10 Perennial Vegetables to Plant Once for Years of Food
What if you could plant something once and harvest it again and again? Wouldn’t that make gardening a little easier? Well, you actually can thanks to the best perennial vegetables!
With perennial garden vegetables, you can enjoy freshly harvested food year after year without having to start your garden from scratch. Even better, a perennial food garden can include herbs, fruits, and vegetables, making it easy to grow everything you need for delicious meals!
What Is a Perennial Vegetable?
Most gardens follow the same cycle every year: plant the seeds in the spring, weed and water in the summer, harvest in late summer and early fall, and go dormant in the winter. Then the cycle starts all over the next spring.
However, gardens with perennial vegetables are a little different. Rather than growing new plants every year, you grow plants that you can harvest again and again because a perennial is a plant that comes back year after year.
While all of the plants listed below are perennials, they might not be suited for all locations. You want to make sure you check for compatibility with your region before you buy and plant anything.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Growing Perennial Vegetables
As with everything you choose to grow in your garden, perennials have some advantages and disadvantages you have to consider before you plant them.
Advantages of Perennials
1. Low Maintenance- Once perennials are established, they do such a good job of taking care of themselves that they need little help from you. Additionally, since they have deeper roots than annuals, they’re hardier in times of drought.
2. Extends Your Harvest- While you harvest most annuals in the summer and fall, perennials have different seasons of availability, which gives you more food throughout the year.
3. Good for the Soil- Since you don’t need to till where you plant your perennials, they’re fantastic for the soil. Additionally, with the slow and steady decomposition of old roots and fallen leaves, they build soil the way nature intended.
4. Attractive- Not only are perennial vegetables edible, but they’re also beautiful. Many varieties on this list can enhance your landscape by adding color, creating ground cover for erosion control, making edging, and even providing a habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators.
Drawbacks of Perennials
1. Slow to Establish- Some perennials are slow to grow and establish and can take years before they’re ready to harvest.
2. Strong Flavors- Certain perennials have strong flavors or a unique way of cooking that you might not be used to.
3. Need a Special Section in the Garden- Since perennials will become a permanent fixture in your garden, you need to make sure you have a separate section away from your annual crops where you can grow them.
4. Have Certain Disease and Pest Challenges- While all vegetable plants have disease and pest challenges, perennials have special considerations you have to keep in mind since you can’t use crop rotation to minimize the problems. Additionally, some diseases can overwhelm and kill perennials.
10 Perennial Vegetables You Can Harvest Again and Again
Are you ready to start enjoying all of the benefits of a perennial garden? Then make sure you plant these top 10 best perennial vegetables today!
Technically, kale is a biennial plant that we often treat like an annual. However, with the right preparation, you can turn it into a perennial.
If you leave it in your garden over the winter covered with mulch, it will begin to grow again in early spring by sending up new shoots and leaves. You can then harvest these leaves all summer and fall until the first snowflakes start to fall.
Not only can kale add an interesting pop of color to your garden, but the hardy leaves are also incredibly nutritious.
If you don’t have some berry bushes in your yard, you are missing out. They are my absolute favorite type of perennial because they’re so easy to grow.
Pretty much all you have to do is plant them and let them do their thing. Then you get to enjoy sweet, delicious berries straight from the bush.
Berry bushes are also hardy, versatile, and can thrive in a variety of environments. Additionally, while most berry bushes are self-pollinating, you can plant them with other bushes to cross-pollinate and provide an even larger harvest of berries.
Here are some outstanding varieties that can grow pretty much anywhere:
Even though it takes about 2 or 3 years for asparagus to become established, it will reward your patience with decades’ worth of spears you can harvest.
To keep your asparagus happy, plant it in a spot in your garden that gets a decent amount of sun and has soil that drains well. Also, keep in mind that asparagus grows both tall and wide.
4. Globe Artichoke
In colder climates, you might have to grow the globe artichoke as an annual. However, in more milder climates, you can grow it as a perennial.
This green globe artichoke is a particularly nice variety because it grows in a more uniform size, has fewer spines, and offers better production. Although it can take the plant about 6 months to mature, you might actually be able to get 3 to 5 artichokes per plant in the first year, which is unusual for a perennial!
If you take a look at any garden at an old farmhouse or cottage, you’ll likely see a rhubarb plant. It’s said this incredibly hardy plant can last for 20 years or longer before you have to replace it.
While it’s growing, you can harvest the gorgeous red stalks to use in a variety of different recipes, such as rhubarb salsa, rhubarb lemonade, and rhubarb chutney. Of course, it also pairs amazingly well with strawberries to make a delicious pie.
Although the enormous heart-shaped leaves aren’t edible because they contain high levels of oxalic acid, you can use them to create an organic pesticide, to make homemade green dye (as long as it’s not for food!), or in your compost pile.
Sorrel is a perennial herb that’s a relative of rhubarb. While rhubarb leaves contain enough oxalic acid to make them inedible, sorrel leaves have such a minor amount that they’re not harmful when consumed in small quantities — as long as you’re not sensitive to oxalates.
The leaves are very high in vitamin C, which we all know is incredibly important for naturally fighting off a cold. Its tart, lemony flavor tastes better in early spring since it can become bitter as the weather warms up. You can use the leaves in salads, soups, stews, sauces, and more.
I have a garlic chives plant that has been growing for years. I love being able to snip off some leaves whenever I want, chop them up, and add them to soups, dips, noodles, and any other dish that needs a little extra flavor.
Since the plant will come back every year, it’s ideal as part of a container garden. It’s also a fantastic addition to an indoor herb garden so you can enjoy fresh herbs all winter long. Plus, not only do bees love the flowers, but you can also eat them!
8. Good King Henry
Good King Henry is a traditional European vegetable that a lot of people have forgotten about, and that’s a shame. This spinach relative is known for its tasty leaves, shoots, and flower buds.
However, unlike spinach, it’s a hardy perennial that will come back year after year. It’s very adaptable, and it can grow well in either partial shade or full sun.
Of course, like other members of the spinach family, it does contain a small amount of oxalic acid, so you’ll want to enjoy it in moderation.
Apples, cherries, pears, plums… They’re all delicious. And they’re also all perennials! While most people realize that fruit trees are perennials, I think they often forget that they can grow them right in their own yard.
Even if you live in a colder climate, you can grow tropical fruits like oranges and lemons as long as you look for potted dwarf varieties you can bring inside during winter.
Related: 20 Genius Ways to Reuse Orange Peels
Whether you have room for one or two trees, or space for a whole orchard, you won’t regret planting a few of your favorite fruit trees. Once they’re established, you’ll probably end up with so much fruit you’ll be sharing it with family, friends, and neighbors!
Nut trees are another fantastic perennial for your yard because they offer so many amazing benefits: shade, beautiful flowers in the spring, clean air, and food!
Like other trees, it’s best to plant perennial nut trees in the fall. However, you can also plant them in the spring as long as you’re diligent about watering them for the first few months.
The Best Perennial Vegetables for Your Garden
While you might be familiar with perennial flowers for your flower garden, don’t forget about perennial vegetables for your food garden! Once you plant these awesome perennials, you’ll be rewarded with fresh food you can harvest year after year.
More Outstanding Gardening Tips
Did you enjoy learning about the best perennial vegetables for your garden? Are you interested in discovering even more helpful gardening tips? Then please be sure to take a look at some of our other popular posts:
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- The Best Subscription Boxes for Gardeners
- How Long Can You Store Seeds?
- The Best Vegetable Plants for Children to Grow