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

This is the late 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 Punica granatum
Common name(s) Pomegranate
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Raw
Notes Can also be made into molasses and juice.

Botanical name Rungia klossii
Common name(s) Mushroom Plant
Parts used for food Leaves, stems
How used Raw in salads, cooked as a green vegetable

Grower #4 is still harvesting Allium fistulosum, Allium schoenoprasum, Aloysia triphylla, Beta vulgaris (Silverbeet), Capsicum pubescens, Centella asiatica, Citrus hystrix, Citrus limon, Helichrysum italicum, Melissa officinalis, Mentha spp., Ocimum gratissimum, Rheum x cultorum, and Stevia rebaudiana.

An interesting note from Yvonne about her stepfather’s perennial(ised) vegetables in Melbourne, Victoria:

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 upon 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 tomatoes keep fruiting. Alfonse’s perennial spinach is in a veggie garden that’s east facing so it gets the morning sun with a shadecloth over it year-round so it’s protected from southwest and northerly winds (the prevailing winds in Melbourne), the hot afternoon sun and any morning frosts. He waters every morning. I’m just now getting him to add hay and lawn clippings as mulch (this has taken years of discussion!) and he’s amazed at the difference it makes to the soil retaining moisture. He gives the spinach plants a savage cutback every week when he presses leaves on visitors, and the plants are still going strong.

Grower #5

Grower # 5 – Susan Girard
Latitude 33.714043 S; Altitude 1017 m
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!) Night- time 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 Cyphomandra betacea
Common name(s) Tamarillo, Tree Tomato
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Raw, cooked
Notes I went to our local Permie group AGM in May, and someone had brought their homegrown red and yellow tamarillos… not my property obviously but definitely temperate climate produce.

Botanical name Mespilus germanica
Common name(s) Medlar
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Raw, cooked

Botanical name Rumex acetosa
Common name(s) Sorrel
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw, cooked


Grower #6

Grower # 6 – Heather-Gaia Thorpe
Latitude 44 deg South
Broad climate information I live at the foot of the Great Western Tiers. These mountains are sometimes snow-covered in Winter. Our climate is described as Mediterranean but we have colder Winters. We are subject to The Roaring 40s and quite severe equinoctial gales. We normally have wet Springs and fairly dry Summers. Temperature range is 32°C to -3°C. Summer average is 22°C, Winter is 14°C. Rainfall unknown at present.
Brief description of garden/farm ¾ acre in the village of Bracknell in Central North Tasmania. We are implementing our Permaculture design. We are currently about 2/3 of the way through this. Our soil is clay loam and has been built up with compost, straw mulch and sheep manure. It has a history of excessive use of Roundup and superphosphate. We have not used any chemicals in the 6 years we have been here. We are mainly using "no dig" method for gardening. We have fruit trees, berries, vegetables and ornamentals. There are chickens and goats kept on the property.


Botanical name Allium cepa
Common name(s) Onion (white salad)
Parts used for food Bulbs, leaves
How used Raw, cooked, pickled

Botanical name Allium sativum
Common name(s) Garlic
Parts used for food Cloves/bulb, leaves
How used Raw, cooked

Botanical name Beta vulgaris
Common name(s) Beetroot
Parts used for food Leaves, root
How used Raw, cooked
Notes Photo shows mature plant with self-seeded plants next to it

Botanical name Beta vulgaris
Common name(s) Silverbeet
Parts used for food Leaves, stalk
How used Leaves – raw and cooked; stalk – cooked
Notes Photo shows mother plant pegged down ready for seeding next crop

Botanical name Calendula officinalis
Common name(s) Calendula
Parts used for food Petals, leaves
How used Raw in salads, cooked in stews



A reader has contributed a recipe for Sweet Potato Pancake:

  • 1C grated sweet potato
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Salt
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated, or cinnamon, spice optional, very tasty without as well

Mix all together, then fry in coconut oil, 5 minutes each side.

I make this amount into one pancake in a 20cm frypan, though you can divide it up into smaller ones if desired. I have the heat on high at first to set the underneath a little, then I turn it down to low and put a lid on, this is to make sure the sweet potato cooks through. Once one side is done I turn it onto a plate, put a little more oil in the pan, then slide it back into the pan. Put the lid back on for the next 5 minutes. These taste delicious just as is, or you can serve them with savoury things, eggs, curry, other veg, or as a sweet dish.

Thanks again to the growers for their plant info, inspiring as always! I would also like everyone to know that we have huge appreciation for Craig (PRI editor) who, every month, works very hard to process our work and our info into something that looks as amazing as the articles always do!

To anyone 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:

  • 5555susana [at] gmail [dot] com

Wishing you all happy growing, harvesting and eating!

One Comment

  1. Another great list Susanna, thank you!

    I recently enjoyed making some rosehip syrup from very late season rosehips at Penny Kothe’s Caroola Farm. A great cordial/tonic for warding off colds: it’s said that 3 hips have the same Vitamin C content as a medium sized orange.

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