Try these Edible Perennials in Your Garden

September 27, 2010

The previous post examined reasons for including long-lived edibles in the vegetable garden. Today it’s time to identify some favorite vegetable perennials that will offer the same type of lasting benefits that flower and landscape gardeners love to take advantage of in their ornamental beds.

Here is a partial listing of edible perennials; both vegetables and berries that will make great additions to your garden and provide you with continuous harvests for many years:

Choice Edible Perennials for the Home Garden

  • Asparagus – the ultimate long-term vegetable crop that will yield for decades with no drop off in production. One of the earliest spring production crops in the backyard garden.
  • Blackberries – Very easy to grow but they do require annual pruning in order to get the best quality fruit. Try cultivating the thornless blackberry varieties or raspberries which have similar care and cultural requirements.
  • Mushrooms – While not as long lasting as true edible perennials, gourmet mushrooms are pretty care free and productive over many seasons once they are established and will reward you with recurring flushes of tasty gourmet shrooms.
  • Potatoes – You may want to argue with me over listing a potato along with these vegetable perennials, but tell that to the Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes that I planted several years ago and can still find sprouting up in the garden every spring.
  • Rhubarb – It doesn’t get any easier than this edible perennial that is attractive enough to grow as an ornamental even if you don’t like the taste. Rhubarb is popular as the centerpiece of some delicious desserts!
  • Sea Kale – A rare and unusual vegetable, sea kale is an interesting perennial vegetable that is better known in the United Kingdom. Sea Kale produces edible shoots in the spring that are blanched before harvesting.
  • Artichokes – This one is somewhat dependent on your climate, here in PA artichokes and cardoons can be a challenge to over winter, but it’s not impossible to grow them as edible perennials here and I’ve had success on occasion.
  • Salsify – While usually listed as biennials; salsify and scorzonera both act more like perennials in my garden. The plants return each year and grow larger as they put on an impressive display of attractive purple or yellow flowers.
  • Potato Onions – Unlike garlic, potato onions can remain in the ground after they mature without shedding their wrappers or greening up. It is best to lift and cure the bulbs before replanting and spacing them apart, but once you raise potato onions you’ll always have potato onions!
  • Semi-Perennial – Like the purple fingerlings, Epazote, Sunchokes, Calendula, and Sacred Basil behave much like edible perennials and can be counted on to volunteer for repeat appearances once they have been established in the garden. In some cases they can even turn a bit invasive, so keep that in mind if you welcome them into your landscape.

That’s just the short list of vegetable perennials that can make life in the garden a bit easier by providing recurring crops after they are introduced into the garden. If I left out any of your favorite edible perennials you can add them to the comment section below.

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • Well, thanx for sharing an interesting and useful info………my mom like to do gardening……and I help her…its really enjoyable!!!!!!!!

  • Nancy-Jane

    I have a difficult time with perennials here in SC unless they’re trees and bushes. Too many fungi and other ickies out to get them, even strawberries are recommended as annuals.
    Even the trees are susceptible, I came here today because we’re taking out a row of very overgrown azaleas that has three or four dogwoods with an “unknown leaf spot” problem. Personally I think it’s anthracnose, and the master gardener who looked at the trees agreed but without testing we can’t know for sure. I wanted to ask you what we need to do to the ground/area to hopefully kill the problem, we’d like to put in apples, blueberries and brambles.

  • Quite an interesting article. I have been growing mostly annuals or biennials in my container garden.
    I wanted to know how well Blackberries would grow in a container?
    Any ideas or input for me?
    Kind Regards
    The Potted Garden

  • Kenny Point

    Blackberries can grow pretty large and need some type of support so they aren’t the best berry to grow in containers. They are also wild and spreading with extremely long canes so I typically would not try to grow them in containers. Raspberries might be better suited for container culture but I have not even seen them growing in pots.

  • I have been semi sucessful in growing raspberries in containers in that they do well for two or three years and then die off. I used large pots (at least two feet diameter) so that the roots had plenty of space, plus the amount of soil in the pots helped to stop the winf blowing them over.

  • johnboy walton

    Nice list. Lemongrass can survive zone 8 and southward if mulched before the first frost. Of course, that plant is more of a spice, but nice to have nonetheless.

  • Great list! Rhubarb is a must have – it’s so easy to grow and tastes great

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