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In all my years of gardening, while I can say that it’s been amazing being able to grow my own vegetables, and the fun that comes with it is unimaginable. It makes me happy to be able to provide some of my grocery needs, without having to pay a lot for quality local goods.
So how can you save money with perennial vegetables? Perennial vegetables help you save money in a number of ways: they require less care than annuals and provide many years of harvests with an almost guaranteed result.
You would agree with me that vegetable gardening could be a great source of happiness and relaxation. But this may not always be the case particularly when you might have a tight budget to work with. It can become stressful when your budget keeps you from doing what you’d like. This post might serve useful to help you explore options with perennial vegetables.
PERENNIALS VS. ANNUALS
Perennials are those plants which are expected to live longer than two years. This is unlike annual plants (such as zinnias, marigolds, radish) which complete their life cycle in one growing season and even biennials (such as Sweet William, hollyhocks, onions) which need two seasons to mature and go to seed.
The unique thing about perennials is that they may go to seed every year and may even die back to the ground at times, but their root systems remain very much alive and active and the plants will continue growing when the conditions are right.
Unlike the others, a great thing about perennials is that they don’t require that you replant them year after year. What this means is you don’t have to buy new ones, go through the seedling process, or keep purchasing soil amendments and such to keep the annuals replaced year after year.
Perennials are always there, so the major thing required of you is to care for them, keeping them under appropriate conditions to make them healthy every year.
Categories Of Perennial Plants
There are a few categories of perennial plants that you might want to take note of:
- Woody perennials are found all over the world and include vines, shrubs, and large towering trees that take years to grow completely.
- Deciduous perennials are plants that shed their leaves in the fall of the year.
- Herbaceous perennials are typically grasses that grow in fire-prone areas and on prairies.
- Evergreen perennials are those plants that live long lives and keep their foliage during the fall and winter months.
- Monocarpic perennials are plants that flower and make seeds, then die. They are perennials because it takes them more than one year to complete this process.
How perennial vegetables help you save money
Perennial vegetables help you save money in a number of ways.
Perennial Vegetables are Low Maintenance
Why grow other kinds of vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennials—which require no annual tilling and planting.
A major benefit of perennials is that they produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season. Once they are planted under the right weather conditions in the proper site, perennial vegetables planted can be virtually indestructible and everlasting, even if you don’t focus on them always.
Established perennials are also often more resistant to pests, diseases, drought and weeds. Basically, because they are very strong under the right conditions, you won’t have to spend a lot of money on constant maintenance. They can be left to simply grow, as they don’t require constant checkup.
Some perennials are so good at taking care of themselves that they require frequent harvesting to prevent them from becoming weeds themselves. This ease of cultivation and high yield that perennial plants possess make a very good reason for growing them.
Perennial Vegetables improve the soil
Perennial crops are simply amazing for the soil. By their nature, they make the soil grow stronger, as they don’t need to be tilled thereby helping foster a healthy and intact soil food web, including providing habitat for a huge number of insects which are important to soil life. When well mulched, perennials improve the soil’s structure, organic matter, porosity and water-holding capacity.
Perennial vegetable gardens build soil by allowing the plants to naturally add much organic matter to the soil through the slow and steady decomposition of their leaves and roots.
Perennial Vegetables Extend the Harvest
Perennial vegetables often have different seasons of availability from annuals, which means they can produce more food throughout the year. While you are transplanting tiny annual seedlings into your vegetable garden or waiting out the mid-summer heat, many perennials are already growing strong or ready to harvest.
Because of this, you do not need to worry about the availability of food in your home, or spending money on getting new produce while waiting on your annuals.
Perennial Vegetables are garden multifunctional
Think of perennials as dynamic plants. Many perennial vegetables can be used to beautify your garden and can enhance your landscape serving ornamental purposes. Some can function as hedges, groundcovers or erosion control for slopes.
Other perennials provide fertilizer to themselves and their neighboring plants by fixing nitrogen in the soil. Some can provide a habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators, while others can provide shade for other crops.
You, therefore, need not worry about the cost implications of taking all these into consideration as perennials have got you covered.
Perennials to consider
So, what perennials should you be looking to plant?
rhubarb can grow without any maintenance. Even if you neglect them, it’s not impossible to find huge rhubarb patches in a home. Overall, it’s a perennial plant that will reliably produce for you every spring but on the condition that it’s planted under the right conditions.
