Monday, March 12, 2012

Long Live the Edibles!

Spring is in the air and, along with it, veggie garden fever.  Starting seeds, tucking seedlings into soft beds of carefully cultivated soil, it's what we do.

But what if it wasn't.  The harvesting, yes, but not the seed starting, not the planting of spindly little sprouts.  What if we did it once and that was it?  The lazy gardener's vegetable garden . . .

I'm talking, of course, about edible perennials.

Fruit Trees and Berries
The first fruit tree to flower every year - apricot!
The first thing I do whenever I move somewhere is get in my fruit trees and berries.  They are the stalwarts of the garden - there year in and out.  The best time of year to do this is in winter, when most fruit trees and berries are available in bare root form.  In other words, cheap!

Currants are one of the first perennials to fruit each year and provide year round interest.
Currently, I have four apples, one plum, one quince, one pear, one Asian pear, one fig, two pomegranates and a persimmon.  Oh, and a lemon, mandarin orange, navel orange, blood orange, and lime.  I've got more blackberries than I can count but no blueberries and several currants.  I've never had much luck with those or raspberries where I live.


Grapes and blackberries.
 Nothing can beat home-grown grapes.  The last two homes I've lived in, I've planted one (bare-root style again) and been rewarded with table grapes to die for.


Egyptian walking onions.

I've always done sets when it comes to onions and replanted every fall.  This year, I opted for Egyptian Walking Onions which are an old heirloom.  Apparently, they "walk" or bend over after blooming and replant themselves.  I cannot attest to taste or even how well they'll do but I figure it is worth it.  I bought my starts on Local Harvest.  I have also heard the potato onions are wonderful perennial onions and better tasting than the walking onions.


Welcome rhubarb!

Another first for me this year is rhubarb.  It apparently only does so-so in my neck of the woods but given that I can plant it once I forget about it, I decided to go for it.  I mostly came across rhubarb seeds but apparently planting the "crown" is the way to go.  I opted for a variety that supposedly does better in my zone - even though I had to order it from Oregon.  It popped up and, while I know that this year I won't have much to harvest, things are looking tart and crunchy all over.


At our old house, whenever I went on walks, I would make it a point to walk by a little cottage whose picket fence was bordered with artichokes.  In my new home, I've included artichokes under several fruit trees.  They are supposed to be a wonderful green mulch in fruit tree guilds and, in milder climates like mine, they can be grown as perennials.  I only put mine in the ground last year so I'll have to report back after harvest.


I personally wouldn't qualify them as "perennials" but, in my California climate at least, Swiss chard, kale and collards will grow for more than one season and occasionally for more than one year.

Swiss chard on its second year. 

My garlic.

I recently read that garlic can be grown as a perennial.  I'll give it a shot this year.


And finally, the be-all, end-all of perennial vegetables.  I adore asparagus but you have to make quite a commitment to grow it.  You need dedicated space and patience -years worth of patience.  I have yet to take the plunge but I'm preparing a bed (apparently the soil needs to be super duper wonderful) for next year.  In the event you are more of a container kind of gardener, you can grow them in raised beds, galvanized tubs or the like.

Do you have perennials in the garden?  Have you grown something that I haven't?

* I'm linking to Tuesday Garden Party, Garden Tuesdays, Homestead Barn Hop and Farmgirl Friday with this post.
* Speaking of perennials, join the Facebook page where things are growing every day.


Heather said...

My mom had asparagus for the longest time, even after she stopped gardening the asparagus would come up every year. She mowed it down for 4 seasons, and then it finally went away. We must have had amazing soil :-)

Alison Golden - The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman said...

Gosh, you are flourishing. How wonderful that you have all this growing in your yard. You are an inspiration to me.

homesprout said...

Strawberries! Both ever bearing, and ones that appear only in June.

Handy Andy said...

Dahling! I love your blog. You, undoubtably, also have herbs (along with your garlic and onions)! Do count those: rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory, parsleys.

