people alive. They are extremely easy to digest, are calorie dense, and can be eaten in quantity. They have moderate soil and water needs. They produce a large crop of tubers that store well. If soil is not loose it should be loosened before planting, otherwise yields will be significantly decreased. I am currently interested in figuring out a way to disturb the soil only once per year, harvesting and replanting to stay in the ground until the next spring.

Keeping potatoes in the ground for an extended period or growing them as perennials is not usually done because of disease/insect pressure and frost sensitivity. Wild potatoes are more resistant to disease/insects and frost but they are usually much smaller and often are not safe to eat. They are also difficult to harvest because of how far their stolons spread underground. Domestication has made potatoes larger, more stationary, and more edible but has also weakened their resistances.

Potato species that retain some of these resistances should be able to be grown in a more perennial way. High dormancy potatos will have a better chance of overwintering. I think this species, sometimes called ajawiri, should be an excellent choice. S. curtilobum may also be a good option, a beautiful purple potato although it only forms tubers during short days in fall. S. tuberosum is the standard species.

Photos: Solanum spp.


Stachys Affinis 'Crosne' | Perennial

Edible: Tuber.

Propagation: Tuber.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Leaves bitten by bugs.

Status: Established.

Notes: Another easy tuberous mint, the most popular of the bunch. Beautiful small grub-like tubers. One of the smaller tubers on this list but should produce a good amount of them without any attention. This species is resistant to deer while the Chinese Bugleweed (further up) is probably not. It also grows much lower, spreading more horizontally. So it's useful to have for the non-fenced areas of my garden or as a groundcover to grow alongside other roots. Pickled with red shiso in Japan. S. palustris also has edible tubers, as well as shoots.

Photos: S. affinis.


Tropaeolum Tuberosum 'Mashua' | Annual 🖤

Edible: Tuber, leaf, flower. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Tuber.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. Shelter from heat.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Tubers form during short days in late fall. An Andean root crop like oca and ulloco, but this one is a climbing or sprawling vine. Leaves are edible but very peppery. Most varieties will need a relatively tall trellis to maximize yields, but they can also be allowed to sprawl. Lost Crops Of The Incas writes that in their native region they are usually allowed to sprawl. Since the plant dislikes heat, allowing the leaves to remain close to the ground may actually prove beneficial. The vine climbs not by tendrils but by using its flat and stiff leaves as hooks. In my experience they need more water and perhaps better conditions than potatoes.

Photos: T. tuberosum.


Ullucus Tuberosus 'Ulloco' | Perennial

Edible: Tuber, leaf.

Propagation: Tuber.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. Shelter from heat.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: None.

Notes: Tubers form during short days in late fall. Leaves can be eaten. Tubers are supposedly hardier than oca but this species is more difficult to grow in hot weather. Yields will be lower than other options.

Photos: U. tuberosus.




Field + Grain


Amaranthus Caudatus 'Amaranth' | Annual 🖤

Edible: Leaf, seed. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun. Prefers warm soil to germinate.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: This species has beautiful drooping inflorescence, good for seed production. Of all the grains this may be my favorite because it is very productive, easy to grow, generates a lot of biomass, and even the seed-producing varieties have edible leaves. Seed from this genus is easy to harvest and clean, they are small and dense compared to other grains. A. tricolor is another species I grow for leaf production, branches out nicely, beautiful multi-colored leaves, but many others are very similar. All species produce enough seed to self-sow under the right conditions, even if they are small when going to flower. Many species commonly used, some for seed production, others for leaves.

Photos: Amaranthus spp.


Atriplex Hortensis 'Orach' | Annual

Edible: Leaf, seed.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun.

Wildlife: Deer and bunny sensitive.

Status: Seed.

Notes: Good species for leaf production, easy spinach substitute.


Celosia Argentea 'Plumed Cockscomb' | Annual

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Seed.

Notes: All reports indicate it must be cooked (unlike other species in the amaranth family listed here). Gorgeous flowers, some reports of young inflorescence being eaten but the specifics of that may depend on the variety and it seems to often be as garnished or in small quantities. A few different varieties, some growing taller than others and some with different flowers. Great ornamental.


Chenopodium Nuttalliae 'Huauzontle' | Annual

Edible: Leaf, inflorescence.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Seed.

Notes: Unlike others in this section, this plant most well known for its edible inflorescence. Similar to others in the amaranth family.


Helianthus Annuus 'Sunflower' | Annual

Edible: Leaf, flower bud, seed. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Birds enjoy seeds?

Status: Seed.

