10 Perennial Vegetables To Plant This Year

One of the very first things new homesteaders should focus their energy on is getting perennials established. Fruit trees and berry bushes take several years of growing before they’re ready to harvest, so it’s important that you get them going right away. Many herbs also continue to produce for years once they’re established- culinary and medicinal; definitely get them in the ground as well.

But don’t stop there! Perennial vegetables are often overlooked and underused in the home garden. Many people don’t realize how many vegetables you can plant once and continue to enjoy for years down the road. Not everyone can grow everything in their climate, so do your research and find the best perennial vegetables for your area.

Here are a few that I’m focusing on growing where I am (zone 7)…

perennial vegetables, survival gardening

Young walking onions. Looks like I need to do some weeding!

1. Egyptian Walking Onions (aka: Tree Onions, Topset Onions)

Walking Onions have earned their name by the way they multiply. The tops of their stalks grow clusters of bulbils or “sets”. As the bulbils grow, they weigh down the stalk and cause it to bend to the ground. They then take root and soon you have another onion plant growing. In this way they quickly spread, and will provide you with plenty of onion greens and small bulbs.

Walking Onions are quite hardy, growing well in zones 3-9. Plant sets approx. 2 in. deep in well draining soil, 6-10″ apart. You can plant them any time of the year, as long as the ground can be worked. They do well in full sun or part shade.

perennial vegetables, survival gardening

Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers

2. Jerusalem Artichokes (aka Sunchoke, Sunroot)

A great substitute for potatoes, these tubers grow much like a weed, and can quickly take over your garden bed if you don’t harvest them regularly.

Jerusalem Artichokes prefer a loamy, well draining soil in full sun, though they can tolerate clay soils and part shade. They grow tall, up to 12 ft., so place them somewhere where they won’t shade other sun loving crops. Plant small tubers 4-5″ deep, and 16″ apart. A hardy perennial, Jerusalem Artichokes can grow in US zones 2-9.

perennial vegetables, survival gardening

Globe Artichokes are one of my absolute favorite vegetables.

3. Globe Artichokes

Not to be confused with Jerusalem Artichokes, these guys produce tasty flower buds- eaten before they open and bloom. The base of the leaves as well as the heart are edible and absolutely delicious when steamed in Italian Dressing and dipped in melted butter or mayonnaise.

Artichokes are easily grown from seed. Start indoors in February, planting them 1/4″ deep in seed starting mix. Once the plants have grown several inches and have at least 2 sets of true leaves, they’re ready to be transplanted outdoors after all danger of frost is past.

Artichokes grow best in zones 7-11. Transplant seedlings into rich soil in full sun, spacing them about 4 ft. apart. I’ve found that my artichokes suffer in the hot, humid summers here in the South, so I have planted them where they get partial afternoon shade. They sprout up in Spring and produce flower buds to be harvested before they die back to the ground in the summer. Our artichokes usually come back in Fall, when the cooler temperatures have returned, and often we get a second, smaller crop before winter kills them back again.

perennial vegetables, survival gardening

My young asparagus freshly emerging.

4. Asparagus

Another plant-it-and-forget-it crop, asparagus is maintenance free and dependable. I’ve found it very easy to start from seed, though you’ll get a crop much sooner if you start with 1 or 2 year old crowns.

Asparagus grows in zones 3-8, with some varieties doing better than others in certain climates, so do your research before planting. This crop loves rich soil; if you have clay like I do you might consider putting asparagus in a raised bed for best results. Dig a trench 4″ deep and 10″ wide, set crowns in the bottom and fill back in with loose, rich soil. These plants will multiply, so give them plenty of room by placing them 15″ apart.

perennial vegetables, survival gardening

My yacon in its first year of growth. I got a lot of tubers that year!

5. Yacon

A staple crop to the indigenous people of the Andes of Peru for centuries, Yacon has only recently made it’s appearance in the United States. This handsome plant grows edible tubers on the root system, much the same as the way potatoes grow. The flavor is fresh, crisp and juicy, and mildly sweet like a cross between an apple and a melon. They’re delicious peeled and eaten fresh, or shredded into a slaw. You can also cook the tubers down to make a sweet syrup.

