7 Perennial Fruit and Vegetables: Plant Once then Harvest for Years
Some fruit and vegetables only need to be planted once
Perennial fruit and vegetables are a staple in every edible garden. They’re low-maintenance crops that only need to be planted once and are often the first crops of the year to produce. Instead of sowing seeds each year, they regrow of their own accord, providing you with the easiest harvest possible. This list includes seven perennials you can get started in your own garden, along with tips on how to grow and care them.
Once established, berry plants and bushes will provide you with fruit every single year. Some of the easiest to grow are strawberries, raspberries, red currants, and gooseberries. This list goes on though and I also grow blueberries and thorn-less blackberries.
- Soft fruit is planted once and then will crop for at least three years, if not longer
- Strawberry plants need to be replaced after three years since older plants aren’t as productive
- Keep the area around your plants weeded and feed the plants each year with garden compost, composted manure, and other organic feeds
- Some raspberries benefit from being pruned right down to the ground every winter
2. Garden Herbs
Many garden herbs are not only hardy, but will thrive year after year. When not much is growing in the garden you can still nip out and harvest a sprig of Rosemary, or a handful of Winter Savoury. Many perennial herbs also thrive in poor soils, making them ideal for areas of the garden where other plants won’t grow.
- Perennial herbs include: Rosemary, Thyme, Winter Savoury, Sage, Lovage, Peppermint, Marjoram, and Oregano
- Most prefer free-draining soil
- Many will grow in nutrient-poor soil
- Harvesting will often result in bushier and healthier looking plants
- Perennial herbs can be grown in pots and containers
- In very cold climates, herbs will need protection to survive the winter
3. Globe Artichokes
The hearts of these plump flower buds are a delicacy that you’ll be happy to have in your garden. Once established, an artichoke plant can flourish for years and can easily be re-established from a parent plant. In mild climates they won’t die back at all in the winter and can even produce heads year-round.
- They like fertile and well-drained soil and will benefit from a dressing of compost or manure in the spring
- Often will grow to over five feet in height
- If you don’t pick the buds, they’ll blossom into vibrant purple flowers
- Pick the heads when they’re about the size of a tennis ball
- It’s recommended to divide and replant artichoke plants every few years
In the spring you’ll pay a small fortune for tender, red, spring rhubarb. If you grow it yourself, you’ll have more than you can eat! Rhubarb thrives in neglect and is often found growing at the back of gardens and allotments right across the northern hemisphere. The stems can be pulled and cooked from spring until early summer and once established, they can produce for years (if not decades).
- Rhubarb is mainly grown from ‘Crowns’ — these are pieces of the parent plant that can be replanted to create a new plant
- The stems can be cooked and used in desserts and chutneys
- The leaves are poisonous and should be torn off and tossed on the compost pile
- Rhubarb loves rich soil. Give it a dressing of compost and manure in the spring and you’ll be astonished at how big it will grow
5. Perennial Onions
The vegetables in this group are somewhere between a herb and a vegetable and include Chives, Welsh Onions, Egyptian Walking Onions, and Garlic Chives. Once you get a patch going, you can count on it to produce oniony greens, and sometimes bulbs, from early spring until autumn.
- Welsh onions are highly recommended and are in the photo below. They’re like giant chives, can be used like spring onions, and grow to 18″ tall.
- Chives can be grown in pots, are are useful when grown near the kitchen.
- Cutting the leaves of these plants encourage new leaves to grow. However, if you remove the bulb, that part of the plant won’t grow back.
- Perennial onions thrive in rich, moist, soil and need dressings of compost and/or manure every year
- Egyptian Walking Onions form clusters of tiny bulbs at the tops of tall stalks. You can eat them, the greens, and the main bulb. Although eating the main bulb means that plant won’t grow back the next year.
Asparagus is a valuable perennial to have in your garden as well — although they are an investment. Grown from ‘Crowns’, asparagus can only be harvested on and after their third year in the ground. The time and effort you put into creating an aspargus bed will be well worth it though!
- Asparagus spears are actually immature ferns. When left to grow, they become delicate and bushy and are used in flower arrangements
- They don’t take kindly to weeds and will drag their feet if they have competition
- Asparagus prefer moist, yet free-draining soil. Mulching with straw or seaweed (pictured below) will keep them productive
Called ‘Jerusalem Artichokes’ in the United Kingdom, Sunchokes are a root vegetable that grow at the base of tall flower stalks. They come in a couple different varieties and have a rich and nutty flavor that goes well in soups or simply roasted on their own.
- Once established, Sunchokes will continue growing and spreading every year.
- Because they can be invasive, it’s best to grow them in large containers or in areas that they can’t spread from
- Dig up the tubers in autumn and replant some of the best in the spring
- It’s said that up to 50% of the population cannot fully digest Sunchokes. This is why they’re also known as Fart-a-chokes!