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.
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