Growing Perennial Vegetable Plants
Most vegetable gardeners only grow annual vegetable plants in their garden, but there are plenty of perennial vegetable plants that are worth growing as well. Perennial vegetable plants are those that live for more than two years. The word “perennial” distinguishes them from the short-lived annuals and biennials. There are fewer true perennial vegetable plants than annuals, but there are still plenty to choose from. Perennial veggies extend the growing season by providing food both earlier and later in the year. Because they return each season, they give you more bang for your buck than annuals. They also often require less care than annuals. There are a few readily known perennial vegetable plants, such as rhubarb and asparagus, but there are a number of fascinating less recognized perennials that make a great addition to the garden landscape too. Each perennial has a unique habit and planting requirement.
As a general rule, once the plant is established, it is fairly maintenance free. Rhubarb, for example, 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. Like rhubarb, asparagus shouldn’t be harvested in its first year of growth. It is another perennial that thrives in the cooler spring temps. Mature plants may yield for 10-15 years. Amend the soil prior to planting with a 2-inch thick layer of compost in a trench that is 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.