Perennial Vegetables for the Shmita Year and Beyond

We are still considering Shmita on the farm, and with Shmita two years away (beginning on Rosh HaShanah 2014) we have a little more time to plan than we previously thought.

Which means, we get to expand our list of edibles that we’ll be putting in, and deepen our plans! It also means that some of my plans for fall sown greens for the following spring won’t work, and that goes for garlic (which is put in in November) as well.

That being said, we wanted to share some resources for anybody looking into Shmita-izing their projects with perennial vegetables by discussing our favorite North American friendly perennial favorites.

Asparagus – plant it this coming spring to harvest by Shmita 2014.

Horseradish – not strictly a vegetable, but still it’ll be great for Passover.

Ground Cherry – these will come back year after year and are so delicious. This is a self-seeding annual.

Strawberries – yes.

Rhubarb – careful with these, the stalks are delicious, but the leaves are always poisonous (after a certain date, you should avoid the stem, too. This is a spring-time vegetable.)

Daylily buds – these are so good, it will be hard not to eat them all (and if you do, you won’t get any beautiful flowers)

Jerusalem artichoke – plant these somewhere where it’s ok if they spread like crazy (some kind of grassy island surrounded by cement might be best), and then harvest the tubers year after year.

Welsh Onions – a perennial bunching onion variety that can be ordered from Oikos (see below).

Wine Cap Mushroom – these edible fungi can be inoculated into the straw or wood chip mulch in your garden, and provide a perennial harvest.

Sea Kale – according to Restoration Seeds, this one takes two years to come to maturity, but is a good substitute for collards and kale. And, it’s perennial.

Dock – a perennial alternative to swiss chard / spinach. Haven’t tried it yet, but it’s a definite on my list.

Broad-Leaf French Sorrel – another leafy choice, apparently it’s a spreader, so it’s best to put it somewhere it can roam. As it grows in part shade where little else does, this shouldn’t be too tricky. (Sorrel does contain oxalic acid, similarly to spinach, so eat in moderation)

Egyptian Walking Onion – plants itself!

Burdock Root – These grow wild, but you can plant them, too. They are common in Asian groceries.

Dandelion Root & Leaf & Flower – The roots make a delicious tea, can be added to soups, and the leaves (although very bitter) are quite good for you. Make sure you get these from a lawn that has not been treated from pesticides!

Red Clover Flowers – these are sweat and yummy, and make a beautiful salad topper.

These are just a few of the plants we are thinking of putting in our Shmita garden. In the way that the first couple could harvest from Gan Eden, so may we too with our own permaculture landscapes! The following websites offer great information (and seeds) for those looking for more information on perennial plants: Oikos Nursery & Restoration Seeds

Shabbat Shalom,

Kate Re, Farm Manager at Pushing the Envelope Farm

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