Notes: Large edible seeds. The young, unopened flower head can be prepared and eaten as a vegetable similar to artichoke heart. Great potential as vegetable, especially for multi-headed varieties. Some have multiple smaller flowers and some have a single large flower. The single flower plants are great for seed production, a good staple crop. Plants can grow over 8 feet, should make an excellent trellis or barrier.


Hibiscus Cannabinum 'Kenaf' | Annual

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun. SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Tall plant with edible leaves, somewhat similar to sorrel due to the oxalic acid content, common in India. Stalks used for fiber but may also be useful as firewood. Plants can grow over 8 feet, should make an excellent trellis or barrier.

I think this species has a lot of unrecognized potential for a few reasons. It can be direct seeded into a compacted lawn and grow just fine without irrigiation (in my climate), without any weeding, competing well with grass. This is a rare and valuable quality. It is an efficient producer of biomass, the thick stems of a mature plant make great mulch. It would probably be a good addition to compost as well.

The height of the plants makes them a natural companion for vining edibles, such as pole beans. The structure of the plant also creates very little shade provided they are not planted too densley, allowing them to be grown in garden beds and add a layer of vertical height without shading out other crops. The only problem is that heavy winds will often bend them over. Some will continue growing all bendy but some will just snap. Planting them densely helps mitigate this, but also makes the prospect of growing them in garden beds less realistic.

The leaves are a protien-rich vegetable and are produced in quantity, although quite thin. H. sabdariffa is the standard for using as a vegetable, however, and grows much smaller.

Photos: H. cannabinum.


Hordeum Vulgare 'Barley' | Annual

Edible: Seed. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: This is one of the easiest grains to grow, particularly well suited for dry soil. The food of ancient Roman gladiators! There are many hulless varieties that are easy to process at home. Great Lake Staple Seeds has a good selection. The best barley harvests will come from cool weather, and this has the added benefit of more moisture in the soil. Can be dispersed at the end of winter when the ground starts to thaw. Can grow with competition from grasses, a valuable attribute.


Sorghum Bicolor 'Sorghum' | Annual

Edible: Seed. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Sun. Prefers warm soil to germinate.

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Birds enjoy seeds?

Status: Seed.

Notes: An easy grain to process for backyard gardeners. A good plant for vines to climb on, similar to maize. Varieties differ in days to maturity, faster-maturing varieties more suitable for temperate climates. Some varieties have sweet sap in the stalk that can be used to make syrup.




Woody + Fruit


Actinidia Arguta 'Hardy Kiwi' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Shoot, fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established - Issai.

Notes: Unlike A. deliciosa, the common kiwi with fuzzy skin, this species is much smaller with smooth, edible skin. It is also hardier and grows more vigorously. Most varieties need a male and female for fruit production (and not all males work with all females), but the Issai variety is self-fertile. It won't fruit as much as those with a partner, but it may be easier to get started with.

Photos: A. arguta.


Amelanchier Alnifolia 'Juneberry' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: A large shrub, some can even be under 6 feet tall. Makes a great fruiting native for the backyard with limited space. A. obovalis and A. grandifolia are also grown for edible fruit, although they are small trees.


Aralia Elata 'Angelica Tree' | Perennial

Edible: Shoots.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Small tree with edible spring leaf shoots. Known as dureup in Korea, where it is most common. Must harvest in moderation as over harvesting can kill the tree. For large scale cultivation in Korea, entire branches are cut off and these then grow shoots that are harvested. Topping (cutting back central branch) may be beneficial to control height of tree and encourage branching. Should sucker and form colonies if left unmanaged. Easily grown, even in moderate shade. Compared to fruit trees the yield may be low, but it is a high quality perennial vegetable that fills a niche few other vegetables do. Has sharp thorns everywhere, be careful around it. A. nudicaulis, wild sarsaparilla, is a small understory perennial with edible roots, shoots and berries.

Photos: A. elata. A. nudicaulis.


Aronia Melanocarpa 'Chokeberry' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: None.

Notes: This species bears black fruit, A. arbutifolia is red. A relatively easy fruit bush like the currant but the berries are probably too sour for fresh eating.


Berberis spp. 'Barberry' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: None.

Notes: One of the lesser known berry plants. Many species with edible berries but apparently not very palatable.


Corylus Americana 'American Hazelnut' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Nut. CALORIE CROP

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: None.

Notes: One of the best nut trees for small spaces. The 'Winkler' variety is self-fertile and supposedly improved over native varieties. One of the best perennial sources of calories for the backyard garden.


Elaeagnus Multiflora 'Goumi' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting. Cold stratify.

