Exotic Additions: Perennial Vegetables

Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier

Perennial Vegetables by Eric ToensmeierWith winter setting in and visions of lush spring gardens already dancing in our heads, here is something to intrigue and inspire you or your favorite gardener: a book/DVD combination on how to grow 100+ perennial vegetables. From asparagus, rhubarb, and ramps to taro, goji berries and perennial cucumbers, Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles by Eric Toensmeier won the American Horticultural Society Book Award and is a gorgeous book will set your mouth watering and have you paging through seed catalogs for some permanent additions to your garden. The accompanying DVD (sold separately) is a “culmination of workshops recorded in Mexico, Florida and Massachusetts.” It’s an enjoyable way to be introduced to over 100 beautiful, practical perennial species, and is the perfect companion to Eric’s book. Both are available from publisher Chelsea Green as well as other booksellers.

(A note on sustainability: many people are interested in perennial varieties, because they can provide a perpetual, low-maintenance source of food. If you know me, you know I have reservations about this idea… so, while recommending this book wholeheartedly as an enjoyable read and a useful guide, I must insert a caveat: to maintain sustainability, be careful how you use perennials in your garden–they can be heavy feeders, and you don’t want to overburden your soil with constant extraction. However, used correctly and judiciously, perennials are an interesting, exotic part of the spectrum of species that can be used in sustainable gardening, and can add interest and new flavors to your table. You may want to use a few of them in your complete diet smallest scale GROW BIOINTENSIVE backyard mini farm!)

Booklist notes, “Toensmeier’s groundbreaking guide is destined to become the bible for this new class of edible growing.”

American Horticultural Society Book Award says, ‘promotes fresh thinking as to what a vegetable garden can be.

Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden observes, “Eric … has         comprehensively filled a huge gap in the sustainable landscape.”

Ellen Ecker Ogden, co-founder of The Cook’s Garden Seed Catalog, and author of From the Cook’s Garden, points out, “Toensmeier’s knowledge of edible plants is impressive and inspiring.”

From the back cover: “imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs—no annual tilling and planting. They thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season. … [including even] ground cherry, ramps, air potato, … the antioxidant-rich wolfberry…Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest and cook with plants the yield great crops and culinary satisfaction. Including dozens of color photographs and illustrations, and filled with valuable growing tips, recipes, and resources.” Easy to understand tables are a real plus!

Contents include:
37 Species Profiles
Perennial Vegetables for Each Climate Type
Recommended Reading, Helpful Organizations and Websites
Sources of Plants and Seeds
Sources of Gardening Supplies and Materials
A Bibliography
An Index

It reads well and is a joy to learn from. Now is the time to begin! Happy gardening, everyone!

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