Why perennial veggies?

Perennial veggies are easy to grow, hardy and tasty, and there are more and more available all the time.  Everyone should grow them!

When I began experimenting with perennial veggies (over twelve years ago now) there was next to no information ‘out there’ even naming perennial veggies, and still less about where to obtain them.  However I had a hunch that if I could research, track down and try growing as many different ones as I could that I might be able to find some that would prove to be hardy, productive, reliable, tasty and long lived.  I did not know where my research would lead, but I was determined that if these plants were out there somewhere, then I would track them down.

And I did!  I now have a range of perennial veggies – kales and other greens, onions and roots – happily growing and providing food for virtually no work through the year.  I grow them in polycultures within a small forest garden, which has the benefits of building up fertility, creating a bio-diverse, nature friendly garden.  I also grow lots of fruit and some annual vegetables – chiefly beans and peas mixed in with the perennials.  I wrote about the different perennial veggies I experimented with and how to grow them in polycultures in a small forest garden in my book ‘Edible Perennial Gardening‘.  There is a list on this blog of the plants that I was growing in polycultures at the time of that publication in 2014.

Since I first began experimenting more people have become interested in both forest gardening and perennial veggies and there are new plants becoming available all the time.   If you would like to grow at least some of your food with as little input of time and labour as possible and you welcome a garden that is a nature friendly ‘muddle’, then you will be able to pick up lots of information from this blog.  By selecting ‘perennial vegetables’ in the category dropdown box you will find specific posts about them.  And for up to date information on the ever expanding range of perennial veggies (and other interesting plants) available in the UK visit my ‘Tried and Tested Suppliers‘ page.

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 and forest gardening.  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 therefore not able to make comments on the blog my email address is annisveggies at hotmail dot co dot uk.

Best wishes, Anni

23 Responses to Why perennial veggies?

  1. Brncalka says:

    Dear Anni, I read your book, and I am very inspired to create a perennial garden, but I have great difficulties to obtain seeds of Nine star perennial broccoli and Daubenton’s kale. I found some websites that sell plants, but cross country orders (I am from Slovakia) in these days take sometimes twice the time as usual, and I do not want to risk it with plants. Any idea, where I can get the seeds of these two? Thank you!


    • Anni Kelsey says:

      Hi there, I am afraid every site you could purchase from that I know of is in another country from you. I obtained plants from overseas when I was starting out as at that time many weren’t available in the UK! So I think that it is worth trying. Another thing is to experiment with what is available locally. In my experience all kales seem to have the potential to be perennial, so you could grow some heritage kales from Slovakia and just keep them going. Flowering does not kill them. That too is worth a try. Best wishes with your perennial garden. Anni


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  3. Anuj Agarwal says:

    Hi Anni,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Anni’s perennial veggies has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 75 Vegetable Gardening Blogs on the web.


    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 75 Vegetable Gardening Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

    Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.



  4. Thanks Anni
    I am working my way through your book and it is fascinating. I am getting very excited by the prospect of growing perennials so we can have all year round food from out tiny allotment. We will still grow some annuals but it would be good to have as much of the ground covered as possible with food plants. I have put a link to your book on the links page of my blog. It is going to be one of those books that I go back to again and again


  5. Hi Anni
    I found your blog from inside the front cover of your book on Perennial Gardening. We have a tiny allotment that we try to grow as much food on as possible and I am very interested in introducing more and more perennials. It is nice to find a guide that is based in the UK. I will keep an eye on your blog.
    Paul (Tiny Allotment)


  6. mnbgspace says:

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


    • 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?


      • Anni Kelsey says:

        Hi, as I haven’t heard from you about your climate and direction etc I will hazard make an attempt anyway. I have just read on Wikipedia that you have hot, muggy summers, mild spring and autumn (fall to you!) and a cold winter. As plants in pots are more susceptible to both hot and cold that those in the soil I would go for things that I know to be very tough or those are plant – replant type perennials with tubers that are stored inside over the cold months.

        Very tough
        Perennial kales – in the UK I would choose Daubenton’s kale, but I know it is not available in the US. Also wild kale, thousand headed kale, red Russian kale. I have found that many kales will stand very cold winters and reliably become perennial; it is a matter of trying them out for your situation.

        Welsh onion, wild garlic (which is similar to but not the same as your ramps), there may well be a number of onion varieties you could experiment with. In the UK I would use three cornered leek and perennial leek that I got from France but I don’t know if you have it or can obtain it.

        Land cress and lamb’s lettuce are annuals with easy to save seed that can be used year after year. Having said that I had some land cress plants that lived three years and grew over a foot tall. They were so strong they had to be cooked but then they were nice.

        Plant / replant roots and tubers:
        Mashua, oca, yacon, Jerusalem artichoke (may overwinter), ground nut (Apios Americana), Chinese artichoke.

        Oca does better in a pot / bag than it does in my garden. Most other things grow smaller in pots though.


  7. 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


    • 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.


  8. 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



  9. 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.


  10. 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!


  11. 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.


  12. 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


    • 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


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  14. 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

    Jane Macdonald


  15. 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..


  16. 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.


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