Yacon can’t stand freezing ground, so if you have harsh winters it’s best to plant them in a pot that you can move indoors. Although a frost will kill it back to the ground, a good layer of mulch will protect the roots from mild cold weather. Make it a large pot- Yacon typically grows to 5 ft. tall with a spread of 3 ft. wide. They’re said to grow easily in zones 9-11, though other regions may be able to grow them with a little more care. In zone 7 where I live, if you don’t have a greenhouse to overwinter them in, you can harvest the rhizome and store it in a cool, damp place (such as a root cellar) through the winter to be replanted in Spring.

You can find Yacon seeds online, but it’s easiest to grow them from rhizomes. Plant them in moist, rich soil, about 2 inches deep. Keep the soil moist and warm until its first leaves appear, then water when the top of the soil gets dry. Yacon loves full sun and thrives in warmer weather.

perennial vegetables, survival gardening

Garlic I grew from store bought heads!

6. Garlic

Did you know that garlic can be grown as a perennial? It’s true! Just leave them to go to seed and you can be sure to have another crop the following year.

Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow. My first planting actually came from store bought garlic. You can probably find some at a local Farmer’s Market to grow as well, though ordering online will yield a wider variety of choices.

To plant garlic, break apart a head into individual cloves. Plant the cloves in a sunny, well drained bed, with the root side down. Push the cloves into the soil so that the tops of the cloves barely stick up above the ground. Space them about 8 inches apart. Keep them watered and they’ll sprout before you know it.

When it’s time to harvest, leave some of the smaller plants in the bed to die back. They’ll come up again the following year, and provide a new crop. (Here’s a great article on How To Plant Garlic As A Perennial.)

perennial vegetables, survival gardeningPhoto Credit: Stan Shebs

7. Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus is actually one of the few plants that is a vegetable and a fruit. While the pads are commonly enjoyed in South American as a perennial vegetable, the “pears” on the cactus are considered a summer fruit. The pads can be eaten fresh or cooked, and the fruits can be used to make juice, jelly, and even candy.

You can buy Prickly Pear plants, or you can take a cutting from a friend’s and propagate it. You can also plant them from seed, but obviously it would take much longer to have a ready-to-eat crop if you go this route. They prefer drier, sunny conditions, so if you live in a very wet climate they probably won’t grow too well for you. This diverse perennial does well in zones 7-10.

perennial vegetables, survival gardening

The Horseradish roots I planted this Spring.

8. Horseradish

Commonly known in the US as a condiment, in other parts of the world horseradish roots are more often enjoyed as a grated vegetable. The greens are also edible, although they are said not to be very tasty.

Horseradish can be grown as a perennial in zones 2-9, and treated as an annual crop in other regions. It loves full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Almost any soil will do, as long as it doesn’t become waterlogged.

Dig a hole about a foot deep, and fill it in with good compost. Place a horseradish root into the hole at an angle, with the top of the root only 2 inches from the surface of the soil. Cover over and keep watered. If planting more than one, space them 30″ apart. Plants grow almost 5 ft. tall, and can become invasive if not harvested regularly.

perennial vegetables, survival gardeningPhoto Credit: Siim

9. Sea Kale

A great alternative to annual kales, Sea Kale will come back year after year once it’s established.

Sea Kale grows well in zones 4-8, but can be grown to zone 6 and cooler with heavy winter mulching. Direct sow seeds in early Spring, in rich sandy loam soil, 18-24″ apart. It prefers moist, well draining conditions, in partial shade.

The roots are edible, and can be eaten fresh or cooked. They also travel well. Kale leaves can be enjoyed raw in salads or steamed. Very high in Vitamin C. (Check out this great article for more on How To Eat Sea Kale.)

perennial vegetables, survival gardening

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

10. Radicchio (aka Italian Chicory)

Grown as a leafy vegetable, radicchio can be eaten raw in salads, or grilled to reduce the bitter taste. The roots can also be roasted as a tasty coffee substitute.

Start seeds indoors 8 weeks before your area’s last frost date, or direct sow outdoors four weeks before your last frost date. Prepare a bed with loose, well draining soil in full sun. Space plants 8 inches apart. Keep them watered, especially during hot weather to reduce bitterness. Grows well in most zones, benefiting from light frosts.

