One of the biggest joys of vegetable gardening is planting and harvesting your very own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. But what if you could plant something once and harvest it forever?
The beauty of perennials: they grow back year after year, providing a continuous supply of fresh produce.
In this article, we will dive into six of the best perennial plants that you can plant once and enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come.
Asparagus is the gift that keeps on giving! This hardy perennial can produce a bountiful crop for up to 20 years.
This vegetable is easy to grow and requires minimal care, making it an ideal choice for beginner and experienced gardeners.
Planting and Growing Asparagus
To plant asparagus, you must choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-drained soil.
Asparagus can be planted in the fall or spring; preparing the ground before planting is essential. Mix compost or aged manure into the soil to add nutrients and improve drainage.
Plant out asparagus crowns about 18 inches apart in a trench that is 6 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Cover the crowns with soil and wait for 2-3 weeks for the shoots to emerge.
Caring for Your Asparagus Bed
Asparagus requires very little care once established. Water your asparagus bed regularly and ass a layer of mulch to help retain the moisture and prevent weeds from growing.
In the fall, cut the foliage down to the ground and add a layer of compost or aged manure to the soil.
Harvesting asparagus is done when the spears are 6-8 inches tall. Cut the spears at ground level with a sharp knife, and be careful not to damage the surrounding plants.
Harvest asparagus beds regularly every 2-3 days to encourage new growth.
Check out our other article on asparagus growth stages for more info.
Strawberries are sweet treats all summer long. They are a favorite among gardeners because of their sweet flavor and versatility in the kitchen.
This perennial fruit is easy to grow and can provide a bountiful harvest for years to come.
Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-drained soil to grow strawberries. You can plant strawberry plants in spring or fall, and make sure to space them at least 12 inches apart.
Strawberries are great in planters and hanging baskets where the fruit doesn’t touch the ground.
Many gardeners will mulch around the strawberry plant to prevent the fruit from touching the soil and rotting.
Another option is to plant the seedlings directly into bags of potting mix. You can make small holes in the potting mix bag and insert the strawberry seedlings into it.
This method saves a lot of time, and you can position the bags anywhere they receive the right sun.
Caring for Your Strawberries
Strawberries require regular care to ensure a healthy and productive patch. Water your strawberry patch regularly and add a layer of mulch to help retain moisture.
In the fall, trim back the foliage 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the crown and add a layer of compost or aged manure to the soil. This helps to protect the strawberries during the winter month and keep them fed until the spring months arrive.
Water your strawberries in the morning, so the leaves have time to dry out. Aim to water 1-2 times per week, depending on the weather conditions.
Check to see if the first top 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil are dry by sticking your finger in.
If they are dry, then you can give your strawberries a drink. With proper watering, your strawberries will provide you with juicy plump fruit all summer long.
Strawberries can be harvested when they are fully ripe and bright red in color. Pick them carefully to avoid damaging the plant or leaving the stem attached.
Harvest your strawberries regularly to encourage new growth.
Rhubarb is known for its tart and tangy delight. It is a perennial vegetable that is easy to grow and has low maintenance requirements making it ideal for even the beginner veggie gardener.
You can grow rhubarb in pots or directly in the ground.
Select a location in your garden with well-drained soil and partial shade.
Plant rhubarb crowns in early spring and make sure to space them at least 3 feet (91 cm) apart – the foliage of these plants can get quite big, so they need a bit of space to themselves!
Caring for Your Rhubarb Plants
Rhubarb requires minimal care once established. Water your rhubarb plants regularly and add a layer of mulch to help them to keep the moisture in.
As fall arrives, cut the rhubarb leaves down to the ground and add a layer of compost or aged manure to the soil. This will give the rhubarb plants an extra boost for the winter months.
Rhubarb can be harvested when the stalks are at least 10 inches (25 cm) long and firm to the touch.
Cut the stalks at the base of the plant using a clean knife or sharp pair of scissors. Avoid damaging the surrounding plants and root systems.
Artichokes are delicious perennial vegetables known for their beautiful flowers and appearance. The spikey vegetables produce tender, flavorful buds that are tasty, whether grilled or roasted.
Artichokes thrive in mild Mediterranean climates or zones 7-11.
When it comes to planting artichokes, it’s crucial to choose a good location. They like full sun and well-draining soil.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot, you must prepare the soil by digging it up and adding compost and other organic matter to enrich it.
You can either plant artichokes from seed or from small plants called starts. If you’re starting from seeds, you must germinate them indoors in the early spring and transplant them outside once the weather and ground warm up.
If your transplanting artichoke starts, you can plant them directly into the ground once the risk of frost has passed.
When planting, space your artichokes at least 3 feet (91cm) apart and water them afterwards. Add a layer of mulch to protect the soil’s surface and retain moisture.
Caring for Artichokes
To get a bountiful crop of artichokes, giving them the care they need is essential. Regular watering during the hot and dry weather is vital, and you must fertilize them every few weeks.
Use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 NPK to give them the macronutrients they need to produce big hearts.
You may need to keep an eye out for pests and diseases. One way to do this is to plant them near companion plants that will help deter pests such as marigolds or herbs like basil and oregano.
