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Edible perennial plants are the way future. These are plants that we can grow that produce food for several years, sometimes decades. What this means for growers is that we don’t have to go through the difficult germination process every year. It often means that more fresh, home-grown food will be available throughout the year.
What it means for the planet is that all that energy given to annual plants to grow, mature, and then die every year can be spread over years, allowing soils to maintain sufficient nutrient content for much longer. This is great in the ground, perhaps even more so in a container.
For those trying to produce food at home, particularly in an urban setting where containers play a huge role, a lot can be grown next to sunny windows. There are plenty of annual crops people are playing with growing in containers these days. It might be time to add some perennials to that urban garden.
Without a doubt, growing herbs at home is a huge money-saver, an easy feat to accomplish, and hugely rewarding. Lots of herbs are perennial, especially if they are kept indoors. Rosemary, sage, oregano, mint, types of basil, thyme, and chives are all on this list. That’s a lot of flavor that can be harvested year-round year after year.
Tomatoes are perennial plants in their native tropics. They are grown as annuals in the US because they can’t handle the frosts. However, we can grow them indoors and keep them going for a few years. Just be careful to choose indeterminate varieties, and cherry tomatoes are likely to provide even more satisfaction.
In the same family as tomatoes, the nightshades, both hot and sweet peppers, are perennial plants in warmer environments. Spicy pepper plants, which tend to be smaller, are really good for growing in containers and keeping as houseplants. As with the tomatoes, go in for smaller peppers. They can provide a nice flash color, too.
For the most part, salad greens are annual plants. We like lettuce, spinach, and arugula in our salads, but other great greens can make fresh salads. Sorrel is a great one for this. It has a tart flavor, and there are a few varieties to try. Wild sorrel and French sorrel are great places to start.
5. Turkish Rocket
Rocket, aka arugula, is hugely popular, but most of us are more familiar with annual rocket than perennial varieties. Turkish rocket is perennial, has the same nutty flavor with good spice, and grows prolifically once it gets going. It can be a little more challenging to germinate from seeds, but it’s well worth the effort.
6. Perennial Kale
Most of the time, kale is grown as an annual, and it is beloved as being cold-hardy for providing fresh produce in the wintertime. There are also perennial kale varieties that can survive in containers for five or six years. These are evergreen plants that’ll allow for picking throughout the year. They are mild and nutty, with less bitterness than the annual and biennial species.
Spinach is great both cooked and raw, but it can be challenging to grow in warm places and bolts to flower in the summer. Different “spinach” plants are perennial, sub in well for spinach, and grow in containers. Check out Okinawan, New Zealand, Brazilian (Sissoo), and Malabar spinaches.
8. Scarlet Runner Beans
This rare perennial bean plant is usually grown as an ornamental plant or for its attractive dried beans; however, the young pods can be eaten as green beans. This would be a stunner of a plant to train up and around a large window, and it’ll survive in the warmth of the house.
Both strawberries and blueberries will happily grow in pots, but strawberries are great fun because they can be used in hanging pots. They’ll send runners hanging down to utilize the vertical space available, allowing for more pots below. Choosing some continuously bearing varieties of strawberries will provide food most of the year.
Source: Chicago Gardener/Youtube
A somewhat niche crop that seems to live more as a legend than a viable crop these days, rhubarb is a crazy flavor that can inspire serious love from its fans. It pairs wonderfully with those container strawberries to make pies, crumbles, jams, and more. It’s only the stalks that we eat, but they can be harvested several times over the year.
With ten different perennial crops growing around a couple of sunny windows, it’s possible to cultivate a bountiful, low-maintenance garden right inside. And with perennials, these are plants we can nurture and learn to love for their consistency and beauty as much as the food we get from them. What a win for everyone!
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- How to Help Perennial Plants Survive The Winter
- 3 Insect-Repelling Perennial Plants for Your Garden or Patio
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