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Plant Once, Pick Forever! 12 Perennial Vegetables You NEED To Plant This Summer

If you aren’t a gardener, words like “perennial” and “biannual” and “annual” may leave you confused. But, it’s simpler than you think. And, with the shortages and buying limits on groceries, there’s no better time to learn to garden than right now!

So, What Is A Perennial?

A perennial plant is one that you plant once, and then it will bloom year after year. There’s no hard and fast rule for how long you can expect your perennial to keep blooming. Lots will depend on the care you give the plants, soil conditions, if animals get at it, the type of bloom itself, and other considerations. However, it should be at least three years (since annuals must be replanted every year, and biannuals every two years), and it could be up to over a decade. This makes perennials a great choice if you want to grow a staple crop–the kind you’ll need every year. Additionally, if you’re prone to forgetfulness, not having to put “seeds” on your to-do list every year will help. (1)

Types Of Perennials

Some perennials are flowers, some are fruits, some are vegetables, some are herbs, and some are nuts. There is no specific ‘type’ of plant that is a perennial. All that’s needed is that repetitive blooming cycle. (1)

Your Twelve Must-Haves!

1. Rhubarb

When you think Rhubarb, you may think pie, and you’d be right. But although pies and jams are typically associated with fruits, rhubarb is a vegetable! You should plant it in moist soil, with easy drainage, and in full view of the sun. You’ll have to wait three years before you start harvesting it, and you should harvest during cooler weather. Note: The leaves are TOXIC for humans! Rhubarb recipes use the purplish stem. (2)

2. Garlic Chives

These onions can be grown in a range of locations–from fully sun-exposed to partially shady, as long as you make sure the soil is nutrient-rich! They will form clumps rapidly, and produce white flowers in late summer. (2)

3. Bunching Onion

Like garlic chives, bunching onions do best in nutrient-dense soil, with the same range of sun options. They are not large onions, but the ones you leave behind will come in larger next year. Both the roots and tops can be eaten. These are also known as Welsh Onions. (2)

4. Asparagus

Asparagus is another perennial vegetable you won’t be able to harvest right away. But you can take a year or two off the process of growing them by planting asparagus crowns, instead of seeds. If you keep the weeds out of their bed, you could have more than 20 years of production from these guys. Plant them in full sun. (2, 3)

5. Horseradish

It’s the root of the horseradish plant that gives it that distinctive flavor you may be familiar with! It can help clear nasal congestion. However, horseradish spreads fast, so if you want to keep it under control, it may be better to harvest the entire root and replant at the end of the fall. But if you have a bed you want to dedicate exclusively to this mustard green, go wild! (3)

6. Hops

Are hops a vegetable? Maybe. And the shoots, when young, can be cooked similar to asparagus. The cones are used for brewing beer, which is probably where you’ve heard of them. But you can also use these cones to make antibacterial soap–and 2020 has taught us all how important that is! (3)

7. Globe Artichokes

These plants need to get at least six hours of direct sunlight. The flower buds are what we eat–but the ones you don’t harvest will produce fuzzy flowers. They need lots of moisture, and grow best from root divisions, not seeds. (2)

8. Nine Star or Purple Cape Broccoli

These plants also need six hours of direct sunlight. Use lots of compost when you grow them. Also, consider a fall crop–this will stave off worms. (1, 4)

9. Sweet Potatoes

Most potatoes are annuals, but don’t let the name fool you! Sweet potatoes are perennial! (1)

10. Spinach

Some spinach is perennial, but not all. The varieties you want are Ceylon, Sissoo, or New Zealand. (1)

11. Watercress 

Though you might not think of watercress, this perennial makes a simple and useful addition to your garden. (1)

12. Sunchokes

Also called Jerusalem Artichokes, you can eat these veggies raw or cook them just like a potato. They are actually better than potatoes for people with diabetes! (1)

Whether you try one, some, or all of these veggies, no time is like the present to start a home garden.

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