Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Top Five Perennial Vegetables for the Home Gardener

Growing perennial vegetables can be an extremely rewarding experience for the home gardener. Once planted, perennial vegetables will usually thrive for years to come with only minimal effort needed from the gardener to maintain them. Perennial vegetables are something no vegetable garden should not be without. Here are five very popular and generally easy-to-grow perennial vegetables:
  1. Asparagus. Asparagus is one of the best know perennial vegetables to gardeners. Once a patch has been established (usually takes two to three years), it will produce succulent spears for decades to come. There are many varieties to choose from - be it purple heirloom varieties, or one of the new, and very prolific male hybrid cultivars.

  2. Rhubarb. Next to asparagus, rhubarb is one of the most popular perennial vegetables grown. Better suited for regions that have cold winters, as the plant needs temperatures below 40 degrees during the winter in order to grow well during the following spring. Many varieties of rhubarb are also available, both red and green spear varieties.

  3. Sorrel. Sorrel is a wonderful salad green, and is also popular in soups and some sauces. It will be one of the first crops you harvest each spring, once established, and is best eaten when young (older sorrel leaves are high in oxalic acid). It is rarely found in grocery stores, which is all the more reason to grow it in your garden!

  4. Sunchokes (Helianthus tuberosus). Sunchokes are known by many names, including Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot, and earth apple. Similar to potatoes, in that they are a perennial tuber. They can be prepared in many ways that potatoes are also prepared, although they they have a distinct, nutty flavor to them. However, when growing they resemble sunflowers and are a quite beautiful addition to have in your vegetable garden (photo of sunchoke flowers).

  5. Artichokes. Artichokes are a perennial vegetable that are best grown in warmer climates (zone 7 or above), although there are some gardeners who live in zones as cold as zone five that manage to perennialize them (or grow them as annuals, instead). Anyone who has ever tasted an artichoke heart will know what a joy these perennial vegetables are to have in your garden.
In my next article, I will be looking at five more exotic varieties of perennial vegetables that many home gardeners may never have heard about but may want to try to growing in their vegetable garden. For even more information about growing and selecting perennial vegetables for your home garden, please return to the Perennial Vegetables Home Page.