Apr. 28th, 2009

loligo: (anemone)
[personal profile] loligo
This book is like a charming, light-hearted companion to Toensmeier & Jacke's much more hardcore Edible Forest Gardens. It should be of great interest to food geeks as well as plant geeks; I come from a whole family of obsessive foodies and there were a lot of things in here I'd never heard of before. It makes a nice coffee table book, too -- nearly every page has full-color photos.

Just about the only perennial vegetables grown in most American gardens are asparagus and rhubarb, with artichokes, sunchokes, and sorrel trailing way behind. But this book has a hundred more! There are edible plants here for every site -- sun, shade, bogs, deserts, you name it. They were selected based on taste and productivity, with the only requirement being that they're suitable for growing *somewhere* in the United States, even if that somewhere is just a couple square miles of upland Hawaii (a real example -- the basul tree bean).

I was expecting to find crops from Asia and South America that I wasn't familiar with, but what really surprised me were all the traditional European vegetables I'd never heard of before -- vegetables like skirret, sea kale, and Good King Henry, all of which became minor culinary footnotes after the introduction of all those shiny new veggies from the Americas.

I have yet to try growing or eating anything from this book (besides the usual suspects like asparagus, etc.). I actually have pokeweed growing wild all over my property, but since that one's toxic unless you cook it in a couple of changes of water, I haven't worked up the nerve yet. Oh, wait, actually I did plant Chinese artichokes last year (Stachys affinis)... they'll be ready to harvest this fall. I'll let you know how they turn out!

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Permaculture: Food From Sustainable Landscapes

November 2012

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