[NAFEX] Fwd: Midwestern edible perennials?

list at ginda.us list at ginda.us
Fri Nov 12 22:54:21 EST 2004

The list below is a good one.   Another fruit to consider is 
seviceberry or Juneberry (amelanchier).  It grows as a small tree or 
large, upright bush.  It is an attractive landscape plant, and has 
berries that look and taste very similar to blueberries.  It likes a 
drier and less acid soil than blueberry, which can make it easier to 
grow in "average" soil, or the limey soil you often have in the 
midwest.  There was a nice discussion by Rich Kruse on Amelanchiers on 
Oct 31 - I can forward it if you can't find it in the archives.

I've been happy with the edible landscape plants from St Lawrence 
Nurseries ( http://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/ ) but they are sort of local 
to me (they're in upstate NY, and I am in Massachusetts) and I think 
you do better with a local, or at least same-region supplier.

I don't have enough experience to opine on varieties of the fruits you 
mention, but from what I've heard from other NAFEXers and what I've 
seen in my own yard and my uncles, I can say that:

Apples tend to be fussy, especially if you want nice-looking fruit.  
They are also sort of labor intensive re insects and harvesting.  The 
modern disease resistant cultivars (Liberty et al) are a lot easier 
than average.

Sour cherries are easier than sweet.  It's very hard to harvest either 
before the birds get to them

Plums are fairly easy, although susceptible to black knot.  But my 
uncle had a dozen plum trees that produced bushels of plums with almost 
no effort for years, until there was a drought, and the weakened trees 
succumbed to black knot.  (Or maybe they were just getting older.)

I find that kids enjoy eating red currants off the bush, and they are 
very easy to grow.   Gooseberries may have more mildew/disease issues, 
although I haven't grown them myself.  Black currants generally taste 
better after being cooked, although our currant experts say that a few 
(Titania, Ben Lomand) are good fresh.  Titania has the added virtue of 
being immune to white pine blister rust.  (which is a more serious 
disease of pines than of currants, but it's poor form to harbor vectors 
of pine diseases).  Crandall Currant (Ribes Odoratum) is a totally 
different plant than the European black currant, but it is a black 
currant that's very easy to grow, is nice to nibble on out of hand, and 
is very attractive in the spring landscape.

I find alpine strawberries easier than the regular ones.  (you need to 
let the berries get very ripe to taste good.)

Raspberries often get infected with viruses in a few years, and get 
less productive.  Everyone likes to eat them, though, and they don't 
require much maintenance.  If it's warm enough the grow the 
"everbearing" ones, they are easiest to maintain, as you can just mow 
them to the ground at the end of every season.

I can't grow blackberries due to local fungal disease, but in general, 
they are easy where they are hardy enough.  You are cold enough that 
you'd want to check the USDA zone recommendations carefully.

Asparagus is easy, and sort of cool the way it grows.

you may be a bit too chilly for pawpaws, but I'm no expert on them.

Good luck,
Ginda Fisher

On Nov 12, 2004, at 1:05 PM, Pat Meadows wrote:

> On Fri, 12 Nov 2004 11:00:39 -0600, you wrote:
>> 1.What varieties of any of the following do you find most disease
>> resistant and successful? Apples, Pears, Peaches(!), cherries (sweet
>> and
>> sour), pawpaw, apricots, nut trees(!), root vegetables, strawberries,
>> raspberries, jostaberries, blueberries, asparagus, any other exciting
>> edible we missed
> About fruit:
> First: the USDA Zone Map tells you (very approximately) one
> thing and one thing only:  average minimum winter
> temperature for a given area.
> The USDA Zone Map lists DesMoines as being in Zone 5.  (See:
> http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/hzm-nm1.html .)
> I did quite a bit of research on plants that should survive
> in Zone 4/5.  So the plants I identified as 'Zone 4/5 safe'
> should be OK in Des Moines as far as average minimum
> temperature goes.
> But if you want the plant to bear fruit, you have to
> consider:
> * not only the minimum temperatures it can withstand,
> * but also if it blooms in early spring (leaving the flowers
> subject to being killed by frost, and that equals no fruit
> that year),
> * and how long a frost-free season is required for fruit to
> ripen.
> I identified the following as 'possible edible landscaping
> plants for Zone 4/5' - these are what you could call 'minor
> fruits' I suppose: *not* included are apples, pears,
> peaches, plums, cherries and apricots (for various reasons
> including late frosts, need for spraying, etc.).
> rhubarb (leaves are poisonous)
> blueberries
> gooseberries
> blackberries (iffy in Zone 4, should be OK in Zone 5)
> raspberries
> hardy kiwis
> jostaberries
> Lonicera (honeyberry)
> elderberries
> goumi
> beach plums
> alpine strawberries
> lingonberries
> red currants
> white currants
> black currants
> hazlenuts
> the smaller quince - the bush one, not the tree
> sea buckhorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
> There are other fruits that should survive in Zone 4/5 -
> this is a partial list, not a complete list.  (It's actually
> the list of fruits we either have planted already, or hope
> to plant.)
> I can't help with your other questions, but hopefully others
> will.
> Pat
> -- 
> Coming soon:  www.containerseeds.com - vegetable, herb,
> and edible flower seeds especially selected for successful
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