Conditions: Shade to sun. NITROGEN FIXER SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: A nitrogen fixer that grows easily, is shade tolerant, and makes good fruit, what more can you ask for? Would work well interspersed between larger fruit trees as a source of nitrogen, or even planted right next to another tree and regularly pruned. E. umbellata is the autumn olive which has the same nitrogen fixing and edible properties. Very valuable plants as they are self-fertile unlike some of the other nitrogen fixing, fruit bearing shrubs.

Photos: E. multiflora.


Ephedra Rupestris 'Ephedra' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: The genus used famously by mormon pioneers for medicinal tea, it's as easy as pouring hot water over some of the stems. E. sinica is the classic species most used to make the medicine. Grows well in dry climates with full sun although seems quite tolerant of soil conditions as long as it's not too wet. Produces little edible berries that also have medicinal value. Many others.

Photos: Ephedra spp.


Ficus Carica 'Fig' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Some varieties of fig are hardy down to zone 6, but may die back in the winter. In my climate that is not an issue and they grow just fine. The easiest tree to propogate, just stick a cutting in some soil and keep moist. Supposedly fruit best when their roots are constricted in some way but I don't know if that is very practical for most people. Calorie-dense as far as temperate fruits grow. F. palmata is the wild fig, some forms can grow as a dieback perennial in my climate but won't produce any fruit.

Photos: F. carica.


Fragaria Virginiana 'Wild Strawberry' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, root.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: A few different species of strawberry in this genus. F. vesca, the woodland strawberry, grows similarly with small but flavorful fruits. Both are native and should grow more easily than the standard domesticated hybrid. They do well in shade but fruit better when getting enough sun.

Photos: F. virginiana.


Fuchsia spp. 'Fuchsia' | Perennial

Edible: Flower, fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to part shade. Shelter from heat.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Largely grown as an ornamental but the fruits of all species are edible. Will not taste good until properly ripe (which can sometimes be hard to tell) and some varieties taste better than others. Small shrubs good for shade. Sanihanf is a sprawling variety sold by Plant Delights Nursery that was bred for heat tolerance, may be better suited for my climate. It has taken off in a shady spot behind another shrub for extra shelter from the heat. The flowers are stunning and edible although not very paletable.

Photos: Fuchsia spp.


Gaultheria spp. 'Wintergreen' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting. Cold stratify.

Conditions: Shade to sun. Rich soil.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: A wide range of species in this genus, from small shrubs to small trees. G. procumbens is the classic American native. G. miqueliana, Japanese wintergreen. G. yunnanensis and G. wardii may be interesting cold hardy additions as well. All prefer rich, acidic soil like the blueberry. The genus Pernettya is used by nurseries for designating plants but I beleive it has been merged with this one. Still it is useful as plants in the Pernettya genus with edible berries must be eaten with care. This is because some species are said to cause some form of inebriation, delirium, or even insanity when eaten in quantity. P. prostrata has at least one form that is cold hardy to my climate, and P. furens is hardy as well. They produce beautiful berries that have a fascinating story behind them, so I appreciate growing them.

Photos: Pernettya spp.


Lycium Barbarum 'Goji' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit, leaf.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: More of a arge bush than a tree. Easy to grow from seed, doesn't need to be stratified and germination is good. Green cuttings also root very easily in water. Nutritional berries, leaves can be eaten as well, although some forms will be better for this than others. Leaves vary in size and texture, those good for eating will be large and tender. There are also some improved forms with sweeter berries but few nurseries offer anything but the common variety. Excellent potential as a tree leaf crop.

Photos: L. barbarum.


Maclura Tricuspidata 'Che' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: An uncommon fruit tree related to M. pomifera, the inedible osange orange. Small red fruit that supposedly taste like mulberries and figs. Most varieties need a male and a female but there are self-fertile, seedless varieties (so get one of those!). Often grafted onto osange orange rootstock to prevent it from suckering and becoming too bushy. When mature they should grow to 15-20 feet tall.

Photos: M. tricuspidata.


Morus Nigra 'Black Mulberry' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Fruit, leaf.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Large trees, can grow up to 50 feet tall with incredible production of mild and sweet berries. Ripe ones fall off after shaking tree. M. alba and M. rubra are the white and red mulberry, respectively. Young leaves of white mulberry are sometimes cooked and eaten. The Encyclopedia Of Edible Plants Of North America writes that most species have edible leaves, but to me that is not very convincing. Native American Ethnobotany doesn't mention native american tribes eating the leaves of any species.

