I came across this topic by complete accident a while ago, while discussing with a friend what fruit we grow. We both agreed it would be great if there were vegetables that, like most fruit would be perennial. Well, this fired my imagination and got me researching. I found a surprising array of vegetables that were exactly that, perennial. A few came to mind immediately, Asparagus, Globe Artichokes, Cardoons and Jerusalem Artichokes was about as far as we got.
Perennial vegetables could have a valued part to play in a prepper’s food basket. Most are well adjusted to our climate and therefore less likely to succumb to bad weather. Once planted they pretty much look after themselves freeing up precious time to do other things. You don’t need to prepare a bed for them each year; as a result, the soil improves through less digging. Some are not in the least bit attractive to pests and many crop during the hungry gap of late winter and early spring between the end of the winter greens and the abundance of summer. Having fresh food to supplement stores is critical to any survival situation; we can’t exist indefinitely on what is in storage. On top of growing the usual annual vegetables and wild foraging, perennial vegetables could be another benefit for preppers who hope to go down the self reliance and food security route.
There are other advantages, perennial veg, many simply don’t look like a vegetable at all, and they can hide in plain sight and could make fantastic candidates for a guerrilla garden. Some are of woodland origin, others prefer a more open aspect, and would not look out of place in a garden border or grassland. It would be a simple step to introduce a few chosen types to an area.
The most interesting part of my research has been the discovery that so many perennial plants most of us are already growing in our garden borders are in fact edible. I hope to go into this in more depth at a later date.
The range of varieties is as diverse as you would wish. Roots such as, tubers like Oca, Yacon, Jerusalem Artichokes and Chinese Artichokes , shoots could be Hostas, Asparagus, Solomans Seal, leafy greens, this is where there is an abundance. Just a few are Daubentons Kale, Good King Henry, Alexanders, Seakale, Perennial Spinach, cauliflower (yes you read it right!) an impressive array of the onion family from Babbington Leek, Walking Onion, Potato Onion, Ramsons, Welsh Onions and Everlasting Onions and of course, a sprinkling of herbs. This is just a few for you to maybe look up and read about yourself if you are interested. There’s Hundreds more.
Over the next year to eighteen months, I hope to rely less on annual veg and grow more perennials. I already have some growing on to replace a large proportion of the brassicas, some root veg, onions and garlic. The only drawback is, this is a long term project that won’t be rushed, but I feel in the end will be worth it. I will still grow my annual veg, who can resist the first peas of the season, or the first Runner Beans, speaking of which, did you know they’re a perennial? Neither did I. There’s another experiment for the winter. More to follow as I delve deeper.