Why perennial veggies?

Why grow perennial vegetables?  Are there enough of them for growing to be worthwhile?

When I began experimenting with perennial veggies (over eight years ago now) I hoped that it may be possible to find some varieties that would live in the garden year after year; that would be hardy, productive, reliable and tasty.  Following the methods and rationale of forest gardening, and concentrating on the herbaceous /shrub layer I hoped to find a range of practical, useful perennial veggies.  I had no idea where the research would lead, but I was determined that if these plants were out there somewhere, then I would track them down.

I now have a range of perennial veggies happily living in the garden which provide food for virtually no work through the year.  It has taken quite a lot of work to track them down and learn how to grow them, but that has all been great fun.

I grow them in polycultures which also derives from forest gardening and has the benefits of building up fertility, creating a bio-diverse, nature friendly garden.  I am experimenting with perennials and polycultures in various containers as well.  I supplement the perennials with some annual vegetables that we love – chiefly summer salad leaves and tomatoes in containers and beans and peas mixed in with the perennials.

Because I have been able to find a useful selection of perennial veggies and produce reliable food from them I have hopes that the “method” I have used can be adopted by others.  If you would like to grow at least some of your food with as little input of time and labour as possible and do not mind (or even welcome) a garden that is something of a nature friendly muddle, then you will be able to pick up lots of information from this blog.

I plan to have open days or run day courses about perennial veggies and polycultures and will do specific posts about this in due course.

It would be nice to know a bit about people who find and read the blog – is your interest in perennial veggies, forest gardening, permaculture, transition …………?  I love getting comments and feedback and it helps in deciding what to cover in my posts.  Also please get in touch to just say hello, or to share the passion for growing perennial veggies, polycultures and permaculture in general.  If you want to ask any questions that I may be able to help with feel free to ask and I will do what I can.

If you are not registered as a WordPress user (and may not be able to make comments on the blog) my email address is annisveggies at hotmail dot co dot uk.   I love getting feedback and comments!

Best wishes, Anni

14 Responses to Why perennial veggies?

  1. Robin says:

    Just wanted to leave a note to say hello.

    Hello. :)

    I am fairly new to gardening and have a lot to learn, such as what polycultures and permacultures are. I’m looking forward to browsing through your blog to learn about both.

    Like

  2. Great blog! I hope to come here for tips on healthy gardening. Unfortunately right now I do not have a backyard, but I will some day. :) For now, its only potted plants, mostly greens..

    Like

  3. jane macdonald says:

    i had a vision in India 2 something years ago about the need to be ready for what is
    to come. i have started what was to be community garden alas there is now only me with paid help but still i am learning. FAST.

    We actually live on 80 acres in NW Kent which is now buildings converted to offices and workshops but still we do have the land and woodland.

    I am looking for people close by interested in transition and of course your project would be a great help to me.

    I am due a knee replacement so physically out of action but planning etc., still goes on

    Regards
    Jane Macdonald

    Like

  4. Pingback: Editor’s blog pick of the month! | Transition Bristol

  5. Donna says:

    Hello, I just found your blog as I have just started growing veggies this year. I’ve been using pots on the patio this year to see if I enjoy it and after harvesting 4 lbs of spuds from a patio bag yesterday I am hooked.
    I’m not sure what a permaculture is so I’ll go and google it.
    I’ll add you to my blogroll, my veggie blog is at http://www.meand2veg.wordpress.com
    I’m in Cheshire
    Donna

    Like

    • annisveggies says:

      Hi Donna
      You may find that the gardening bug gets you more and more! Good luck and thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I just read your posts on veggies and will come back later to check out your other blog.
      Best wishes
      Anni

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  6. gaynor says:

    Hi annie I love your ideas I have just seen a veg that is a tuber grown like oca and jerusalem artichokes its called something like mishua its a climbing plant that you get tubers from they are trumpet shaped very much like oca in looks but aparently are peppery taisting have you ever heard of them. I also spoke to somone that grows elephant garlic perenially she leaves them in the ground and harvests them when needed as rounds so a single round clove she plants in clumps close together. I will try this have you ever done this.