There is a common black-fruiting tree called 'Dwarf Everbearing' that is not actually a dwarf tree, do not believe what you read online. The amount of websites and nurseries that claim this plant is a dwarf tree is just astounding. I believe what you are actually buying is a repackaged 'Illinois Everbearing' tree that grows to 30+ feet. It can be kept short and still produce fruit but that means you will have to heavily prune it (read: massacre it) every year. Edible Landscaping has far superior options available for actual dwarf trees, some growing only 6 feet tall. I am growing the Japanese variety 'Issai', but any should be fine. Very easy to grow and has had no problems so far. Check for pests regularly as I see many wild mulberry seedlings in my yard easily get infested.

Photos: Morus spp.


Passiflora Incarnata 'Maypop' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf, fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: None.

Notes: A vining plant that produces small fruits filled with sweet pulp. Leaves can also be eaten but they are used medicinally as a sedative so be cautious. It spreads by suckers, may need regular management. P. edulis is the passionfruit, not cold hardy. All have incredible flowers.


Poncirus Trifoliata 'Bitter Orange' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: The hardiest of all citrus trees (I think). Too bitter to eat like you would an orange. The juice can be used as an alternative to lemons, or it can be made into a preserve. Should grow to be compact and short. Large thorns. There is also an ornamental variety with more curves. There are other hardy citrus trees, often from Japan, although I haven't seen many for sale here in the states. The Yuzu citrus tree, C. ichangensis x C. reticulata var. austera, is cold hardy and readily available but I'm not sure it would survive here in Z7. A worthwhile attempt would involve grafting it to Trifoliate rootstock and growing it out in a pot for a few years, sheltering it during winter until transplant to a good location.

Photos: P. trifoliata.


Prunus Americana 'Plum' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established + beach plum, chinese apricot, and red/white nanking cherry.

Notes: One of the easiest fruits for North America. The less domesticated forms should be easier but are usually less sweet. This species is the wild American plum, fairly short but will form dense patches P. maritama, beach plum, is also a short tree good for limited space. Many hybrids and varieties to choose from. P. tomentosa is the nanking cherry, a beautiful shrub great for small spaces with tart fruit. P. japonica is the Korean bush cherry, similar to the nanking cherry but less productive. These bush cherries strike me as valuable for tight spaces, especially if pruned. P. mume is the famous ume apricot used in Japan for traditional ume-infused liquor umeshu and pickled ume umeboshi. It should not be eaten raw, both for health and flavor reasons. Also included is the apricot, P. armeniaca, and the peach, P. persica. Overall this genus is a goldmine with tons of different options! The flowers are edible in small quantities.

Photos: P. americana. P. tomentosa.


Polylepis Australis 'Kewina' | Perennial

Medicinal: Bark, leaf.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: A gorgeous tree from the Andes with a gnarly appearance and layers of brilliant peeling bark. Not edible but used medicinally and an important species in its native region currently losing much of its population.

Photos: P. australis.


Rubus Idaeus 'Raspberry' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established + yellow black raspberry, glencoe purple raspberry, pink thimbleberry, Taiwanese creeping raspberry.

Notes: One of the easiest berries in North America. Tons of options within this genus. This species is the classic red raspberry bush. It has a perennial root system that send up new canes every year, but each cane only fruits the second year before dying. Everbearing varieties will fruit twice before the canes die. Thorned varieties seem to be more vigorous. The thimbleberry, R. parviflorus, barely fruits at all but doesn't have any thorns, grows taller and the canes live longer and continue producing. The Japanese wineberry, R. phoenicolasius, is an extremely thorny scrambling bush although it can be trellised. R. fruticosus is the blackberry. Of all the cane types in this genus I think thornless raspberries are the easiest to manage. There are also groundcovers with modest fruiting like R. calycinoides, the Taiwanese creeping raspberry. It is small and not the most productive crop but covers ground well and grows very easily. It will tolerate considerable shade and competition. R. nepalensis, the Nepalese raspberry, is also a ground cover but with larger fruits. This one is less common but worth more testing. Most are fairly aggressive growers in this climate. Many others.

Photos: R. idaeus. R. calycinoides. R. parviflorus.


Ribes Nigrum 'Currant' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Shade tolerant bush. This species is black currant, R. rubrum is red currant. Another easy shrub for north America, well suited for partial shade.

Photos: R. nigrum.


Sambucus Canadensis 'Elderberry' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: This species is local to my area but there are many others. One of the easiest fruit trees, growing quickly and suckering abundantly. The berries should not be eaten raw more than a few at a time for health reasons. They are great for jams or wines though. Can grow even in deep shade but may not bear fuit. Can be useful as a mulch plant because of their quick growth.

Photos: S. canadensis.