Rhubarb isn’t always easy to find in the stores and you’ll want to make sure you have grown enough as they can serve a variety of purposes. Rhubarb is notable for its colorful red stalks topped with huge leaves that thrive in cool spring weather.
Plant rhubarb in full sun and side-dress with well-rotted manure to fertilize in the summer and fall. Plant the crown in the early spring, with the central bud 2 inches below the soil and crowns 6 feet apart. Don’t harvest the first year of growth. Thereafter, the plant will thrive for six to eight years.
Like rhubarb, asparagus shouldn’t be harvested in its first year of growth. It is another perennial that thrives in the cooler spring temps. It has an expectancy of 10-15 years. The process will require you to amend the soil prior to planting with a 2-inch thick layer of compost in a trench 6 inches deep.
Plant crowns in the spring, 6-8 inches deep and 14 inches apart. Cover the crowns loosely with 3 inches of compost-rich soil. Finish filling the trench in fall. Asparagus can be grown as perennials in zones 3-8
Chayote is produced on an enormous squash vine that can grow 20 feet or more in a season (it will die to the ground in winter). Plain chayote is basic – you will need to mix it up with spices when you cook it.
Buy one at the store, plant the entire thing a couple inches below ground in spring, and it will sprout from the enormous seed inside. Chayote is crammed full of vitamins such as vitamin B, C, iron, potassium, and many others. They are flavorful, and a go well with soups.
Horseradish is a vegetable that is good for clearing up your sinus. Horseradish is commonly used to make a delicious sauce to spice up sandwiches or other meals.
As one of its major qualities, it also has medicinal properties. It is said to cure urinary tract infections, gout, colic, nerve pain, painful joints, and many other health issues. Horseradish can be grown as perennials in zones 4-7.
Watercress is another perennial plant that can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used to make sandwiches and salads. Watercress can be grown as perennials in zones 6-9.
Globe artichokes have sharp, sword-like leaves and stalks that grow pineapple-like cones at the top. The cones are actually flower buds that recoil to enable the tender heart inside to come out. Quick-maturing types can be grown as fall-harvested annuals in cooler climates. They are grown in perennial Zones 7 and warmer
These are also known as Jerusalem artichokes. They come with nutty-flavored underground tubers that are harvested in the fall. They can be eaten raw or cooked like a root vegetable. They’re perennial in Zones 3 through 8.
While the scope of this post is to expose you to vegetables, you may also want to consider having some perennial fruits and nuts in your garden, depending on what you love to eat.
- Goji Berries
Drawbacks of Perennial Vegetables
- Some perennial vegetables have a slow grow time. They may take several years to grow before they begin to yield well. (Asparagus is a good example of this.)
- Like many annuals, some perennial greens become bitter once they flower, therefore they are only available very early in the season.
- Some perennials are so low maintenance that, once you take your eyes off them, they can quickly become weeds and overtake your garden, or escape and naturalize in your neighborhood. (Daylilies are a good example of this.)
- Some perennials have strong flavors which may affect the way your foods taste. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the flavors might simply be overwhelming.
- Perennials vegetables, although low maintenance, need to be carefully placed into a permanent spot in your garden, which has just the right conditions for the vegetables and will have to be maintained separately from your annual crops.
- Perennials have special pest and disease challenges. Once some perennials catch a disease, you might not be able to cure it, and may have to replace the plant. You can’t use crop rotation to minimize problems.
Requirements of getting a perennial Kitchen garden
You might want to consider getting a kitchen garden, which is like a small garden (if you don’t already have one), and before you do that, you might want to further consider the following:
- How the space you have can be efficiently divided to maximize yield.
- The amount of sun and shade your garden will get.
- The type of vegetables you want to grow.
- The weather conditions where your garden will be located
- How aggressive each plant is and how well they coexist?
- Where and how to source all the supplies you will need.
- And of course, the overall cost in time and money of setting everything up.
Many people like growing their vegetables themselves, but it’s not always easy, especially because of the amount of care, time, and money usually needed to be given to the vegetables, but perennials offer a more convenient option for you.
The benefits to getting perennials are numerous. As this post has illustrated, they help you save money in several ways. Like with every other plant, they have their drawbacks, but in comparison, they provide great benefits which you should consider before planting vegetables.
Just be sure to keep them under the right conditions and do some minimal work here and there to take care of them, and you can bet that you will enjoy the benefits of perennial vegetables.
I hope this post has helped you in making the right choice as to getting perennial vegetables.
Remember folks; You Reap What You Sow!