24 Perennial Vegetables & Fruit to Plant Once: Harvest for Years

24 perennial fruit and veg

Perennial vegetables are a gardeners’ treasure, offering a low-maintenance and sustainable way to grow fresh produce year after year.

Once planted, these vegetables continue to provide a harvest for several years, sometimes even decades. This contrasts with annuals which only grow and produce for one season before needing to be replanted.

Incorporating perennial vegetables in a garden saves time, effort, and resources while enjoying a continuous harvest of nutritious and delicious food.

Numerous perennial vegetables are available and suitable for various climate zones and garden sizes.

These crops are hardy and resilient and beneficial for the environment due to their ability to improve soil quality, prevent erosion, and support local ecosystems. Perennials include both short-lived (lasting 3-5 years) and long-lived (lasting 5-20 years, and sometimes longer) varieties, offering gardeners a diverse choice of crops to suit their preferences and needs.

From the zesty flavor of horseradish to the versatile nature of kale, these 15 perennial vegetables promise to transform the way you garden and the dishes you create.

By dedicating a portion of your garden to these sustainable crops, you’ll be able to continuously reap the benefits of homegrown vegetables, contributing to a healthier lifestyle and a more eco-friendly world.

What Are Perennial Vegetables?

Perennial vegetables are plants that can live for multiple years, providing crops over several seasons without the need for replanting. Unlike annuals, which complete their life cycle within a year and need to be replanted each season, perennials continue to grow and produce food year after year.

These long-lived crops offer various edible parts such as stems, leaves, flower buds, seeds, roots, or tubers.

They come in various species and varieties, suitable for different climates and growing conditions. Perennial vegetables are often easy to grow, resistant to pests, and can help improve soil quality in the garden.

On the other hand, annual vegetables are plants that complete their life cycle in a single season, usually producing seeds before dying.

These plants must be replanted each time they are harvested, making them more labor-intensive than perennials. Examples of annual vegetables include tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce.

Benefits of Growing Perennial Vegetables

Low-Maintenance

Perennial vegetables are often easier to grow and require less attention than annual vegetables.

Once established, they tend to require minimal effort, such as pruning or mulching, to thrive. This makes them an excellent choice for gardeners with limited time or those seeking low-maintenance crops.

Soil Improvement

Perennial crops have a positive impact on soil health. Because they don’t need to be tilled, perennials promote a healthy and intact soil food web, fostering a suitable habitat for various animals, fungi, and other essential soil organisms.

Perennial plants’ deep root systems help prevent soil erosion and increase organic matter content, contributing to improved topsoil.

Pest and Disease Resistance

Many perennial vegetables naturally resist pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical treatments or interventions.

This characteristic makes them a suitable alternative for those interested in organic gardening or reducing their use of synthetic pesticides.

Diversified Diet

Integrating perennial vegetables into your garden can lead to a more varied and nutritious diet by expanding the range of products available.

Many perennial vegetables offer unique flavors, textures, and nutrition profiles, providing you with a wide array of choices in the kitchen. Their extended harvest period also contributes to a longer-lasting and more diverse fresh produce supply.

Top 15 Perennial Vegetables

Asparagus

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is a popular perennial vegetable that grows best in USDA zones 4-9.

It takes about three years before asparagus is ready for harvest, but then it can produce spears for up to 20 years. To plant, start with one-year-old crowns.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a perennial that requires patience, as it must establish roots for one year before harvesting.

Rhubarb thrives in USDA zones 3-8 and can grow larger each season. Harvest during the spring when stalks are firm and crunchy.

Kale

Though usually grown annually, kale (Brassica oleracea) can be treated as a perennial, particularly in USDA zones 7-10. Kale is cold hardy, nutritious, and delicious, making it a staple in many gardens.

Sorrel

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is a leafy perennial green with a tart flavor that thrives in USDA zones 3-8. It can be used in salads, soups, and sauces, and its leaves can be harvested in the spring and fall.

Artichokes

Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are a perennial favorite in USDA zones 7-9. They form large, edible flower buds that can be harvested in the spring and summer.

Plant the artichokes in full sun and rich, well-draining soil.

Jerusalem Artichoke

Also called sunchokes, Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) is grown for its edible tubers.

It can be grown in USDA zones 3-9 and provides a nutty-flavored, starchy tuber that can be harvested during fall and winter.

As an added bonus, the flowers are gorgeous. You can tell this plant is closely related to the sunflower.

Horseradish

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is a pungent perennial root vegetable. It grows well in USDA zones 3-7 and should be planted in well-draining soil. Harvest horseradish roots in the fall after frost.

Wild Leeks

Wild leeks, or ramps (Allium tricoccum), are a native North American perennial valued for their onion-garlic flavor. They grow well in USDA zones 4-8 and prefer shady, moist woodland environments.

Egyptian Walking Onions

Egyptian walking onions (Allium × proliferum) are a type of perennial onion that produce small bulbs on top of their stalks. They grow in USDA zones 5-8 and can be harvested throughout the growing season.

Chinese Artichoke

Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis) is a root vegetable with a crisp texture and a mildly sweet, nutty flavor. This perennial grows well in USDA zones 5-9 and can be harvested from fall to early spring.

Dandelion

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is an often-overlooked perennial vegetable with various culinary uses. Leaves can be harvested in the spring and fall, while the roots can be harvested in late fall and winter.

Dandelion root doesn’t have the best texture but has numerous reported health benefits.

