Imagine planting a vegetable garden once: perennial vegetables allow you do do just that.
I fell in love with the idea of perennial vegetables years ago when I discovered the ability asparagus has to come back year after year.
That doesn’t mean I had success growing it – not in Florida, at least – but the idea of planting something and getting harvests again and again was appealing to me.
Unlike beans, tomatoes, corn, broccoli, lettuce and the many other vegetables most of us rush to plant in the spring, then rush to harvest in their season, perennial vegetables allow the gardener to pace himself.
My Perennial Vegetable Journey
Sweet potatoes were the first perennial vegetable I had luck with. Though normally grown as an annual, they’re perennial in South Florida where I grew up.
I was in charge of taking care of a neighbor’s lovely yard for a year while she and her husband and daughter lived on their houseboat in some exotic port. She said “if anything dies, just fill in the space with something nice.”
When some of the petunias gave up, I planted sweet potatoes in her front planter.
They rapidly took over, filling the space with green rambling vines.
Mrs. Campbell was not happy with me when she returned home. The potatoes were harvested and she replanted ornamentals… but something funny happened. Vines kept popping back up. Every little piece of root left in the ground sprouted.
I think it took her a year to eradicate them completely.
But hey – that’s easy food, right? Maybe it wasn’t in the right place (sorry, Mrs. Campbell) but they are a wonderful perennial vegetable.
The Book to End all Perennial Vegetable Books
When I discovered Eric Toensmeier’s book Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy-to-Grow Edibles I spent hours reading and thinking about the possibilities.
And then I started hunting down and planting many of them.
I’ve grown chaya and kangkong, horseradish and yacon, Chinese yams and Chinese water chestnut… there’s a wonderful world of perennial vegetables once you get started.
Perennial Vegetables is a great book, filled with excellent research and a mouth-watering variety of long-term edibles – many of which will be entirely new to the reader.
Some are temperate species, many are tropical, and many will grow in-between climates.
Eric has grown many of these vegetables in his Massachusetts garden and I grew many of them in Florida.
There are selections for shade and for water gardens. There are beans and roots and leaves and shoots and plenty of great ideas.
If you don’t own this book and you love the idea of planting a garden that lasts and lasts and lasts, I recommend you get a copy and get inspired.
This book is well worth the low price of admission – you’ll pay it back in spades after planting some of these prolific perennials.
I wouldn’t be without it.