Gifts That Keep on Giving – Perennial Vegetables
Plants can be annual, biennial or perennial. They are classified this way because of how long they live:
- Annuals – live one growing season, produce seeds then die
- Biennials – live for two growing seasons, produce seeds then die
- Perennials – live more than two years
Perennials – Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits
Perennials are great. You make the effort one year and they can come back for more than two years all on their own. You still have pay attention and provide some care for them, but the bulk of the work is in year one. The fact that they come back on their own, year after year is just great.
Benefits of Perennials
Some of the benefits of perennial vegetables, as outlined in detail by Dawn Gifford on Small Footprint Family are that:
- they do not require a lot of maintenance
- unlike many annuals who require the warmth of summer, some perennials are cold hardy so they extend the season before and after summer
- they can be ornamental, functional and help with pollination of crops and wild plants
- they can help the soil food system, provide habitat for animals, build soil naturally, and as they mature they build topsoil and help the atmosphere
These are the perennials I care for in my vegetable gardens and pots. I’ll write about each one shortly.
- Bunching onions
Drawbacks of Perennials
Like most things even perennials have some drawbacks. For a full list and details on additional drawbacks have a look at this website Small Footprint Family by Dawn Gifford. These are some of the main drawbacks I’ve experienced over the years with three of my perennials:
- Of 24 asparagus seeds that I soaked and planted so carefully in 2012, only 6 germinated. The 6 asparagus were slow to grow and take then the stated three years the package mentioned. It only came in fully in year 4 and this year year five I will have my first asparagus harvest.
- Dill and mint
- Dill and mint, I harvest plenty each year which is great. But they can act like weeds and try and take over the gardens they are in and other nearby gardens. I do have to dig them up when they go too far each year.
- Careful placement is required, which I didn’t really think of when I transplanted them in 2011. I’ve had to stop them from spreading – as they are sneaky and try and spread a bit sporadically throughout the summer and fall. This year I will be creating a short raised bed around them to keep them a bit separate from the rest of the garden and gain better control of their spreading.
Do you have any perennials that have worked well for you, year after year?
National Gardening Association, https://garden.org/courseweb/perennials/Class1/c1p2.html, 2002.