Perennial vegetables are vegetables you only need to plant once and you are rewarded with years of harvesting. A perennial patch is a vegetable patch perfect for the lazy gardener. Actually, scratch that. It's perfect for a smart gardener who wants to spend less time planting, more time eating.
Perennials are plants that produce for years. We are all familiar with fruit trees providing us with fresh produce for years without us having to do much work, so why not also in the vegetable garden?
When you have a perennial patch, all you need to do is keep it mulched, fed, watered and keep harvesting!
There are many positives to having some (if not many!) perennials.
- you're not disturbing the soil by cultivating and resowing
- there will always be something you can harvest.
- if your garden is full, weeds will not have the space to grow.
- perennials usually have deep roots so can reach water and nutrients further down, meaning they are more drought resistant and hardier than other plants.
- The deep roots perennials have, mean they can also be way more nutritious and delicious than their annual comrades.
The choice of perennial vegetables may not be as extensive as for annuals and biennials but there is a massive selection and I bet it is larger than you think!
Bunching onions, elephant garlic, asparagus, spinach, Chinese kale, rhubarb, land cress, Chinese artichoke, yacon and even perennial broccoli, just to name a few.
Add in some wildflowers that easily self-sow like cosmos, poppies and cornflowers and you'll have a no fuss, easy to manage, all year producing patch.
Perennial vegetables aren't as readily available in garden stores, the way that annuals are. One amazing place that sells a whole heap of these perennial gems is Kahikatea Farm.They have an amazing selection of seedlings, grown at their wonderful, certified organic farm.
Here are 5 of my favourite perennial vegetables
Nine-star broccoli- It's similar to purple sprouting broccoli but these little side shooting florets are creamy white, so it looks like mini cauliflowers. The whole entire plant is edible which makes this one worthy contender. It will need to stay covered over the summer and autumn time as the caterpillars of the white butterfly will attack it.
Asparagus Pea- It's a ground cover (yes!), tastes like asparagus and grows as easily as peas do. What's not to love?
Elephant Garlic- Super easy to grow, this leek (not actual garlic, despite the name) has a mild garlic taste and produces giant cloves. If left in the ground, each giant clove will split into smaller cloves and those will swell and fatten up.
Chinese Artichoke - This is another good ground cover, while underneath, small tubers are formed. These nutty tubers can be eaten raw or cooked the same way you would potatoes.
Yacon- The sweet and juicy tubers provide us with something delicious during the colder autumn months.
There are so many more, not to mention all those perennial plants we call weeds that are in fact edible too! It really pays to step outside your comfort zone of what is 'standard' to eat and plant.
What perennials are you growing in your garden?