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  7. annisveggies says:

    Hi Gaynor, I think it is “mashua” that you are referring to. No, I haven’t tried it but the guy who writes this blog has – http://landed.weebly.com/garden-blog.html. I had read somewhere else that it was not that nice tasting, but he says it’s like a spicy radish flavour when raw and milder when roasted. They look very attractive as well.
    I have tried growing elephant garlic perennially, but it does not like the conditions in my garden much and keeps dying off. Last summer it grew okay when I changed its location, but it died back naturally before I got to harvest it. I am hoping it will come up again in the spring!
    Anni

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  8. Robert Ve says:

    “It would be nice to know a bit about people who find and read the blog – is your interest in perennial veggies, forest gardening, permaculture, transition …………?”

    My interest is: Minimal effort, maximum yield.

    Like

  9. annisveggies says:

    Hi Robert

    Most people who read the blog initially come because they have searched for perennial vegetables in general or a specific perennial.

    My own interests are all of the above. I started out finding out about forest gardening and this led me to concentrate on growing perennial vegetables in particular because I don’t have the room for a full blown forest garden. However the garden does have tree and shrub layers and is becoming a mini forest garden.

    By concentrating on perennial vegetables and growing them in polycultures I have found ways of producing food (albeit on a small scale) that work in a small patch which is just not suited to “normal” veg growing (too damp and shady).

    Permaculture is the context for what I do and how I see a viable future. I am not part of any single transition initiative, but am in touch with lots of transitioners across the country and some overseas. I see transition very much as a means of transmission of ideas and practical help to people who really want to change things.

    I have deliberately focussed on what you are interested in – minimal effort and maximum yield because of having limited time and energy and wanting the most for it. I am focussing very much on this aspect and studying / recording what I find out. This is not yet ready to be in the public domain though although it is part of the background to my next post which I am working on at present.

    Do let me know if I can assist you in any particular ways. I am always more than happy to do whatever I can.

    Best wishes

    Anni

    Like

  10. alderandash says:

    Hi! I’m so pleased to have found your blog! I’m experimenting with polyculture growing on my permaculture (ish) plot in Suffolk – while I love my time in the veg patch, I have a young family and limited time, so I’m definitely interested in lowest input for highest yield! I’ve been experimenting for a couple of years with polyculture growing with a mix of annual veg, a few perennial things, flowers etc all mixed in – with mixed results. I was wondering (if you don’t mind me asking!), if you grow annual veg in the mix, or concentrate mainly on perennials? If you do include annuals, are there any guilds/planting groups that you have found to work with things like carrots/onions/garlic – that seem to get swamped unless I give them a more ‘traditional’ bed with plenty of space. Apologies if you’ve written on such things already, I haven’t had chance to have a really good look around this blog – but I’ll definitely be visiting often! I’ve added you to my links on my blog. Happy growing! Lucy

    Like

    • annisveggies says:

      Hi Lucy
      Most the vegetables I grow are perennials. I find them much easier to raise and look after (ie to let them get on with it). However I do use some annuals. There are those like garlic that I harvest and replant some cloves. They can indeed get swamped by other things but they manage to find their way through to the next year nevertheless. I have also got some carrots in the garden – they began in a bit of garden that my partner wanted to grow some ‘normal’ vegetables in, and I left some after most had been harvested. The polyculture of perennials has expanded around them and I have harvested seed from these carrots for two summers now!
      I think they key is observation of your own garden, if something doesn’t work one year, have a think about it and try something different that you have reason to think might work the next. Every garden is different and what works in mine may / may not work the same in yours.
      I use annual peas and beans in the polycultures to help with fixing nitrogen and scatter flower and herb seeds as well. I might also pop some radishes in, it just depends.

      Like

  11. mnbgspace says:

    I have a rooftop garden in Philadelphia. Do you have any input on perennial veggies for a roof

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    • Anni Kelsey says:

      Hi, what is the climate like there? Is it exposed / windy / hot / cold / wet / dry? What type of container do you have to grow in? Does it face any particular direction or have light from all round?

      Like

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