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.|
|Grapes and blackberries.|
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.
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.|
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.