There are many vegetables which can be grown as perennials.
Even some which are typically annuals in one zone may serve as perennials in another. Gardeners who would like to try perennial vegetables will need to know their growing zone and choose plants which will not only survive the cold of winter but also the heat of summer.
- Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Asparagus is probably the most well known of perennial vegetables. It is an easy vegetable to grow, much easier than many gardeners may think.
- Rhubarb (Rheum rubarbarum)
Rhubarb is an old-time favorite for pies, sauces for poultry and fish, jam and even wine. It is one of those vegetables that is either loved or hated. There is seldom a middle ground when it comes to the taste. It is also a dependable perennial for those living in parts of the world with long dreary winters. Rhubarb should be planted very early in the spring. Allow 3 feet in each direction for the plants to grow; remember this is their permanent home. Set roots in ground with bud side up no deeper than two inches. Each root planted should have at least one bud to survive. Rhubarb does best in soil with good drainage which has plenty of high quality compost mixed in. Side dressing with a good garden fertilizer high in nitrogen can be done in mid spring and again in mid summer. Remove weeds without disturbing roots of the rhubarb.
- Sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosa)
Sunchoke is also known as Jerusalem artichokes. It is an ancient plant which is often overlooked due to the space it occupies in the garden and perhaps the less than aesthetically pleasing appearance of the roots. The plants themselves are not unattractive at all. The foliage has an airy appearance and can reach 12 feet tall, though 8 to 10 feet may be average. Sunchokes should be planted in full sun in a deeply cultivated bed. One of the great things about this vegetable is that it is not at all picky about the soil it grows in. In early spring, plant tuber pieces, which are like seed-potatoes. Check to make sure the pieces have at least one good ‘eye’ but two is better. Place in planting hole 4 to 6 inches deep allowing 2 feet spacing. Sunchokes are considered invasive by many gardeners. If this is a concern, plant in a devoted bed.
- Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea ssp. oleracea)
Wild cabbage is a biennial plant with large thick leaves. Once established, the leaves may be harvested throughout the year. This cabbage has the same needs as any other cabbage grown in the home garden. For spring planting, start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last expected spring frost. Set seedlings out in full sun and well drained soil after danger of frost has passed. Cabbage is a heavy feeder and may be fed with a nitrogen rich fertilizer at planting time, approximately three weeks after planting and again when plants are established. Water regularly but do not over water.
For all perennial beds, follow these simple tips; cultivate soil deeply but weed shallowly, compost well and experiment with several varieties to find the ones which grow best.