Gardening · Homesteading

Building A Food Forest With Edible Perennials

One of our long-term goals on our homestead has been building densely planted food forests, where most are perennial. Planting once and eating every year has been my goal for long-term sustainability.

While we have carved out garden beds to grow in (because of deer) that are fenced, 2 of the biggest beds grow wild now. Yes, I do weed to a certain point and water in the hottest weeks still, but it is every year getting to where I need to maintain it less. Just prune as needed and fertilize yearly.

Less work is the goal, with the promise of food to come.

These beds are The Orchard, Berry Bed, and The Strawberry walk-in cage.

What do we grow?

We have planted these plants over the past five years, and most have survived. I have noted what grows well in our area.

Of course, your mileage may vary depending on what grows in your microclimate. This may mean you lose plants here and there, but that is part of the learning.


Strawberries, native strawberries, alpine strawberries.

Blueberries. We currently have about ten varieties to avoid a mono-crop.

Raspberries, golden raspberries, marionberries, blackberries. (Multiple varieties)

Kiwi Berries.

Grapes. (Multiple varieties)



Fruit and Nut Trees:

Plum, peach (frost type), apples, and pears have all done well.

Figs (cold hardy).

Olives (cold hardy, grow at last 2)).

Elderberry (at least 2)


I keep growing more from seed every year; in the second to third year, you can transplant it into the ground. Once established, it lives on its own. Cutting it often encourages new growth.


When we moved rural, I quaintly thought I needed 15 plants. One or two is just fine. But do plant it; it’s a pretty plant. It’ll need water for the first few years and pruning of dying-back leaves, which encourages new growth all season.


Grow as many as you can. Whether or not you eat them or let them go to flower, they are beautiful and tall. Native bees love the flowers.


Unless you live where it is snow-covered or deep freezes for months, many herbs come back yearly, especially culinary ones. Once they are established, a good trim/pruning and annual fertilizing are usually all you need to do. You may lose one or two if there is an extreme freeze. Otherwise, watering is often only needed first year and during heat waves in summer.


Once planted, potatoes love to hide baby potatoes you miss in harvesting. They love to come back on their own.

Also, if you harvest damaged potatoes, toss them back in the ground to grow a new crop, even if they are rotten or have insect damage.

Garlic (sometimes):

Garlic can rip when pulled out and will come back up again the next year if cloves are left behind. Letting hard-neck garlic go to flower will produce garlic bulblets that will seed it naturally. (This happened to us last year in an outlying field that is full of feral garlic now.)

Letting Native Plants Take Root:

Evergreen Huckleberry.

Red Huckleberry.