The What's in your garden thread


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    I am out of the country at the moment but recently did an inventory from memory regarding useful plants in my garden. I figured maybe others might like to share?

    I figured I would suggest listing USDA agricultural temperature zone, and major plants, as well as what you use them for. Any takers?


    It sounds like you’re asking primarily about perreniels, rather than the basically annual vegetable garden.

    Anyway, I still plant for zone 4, although we’ve only had zone 5 or even zone 6 winters for all of this century. (hey, millenium even)

    My wife dropped some serious dotcom money (it was her stock option. I bought a tractor with mine) on a landscaped perrenial garden in 2000. The only really “useful” items there are a few ornamental crap trees that the chickens and turkeys eat from all winter.

    On the veggie side, rubharb, chives, mint, horseradish, asparagus, strawberries (we’ve plenty of wild brambles), a couple of semi-dwarf apples and we replant our own garlic cloves, which has been quite successful.

    One note for the north. Even though many, not all, apple varieties are zone 4 hardy, the most popular dwarfing and semi-dwarfing rootstocks come from East Anglia, and most definitely are not.

    This problem is even worse with roses. Unless there is a specific claim otherwise, assume it’s grafted on a zone 7 hardy root. The big growers in Oregon, and BC for those in Canada, at least claim not to understand the problem. So every spring they ship millions of plants east to die the next winter.

    On the annual veggie side, we just do the usuals, paying attention to get short season varities. Between row cover, indoor starts, and the fact that both my wife and I learned to walk and garden at about the same age, we do ok.

    Our biggest issue is cool summers, not short ones. Peppers and okra, for instance simply refuse to set fruit when highs are below 75F. Potatoes won’t either but very few people care. Tomatoes and cukes eventually will, but weeks late and poorly.


    Thanks, Frank

    I am in zone 6a, and we have had some 6a winters in recent years…. Indeed many neighbors lost all their roses (graft joint died).

    I don’t have many annuals (aside from the constant self-seeders) this or last year because of being out of the country, but I prefer perennials because it is possible to make far lower maintenance. Also I am not including the wild asparagus that cropped up under my spruce tree.

    Most of my crops right now are fruit crops: strawberries, blackberries, grapes, ornamental plums (came with the house but they taste good and do produce surprisingly useful yields as well as attracting bees).

    Each of these lists will have overlap because most of the plants have multiple functions. For example lavender attracts bees, it is an ornamental, a medicinal, and I cook with it as a seasoning. Indeed I will omit the ornamental list because every plant can be ornamental.

    Fruits: grape, strawberry, blackberry, ornamental plum, peach, rose hips (many varieties, become edible at different times during the fall and winter)

    To add to salads: calendula, mint, some of the roses, lavender, barberry leaf, grape leaves

    Other veggies: Grape leaves, day lillies. Ok, so I eat lambs quarters and chickweed too where it grows in areas I haven’t gotten to and am known to pull salsify roots out of the lawn (I still have lawn, and haven’t converted it all to permaculture yet) to eat. Not sure if I should count those though because that’s not really an intentional crop.

    Culinary herbs: lavender, thyme, sage, terragon, mint

    I have also found that some of the plants I have used to deny space to weeds (like Iris germanica) had important uses in the ancient world. Indeed I. germanica was seen as being basically a substitute for I. florentina (Orris root) in both perfumery and medicine though it was considered to be somewhat inferior.

    I want to plant chestnuts and walnuts next year, and expand on the perennial veggies I am currently growing in a permacultural setting.

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