It’s an exciting time of year when many gardeners are busy flipping through seed catalogs and selecting new fruit and vegetable varieties for the upcoming growing season. Have you considered creating a perennial food garden?
Perennial plants are popular because you sow them once and they come back year after year.
While maintaining a perennial garden can’t be ignored, these plants sure do take the guesswork out of how they’ll turn out.
There are plenty of perennial fruit and vegetable options out there; we’ve put together a list of five to get you started!
If you have space and a little patience, asparagus is a vegetable for your garden. Matt Mattus, the author of Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening, compares this crop to a retirement account; the longer its roots sit in the garden, the better it becomes.
When well-planted and established, asparagus will deliver long-lasting rewards. It does best in the ground in a spot that will mostly remain undisturbed for about five to seven years. The roots grow up to 6 feet deep, which is why containers or raised beds aren’t the best options for this crop.
Mattus recommends having at least 24 plants to make the harvest worth the effort.
Much like asparagus, artichokes won’t reach their full potential in raised beds or container gardens. Once mature, they grow to be very large, and so planting them into the ground is essential for their success.
Artichokes don’t survive in soil that drops below 25°F (-4°C), and won’t produce edible buds much before two years. However, in the right conditions, these beauties are hardy and robust.
When selecting artichokes to plant from seed, be sure to check if you’re indeed choosing a perennial. While Jerusalem artichokes come back every year, plant breeders have developed varieties better suited as annuals. Something to keep in mind!
Are you looking for the perfect perennial superfood? Fiddlehead ferns, AKA ostrich ferns, are popular in many kitchens and are considered a delicacy because they’re only available for a few weeks every spring.
Before opening up into beautiful feather-like foliage, fiddlehead ferns are little coils that look like the scroll of a violin. At this point, they can be harvested eaten. They have a taste similar to asparagus, okra, and green beans.
They like a shady part of the garden and a lot of moisture. You must cook fiddlehead ferns properly to avoid any risk of food poisoning.
Some say it’s a vegetable, others call is a fruit. However you feel like categorizing it, rhubarb is a delicious addition to any perennial garden.
Incredibly easy to grow, rhubarb produces beautiful reddish-pink stalks great for jams, jellies, and pie fillings. Its green foliage is toxic when eaten in large quantities. Remove the leaves and a portion of the stalk when harvesting.
Rhubarb likes full sun, fertile soil, and consistent moisture. When planted properly, it lives for a very long time and is highly productive. Don’t overplant, as rhubarb grows to be quite large and can take up a lot of real estate in the garden.
A successful herb garden will deliver delicious meals and save you a lot of cash over the years. Forget buying expensive packets at the supermarket; plant your herbs once, and watch them grow year after year.
Mint, oregano, thyme, parsley, and even some varieties of basil are considered perennials. Lemon balm, chives, rosemary, and sage also grow year after year. Choose a sunny spot in the garden or plant them in containers for the ultimate kitchen garden.
Some of these herbs can be a little finicky with cold, so check the labels before buying to be sure they’re hardy enough for your garden’s growing zone.