I'm certain you will be pleasantly surprised at your rhubarb's first year. Get that pie shell ready!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I have lots of berry bushes and I put a few fruit trees in last year replace a few that had died. I'm going to have to try artichokes under the fruit trees. I've wanted to try those walking onions - I've read so much about them.

knutty knitter said...

Gooseberries (nice and tart) and red currants (jelly or just eat - if you can beat the birds to them :) We have raspberries too but you have to watch out for those - they spread madly.

viv in nz

Clint Baker said...

I like the idea of doing it once. Wouldn't that be awesome!

Lori Popkewitz Alper @ Groovy Green Livin said...

I'm so impressed by your garden. If only I could grow grapes, my all-time favorite fruit. My garden is growing smaller and smaller each year as the trees surrounding it grow and block sunlight. I'll have to live vicariously through you!

Green Bean said...

@Heather - What a great story! You are making me feel like I can actually grow the stuff. :)

@Alison - Thank you! I'm loving it.

@homesprout - Doh! How in the world could have I have forgotten strawberries. I do have a dozen plants growing in the garden and love them.

@Handy Andy - Thank YOU, Dahling! You are right. I do have all of those herbs and more growing. I can't wait to see how the rhubarb grows. It's looking good so far.

@Manuela - I'll report back on the onions. I'm so excited to try them.

@Knutty Knitter - Oh gooseberries! That reminds me that I planted elderberries last year. We'll see how they go. I had no luck the last two times I tried to grow raspberries. I'm jealous how well they are doing for you.

@Clint - Gotta love perennials.

@Lori - Fruit trees? or just shade trees? That is one thing I do worry about with all the fruit trees I've got going. Some are mature but others are babies. We'll see how much garden is left as they grow.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Everything's looking beautiful. I also have Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes (whatever you call them, once they're in, they're there to stay), and French sorrel, yacon (another root vegetable, a bit like the sunchoke), perennial leek, Warrigal greens (an Australian perennial spinach substitute) and lots of herbs which keep leafing year in, year out, Winter-schminter in my mediterranean climate.

Mary said...

Warning on the artichokes. PICK all the cones before they flower - they are a thistle and you will have a bazillion little chokers coming up the next year. At least that's what they do in California.

Abby said...

You have a fantastic garden! It's so inspiring.

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Great post - it's lovely to hear of all the low-effort goodies you have stashed in your garden.

Interesting article about growing garlic as a perennial...I'll need to look into it!

As for my own perennials, I have rhubarb, asparagus, globe artichoke (2 types), Welsh bunching onion and red currants. I've also planted a loganberry, raspberry and red gooseberry this year as well.

Shannan Deshazer said...

Your garden sounds amazing and you didn't even get to the annuals! You are lucky to live in a warm temperate climate where you can grow such a variety. I'm up in Oregon so I can grow blueberries like nobody's business! :)

Brittany said...

I really enjoyed the tour of your garden gems. I have much of a similiar amount of fruit planted but we are lacking in the citrus department. They are so expensive here, $16 for a plum tree, $40 for an orange tree.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Just remembered: lovage! It's the permaculture/perennial-gardening solution to celery.

Green Bean said...

@Alexis - Wow, you're on fire with the perennials. Great list of what you've got in your garden.

@ Mary - Good to know! I'm also in California so I'll take it especially to heart.

@Abby - Thank you!

@Tanya - You've got quite a few going on in your allotment. How wonderful!

@Shannan - Ohhh! I'm jealous of your blueberries.

@Brittany - I agree. Not check for the fruit trees - especially the citrus as you can't get them bare root.

@Alexis again - I'm so going to try lovage! How fun.

Pam said...

I am so jealous of all your wonderful edibles!

youbee said...

You have grown all these edible so very well, i must say you have got that gardening skills. Well, I love are doing great... go ahead with your gardening!

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