May 2, 2007
Part of the allure of perennial gardening is the fact that a gardener can plant something once and enjoy it for several years, a benefit that has rarely been extended to vegetable gardeners. Save for such stalwarts as asparagus and rhubarb, most edible crops can be used only annually. Thanks to Toensmeier, gardeners need no longer be frustrated by such limitations. From air potatoes to water celery, Turkish rocket to Malabar gourd, there are more than 100 new species of edible plants. After addressing such cultural basics as site selection and preparation, Toensmeier explains why each plant is an excellent perennial vegetable crop. Now that such items are making their way onto trendy restaurant menus and health-store shelves, Toensmeier’s groundbreaking guide is destined to become the bible for this new class of edible gardening.
June 1, 2007
While there are many books available on growing well-known perennial vegetables like corn and peas, plant specialist Toensmeier’s (coauthor, Edible Forest Gardens) work is unique, as the author has grown, cooked, and eaten many of the more than 100 species of vegetables he profiles. In Part 1, he introduces perennial vegetables and discusses their benefits and drawbacks. He also includes design, selection, and general cultural information and addresses propagation techniques. Part 2 is a series of plant profiles arranged alphabetically by plant family. Major vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb garner a general overview, a description, cultural information, information on pests and diseases, propagation, harvest and storage, usage, and preferred climate (with USDA hardiness zones). Comparatively minor crops rate an overview of a few paragraphs. In Part 3, Toensmeier lists these vegetables by preferred climate, recommended reading, and sources for plants and seeds, as they may be difficult to find. Dozens of color images, growing tips, and recipes round out this thorough, easy-to-understand book. Some of these vegetables may be an acquired taste, and some require careful cooking before eating; recommended for public, academic, and botanical libraries.
—Sue O’Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL
“Toensmeier’s knowledge of edible plants is impressive and inspiring. His excitement for a sustainable landscape helps us focus away from buying food to harvesting it naturally. Perennial Vegetables offers an excellent range of edible plants for long-term cultivation and enjoyment.”
—Ellen Ecker Ogden, co-founder of The Cook’s Garden seed catalog, author of From the Cook’s Garden
“Growing perennial vegetables is a true pleasure. This fine book gives the knowledge to successfully add variety to both the garden and the table while also enhancing the home environment.”
—Miranda Smith, author of The Plant Propagator’s Bible and Complete Home Gardening
“Eric Toensmeier has comprehensively filled a huge gap in the sustainable landscape. Perennial Vegetables lets you put away your tiller, and covers everything you need to grow, harvest, and eat vegetables and greens that will keep coming back year after year.”
—Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden.
“That there are more perennial vegetables than asparagus is no surprise, but that there are more than 100 species we North American gardeners can choose from is news. Toensmeier’s Perennial Vegetables, the first comprehensive guide to growing them, will have all of us reexamining our plans for next year’s vegetable plot.”
-Karan Davis Cutler, author of Burpee-The Complete Flower Garden