Food Plants - AnnualFood Plants - Perennial

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

This is the early Winter 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 #5

Grower # 5 — Susan Girard
Latitude -33.714043 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!) 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 Allium fistulosum
Common name(s) 2 types: Spring Onion plus ‘Red Welsh’
Parts used for food Tops
How used Raw, cooked

Spring Onion

‘Red Welsh’

Botanical name Allium sativum
Common name(s) Garlic
Parts used for food Tops
How used Raw, cooked

Botanical name Oxalis tuberosa
Common name(s) Oca, New Zealand Yam
Parts used for food Tuber, leaves
How used Raw, cooked
Notes Both tubers and leaves can also be used as food for pigs.

Botanical name Rheum rhabarbarum
Common name(s) Rhubarb
Parts used for food Stems
How used Sauteed, poached
Notes I have one rhubarb plant that never dies down in winter and we have had a dessert from it this month/June. I have divided it many times and these divisions act like normal rhubarb and go underground for the frosts. It is not planted in some special microclimate, so I have no idea why it does this.

Grower #5 still has food available from Citrus x meyeri ‘Meyer’, Petroselinum neapolitanum, Rumex acetosa, and Solanum tuberosum ‘Purple Congo’.

Grower #6

Grower # 6 – Heather-Gaia Thorpe
Latitude 44 degrees 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 porrum
Common name(s) Leek
Parts used for food Stem, leaves
How used Raw, cooked
Notes Self-seeded

Botanical name Brassica spp.
Common name(s) The ‘Bracknell Brassica’
Parts used for food Leaves, florets
How used Fresh, cooked
Notes We have got a self-seeded plant I have dubbed the ‘Bracknell Brassica’ that started growing about 3 years ago. It has the formation of a Brussel Sprout plant but small slightly pinkish cauliflower-like heads.

Botanical name Cucurbita pepo
Common name(s) Pumpkin
Parts used for food Fruit
How used Cooked
Notes Self-seeded pumpkins that grew in compost heap that we are eating at the moment.

Botanical name Daucus carota sativus
Common name(s) Carrot
Parts used for food Root
How used Fresh, cooked
Notes Self-seeded

Botanical name Lactuca sativa
Common name(s) Lettuce (non-hearting)
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Fresh
Notes Self-seeded. We take the leaves from the outside of the plants.

Botanical name Pastinaca sativa
Common name(s) Parsnip
Parts used for food Root, leaves and young shoots
How used Root fresh, cooked. Leaves/young shoots/stems cooked.
Notes Self-seeded

Grower #6 is still harvesting food from Allium cepa.

Lots of appreciation for these growers for their plant info, and I’m hoping you’re feeling inspired, even though it’s kinda chilly right now!

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

Until next time, happy growing, harvesting and eating, and as much cosiness as possible!


  1. Susan, thank you for more great information, the Oxalis post I find interesting, I know my mum spent a lot of time trying to weed this from my garden… I also still have rhubarb growing… once I’ve been here a little longer I’ll be able to contribute, at the moment I have very little that is established perennial :-) Penny

  2. Hi Susan. Rhubarb grows here over winter too. Some of the younger less established crowns die back over winter. I’ve just obtained some cuttings from a lovely lady who originally obtained them from her grandfather and they seem to be very hardy! The lowest temperature I’ve seen so far is 0.9 degrees Celsius, but it is also the warmest winter in 160 years of records, so who knows?

    It is really great to see what other people are growing in similar climates. Chris

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