Schisandra Chinensis 'Magnolia Vine' '五味子' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: A fast growing vine that smothers whatever it climbs on. Can get very big so a good candidate for climbing on an old bush you don't need. Will do fine with some shade. An important medicinal and adaptogen.

Photos: S. chinensis.


Trichosanthes Kirilowii 'Gua Lou' '栝楼' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf, fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting. Scarify and soak seed before planting.

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Fruit can be eaten when young and green as a vegetable or the sweet pulp can be eaten once it matures. Great potential as the only perennial, cold hardy gourd (maybe Z6). Also used medicinally. Needs male and female to fruit, so grow out multiple seedlings. Seeds should be scarified and soaked as they are tough to germinate otherwise. Grows as a vine, tips can root when they touch soil. You can also let it sprawl and find it's own trellises. I like the idea of having a bunch of these rambling around the garden and climbing up bushes. Young leaves can be eaten as a vegetable as well. Tolerates fairly deep shade and once the seed germinates it grows quickly and is very low-maintenence. Related to the common snake gourd, T. cucumerina.

Photos: T. kirilowii.


Vaccinium Corymbosum 'Blueberry' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Shade to sun. Rich soil.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: This species is the popular blueberry with two main forms - lowbush and highbush. Lowbush is the cold hardy wild form that is a smaller plant with smaller berries. Highbush is the cultivated form, a bigger plant with bigger berries and better heat tolerance. There are hybrids as well. This species is the most common but there are many other worthwhile species in this genus. All need acidic soil, growing naturally in acidic forest soil, so may not be the easiest plant for the backyard garden without some preparation. However, I think that making sure there is a lot of organic matter in/on the soil is often good enough. Place it in a spot with rich soil, feed with compost and mulch heavily with garden debris. I am growing the 'Hardyblue' variety. I am also attempting to grow V. gaultheriifolium, the chinese blueberry. This one shows potential. V. vitus-idaea, the lingonberry. V. caespitosum, the dwarf bilberry. These and more have edible fruit.

Photos: V. corymbosum. V. gaultheriifolium.


Ziziphus Jujuba 'Jujube' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Seed, cutting.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Supposed to be one of the easiest fruit trees to grow, tolerating most soil conditions. Fruits are often dried or processed. Good for drying and supplying calories. Is doing fine so far with some shade. Has thorns.




Cactus


Maihuenia Poeppigii 'Maihuén' | Perennial

Edible: Fruit.

Propagation: Division, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Sun. Well-draining soil. DROUGHT TOLERANT

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Potted.

Notes: Low growing cactus with yellow edible fruits. Can tolerate being covered in snow. Forms dense mats. Uncommon. Easily propogated from cuttings or division.

Photos: M. poeppigi.


Neowerdermannia Vorwerkii 'Achacana' | Perennial

Edible: Stem.

Propagation: Division, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Sun. Well-draining soil. DROUGHT TOLERANT

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Potted.

Notes: Must be peeled and cooked. I write stem because that is what the body of the cactus is, but heart might be a better term. According to Sacred Succulents it needs tempertures below Z7 but I'm not sure what the lower limit is. Not practical for home-scale cultivation. Slow growing and small.


Opuntia Humifusa 'Prickly Pear' | Perennial 🖤

Edible: Pad, fruit.

Propagation: Pad, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. Well-draining soil. DROUGHT TOLERANT

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: A few useful species in this genus, some more cold hardy than others. This species shoul be very cold hardy. Wonderful plant that serves double duty as a fruit and vegetable. Fruits can be eaten fresh and pads should be cooked. Both fruit and pads have spines that must be removed, as well as invisible barbed hairs called glochids that are painful to the touch. Harvest with gloves or tongs and then thoroughly burn or scrub the entire pad. O. cacanapa is a bit less cold hardy but has larger pads. For the sake of science I rubbed my hands on this one and it does definitely have glochids as well. O. stricta should also be suitable for cold winters. Many other cold hardy species, although I don't think all have a history of being eaten. The amount of spines differs between species and which form you have. Many species have spineless varieties (they all likely still have glochids though). All have amazing potential as an easy crop for poor soil, with the benefit of little wildlife pressure. Pads can be rooted easily, best to get these or live plants for a quick start.

Photos: O. humifosa. O. cacanapa.




Bamboo


Chusquea Culeou 'Bamboo' | Perennial

Edible: Shoots.

Propagation: Rhizome.

