3 Fast-Growing Edible Biomass Plants For Your Permaculture Garden
A permaculture garden needs one thing more than any other, and that is biomass. Biomass is organic matter that is used to provide nutrition and build soil for optimum plant health and growth. Edible biomass plants give your garden what it needs while also providing food for your table.
Pigeon pea is a premier nitrogen-fixing biomass producer in permaculture gardens. The seeds can be slow to germinate, but it is fast-growing, reaching maturity in as little as four months. Mature plants can be used as trellises for staking other edibles, such as tomato and peppers, and are often planted in mass to create living trellises for climbing crops, such as beans, peas and squash. Pigeon pea produces large amounts of peas, which are edible green or dried. Its lovely yellow flowers attract all sorts of beneficial insects from bees to butterflies. It is an annual in cooler climates but a short-lived perennial in subtropical and tropical areas.
Sweet potatoes are grown from slips, which many gardeners grow themselves by placing a sweet potato in a glass of water. These rapidly growing vines produce insane amounts of green biomass, as well as being an excellent ground cover for weed suppression. The vines root into the ground wherever a node touches it, and that node will produce a small potato for replanting after harvest. The dead vines are also a good source of brown biomass, and on top of all of this, the leaves and roots are edible. Sweet potatoes are a tropical plant grown as a summer crop in temperate climates, but they can be perennial in warmer areas. They are a staple crop in the southern U.S., being one of the few edibles that thrives in the heat and humidity of their brutal summers.
Cowpeas, also called southern peas, are another favorite warm-area crop that produce large amounts of biomass. Being in the legume family, cowpeas are also efficient nitrogen fixers that are beneficial to interplant with nitrogen-hungry plants such as corn or okra. They thrive in hot, moist climates, in fact the hotter the better, as they need heat for optimum growth. Southern peas come in several varieties, which can be short, upright bushes or taller, vining types. The vining types are the most vigorous and best for ground cover biomass production. They have excellent drought resistance, low fertility requirements and grow in a wide range of soils. This makes them perfect for soil building on poor land.
You don't have to give up valuable growing space to produce biomass for your permaculture landscape. Some of the best biomass producers are also some of the best food producers, and also easy to grow. Ask your landscape designer, like those at All American Landscape Design Inc., which edible biomass plants will work well in your permaculture design.