Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Perennial Vegetables

A lot of annual vegetables don't seem to grow well for me.  I find it very frustrating.  The things that do grow well will be planted in larger quantities this year.

I really need more edible plants that grow with little fuss - like my papaya and pigeon peas.  I am certain there are other plants that will do just as well with very little care.

I have quite a few edible greens in the yard that don't require much fuss - shepherds needle, amaranth, longevity spinach, moringa, sweet potato vine, dollar weed, purslane and gotu kola. I could certainly put a salad together with no problem, but I'd deplete those greens pretty quickly if I tried to make a salad once a week, never mind every day. Except for maybe the shepards needle.  That just doesn't quit!

I searched the library to see what books were available on perennial vegetables and found one I hadn't read yet.

There's quite an extensive list of perennial vegetables in the book, but it's doubtful that a good part of them will grow successfully here.  The author is from the UK. But I'm going to research them just to be sure.

Some of the "shade only" plants listed have definitely given me some ideas...mainly that I need to stop worrying about all the shade in the back yard and find plants that will grow in it! Shade is not a bad thing to have here in SW Florida.

This book also has a good list of nitrogen fixing plants, mineral accumulator plants, and beneficial insect attracting plants to help with self maintenance of your garden, which is exactly the kind of help I need!

I seem to be an accidental gardener.  I have accidentally planted a nitrogen fixing wax myrtle on the north edge of my garden.  I didn't even know wax myrtles were nitrogen fixing shrubs!  The wax myrtle came alive this year and even flowered!  I was amazed.  I guess it will be useful after all!  And here I was ready to pull it out. Ha!

There are a few root vegetables I'm interested in growing, as well as a very intriguing little tree called Silver bell (Halesia diptera) which produces four wing shaped fruits which apparently taste similar to cucumber.  Sounds interesting. Also sounds very much like a vegetable version of Star fruit!

I have lots of research to do on the long list of perennial vegetables in this book to see what might survive the summer months here.  I can't WAIT til the weather breaks! Hello....I'm melting over here!!!!  Ugh.


  1. Sheila, do you actually eat shepherds needle, amaranth, longevity spinach, moringa, sweet potato vine, dollar weed, purslane and gotu kola? We are going to a class in early September to learn about Florida's edible weeds . . . but the idea of actually eating them is - oh, I don't know . . . different.

    I have a tough time with vegetables too, most especially tomatoes (other than those little FL Everglades). But the gardener in me refuses to give up. :-) And there are times when I spend far more on trying than I would to be buying!

  2. Eli, I've eaten all of these greens as "additions" to salad if I don't have much baby romaine (my favorite) left, but mostly in smoothies. We've also used the longevity spinach in stir fries. Very nice. The gotu kola and dollar weed are a bit bitter. Just a few will do ya! Gotu kola is VERY good for you though. Purslane is weird, but okay. Amaranth, shepards needle and sweet potato vine leaves all taste fine as a filler for a salad. The moringa, the healthiest of the bunch, is very "green" tasting. I prefer to dry it and put it in smoothies. Have fun in the class! Take notes!

    1. Thanks Sharon . . . I'm really excited to learn what's a keeper and what's not (recently learned that some "weeds" are butterfly hosts). Besides, I wouldn't feel so guilty letting them grow. I'll be sure to take notes - and pictures.