Conditions: Shade to sun. Shelter from heat.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: The canes of this species reach a diameter of 1.25" which is about as large as it gets for cold-hardy, edible clumping bamboo species. However, it can be challening to grow in hot climates as it prefers cooler weather. My strategy is to plant it in a sheltered and relatively shady area. There are not many references to this species being edible and it's not as common as other bamboos. Bamboos: A Gardener's Guide To Their Cultivation In Temperate Climates does indicate it is edible though. C. gigantea is also noteworthy as it produces one of the densest and thickest (1.75") canes of all cold hardy clumping bamboos. But it does spread much more than other clumping bamboos and does not seem to be edible.


Fargesia Robusta 'Bamboo' | Perennial

Edible: Shoots.

Propagation: Rhizome.

Conditions: Shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: None.

Notes: This clumping species is relatively tolerant of heat so it should be easier to cultivate in temperate climates. The canes reach a respectable diameter of 1". No clumping bamboo is going to provide as good of a harvest as a running bamboo in temperate climates, but it's better than nothing! And of course all bamboo species are great for using around the garden or generating mulch.




Ferns


Dryopteris Pseudofilix-Mas 'Mexican Male Fern' | Perennial

Edible: Shoots.

Propagation: Rhizome, spore.

Conditions: Deep shade to part shade. Wet soil. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: Consume in moderation and always prepare according to traditional methods, may be harmful in large quantities. Unfurled shoots (known as fiddleheads) only. All the ferns listed here prefer at least moderate shade, shelter from heat, and rich/moist soil. This one should be one of the easiest to grow.

Photos: D. pseudofilix-max.


Matteuccia Struthiopteris 'Ostrich Fern' | Perennial

Edible: Shoots.

Propagation: Rhizome, spore.

Conditions: Deep shade to part shade. Wet soil. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established + M. orientalis.

Notes: Consume in moderation and always prepare according to traditional methods, may be harmful in large quantities. Unfurled shoots only. There are a range of ferns with varying edible properties, but this is the standard in America and the easiest to source. M. orientalis can also be eaten the same way.


Osmunda Japonica 'Japanese Royal Fern' | Perennial

Edible: Shoots.

Propagation: Rhizome, spore.

Conditions: Deep shade to part shade. Wet soil. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established + O. cinnamomea.

Notes: Consume in moderation and always prepare according to traditional methods, may be harmful in large quantities. Unfurled shoots only. Another beautiful fern. O. cinnamomea is eaten the same way.

Photos: O. cinnamomea.


Pyrrosia Petiolosa 'Taste Of China' | Perennial

Medicinal: Leaf?

Propagation: Spore.

Conditions: Deep shade to part shade. Wet soil. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: Used medicinally. Can be found growing on moss-covered trees. One of the hardiest species in this genus. Same condtions as any of the other ferns.




Medicinal


Alocasia Cucullata 'Chinese Taro' | Indoor Perennial

Medicinal: Root.

Propagation: Root.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Potted.

Notes: A gorgeous plant and supposedly brings good luck! I got a root of this because I think the genus is pretty. This species is small and relatively cold hardy. Traditionally it has been used externally for detoxifying viper bites - good to have it just in case I run into one, I guess. Currently it is used for cancer prevention and treatment. Plants For Human Consumption mentions this species has an edible corm. I imagine this is referencing Dictionary Of Economic Plants which says the same. However in that listing it mentions the common name as 'Giant Taro' and this plant most certainly is not giant. So that has me curious if it is actually an accurate reference (I doubt it). In terms of edibility, this genus has one species of primary importance, A. macrorrhizos. This species is the true Giant Taro and is used for it's large corm after extremely thorough cooking in areas where it grows locally.


Aristaloe Aristata 'Lace Aloe' | Perennial

Medicinal: None.

Propagation: Root.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Potted.

Notes: Once thought to be a kind of aloe but now in its own genus. Unlike aloe this should be hardy to my area! A beautiful plant. None of my references mention it. It would be nice if the gel had the same medicinal properties as some other aloe species, but that is just speculation.


Cnidium Monnieri 'Snow Parsley' | Annual

Medicinal: Leaf, seed.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant?

Status: Established.

Notes: I read this species has leaves that can be eaten like a garnish, and given the name I suppose I just stupidly assumed it would be similar to parsley in some way. It grows easily enough but the leaves are pungent and bitter, not very tasty at all. I am certainly not a good enough chef to be able to use these in any way. Although the seed is said to be an aphrodisac! Plant also used to treat skin problems. As with other carrot family plants, be extra positive of your identificaiton before use.


Gentiana Tibetica 'Tibetan Gentian' | Perennial

Medicinal: Root.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Root is a bitter digestive, this genus is the gold standard for that. G. lutea is used similarly although that has preformed much worse for me even though it is planted only a foot away. I would therefore suggest the tibetan species. Gorgeous plants.

