I now have a good selection of perennial vegetables growing happily and healthily in polycultures. Whilst I may well continue to experiment with more varieties I also want to focus on seeing how productive the perennials can be. Throughout this year and last I have tried to weigh everything I gather for food; but I plan to be more disciplined about doing this every time, and more accurate. I have requested some digital scales for Christmas so that I don’t have to approximate to the nearest 25 grams!
Of course there is little point in having food available and not harvesting it. Perennial veggies tend to have long periods when they are suitable for eating, as opposed to annual veggies that may have a relatively short time before they die or run to seed or need to be removed to make room for the next crop. I can’t say that I will defintely go out each and every day looking for harvests, but I plan to try to do so most days.
As a starting point I had a good look round this morning and picked as much as I could that we are likely to use today. This list includes some annual veggies – grown as self seeding repeat performers or tested to see if they can be induced to become perennial so I am counting them and as you will see in the picture a few baby carrots, a spring of parsley and some seeds:
- Lamb’s lettuce (at least the second year as self sown annual. Today’s plants were growing in the path with more just starting out in the polyculture patch).
- Land cress (second year of being self sown).
- Salad rocket (annual which is sprouting new leaves, probably courtesy of the mild weather, but which I will keep to see if it can continue into next year).
- Bitter cress (wild plant, self sown into one of the polyculture pots)
- All salad leaf 50 g
- Young kale leaves with aphids on (I might well have cut them off and discarded them, but instead decided to soak them in salt water and then wash the aphids off. This easily removed them and they will be for tea). 125 g
- Wild beet leaves 50 g
- Spring onions sown last year, over wintered and re-planted in polyculture pot in spring. I cut off what I wanted and left the partial stems in place. 50 g
This amounted to 275 grams, after washing and cutting off unwanted bits and pieces. In addition there is plenty more left in the garden that could have been harvested if I had more than two people to gather for – other kales, more leaf beet, oca, Jerusalem artichoke, wild rocket, Welsh onion, buckler leaved sorrel, three cornered leek and possibly other goodies as well.
The seeds are from wild rocket and salad rocket. I don’t need any more of these plants in the garden and will use the seed to grow ‘micro-greens’ indoors in pots (like mustard / cress).
Later note: When I began forest gardening and experimenting with perennial vegetables my mind was focussed on harvesting as much produce from the garden as possible. Over time I realised that this mindset meant I was not paying sufficient heed to the needs of other creatures living within this ecosystem and I have now learned to harvest only enough, as explained in this post.