10 ways to make great use of Canna

Perennial Canna (Canna edulis) is an abundant permaculture plant in the subtropics, also known as Queensland Arrowroot. I can't imagine how I would have got my garden to this stage without it's help. 

Fabulously quick growing plant that has large leaves which hold a lot of water. They provide so much organic matter and look really luscious in the garden. Their height and form adds so much structure to a new permaculture garden.

It is an amazingly useful plant that I have used it extensively in the establishment phase of my garden to:

  1. create a super fast growing in-garden windbreak;
  2. create a super fast growing in-garden sun shade for sensitive plants in summer;
  3. develop a vegetative terrace to stop soil, water and mulch slipping down the slope;
  4. establish a weed barrier along with comfrey and lemongrass around new garden areas;
  5. make a living fence. I plant Canna beside a little chickenwire fence . I find the wild animals and chooks are less likely to jump/fly over the fence if they cannot see what is on the other side;
  6. produce abundant organic matter for the garden;

    Amazing growth in one season. You can keep chopping it too throughout the growing season and it will continue to grow back. What a gift!
  7. grow plentiful chop and drop mulch;
  8. cut as food for the chickens;
  9. grow materials to bulk out the compost piles;
  10. provide habitat for frogs.

There are of course many delicious ways to eat it too, but I'll leave that for another post.

This is what you find at the base of edible canna - swollen rhizomes. You can snap these off to cook without disturbing the plant. 

Canna edulis is different from the ornamental cannas (Canna indica) grown for flowers (this one only has the occasional little red flower), and Indian Shot Canna which has the spiky seedpods with big black seeds. Neither of these have the big purple-skinned edible rhizomes. 

I grow Canna edulis because it I like the fact that it is edible too - it really is so productive and abundant, with virtually no pests or diseases and can grow in just about any conditions (as long as it's warm). Here where I get some frosts, it dies back over winter, but returns with the warm weather .

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