8 Perennial Vegetables For The Lazy Gardener
Over the course of a plant's life cycle, it germinates, grows, flowers, fruits, seeds, and then consequently dies leaving behind seeds for the next generation of plants. There are three varieties of plant life cycles, annual, biennial, and perennial.
Annuals complete their life cycle within a single growing season. Biennials complete their life cycle within two growing seasons. And perennials live for more than two years, repeating the grow to seed process anew every season until the plant dies.
The majority of vegetables people plant in gardens - lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, peppers, carrots, beans, etc. - are annuals. They exist for a single growing season and then die, meaning of course that every year annuals must be replanted.
On the other hand, perennials require one planting, some time to establish themselves, and will then continue to produce a crop every season. Some perennials will produce for decades. This longevity is one of the keys behind forest gardens. Because a forest garden is based around perennials, it will provide food for many years with little care or input.
It can seem a bit silly planting annuals every year, especially when you could have perennials that you just wait to harvest each season. It's like, "I just planted these annuals last year. Why do I have to do it again?"
So for the lazy gardeners out there, here's a handful of perennial plants that can be added to any vegetable garden. Plant, have some patience as they establish themselves, and then harvest year after year.
Seeds germinate slowly and it takes three years before you can harvest. Asparagus is very hardy and will last for decades. It is one of the first harvests of spring.
These will require frost protection in the winter. Set out offshoots in spring to replace plants that are a few years old.
Jerusalem Artichoke aka. Sunchoke
A perennial sunflower that produces low-starch tubers. After about 4-5 months after planting, harvest the tubers. Tubers left in the ground will regrow next season.
Welsh Onion aka. Bunching Onion
An entirely edible plant and a very simple plant to propagate. To harvest, cut off the green top of the onion and leave the bulb to grow a new stalk or remove the whole onion. Plants grown from seed should be allowed to grow for several months so their root system can get nice and strong.
Once established, a hardy plant that doesn't mind cooler weather. To harvest, just cut away the head, and it will grow back.
Part of the same family as radicchio. Treat it similar.
A quintessential addition to the perennial garden. Do not harvest during the first year of growth. Harvest the red stalks during spring. Don't eat the leaves.
A salad green often grown as an annual, but actually a perennial. Can be harvested as soon as 60 days after planting. The leave are cut and come again. Be sure to remove the flowers to keep the plant producing leaves into autumn.
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