Thursday, May 23, 2013

I love perennial vegetables

Perennial vegetables are those that will grow for more than one year without having to be replanted. These include tuberous vegetables that we usually dig up each year but don't strictly have to such as garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and oca. These plants die down in the winter but regrow from their roots or tubers in the spring.

I find that perennial vegetables have a very important place in my gardens. I love that once planted they don't need a lot of care and money spent on them and they can usually take a fair amount of neglect.
Some perennials like asparagus and artichokes only bear for a very short amount of time in the year so take up a lot of space for little food but that is the same for some annuals like corn. At least with perennials you can put them in an out of the way place and forget about them for much of the year except for a bit of watering and the occasional application of fertiliser.

Other perennials grow all year round (in my climate anyway) and are always there is you need a little something more for the kitchen. An example of these perennials is rhubarb, and also shallots, which just need the occasional dividing.


Here is a bed of shallots. They are tough and just need dividing a couple of times a year and you have onions all year round, even if they don't have bulbs on them for much of the year you can still cut them like chives.

I love the onion family as many of them can also be used as perennials as many types will divide themselves, not quite as vigorously as shallots though. Below is a picture of a bed of Red Californian onions that usually divide into 3 or 4 per plant and form full sized onions.



Another great onion relative is the perennial leek. These produce numerous baby leeks at their base that you can use as little spring onions or replant. The leeks themselves are small but always around when you need some flavouring.

In my climate I also regard silverbeet as a perennial. White silverbeet will often live for a few years without flowering so you always have some leaves to pick.

Here is a list of perennial vegetables that I grow:

Shallots
Perennial leeks
Rhubarb
Globe artichoke
*Silverbeet*
Oca
Yacon
American groundnut
Chinese artichoke
Water chestnuts
Garlic
Jerusalem artichoke
Purple Peacock broccoli

I am also experimenting with Australian rock yam, tree onions/walking onions, day lilies for flowers, bamboo and Bambara bean.

( I have started digging some of the tuberous vegetables above and have tubers for sale)

I might try cardoon one day though I have a feeling it is not really worth growing - readers, please help me out with some advice if you grow it, and I have tried skirrit but it will not take out summer heat even under shade.


In other news, I have decided to give up on attending the Hamilton farmers market as I am always struggling to have enough produce to take and it is expensive for a stall. I am also wanting to concentrate on my CSA (veggie box) customers more and build up my customers there. My CSA customers are my priority and always get the best veg so I hate having to always check on how much I have for the boxes.

I will attend the market on Saturday for the last time and I will try to get some more CSA customers while I am there.









1 comment:

  1. I'm a super fan too. I read Eric T's book on these plants and was instantly sold! We're using perennial vegetables in our garden/homestead in Costa Rica. There are a TON of warm climate perennial vegetables. I'mtrying to build a database of plants that grow well in my area and building what I call a "survival garden". It's always nice to be ready!

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