Harvest the leaves by cutting them close to the base of the plant. You can also cut the entire head, uproot the plant, and “force” it to grow a new plant in a cool basement or root cellar.

And Many More…

Believe it or not, there are actually many more perennial vegetables to consider growing in your home garden. Love To Know Garden has a GREAT article listing ALL of the perennial edibles that can be grown at home. Check it out.

I would encourage all of you to consider which of these plants would do well in your region, and then do a little more studying into how to plant, grow, harvest, and enjoy them. The more perennial edibles you plant, the less you have to worry about having something to eat in an uncertain future.

Many of these are included on our top survival crops infographic which you can check out here

Do you have a favorite perennial vegetable that wasn’t mentioned? Tell me what you’ve got growing!

Save

Save

Save

,

About Kendra Lynne

Kendra shares all of her homesteading adventures on her website, New Life on a Homestead. Also be sure to check out her popular Canning DVD: At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond!

View all posts by Kendra Lynne

8 Responses to “10 Perennial Vegetables To Plant This Year”

  1. David Goodman Says:

    Great selection! Also, Eric Toensmeier’s book “Perennial Vegetables” is a very good resource for gardeners wishing to dive deeper into the heady depths of perennial crops.

    Reply

  2. THad Says:

    I’ve been working on compiling a survival plant database that’s comprised of mostly perennial vegetables. We’ve been doing it in Costa Rica for a couple years not and learning a lot. It’s crazy how productive you can be with such little input in a tropical area! These amazing perennial crops in addition to our aquaponics system have made the homestead really productive. Moringa, Katuk, cuadrados, camotes and Sisoo spinach some of our most useful producers. http://survivalgardener.com

    Reply

  3. Grace Says:

    Please consider, when the SHTF and food distribution networks fail, society will go from consuming store bought seasonal food to eating weeds within 1 month for survival. Growing any form of vegetable annual or perennial food will become unnecessary as migration/hunter gathering once again becomes the norm. Preppers need to realize isolationism and the focus on maintaining a base without a community and diversity is sure to end in failure. Nature does not work alone – Humans are part of nature.

    Reply

    • tanya Says:

      Great article!

      Grace- you fail to recognize that by growing a PERENNIAL veggie, you will also be able to identify one in a “hunter gatherer” situation. You will know where it would most likely grow condition wise, all of the plant characteristics etc. It wont matter if “someone” planted it a decade earlier, many will still be growing as that is the whole purpose of a perennial veggie! You plant it once, and it grows for years. You wont be able to identify them with your North American wild edible books either, as many are tropical imports. If you live in the sub tropics of the US as I do, there is a vast wealth of knowledge to be gained by growing them should one ever find themselves in “hunter gatherer” mode. Don’t underestimate the value here regardless of what the future may or may not hold.

      As for the isolation part, really an entirely different topic but I will bite. Truly I wish I had the faith in the majority of humanity that you do, but I personally think it would take a long while for that to form again in relative safety. Just look at what crisis of natural disasters has shown…hurricane Katrina rape and murder victims anyone? Have you ever seen rioting and looting first hand? Do you realize what the majority would resort to in order to feed and find fresh water for their own? (Not some group they formed but their OWN) Chaos seems to always ensue first, and personally, I would wait out the crazies in isolation and let them die off before I would dare attempt interaction with other people I don’t know.

      That said, I would also not attempt to defend a homestead, too many resources too many others will come for…I would be on the move in the deep woods and swamp tyvm. Know your wild and perennial edibles, know how to hunt, know the poisonous plants and animals, know survival first aid, and know how to find and/or make fresh water and fire…and carry nothing that would appear valuable for acquiring/making survival resources to the average person lol. Your brain will be your most valuable asset. Do you know how to make heat and fire with wet half dead weeds and your pee? I do, and so do many other gardeners.

      And on that note, lets just hope for the best. I would far rather just keep on living with my food forest happily building my soil in a normal world lol.

      Reply

  4. Irene Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing :) ,
    I think I can actually grow these plants at my home :) !!!
    -Irene.

    Reply

  5. jolj Says:

    Nice list.
    I would like to add lovage,rhubarb, crosnes,collards,bamboo.
    Herbs,fruit & nut are also great perennials.

    Reply

Leave a Reply