Friday, April 9, 2010

Autumn harvest of unusual edible plants

Two years ago an old friend moved from Sydney to Melbourne and asked me to design her a serious vegetable and herb garden. We converted a kikuyu lawn into a vegie patch through heavy mulching with newspaper, cardboard and pea straw, along with some old fashioned digging. The garden has been very productive and well used. But in Winter 2009 I became obsessed with researching "perennial vegetables", in the hope that I could find plants that look after themselves (more or less) and give a stronger aesthetic element to the garden.

I discovered Eric Toensmeir's great book "Perennial Vegetables" and decided that there were plenty of "Lost Crops of the Incas" that would suit the Armadale garden. These were Jicama (pronounced Hikama), a bean grown for its edible roots, Yacon (a bizarre looking sunflower-esque plant that produces sweet tubers), Oca or New Zealand Yam and Achira or Edible Canna. I grew the Jicama from seed but the rest came via the mail through Green Harvest ( as tubers for planting.

They're all thriving but except for a tentative nibble at a Canna root I'm waiting for late Autumn before digging them up for eating. In the meantime, here are some photos of the these plants and the garden generally.

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