Often, in our busy lives, when spring rolls around we don’t have the time available to tend to our garden. To prep the soil, remove weeds and plant our new seedlings. Have you ever considered planting exclusively perennials?
What is a perennial? A perennial plant is one that grows back several times after it has already harvested. Once it is planted, and rooted it will pop its head back out of the dirt and grow for you every summer season!
There are 3 types of vegetable plants : Annual, Biennial and Perennial, so what's the difference?
Well, you probably assumed by the name that annual sprouts once a year come alive at the beginning of the season, and die at the end.
Biennial plants, such as carrots, store extra energy in their roots during their first year of growth so they are able to sprout up again the following year. The issue with Biennial plants is that even though they serve you for 2 years, their harvested portions only develop in the first year.
Then, you have perennials, which are our main focus of the day. These are the plants that set down roots not just for the season, but for several years, sometimes even decades. Since these plants are a long term investment, it is important to plant them in a way that is sustainable.
Most of the vegetables you find in the grocery store are annuals, or biennials. As long as you’re willing to be more exploratory with your diet, we have some perennial recommendations for you!
They still require tending to during pre season, bloom and aftercare but overall they still tend to require significantly less maintenance than your average annual garden.
A few unique ideas to shape your garden for annual harvest:
- Asparagus - this suggested vegetable is a long term investment. Planting asparagus will greatly benefit you in years down the road, but not for the first 3. In order for your asparagus to successfully grow annually, it takes the first 3 years for it to establish its roots. Patience is a virtue. You can grow your asparagus from seeds or from root crowns at a nursery, and in those first few years of waiting this plant will bless you with lovely flowers that the honey bees will thank you for.
- Chinese artichoke - these have a slight taste of mint, but a crunchy and mildly sweet flavor. They grow best in partial shade, and will grow a dense foliage around its stem. The harvest from this plant will be beneath the soil, so don't be fooled by the lack of surface artichoke growth.
- Dandelions - Sounds crazy right? Aren’t they just a weed you can pick out of the grass? No, dandelions are so much more than that. Stick with me here. Not only are dandelions edible, but they have medicinal properties. They have been proven to help with skin issues, digestive problems, arthritis, fluid retention and they cleanse your liver. They can be made into wine, herbal teas, added to coffee, cooked like carrots and added into your food dishes or if you’re feeling extra motivated dandelion ice cream!
- Fiddle heads - what's great about their harvesting season is that it is early! So, while you’re waiting for your other vegetables to bloom, these will provide you with a great healthy snack. The window for fiddle heads to be edible is very small, they cannot be eaten once they are unfurled. Make sure you plant it in a damp shady part of the yard and you’ll have fiddle heads for years to come! Be sure to fully cook them before eating and you’ll find they have a pleasant subtle taste of asparagus.
- Garlic - everyone's favorite addition to every savory dish. Garlic. Normally, garlic bulbs are planted in the fall, germinate through the winter and then sprout the following spring. The main issue with garlic is that it will tend to grow in clumps overtime and needs to be separated and thinned out. It will also act as a natural pest repellent for your garden. After a few years you'll notice the spot where you originally planted one garlic clove has now sprouted several shoots above it.
Now, let’s get gardening! Take full advantage of the beautiful weather for this May 24 weekend. If you need help establishing your new perennial vegetable garden contact TheHealthy GardenCo for a free consultation. Happy Gardening!