Chives

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a popular perennial herb with a mild onion flavor. They grow in USDA zones 3-9 and can be harvested throughout the year.

Scarlet Runner Beans

Scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) are a perennial bean species rich in nutrients. They can be grown as perennials in USDA zones 9-10, producing colorful flowers and edible beans.

In colder climates they are commonly grown as an annual.

Taunton Deane Kale

Taunton Deane kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) is an heirloom variety of kale that can be grown as a perennial. It’s hardy, productive, and can be harvested throughout the year.

Perennial Fruits and Berries

Raspberries

Raspberries are a popular perennial fruit that can be harvested for years. They thrive in well-drained soil and full sun, although they can tolerate some shade.

There are two main types of raspberries: summer-bearing and fall-bearing. Summer-bearing raspberries produce fruit on second-year canes, while fall-bearing raspberries produce fruit on first-year canes.

Proper pruning and support, such as using a trellis, are essential for successful raspberry plants.

Blueberries

Blueberries are another perennial fruit that can be enjoyed for years. They require acidic soil and plenty of sunlight to thrive.

Various cultivars are available, including highbush, lowbush, and half-high blueberries. Highbush blueberries are the most common type grown for their large, flavorful berries.

Fertilizing and mulching with materials like sawdust or pine needles can help maintain blueberries’ ideal acidic soil conditions.

Blackberries

Blackberries are a hardy perennial fruit that can grow in various climates and soil types. They prefer well-drained soil and full sun.

There are three primary Blackberry types: erect, semi-erect, and trailing. Erect blackberries are the most common, producing fruit on second-year canes.

Pruning blackberry plants annually and providing support will encourage a more substantial harvest.

Strawberries

Strawberries are a delightful perennial fruit that can be easily grown in gardens and containers. There are two primary types: June-bearing and overbearing.

June-bearing strawberries produce one large crop in late spring or early summer, while everbearing strawberries produce multiple smaller crops throughout the season.

Strawberries grow best in well-drained soil and full sun, and using organic mulch like straw can help keep fruit clean and retain soil moisture.

Grapes

Grapes are a popular perennial fruit that can be used for fresh eating or winemaking. Grapevines require a site with well-draining soil and full sun exposure.

Proper pruning and training on a trellis or arbor are essential for grapevine success. Many grape varieties are available, ranging from table grapes to wine grapes, which are well-suited for different climates and taste preferences.

Gooseberries

Gooseberries are a less common but equally versatile perennial fruit. They thrive in well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade.

Gooseberries are low-maintenance and can be harvested for years. They can be eaten fresh or used in jams, pies, and other recipes.

Proper pruning and thinning of the gooseberry bush will encourage more significant fruit production and air circulation, reducing disease risk.

Lesser-Known Perennial Vegetables

Oca

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) is a tuberous vegetable native to South America. It is known for its unique, tangy flavor and can be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted.

Oca is rich in carbohydrates, vitamin C, and phosphorus, making it a nutritious addition to any meal. They thrive in cooler climates and should be planted in a sunny, protected spot.

The tubers can be harvested from late autumn through winter, allowing for a reliable food source throughout the colder months.

Yacon

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is another tuber originating from South America. Its sweet, crunchy tubers are often compared to apples in texture and flavor.

Rich in antioxidants and prebiotic fiber, yacon is delicious and offers health benefits. The plant requires a warm climate and well-draining soil to grow.

Yacon tubers can be harvested in late autumn or early winter, providing a sweet treat for the festive season.

Skirret

Skirret (Sium sisarum) is a root vegetable that was popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. With a taste similar to parsnips, skirret can be prepared in various ways, including roasting, frying, or adding it to soups and stews.

The plant is relatively easy to grow in various climates and soil conditions. Skirret can be harvested in the autumn and winter months, providing a reliable supply of root vegetables during colder seasons.

Caucasian Spinach

Caucasian Spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides) is a less-common perennial leafy green vegetable native to the Caucasus region of Europe and Asia. It is a climbing plant, high in vitamins and minerals, and has a similar taste to spinach but a slightly more acidic flavor.

Caucasian Spinach can grow in both sunny and shaded areas, making it a versatile option for different garden layouts. Harvesting can be done throughout the growing season, typically from spring to late summer, depending on the climate.

Incorporating Edible Perennials into Your Landscape

Edible perennial gardening offers a versatile and practical approach to enhancing your landscape with functional, decorative plants. By incorporating perennial vegetables, you can enjoy the benefits of consistent harvests, reduced effort, and aesthetically pleasing greenery in your garden.

To create a diverse edible landscape, consider mixing various types of perennial vegetables with ornamental plants. Some great choices include:

  • Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
  • Berry shrubs or hedges (examples: raspberries and blackberries)
  • Small fruit trees or fruit-bearing vines

Integrating these plant types allows you to optimize your landscape for functionality while preserving its visual appeal.

Also, expanding the edges of an already-established garden is worthwhile by adding a border of perennials. This strategy allows for a seamless transition between your conventional ornamentals and edible plants.

Edible perennial gardening doesn’t have to be limited to merely large spaces. Small gardens can also benefit from integrating edible plants with ornamental ones.

Planting vegetables in containers or utilizing vertical gardening techniques can enable you to maximize space while enjoying the advantages of edible perennials. Some tips for such spaces include:

  • Plant berry shrubs in containers or as hedges
  • Grow small fruit trees in large pots or other suitable containers
  • Utilize trellises or fences to support fruit-bearing vines or climbers.

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