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Tropical Perennials

Starting a Tropical Food Forest

The pinnacle of success for either an aspiring or long-time permaculture practitioner is that of a sustainable food forest.

From a place in the desert or land in the tropics, careful observation and understanding of your environment make all things possible.

I will bring you on a short journey of my experience of creating a tropical food forest. I will share my top 5 choices of edible perennials that no tropical food forest should be without, and why.

Before explaining my top 5 perennials, it is important to ensure the basic fundamentals of a permaculture food forest are understood. You can always just begin by trying to plant different native edible plants.

Sometimes this is a great way to learn if you have very little time, or are unsure how serious you are. Doing it this way might give you just enough of a result to stimulate more interest.

In this article, I will cover my top 5 edible perennials to ensure the maximum possibility of success in beginning your tropical food forest. Success, even at the smallest levels, will encourage you to continue, perseverance is the key when co-evolving with your food forest ecosystem. I will get much deeper into design and soil in future articles but for now, let’s dive into learning about some easy-to-grow nutritious edible perennials.

Growing Perennials in the Tropics

Observation and understanding of your environment. This applies to every climate. To keep in line with this article, I will focus strictly on the tropical climate. Most people are of the perception of the tropics is that it is nutrient-rich, with tons of water. This is both true and false.

True in the fact that a tropical environment in an optimal location, is nutrient-rich, with more than plentiful water. The one thing all tropical environments have is water.

However, if you have not taken the time to observe your location correctly, water can destroy your food forest or carry all your beneficial nutrients away. So, before we consider planting our top 5 perennials, we must observe where we want to create our food forest.

Here are a couple of essential points to consider:

Have you observed all the seasons? Yes, the tropics have seasons. Knowing your seasons can help you properly assess how to orient your food forest. Understanding the sun, winds, and water flow is critical.

How is your soil? What is currently growing there? You can tell a lot from what plants are currently growing in the soil and what preparation, if any, is needed before starting your food forest.

Now we have all the basics out of the way, we are ready to get planting. My top 5 list will provide some of the most essential foods for you and your soil. Our goal is to limit or even eliminate any work in the future.

A well-functioning permaculture food forest should provide all you need naturally, as nature intended, without the hard work required in conventional annual gardens.

My Favorite Tropical Perennials

1. Bamboo

In my opinion, the most important plant to have in a tropical food forest is Bamboo. Not only is bamboo a nutritious food source, but it has so many other practical uses.

2. Beans

My second favorite perennial is most definitely beans. Most beans are grown as an annual crop. However, there are a few perennial varieties. Scarlet runner beans and Asian square beans are two of the best choices.

3. Cassava (manioc)

Cassava is one of the most significant food sources in the developing world.

4. Asparagus

Asparagus is a very delicious perennial requiring almost no care, it just keeps on giving.

5. Bananas

No tropical food forest is complete without this gift of nature. Bananas are one of the most delicious and nutrient-rich foods in nature.

Once mature, it provides a constant source of food. Not only can you enjoy the fruit, but the stalk is an excellent source of fresh water, and the flowers are a fantastic source of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

Although there are many more choices for tropical perennials, these are the top 5 I would have in any tropical food forest.

Not only are they all high in nutrition they provide a varied combination of flavors, ensuring our taste buds never get bored.

Tropical Perennial Plants

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