Photos: Gentiana spp.


Heimia Salicifolia 'Sun Opener' | Annual

Medicinal: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Seed.

Notes: Leaves are fermented in water and the resulting tea is drunk. Given its name because it can sometimes produce an orange glow in the user's vision. Seeds are tiny. Haven't been able to grow it yet.


Leonotis Nepetifolia 'Lion's Ear' | Annual

Medicinal: Leaf.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. May grow well in meadows.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: Leaves are brewed as a tea or smoked. If growing for leaf production it might make sense to cut the top off once or twice so it branches more. Amazing flowers. Seeds form in the little capsules left behind by the flowers, should reseed itself.

Photos: L. nepetifolia.


Panax Quinquefolius 'American Ginseng' | Perennial

Medicinal: Root, leaf.

Propagation: Root, seed. May be difficult from seed.

Conditions: Deep shade to shade. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: None.

Notes: One of the most sought after and expensive native American medicinals. Roots take years to form into a good size for harvesting. I think the best method of preperation is simply eating a bit of the raw root, but it can also be dried. Good plant for shady understory, can be interplanted with ramps and wild ginger. Roots will give you a quicker start.


Peperomia Congona 'Congona' | Indoor Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Stem, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Potted.

Notes: A peruvian medicinal but the leaves can be eaten normally as a spice or garnish as well. Taste is hard to describe but like licorice-citrus-mint-pepper-refreshing-zesty and wonderful. Good for oral hygene which I am particularly interested in. A beautiful houseplant worth growing indoors. Cut stems root easily in water. P. peruviana is also chewed for oral hygene but is extremely slow growing and difficult to cultivate. I also grow P. inaequalifolia indoors, which is a much smaller plant than congona but has an excellent sweet citrus taste as well. Many others in this genus are important medicinals.

Photos: P. congona. P. inaequalifolia.


Prunella Vulgaris 'Self Heal' | Perennial

Edible: Leaf.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Shade to part shade. Woodland.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive?

Status: Established.

Notes: Used for a wide range of ailments. Leaves are edible but may not be palatable. Gorgeous flowers and an easy, useful medicinal for shade. They are suprisingly tolerant of dry soil (aka me forgetting about them in pots). Toss the leaves into soup or any other dish and get your medicine without even noticing it!

Photos: P. vulgaris.


Silene Capensis 'Xhosa Dream Root' | Perennial

Medicinal: Root.

Propagation: Root, seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: Root is usually powdered and drunk with water, uncertain of dosage. Can probably just be infused too. Most reports I've seen online don't seem to be written by those experienced with lucid dreaming. Unclear if it actually aids lucid dreaming or simply changes the nature of the dream or does something else entirely.

Photos: S. capensis.




Support


Trifolium Pratense 'Red Clover' | Perennial

Support: Nitrogen, groundcover.

Propagation: Seed. SELF SOWS

Conditions: Shade to sun. May grow well in meadows. NITROGEN FIXER SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer resistant. Bunny sensitive.

Status: Established.

Notes: An easy way to plant a living mulch and fix nitrogen. T. repens is more common, a slightly smaller perennial with white flowers. T. incarnatum is the crimson species, a tall and showy annual with red flowers. They all work well as nitrogen-fixing groundcovers. Which one to grow depends on whether you want an annual or perennial. I like the crimson species for annual beds, after flowering it dies and gets out of the way. It will reseed itself to a degree but less when there is a lot of competition. The perennial species are great for meadows or fields. A patch of clover will attract bunnies, they often leave droppings so I consider it a very worthwhile trade!


Musa Basjoo 'Japanese Banana' | Perennial

Support: Mulch, shade.

Propagation: Division

Conditions: Shade to sun.

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: This is the hardiest species of banana, down to at least Z7 (lower with mulch). It doesn't produce edible fruit but I think it has excellent potential for generating mulch. The leaves are huge and the plant can grow 15 feet tall when fully mature. Banana leaves and stems will break down slower than those of other herbacious plants. It may also be useful for sheltering plants from sun in the summer. Generally recomended to be in a spot sheltered from wind as heavy gusts can tear the leaves and bend the top down. There are some growing in an open spot in my neighborhood and every year they look shredded and absolutely terrible after the first heavy winds. Seems to appreciate shelter from heat and will do fine in moderate shade.

Photos: M. basjoo.


Paulownia Tomentosa 'Empress Tree' | Perennial

Support: Mulch, shade.

Propagation: Seed.

Conditions: Part shade to sun. EASY & VIGOROUS SOIL REGENERATION

Wildlife: Deer resistant.

