As our gardens gradually resume
their lushness and vibrancy over these spring months, we are busy tending to
the many plants, bushes, vines, trees, (and weeds) which fill our acres of
edible areas. Our greenhouses are
packed with tiny annual seedlings and intrepid starts not quite ready to face
the vagaries of weather unprotected, and our orchard zones and perennial beds
are thriving with our hardiest of plants.
Although our annual plants receive high profile attention, we spend
significant springtime hours tending to our perennial stock as well.
While we have finished our spring
pruning of established nuts, fruits, and berries, we have been in a flurry of
planting new stock these past few weeks: chestnuts, buartnuts, hazelburts,
currants, gooseberries, blueberries, peaches, cherries, apples, asian pears,
mulberries, quince, rhubarb, and lingonberry fill out our list of recent
plantings. We’ve also, however, been
busy dividing and transplanting established species.
This is a long and varied
inventory. Over the past couple weeks
you could find us digging about in patches of chives, walking onion,
rattlesnake plaintain, and black locust to name a few. Each year, though, we focus primarily on the
following species: comfrey, lupine, ella campagne, valerian, and mullein. These species are hardy and plentiful, and
do wonders for our garden system.
There is, of course, the
aesthetic element – as each of these plants produce beautiful flowers. The bees appreciate this as much as we do;
having such species in abundance promotes healthy habitat for our pollinator
species. However it is the underground
efforts accomplished by these species that is so important to us. With long taproots, they are able to grow
deep into the ground, accessing nutrients that other, shallower rooted plants
are unable to reach. Furthermore, the
ability of plants such as lupine to fix nitrogen through their root system
further enriches our soil chemistry.
The vascular system of broad-leafed plants such as comfrey, for example,
enhances the ability of the plant to maximize its use of solar energy and
available soil nutrition. The result is
a plant that is invaluable as animal fodder, a compost additive, and as garden
Attending to perennial stock in
this manner, we are boldly working for the future. While annual plants will provide our short-term calories,
perennials represent the long-term viability of our homestead: food production,
soil fertility, and pollinator habitat are all provided by these species. Edible food forests are our goal and the
drive behind our farmer imaginations.
The potential of such an edible, perennial system is immense – for
ourselves, for our landscape, for our community, and for future generations.
Want to learn more?
D Acres, in conjunction with PSU’s Center for the Environment, PSU’s
Common Ground Club, Thomas Roberts Salon (Plymouth, NH), and PAREI, are hosting
Dave Jacke, renowned permaculturalist and author of Edible Forest Gardening. To be held at Boyd 144 (PSU Campus), 7pm, on
Saturday, May 12, Jacke’s presentation will focus on the principles and
processes of edible landscaping. Don’t
miss this opportunity! Perennial stock
is our insurance for the future.