Friday, November 06, 2009

Our perennial vegetables

I've typed up a list of the perennial vegetables we're growing in our yard. I've loosely organized them by their primary usage, but we use many of them in multiple ways (for greens and roots, for example.) I haven't organized the list in any other way.

Greens & Edible Flowers

  • Violets - Viola cornuta, Viola odorata, maybe others
  • Bellflowers/harebells - Campanula unknown, C. portenschlagiana, C. poscharskyana, C. persicifolia, C. rapunculoides

  • Mallows
    • Zebra Mallow - Malva sylvestris mauritiana
    • Malva Alcea fastigiata
    • Malva neglecta

  • Comfrey - Symphytum officinale
  • Salad Burnett - Sanguisorba minor
  • Good King Henry - Chenopodium bonus-henricum
  • Sylvetta Arugula - Diplotaxis muralis
  • Sea kale - Crambe maritima
  • Giant sea kale - Crambe cordifolia
  • Daisy - Bellis perennis
  • Mitsuba - Cryptotaenia japonica
  • Perennial Lettuce - Lactuca perennis
  • Salt Bush - Atriplex canescens and A. halimus
  • New Zealand Spinach (marginally hardy here) - Tetragonia tetragonioides
  • Stinging Nettle - Urtica dioica
  • Peppermint - Mentha x piperita
  • Lemon Balm - Melissa officinalis
  • Anise Hyssop - Agastache foeniculum
  • Lovage - Levisticum officinale
  • Miner's Lettuce - Claytonia perfoliata
  • Siberian Miner's Lettuce - Claytonia siberica
  • Buckshorn Plantain - Plantago coronopus
  • Sea Plantain - Plantago maritima
  • Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare
  • Chicory - Cichorium intybus
  • Iceplant - Sedum spectabile
  • Hen and Chickens / Houseleek - Sempervivum tectorum
  • French Sorrel - Rumex scutatus
  • Wood Sorrel - Oxalis oregana
  • Sheep Sorrel - Rumex acetosella
  • Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
  • Cleavers - Galium aparine
  • Grape (leaves & tendrils) - Vitis vinifera
  • Wolf Berry - Lycium barbarum


  • Day Lily - Hemerocallis sp.
  • Columbine - Aquilegea vulgaris
  • Red and White Clover - Trifolium pratense and T. repens
  • Turkish Rocket - Bunias orientalis
  • Black Locust - Robinia pseudoacacia

Shoots and Stalks

  • Rhubarb - Rheum x cultorum
  • Solomon Seal - Polygonatum commutatum
  • Giant Solomon's Seal - Polygonatum commutatum biflorum
  • American Spikenard - Aralia racemosa
  • Colts Foot - Petasites palmatus
  • Fuki - Petasites japonicus
  • Poke - Phytolacca americana
  • Angelica - Angelica archangelica
  • Asparagus - Asparagus officinalis
  • Bamboo - Phyllostachys sp

Seeds & Seedpods

  • Swamp Milkweed - Asclepias incarnata
  • Sweet Cicely - Myrrhis odorata
  • Scarlet Runner Bean (marginally hardy here) - Phaseolus coccineus
  • Eastern Bean - Phaseolus polystachios polystachios
  • Akebia - Akebia quinata and A. trifoliata
  • Milk Thistle - Silybum marianum

Root Crops

  • Skirret - Sium sisarum
  • Scorzonera - Scorzonera hispanica
  • Yellow Asphodel - Asphodeline lutea
  • Marshmallow - Althaea officinalis
  • Licorice, American and European - Glycyrrhiza lepidota and G. glabra
  • Hog peanut - Amphicarpaea bracteata
  • Tiger nut - Cyperus esculentus
  • Earth chestnut - Bunium bulbocastanum
  • American bistort - Polygonum bistortoides
  • Wapato - Sagitarria latifolia
  • Asiatic Lily - Lilium unknown
  • Camassia - Camassia quamash, C. leichtlinii, C. scilloides
  • Cat Tail - Typha latifolia
  • Grape Hyacinth - Muscaria unknown
  • Scilla unknown
  • Canna Lily - Canna unknown
  • Dahlia - Dahlia pinnata or D. rosea
  • Mashua (perennial nasturtium with edible root) - Tropaeolum tuberosum
  • Cinnamon Vine - Dioscorea batatas
  • Yacon - Smallianthus sonchifolia
  • Oca - Oxalis tuberosa
  • Jerusalem Artichoke/Sunchoke - Helianthus tuberosus
  • Sweet Flag - Acorus calamus americanus
  • Horseradish - Armoracia rusticana
  • Ladybells - Adenophora lilifolia and A. pereskiifolia

Onions (Allium genus)

