Food ForestsFood Plants - AnnualFood Plants - PerennialMedicinal PlantsTrees

Food from Perennial(ising) Plants in Temperate Climate Australia, for April 2013

This is the mid-Autumn post for the ongoing research project about perennial plants and self-perpetuating annual plants providing food in temperate climate Australia. The original article introducing this project, stating its aims, and providing participant instructions, can be found here. Growers are sending me information on a month-by-month basis, then this information is collated and published the following month. All previous posts from this series can be found by clicking on my author name (Susan Kwong), just under the post title above.

Grower #4

Grower # 4 — Yvonne, Melbourne
Latitude 37°
Broad climate information Mediterranean temperate
Brief description of garden/farm Inner city urban garden full of edible plants – the majority perennial – with more than 20 fruit trees,
40 herbs, a constantly updated array of berries (trees, shrubs and vines) and many other edible goodies.


Botanical name Allium fistulosum
Common name(s) Spring Onions
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh, cooked

Botanical name Allium schoenoprasum
Common name(s) Chives
Parts used for food Leaves, flowers, bulbs
How used Leaves – fresh, cooked, dried. Flowers – fresh. Bulbs – cooked.

Botanical name Aloysia triphylla
Common name(s) Lemon Verbena
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh, cooked as greens, tea

Botanical name Beta vulgaris
Common name(s) Silverbeet
Parts used for food Leaves, ribs/stems
How used Fresh, cooked, juice
Notes Self-seeded

Botanical name Capsicum pubescens
Common name(s) Perennial Chilli, Rocoto Chilli
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Fresh, cooked
Notes Two years old and bearing well.

Botanical name Centella asiatica
Common name(s) Gotu Kola
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh

Botanical name Citrus hystrix
Common name(s) Kaffir Lime
Parts used for food Leaves, rind
How used Leaves – fresh, dried, frozen. Rind – fresh.

Botanical name Citrus limon
Common name(s) Lemon
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Fresh, cooked, juice, preserved

Botanical name Fragaria spp.
Common name(s) Strawberries
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Fresh, preserved, frozen
Notes Autumn ones are very nice looking but a bit tart.

Botanical name Helichrysum italicum
Common name(s) Curry Plant
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh, cooked

Botanical name Melissa officinalis
Common name(s) Lemon Balm
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh for salads or tea, cooked

Botanical name Mentha spp.
Common name(s) Mint
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh, cooked, tea

Botanical name Ocimum gratissimum
Common name(s) Perennial Basil
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh, cooked

Botanical name Rheum x cultorum
Common name(s) Rhubarb
Parts used for food Stems
How used Cooked

Botanical name Stevia rebaudiana
Common name(s) Stevia
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw, cooked, dried


Grower #5

Grower # 5 — Susan Girard
Latitude 33.714043 S; Altitude 1017m
Broad climate information Rainfall approx. 1,400 millimeters mostly in summer.
Summer daytime temperatures low 20°C, with several days over 30°C + (more recently!) Nighttime temperature in the low teens.
Winter temperatures <10°C in the daytime with approx 0°C on clear nights and 3 – 4°C on cloudy nights. Regular frost overnight. There are 1 – 2 settled snowfalls per year.
Brief description of garden/farm

South facing site, ¾ acres block, adjoining part of the Blue Mountains World Heritage area (approx ¼ is protected, so Zone V). Mandala gardens X 2 – front and back yards, orchard, hothouse; chickens and ducks


Botanical name Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’
Common name(s) Figs ‘Brown Turkey’
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Fresh, cooked, dried, preserved
Notes Picking the last of them.

Botanical name Helianthus tuberosum
Common name(s) Jerusalem Artichokes
Parts used for food Tuber
How used Raw, cooked
Notes Roasted tubers can be used as a coffee substitute.

Botanical name Laurus nobilis
Common name(s) Bay Laurel
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh, dried

Botanical name Solanum tuberosum ‘Purple Congo’
Common name(s) Potato ‘Purple Congo’
Parts used for food Tuber
How used Cooked
Notes These just come up year after year. I find the Purple Congos develop on runners more than sit in clumps like other potatoes seem to do, and I just can’t get rid of them. What was once a novelty, and a big seller at one of the local restaurants, is now a bit of a weed!

Botanical name Stachys affinis
Common name(s) Chinese Artichokes
Parts used for food Tuber
How used Raw, cooked
Notes The Chinese Artichokes are very productive, perhaps even a bit weedy, but the family will only eat just so many…

Grower #5 is still harvesting food from Malus domestica ‘Granny Smith’ and Citrus x meyeri ‘Meyer’.

As per usual, lots of appreciation to the growers for their plant info, and I’m hoping you’re feeling inspired! For anyone else who is growing perennial food plants and/or self-perpetuating annual food plants in temperate climate Australia, and who’d like to contribute plant profiles, you can email me for the proformas on 5555susana [at] gmail [dot] com

Until next month, happy growing, harvesting and eating!


  1. Great article series. It is really fascinating to see what other people are growing at the same times of the year in slightly different climates. For example, the tomato vines haven’t died here, yet in the valley below they are but finished. An interesting and much appreciated series.

  2. Susan,

    Thanks for this great collection of articles. We are hoping to make the transition to a more home based way of life as of next year. And the info you provide seems a very good starting point for plant selection. Happy Gardening.

  3. @ Glenn, thanks, and good luck with the transition!

    @ Chris, thanks, and yes, it is fascinating to see what’s giving food where and when, loving that part of the ‘yield’ of this research. I’m so glad you mentioned tomatoes, as you reminded me of a wonderful anecdote that Yvonne (Grower #4) gave me for the above article, which I totally forgot to include, oops! Here ’tis, and I’ll include it in May’s article so everyone catches it, it’s inspiring :)

    “My stepfather has two prolific spinach plants, in a veggie plot facing East with a net over the top to protect from harsh summer sun and autumn/winter frosts, that are now four years old, which he harvests from abundantly and presses on all guests as they leave. His capsicum bushes, which are also bearing well, are now two years old. He keeps tomato plants going through winter in a sheltered warm spot in the garden, but only the cherry toms keep fruiting.”

  4. also it could be good to try some amish deer tongue, goji berry, thornless blackberry and raspberry, asparagus, hostas, chayote squash, walking stick kale, gynura procumbens, sweet potatoes, ostrich fern, pineapple guava, lovage, blood veined sorrel, canna edulis, nettles, mallow, comfrey, hardy kiwi, walking onion, potato onion, perennial oregano, peppergrass, lambs ear, skirret, and if your feeling very adventurous Goa bean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button