Status: Established.

Notes: One of the fastest growing trees in temperate climates. Gigantic leaves. It can grow over 10 feet in a single season, providing leaves and wood for mulching. When fully mature the tree gets very tall - if that is a concern put it in a spot where it can be easily managed or mowed over when its job is done. Easiest when cut back to ground every fall. There are a few different varieties to choose from if you're looking to grow it from seed, but getting a sapling is easiest.




If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.

-Aristippus

If you would learn to live on lentils you would not have to be subservient to the king.

-Diogenes




Notable Reference Books

My favorite reference books that are only available in print (although some can only be purchased used). For books available online, see the resource section below. Photos of covers and sample pages.





Nurseries

Sacred Succulents

Experimental Farm Network

Strictly Medicinal Seeds

Wild Garden Seed

Edible Landscaping

Burnt Ridge Nursery

Cultivariable

Garlicana

Kykeon Plants

Kitazawa Seed

Peace Seedlings

Mountain Gardens

Grand Prismatic Seed

True Love Seeds

Interwoven Nursery

Johann's Garden

Rare Seeds

Asian Seed

Vermont Wildflower Farm

Tradewinds Bamboo Nursery

Prairie Moon Nursery

Polynesian Produce

Aloha Tropicals

Chinese Alpines

Fancy Fronds Nursery

Cold Hardy Cactus

Center Of The Web

J.L. Hudson Seeds

Scirpidiella's Plants




Resources

Plants For A Future (Database)

Useful Tropical Plants (Database)

Useful Temperate Plants (Database)

Edible Plants Of The World (Database)

eFlora Botanical Reference (Database)

Biodiversity Heritage Library (Database)

Okayama University Plant Ecology (Database)

Atomi University Index (Database)

Korean Native Wildflower Research Institute (Database)

A Modern Herbal (Database)

Japan Flower Database (Database)

Grow Biointensive (Blog)

Eat The Weeds (Blog)

Edimentals (Blog)

Of Plums and Pignuts (Blog)

Human Habitat Project (Blog)

Himalayan Wild Food Plants (Blog)

Hiroyuki's Blog on Japanese Cooking (Blog)

Korean Bapsang (Blog)

Bburi Kitchen (Blog)

Naturalist Newsletter Archive (Blog)

Edible Leeds (Blog)

Inventory Of Perennial Vegetables (Table)

List Of Vegetables In Korea (Table)

Leafy Vegetables Of Japan (Table)

Wild Edible Plants Of Shangri-la (Table)

Wild Edible Plants Of Honghe (Table)

Wild Edible Plants Of Inner Mongolia (Table)

Wild Edible Plants Of Sichuan (Table)

Sturtevant's Edible Plants Of The World (PDF)

Useful Plants Of Japan (PDF)

Flora Of Japan [PDF]

Chinese Materia Medica [PDF]

Plants Of The Four Winds (PDF)

Edible Leaves Of The Tropics (PDF)

Lost Crops Of The Incas (PDF)

Edible Wild Plants (PDF)

Food Plants Of North American Indians (PDF)

Dictionary Of Popular Names Of Economic Plants (PDF)

Dictionary Of Economic Products Of India (PDF)




Preperations

Gomchwi Profile

Doraji Profile

Mugwort Profile

Omija Profile

Shepherd's Purse Profile

Aralia Profile

Goddeulbbaegi Profile

Grilled Deodeok

Sautéed Doraji

Mugwort Rice Cake

Perilla Kimchi

Green Onion Kimchi

Sautéed Bellflower Roots

Stir-fried Aster Scaber

Braised Burdock Root

Dandelion Salad

Korean Radish

Soy Pickled Garlic

Cubed Radish Kimchi

Garlic Chives Kimchi

Steamed Perilla Leaves

Dandelion Crown

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Pine Cone Syrup

Pickled Angelica Stems

Steamed Nettles

Stuffed Lotus Root

Water Spinach Stir Fry

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

Island Peppers

Island Garlic

Preparing Fuki

Chrysanthemum Leaves

Shungiku Mazegohan

Myoga Shiso Rice

Japanese Plum Wine: Umeshu




They insist upon no government higher than that of the individual, while they leave in existence those causes which imperatively demand, and will always demand so long as they exist, the intervention of just such restrictive governments as we now have.

-Stephen Pearl Andrews




Contact

If you'd like to get in touch with me, I am available at noahzwill[@]gmail.com. If there are any seeds or plants you are looking for, I may be able to point you in the right direction. I am also happy to share my own seeds or plants if possible, just send me a message and we'll figure something out.