100 Perennial Vegetables For your Garden | Permaculture Plants Food Forest

I think we can all agree, low maintenance plants are easier to maintain.

Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs—no annual tilling and planting. Perennial Vegetables thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season without the required inputs that annual vegetables demand.

Please read: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

This post contains affiliate links, this means at no extra cost to you, we make a commission from sales. Please read our Disclosure Statement

Once established in the proper site and climate, perennial vegetables planted can be virtually indestructible despite neglect. Established perennials are often more resistant to pests, diseases, drought and weeds, too.

JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE LIST HERE

Benefits of Perennial Vegetables in your Food Forest

1) They are ready earlier in the season as they are already established. So while you are planting out tiny seedlings of our annual vegetables, your perennials are already big plants ready to go.

2) They can perform several roles in the garden at once – not just food. Many perennial vegetables are also beautiful, ornamental plants that can enhance your landscape. Others can function as hedges, groundcovers or erosion control for slopes.

In a food forest perennial vegetables and plants form the lower herbaceous layer.

Still other perennial veggies provide fertilizer to themselves and their neighboring plants by fixing nitrogen in the soil. Some can provide habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators, while others can climb trellises and provide shade for other crops.

Perennials vegetables need to be carefully placed into a permanent place in your garden, and will have to be maintained separately from your annual crops. Try extending your current garden a bit and adding a border of perennials around the edge.

Drawbacks of Perennial Vegetables in the Food Forest

No crop is perfect, and perennial vegetables are no exception. Here are some of the disadvantages of growing perennial vegetables.

Many perennial vegetables are very slow to establish, and may take several years to begin yielding well. Asparagus is a classic example taking up to 5 years from seed to harvest.

Like annual crops, some perennial greens become bitter once they flower. This means that their greens are really only useful early in the season. Perennial vegetables are not supposed to replace annuals, but to complement them. In this case, perennial greens are available early in the season, providing greens until the annuals are up and running.

Many perennial vegetables have rather strong flavors, especially ones that are adapted to cold climates.

Some perennial vegetables can become weeds in your garden, or escape and naturalize in your neighborhood.

They also need dedicated space for them to live – they cannot fir in your usual garden bed rotation (just like you probably do now for asparagus, globe artichokes, or rhubarb).

Because you can’t use crop rotation to minimize diseases, once they have a disease, they often have it for good—for example, plant viruses are problematic with some vegetatively-propagated perennial crops. However diseases in perennials is less common than in annual vegetables.

A note on perennials vegetables grown as annuals

Sometimes you may see “perennial grown as an annual” potatoes for example. If left in the same place year after year, potatoes would build up terrible disease pressure.

On the other hand, many crops usually grown as annuals make fine perennials (such as skirret, which actually has better flavor when grown as a perennial). In some cases, we just don’t know what would happen to these crops if they were allowed to persist for multiple years.

Why you’ve probably never heard of perennial vegetables or herbs before

Why are asparagus, rhubarb, and globe artichokes the only perennial vegetables most gardeners have heard of?

There is very little published about perennial vegetables. So information is hard to find unless you go digging for it. The older generation often knew what could be eaten from the selection of plants we have come to know as ‘weeds’ and ‘flowers’.

Only a small number of nurseries and seed companies offer even the best perennial vegetables. These plants will never have the chance to become popular if no one can get their hands on them. I suspect that they make so much money from selling annuals that it is not in their best interest to offer perennial versions or alternatives (cynical much?)

I have found that our local locavores Facebook group to be the most valuable resource for finding perennial vegetables that do well for us in the south of New Zealand.

Perennial food producers include the usual berries, nuts, and other fruit trees, but perennial vegetables are not so common. Here is a list to get you thinking.

50 Perennial Vegetables for your Food Forest or Garden

Arugula
Asparagus
Asparagus Pea
Bamboo shoots
Black salsify
Broadleaf Plantain
Bunching Onion Red
Bunching Onion White Welsh
Burnet Saxifrage
Cardoon
Chicory
Chinese Artichoke
Crosnes
Dame’s Rocket
Daylily
Elephant Garlic
Egyptian Walking Onions
Fennel
Globe Artichoke
Good King Henry
Jerusalem Artichoke
Kailaan (Chinese Broccoli/Chinese Kale)
Multiplying Leeks
Lambs Lettuce
Land Cress
Lemon Sorrel
Mashua/Anu
New Zealand Spinach
Pikopiko- the hen and chicken fern
Perpetual Spinach
Perennial broccoli
Rhubarb
Runner Bean
Salad Burnet
Scurvy Grass
Sea Beet
Sea celery
Solomon’s seals
Sweet Rocket
Stonecrop
Watercress
Wild Strawberry
Yacon

50 Perennial Herbs for your Food Forest or Garden

Some of these are technically annuals but they re-seed themselves. Some of these are medicinal rather than everyday eaters, please check before throwing them in a salad!

Anise
Basil- Bush, Sacred, Sweet, Thai
Bergamot bee balm
Bergamot lemon
Borage
Burdock
Calendula
Caraway
Catnip
Chamomile
Chives
Garlic Chives
Clary Sage
Coriander
Cowslip
Cumin
Dandelion
Dill
Echinacea
Evening Primrose
Fennel
Fenugreek
Feverfew
Goldenrod
Horehound
Hyssop
Lady’s Mantle
Lavender English
Lemon Balm
Lemongrass
Liquorice
Lovage
Marjoram
Marshmallow
Mexican mint
Mullein
Oregano
Parsley
Parsley Italian
Peppermint
Plantain
Pyrethrum
Rosemary
Rue
Sage
Skullcap
Spearmint
St johns wort
Sweet Annie
Tansy
Thyme
Valerian
Vervain
White Sage
Wormwood

Do you have any to add?? Let us know in the comments below.

For further reading, I really recommend all of these books. I own every one of them and they are amazing resources!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please Pin and Share with your friends and family!

Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs—no annual tilling and planting. They thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season. Once established in the proper site and climate, perennial vegetables planted can be virtually indestructible despite neglect.

5 thoughts on “100 Perennial Vegetables For your Garden | Permaculture Plants Food Forest”

  1. Hi, Many thanks for the list, I see choko is not on your list. I use it in the winter in any recipe that calls for zucchini.

    • I was surprised when I discovered them a few years ago too. I suppose we have been sold the annuals as that is what keeps us coming back to the businesses that sell them. I have found asking around on our locavores group on facebook is a great way of finding the perennial veggies. I will check out your link part too! Thank you!

  2. Wow this is great list. I didn’t know there were that many perrenial vegetables. I’ve been wanting to try the Egyptian Walking Onions but haven’t purchased any yet. Do you find them to be as productive as annual onions? Thanks.

    • Hi Andrea,
      I was surprised when I started looking into it as well! We are so used to our annual vegetables these days. I am so keen to plant as many perennials as possible. My Egyptian walking onions just went in last season (it is autumn here now) and they have been struggling but are just coming right now (our dirt isn’t great yet). BUT the lady I got them from had them growing really well and she said she doesn’t do very much to look after them. They aren’t as productive as ‘normal’ onion, but they do seem to constantly be making more to use, and you don’t have to store them like you do with annual onions.

Leave a comment

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Grab your freebies! Herbal Medicine eBook, Sourdough tips sheet AND a list of nitrogen fixing plants. Sign up for our Fresh From the Farm newsletter and get our exclusive content, discounts and updates. All goodness. No spam.

You have Successfully Subscribed!