Even the most experienced gardeners are delighted to have a perennial plant in their yard, that will provide a lifetime of food as soon as it is established.
Being planted in the proper site and climate, perennial vegetables can be virtually indestructible despite neglect and are often more resistant to pests, diseases, drought, and weeds, too.
Unfortunately, many gardeners are unaware of the delicious and low-maintenance bounty that can be harvested when numerous annual crops aren’t available.
Plants that come back every year are called perennial plants, and they live for at least two seasons, and often much longer. They tend to be soft-wooded, different from a shrub or tree.
You can plant them in a garden bed, or you can use perennial vegetables or fruits to edge your garden beds and even keep the weeds down. When they are established you should remember to mulch them to retain moisture, prevent weeds, and add nutrients to the soil.
Such plants were always valued, so if you add them to your garden, you will reap their benefits for years:
Rhubarb is one of the rare plants to have “quick fruit” for pies, desserts, and preserves. It also grows fast into a large plant, so plant a few two-year-old or older roots to harvest lightly the next spring.
Put an 8-inch-deep layer of rotted manure around it in the spring and fall to boost its growth.
It is one of the easiest grown permanent crops, and it can be planted in rows, in flower beds, or even in a corner of the lawn. These plants are ferny and airy and easily blend in the back of flower beds.
The planted asparagus needs 4 years to provide an appreciable harvest, so it is best to plant one-year-old roots and start harvesting it after 3 years. You will get the most spears by planting varieties like the all-male Jersey Knight, Jersey Giant, and Jersey Supreme, and the cheaper old variety Mary Washington provides a lot of asparagus for very little money.
Before you plant it, till the soil, and add rotted manure and compost. Asparagus requires a lot of nutrients to grow and produce well.
Dig a wide furrow 18 inches deep, add compost, and spread the roots. Add more compost over them, and water well. As you notice the new spears, add more soil and compost. Then wait for a few years before you harvest them. To harvest spears, use a sharp knife to cut them off, below the surface of the soil.
Don’t forget to mulch your asparagus every spring. In the fall, when it is finished and the ferns are dried, toss several inches of rotted manure over the bed to nourish it as it decomposes in the winter.
It is native to eastern North America, and a nitrogen-fixing, 6-foot vine that bears high-protein tubers. These tubers have a flavor similar to the one of nutty-flavored potatoes. Grow these vines close to a shrub, in a moist site that receives full sun or partial shade. You can harvest the groundnut in the fall.
You can choose from various strawberry varieties, but we recommend trying the ever-bearing or June bearing one. Grow them in a large patch and use lots of straw mulch to prevent rotting in the wet soil.
It is very easy to plant chives, and it can be grown in pots, outside or inside the house, in a sunny window. You can start it from seeds in small pots in spring, and it will soon spread out and produce numerous tasty greens, with a little weeding and watering.
When they reach at least 4 inches, you can harvest them by clipping the whole plant off with kitchen scissors.
Jerusalem artichokes are large bushy plants with beautiful yellow sunflower-like blooms. They form big, rounded tubers under the soil, which are sweet and crunchy additions to salads and stir-fries.
You never succeed to dig all the tubers, so the ones left in the ground will continue making new plants.
You can plant Jerusalem artichokes in the back of flower beds, along the house, or across one end of the suburban yard. You should spade up a good place, add some rotted compost, and plant a small tuber about three inches deep. You should water and weed it regularly, and it will grow quickly soon and produce for years.
Raspberries and Blackberries
Raspberries or blackberries can become invasive, but the dwarf varieties are less invasive. Also, choose thornless ones to ease their harvesting.
Your yard is an excellent place for mushrooms, such as Shaggy Manes, Morels, Chicken of the Woods, Oyster, Lion’s Mane, and Button. They only require mixing with compost or wood chips, sprinkling over a raked area, and watering in, while varieties like Shiitake and Portabella need drilling holes in stumps or logs and placing plugs with mushroom spawn in them. A mushroom bed takes a while to get started, but afterward, it will produce for many years.
It is so easy to grow that it can become invasive, so make sure you plant it in an isolated area or container, not in a lower bed or in the garden.
Just till up a spot, add rotted compost and plant the roots on a slight angle, wide end up, about two inches deep, and the crowns just below the soil surface. Keep the plant weed-free and water it regularly.
Dig the whole plant using a fork or shovel to harvest it, in the late fall, and leave the small roots behind, so they will grow and spread.
Potato onions and multiplier onions are perennial, and multiplier onions are the most common. , and are available in many seed and nursery catalogs.
Multiplier onions are also known as “walking onions” as they form a cluster of little onion bulbs in the summer, on a seed stalk that bends over in the fall, and the bulbs touch the soil and root. Potato onions also make a “nest” of big onions underground and store well in the cellar during the winter.
Therefore, all you have to do is to plant some of these perennial plants and you will have an endless supply of its produce for years!