Alternatively, you can opt for organic pest control, such as spraying your plants with a mixture of water and neem oil. In the fall, cut the plant down to just above the soil and cover over with mulch or aged manure.
As harvest time arrives, you will notice the buds have fully formed and are still tight. This is the perfect time to harvest.
If you leave the buds for too long, they will start to open up, and the artichoke will become woody and fibrous. Take a clean, sharp knife and cut the bud off the plant leaving about an inch (2.5 cm) of stem attached.
You can store harvested artichokes in the refrigerator for up to a week. Harvest artichokes regularly to encourage fresh new growth.
These antioxidant-rich berries are a delicious addition to muffins, pancakes, smoothies, and more. Blueberry bushes can produce fruit for decades if given proper care.
Blueberries are a tasty snack and can be stored in the freezer and used later.
Before planting blueberries, ensure you select the suitable variety. There are many varieties to choose from, each with its own characteristics. Popular types among gardeners include Bluecrop, Chandelier, and north blue.
Blueberries prefer acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5, so you may need to amend the soil before planting.
When planting, choose a spot with full sun and good drainage—because of their different soil requirements, growing blueberries in a large container is a great idea.
Blueberries can be a bit fussy with the wind, too, so being able to move them around the garden helps.
If planting on the ground, dig a hole that is twice the size and twice as deep as the root ball. Blend in the peat moss or compost to add acidity to the soil. Ensure the soil is loose and crumbly so the roots can spread.
The best planting time for blueberries is in spring or fall, and it’s best to avoid planting during extreme weather conditions. In general, planting in the fall allows the roots to establish before the plant begins to grow in spring.
Caring for Blueberries
Blueberries consistently need moist soil to thrive, especially during the spring and summer.
Aim to water your blueberries deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather conditions. Avoid wetting the leaves with overhead watering, as this can promote diseases.
Blueberries have a specific nutrient requirement, so using a fertilizer specially formulated for them is essential.
Using a fertilizer for azaleas works well too, as these plants have the same nutrient and soil needs. Apply the fertilizer in spring before new growth starts and again in early summer.
Avoid over-fertilizing, which can damage the plant, and follow instructions on the package for dilution or application.
Blueberries enjoy an annual prune to remove dead or diseased wood. This also encourages new growth.
Prune in late winter or early spring before the new growth appears. Blueberries are not pest-resistant, so keep an eye out for pests such as birds, deer, and rabbits.
Cover the plants with netting to protect them from birds and use fencing or repellant to keep the rabbits and deer away. You don’t want them stealing your precious fruits!
The exciting time to harvest is when blueberries are plump juicy, and deep blue in color. Be gentle when picking blueberries, as they bruise easily.
Blueberries will not ripen once they are picked, so ensure they are ripe before plucking them out of the bush.
Blackberries and raspberries come in several different varieties, including thornless and semi-thornless. When choosing a suitable cultivar, consider factors such as size, ripening time, and flavor.
Some popular blackberry varieties are Apache, Arapaho, and Triple Crown. Some favorite cultivars of raspberries include Heritage, Caroline, and Tulameen.
Select the perfect location for your berries, preferably in a sunny spot where the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Try to adjust the soil to a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. This is slightly acidic, so you may prefer to grow them in a pot.
Prepare the soil before planting, and dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball. Mix compost or other organic soil to help improve the quality. The soil should be light and crumbly so the roots can penetrate easily.
The ideal time to plant blackberries and raspberries is during the fall or spring before the extreme weather hits.
Caring for Blackberries
Blackberries and raspberries need consistent water to thrive, especially during the warmer months of spring and summer.
Aim to give them 2 inches (5 cm) of water per week when there is no rainfall. An easy way to check is by feeling the first 2 inches (5 cm) of soil to see if it is dry.
Blackberries and raspberries appreciate regular fertilizing to promote healthy growth and fruit production. Apply fertilizer at the beginning of spring and again in summer, and follow the package instruction to avoid over-fertilizing.
Most berry bushes need a little annual pruning to remove any dead or diseased wood. You can do this in late winter or early spring before the new growth begins.
If pruning canes in late winter, make sure you cover the base of the plant with mulch to protect them from the harsh winter frosts.
Blackberries and raspberries are ready to be harvested when fully plump and glossy. These delicate fruits can easily fall apart, so be gentle when gathering.
Always harvest when they are ripe, as they will not continue to ripen when off the vine.
Forever Green: Perennial Plants That Keep On Giving
Overall, these six perennial plants: asparagus, artichoke, rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, offer an excellent opportunity to enjoy a steady supply of fresh produce without the need for replanting every year.
By providing the right growing conditions and regular maintenance, these plants can continue to produce bountiful harvests.
Whether you’re a garden guru or a beginner, these perennial plants are a fantastic choice for any garden or farm. Not only do they provide delicious fruits and vegetables, but they also offer the satisfaction of a long-lasting investment in your gardening efforts.
Tired of Planting the Same Annuals Year After Year?
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It doesn’t stop with perennials. Our website is stocked with all the tips and tricks you need to get started from planting to harvesting. So, take the plunge and give it a go!