  • Egyptian Walking Onion
  • Nodding Onion - Allium cernuum
  • Bunching Onion - Allium fistulosum
  • Chive - Allium schoenoprasum
  • Garlic Chive - Allium tuberosum
  • Garlic - Allium sativum
  • Multiplier Onions & Shallots - Allium cepa aggregatum
  • Ramps - Allium tricoccum
  • Golden Garlic - Allium moly
  • Drumstick allium - Allium sphaerocephalum
  • Allium stipitatum

Self seeding annuals and biennials

  • Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis
  • Pop Weed - Cardamine unknown
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Curly mallow - Malva verticillata
  • Calendula - Calendula officinalis
  • Nipple Wort - Lapsana communis
  • Purple Dead Nettle - Lamium purpureum
  • Money Plant - Lunaria annua
  • Parsley - Petroselinum crispum
  • Pigweed - Amaranthus sp.
  • Lambs Quarters - Chenopodium sp.

Integrating Chickens Into Your Food System

Here are some thoughts and pointers I pulled together for my class "Integrating Chickens Into Your Food System".

Foraging Breeds

From books and online sources, these breeds can free range and forage much of their own food:
  • Austrolorp
  • Brown leghorn
  • Buff Orpington
  • Dominique
  • Hamburg
  • Leghorn
  • New Hampshire Red
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Silver-Laced Wyandotte
  • Sussex
  • White Wyandotte
  • Ameraucana
  • Black Sex Link
  • Red Sex Link
  • Sussex
And thanks to Chris for a pointer to a good foraging meat breed, the Le Poulet

Best Chicken Pen Method

We've used a single largish free range area of ~3000 square feet for six hens. They keep the area fairly well denuded of ground covers, though we have successfully established trees and shrubs and a few herbaceous plants. The next time I design for chickens I'll adopt a rotating pasture method. I agree with most of the points made in Paul Wheaton's article, "concerns about the way most people raise chickens".

Chicken Tolerant Plants

Once we established these plants, our chickens did not eat or scratch them to death:

Latin nameCommon nameNotes
Mentha x piperitaPeppermint
Sium sisarumSkirretChickens don't eat it; not yet verified whether they'll scratch it to death
Hemerocallis spDaylilies
Chenopodium bonus-henricusGood King Henry
Asparagus officinalisAsparagusChickens do knock it over
Allium spOnions, garlic, etcChickens don't eat; uprooting depends on its root establishment. It helps that we get lots of coop scrap alliums; the chickens can only kill so many volunteers.
Solanum tuberosumPotatoDitto on lots of potatoes from coop scraps.
Malva spMallows
Aachilea millefoliumYarrow
Helianthus maximilianiiMaximillian sunflower
Angelica archangelicaAngelicaNot sure yet whether these biennials can maintain themselves via self-seeding
Levisticum officinaleLovage
Armoracia rusticanaHorseradish
Petasites japonicusFuki
Urtica dioicaNettles
Phyllostachys spBamboo
Tropaeolum tuberosumMashua
Foeniculum vulgareFennel
Houttuynia cordataHot tuna

Chicken Fodder Plants

One tip I've read is to watch wild birds for what they like to eat. Plants our chickens like to eat:

Latin nameCommon nameNotes
Symphytum officinaleComfreyChickens tend to eat it to the ground mercilessly, but it generally stays alive. We're trying to establish enough plants for them that they won't slaughter them all.
Caragana spPea shrub
Brassica oleraceaKaleChickens eat to death
Berries, fruit treesRaspberries, gooseberries, serviceberries, mulberry, wolfberry, cotoneaster, and so many more
Rheum x cultorumRhubarbChickens eat the leaves, but not the stems
Helianthus tuberosumJerusalem artichokeChickens eat the young shoots, but can't stop them from growing rampantly anyway
Scorzonera hispanicaScorzoneraChickens eat to death
Robinia pseudoacaciaBlack locustIn theory chickens eat the seeds - ours don't seem to
Prunus spKernels from pits of plum, peach, cherry, apricot, etcNeed to crack them open for the chickens - smashing with bricks or using a grain grinder works fine. Also edible by humans; see my old blog entries for more details
Acorns / beech nuts / other nutsNeed to crack them open for the chickens, or allow to sprout in the chicken yard
Lemna minorDuckweedChickens not nearly as excited about it as our neighbor's ducks, but they eat some
Oenothera biennisEvening primroseRead about this as chicken fodder - probably for the oil-rich seeds. Haven't tried growing it for the chickens yet
Apios americanaGroundnutRead about this as chicken fodder - I think they'll eat the seeds, while you can harvest the root. Ours hasn't made any seed yet to verify
Trifolium spClovers
Amaranthus retroflexusPigweedChickens don't eat the leaves, but do eat the seed. Presumably all Amaranthus sp would work
Chenopodium albumLamb's quartersDitto
Elaeagnus umbellataAutumn OliveBerries of course, but the chickens also eat the leaves