Can wasabi rhizomes be successfully grown in an edible landscape or food forest setting? Here, we go on another food-growing adventure, using quackponics–food forest duck fertilization– among other organic, pesticide, and chemical-free methods to grow the amazing wasabi.

After doing some reading on how to grow wasabi in your backyard, I decided to take the plunge and try growing wasabi in my own food forest, partially for duck fodder, as the leaves and shoots are edible. That doesn’t mean I won’t be sampling the leaves myself from time to time, but as always, the goal is to create an organic ecosystem featuring my hateful, greedy, feathered fiends, the Indian Runner ducks, responsible for both, pest management, and fertilizing the edible landscape.

The methods featured here will also include companion planting, permaculture, Back To Eden gardening (aka the deep mulch system), using duck and fish ponds to grow food, and organic soil building using chop and drop.

What exactly is wasabi? How can we identify it?

I find that it is always helpful to know as much as you can about the foods you are trying to grow, what the plants look like, what they should look like when harvest time rolls around, and many things you can do with your food harvests once that time comes.

Wasabi Plants Need An Evergreen Canopy To Add Shade and Maintain A High Humidity

Every guide and video tutorial and wasabi farm tour that I watched says that wasabi must be grown as a shade plant beneath an evergreen canopy. So, I came up with this wonderful list of edible plants to act as companion plants for wasabi, many of which are growing in my own edible landscape as companion plants to maximize the amount of food I can grow in my limited space.

Wasabi grows near streams in shaded locations

In my food forest, I don’t have a “stream”. So I’m going to be growing it pond side in the wetland areas of my duck and fish pond and in the shaded area beneath the ramp of the duck house that becomes a temporary stream during heavy rains.

Edible Companion Plants To Provide Shade For Growing Wasabi In The Food Forest

Camellia Sinensis | Tea Bush

Asparagus

Depending on how harsh your winters are, asparagus will stay green through nearly the entire winter, before shriveling up for its new spring growth. Asparagus plants are pretty fast growing if heavily fertilized and given plenty of water. I’ve taken my own asparagus to monstrous sizes using duck pond water throughout the winter for a truly amazing spring harvest.

Tree Collards

The addition of tree collards to any food forest or edible landscape is an excellent way to grow more food in the same amount of space while providing an adequate microclimate for growing wasabi.

Olive Tree(s)

Bamboo

Absolutely one of my favorite permaculture plants, not only is bamboo edible, it also can help block out the noise of the surrounding city, which is especially great for those of us planting our food forests in places that have lots of neighbors.

According to Paul, you can grow wasabi in full sun, but… after 8 years, he has yet to produce any actual wasabi rhizomes so… not sure if that’s the best method for people actually wanting to grow the rhizomes of the wasabi plant. Though, as I have more and more wasabi starts from my current wasabi plants, I will be planting wasabi in every available spot of the food forest, with the intention on growing them a large as possible to provide an evergreen canopy for my runner ducks to properly hide them from overhead predators.

Wasabi GOALS because LOOK AT THE LEAVES ON THAT!!!

One of the most beautiful examples of a healthy wasabi plant growing in a container. Adding containers to a food forest certainly does add more structure and less of a wild, natural look to your food garden.

Newly Transplanted Wasabi ( Wasabia Japonica ‘Daruma’ aka Japanese Horseradish) Plant Growing In The Edible Landscape/Food Forest Beneath The Duck House Ramp
Newly Transplanted Wasabi ( Wasabia Japonica ‘Daruma’ aka Japanese Horseradish) Plant Growing In The Edible Landscape/Food Forest Beneath The Duck House Ramp

Hello, little squiggle! Here is my new wasabi plant freshly planted beneath the duck house ramp where it gets pretty good shade, especially because it is currently growing beneath an old humidity dome that softens the sunlight. The area beneath the duck house ramp receives plenty of duck manure directly from the duck house floor when I run water through it to rinse the floor. This area is also a part of the duck pond’s water harvesting system and therefore becomes a stream that redirects rain water from the roof of the house into the duck pond to refill it.

During a heavy enough rain, the duck pond fills up so much that water soaks the wetland area around it, giving those plants lots of duck pond water filled with the Indian Runner Ducks’ manure. This permaculture design is to give heavy feeding, fast-growing plants a lot of nutrition without always having to do a lot of additional labor. The Wasabi Duruma plant is now a part of this duck pond wetland area.

Passionfruit

According to Modern Farmer, a wasabi grower in California is pairing his wasabi with passionfruit. I’m not currently growing any passionfruit myself but it is a vining plant that can be grown above wasabi to give it shade and also produces an edible crop, making it suitable for food forest growing.

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