Title: Growing Perennial Foods: Field Guide to Raising Resilient Herbs, Fruits, & Vegetables
Author: Acadia Tucker
Illustrator: Krishna Chavda
Publisher: Stone Pier Press
Being a farmer isn’t easy. But one thing farmers seem to have in common is their love of the land, the food they grow, and the routine. It’s almost spiritual for some. In the 1st chapter of Growing Perennial Foods, author Acadia Tucker puts on her muck books and describes her morning routine of inspecting the tomatoes and peppers in her greenhouse, the fields full of garlic, raspberries, and currants, the rows of potatoes, kale, and beets, and then over to the compost pile. Her farm reminds me of my garden, only mine is just a wee bit smaller.
Tucker embraces “regenerative farming” – a system of organic farming principles that increase biodiversity, enrich the soil, improve local watersheds and enhance the ecosystem. Regenerative farming also aims to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass (woody trunks and stems), to contribute to the reduction of atmospheric carbon.
She describes how she minimizes tilling, uses cover crops in between food crops, and how compost and accumulated biomatter enrich the soil. And I’m happy to say all of these principles can be applied to even the smallest backyard organic garden.
Tucker is honest about her failures – like as a newbie farmer not understanding that just because your blueberries thrived in the soil of Maine they won’t necessarily thrive in Washington state without a lot of help (a lesson I learned as well in Pennsylvania – blueberries will only bestow their clusters of fruit if the soil is highly acidic. And it’s always about the soil).
Growing Perennial Foods is squarely aimed at the beginning gardener with the basics on how to grow the most common perennial vegetables, fruits and herbs like raspberries, strawberries, beans, rhubarb, broccoli, sage, sweet potato, tomato, peppers, garlic, lemon balm, and more. Yes, you read that correctly – many of these plants are thought of as annuals, but if you know how to overwinter them, they can be grown year after year, which defines them as perennials.
As a bonus, Tucker also includes recipes for every perennial. This book lays the groundwork for the beginning organic gardener interested in regenerative methods of growing food. And eating it.