Why should we all get into growing perennial vegetables?

Naturally, we all enjoy our free time, time in the sunshine, time away from the mundane of work…and wouldn’t it be nice to worry less about the state of the allotment or garden? So much work goes into annual vegetables, from sowing to pricking out, potting on and so on and so forth, not to mention the turning over of the soil year in year out, but with our perennial vegetables we can cut ourselves a little slack and grow a hell of a lot more, in a shorter space of time with greater harvests!

Before we list the benefits of perennials, I suggest we look at the difference between an annual and a perennial…not to suggest that the ardent gardener doesn’t understand the difference, but to merely introduce the difference to newer gardeners who may be unsure.

An annual is a plant that grows for one growing season, grows rapidly then flowers and sets seed for us to collect.

a perennial is a plant that will grow every year, producing bulbs, buds and tubers to bring on growth in the next season.

So let’s list the benefits:

  1. There is much less work, low impact and  the plants are more robust.
  2. The food is much healthier for us due to their larger and deeper root systems capable of mining the soil of important minerals and nutrients. The vitamin levels in perennial vegetables seems to be better too.
  3. The soil is going to give a big thank you to you! It’s structure is maintained, nutrients are not eroded and the plants act as a protector of the soil by covering it.
  4. The harvesting season just got longer with much more cropping and a less of a ‘hungry gap’ in the early spring.
  5. They’re better for our pollinators due to them being allowed to come to flower and they get less pests.

This is not to say that annuals don’t have a place, of course they do. They’re just as important. But shouldn’t we start to put more importance on plants that can work for us, year in year out? I surmise that many gardeners run dry of naming perennials after old faithfuls such as rhubarb, globe artichokes and asparagus. But as we get deeper into this blog I will introduce some of my personal favourites, and of course many others.

Watch this space for the first in the series of posts introducing some of these plants.

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