The best thing about these vegetable is that you only have to plant them once, but you will enjoy them for years to follow.
The beginner gardener often plants the crops she or he loves the most, be it tomatoes, corn, beans, pumpkins, peppers or herbs. All of them easy to grow with a little patience and love.
But annual plants and herbs have a downside that perennials don’t.
Some perennials are ready to harvest, while your annuals are lightly springing into life. Others yet, with edible roots, can be harvested throughout the year, when you are ready for them, not when they are ready for you.
Once perennial crops are established, they require little care from you, and are more prone to resist insects and disease as well.
Here are 9 of the best known edible perennials you can grow for years:
1. Rhubarb – Rheum rhabarbarum
Though the temptation is hard to resist, you cannot harvest rhubarb in the first year, you must first wait for it to establish roots. You will have to wait and see how this plant will only get bigger and bigger as the seasons pass. It is said that a single rhubarb plant can last 20 years, before needing to be replaced.
2. Sorrel – Rumex acetosa
One of the earliest greens to emerge from the soil each spring, is sorrel. Call it tangy, zingy or lemony, sorrel has a unique flavor that takes some getting used to. And yet it provides many essential nutrients just as we are coming out of winter.
3. Chives – Allium schoenoprasum
You’ll be pleased to know that chives are very hardy. Such vigorous growers in fact, that they will need dividing every few years.
4. Asparagus – Asparagus officinalis
If you have extra space in your garden, asparagus will be happy to take it over. It grows both tall and wide, giving you a couple of decades’ worth of asparagus spears in exchange for your loving care.
5. Globe artichoke – Cynara scolymus
In terms of height, artichokes often come out on top – at about 5′ to be sure. It is beautiful from head to toe, and although it has a long growing season, the flavor is well worth the wait. Artichokes can be grown either as an annual or a perennial. In the latter case, they must be protected during the winter months.
6. Horseradish – Armoracia rusticana
If you are looking to add some warmth to your winter meals, a little bit of grated horseradish goes a long way. The best way to get to that root, is to harvest it fresh, for as long as you can dig the soil. It is in the same Cruciferae family as broccoli, cabbages and Brussels sprouts, yet it is hardier than all three combined.
7. Watercress – Nasturtium officinale
If you love slightly peppery leaves, similar to that of arugula/rocket, then you are going to adore watercress from your own backyard.
8. Lovage – Levisticum officinale
Lovage is a beloved herb that has been cultivated since the Middle Ages. But why is it that so few people seem to know it today? It does have a much stronger flavor than celery, yet that is a trait to be admired! Just a few plants in your garden will be enough for the entire family, seeing as how they grow 6-7 feet tall.
9. Ramps – Allium ursinum
Otherwise known as ramsons, bear garlic or wild leeks, these leafy greens are among the first to pop up from the forest floor. Seeing as how all parts are edible, including the leaves, stems and flowers, they are a very useful perennial indeed.
10. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and other berry bushes/canes
A good berry patch will attract kids and adults alike. Who can resist a pail of gooseberries or the ripest raspberries on the block?
Blueberries are irresistible too – in muffins, sauce and jam. If you have the land for a patch of canes, put it in as soon as possible. Why wait with harvesting fresh-picked berries of all kinds?