“How To Grow Perennial Vegetables. Low-Maintenance, Low-Impact Vegetable Gardening”
What are perennial vegetables and why grow them?
Perennial vegetables, such as rhubarb, are plants that live for at least three years, and are raised for some edible part of it, such as the leaves, roots or flowers. The plant must be capable of being harvested without killing the plant itself.
In Europe and North America most people don’t grow or even eat perennial vegetables. Gardeners and farmers usually grow short-lived vegetables and grains, tilling between annual crops to keep the soil weed-free. But there are so many reasons to grow perennial vegetables:
- They are harvested in a sustainable manner, allowing plants to continue their growth
- They are eco-friendly and less work, as the soil doesn’t have to be tilled
- They are bursting with nutrients (they have far more than short-lived plants)
- The growing systems used for perennials disturb the environment much less
- You can grow them in your own garden!
Why do perennials reduce carbon emissions?
Cultivating soil exposes organic matter, called humus, to the air, both on the soil surface and in the soil itself, which leads to the release of carbon dioxide. There are many reasons not to disturb the soil and one of them is that the soil is able to even store carbon dioxide when left alone. In terms of weeds, you will need to weed out pestiferous perennial weeds when small and in the top layer of the soil. The weeding required will reduce over time.
Why are perennials healthier?
As you stop digging the soil, its structure is maintained. Soil humus levels build up and the nutrients don’t wash out so easily. Water is retained in drought, yet drains in very wet weather. This is why perennials contain much higher nutrient levels than short-lived plants. Their roots are large and permanent and can therefore exploit the soil more effectively.
Learn how to grow and maintain perennials in your own garden with Martin Crawford’s “How to Grow Perennial Vegetables”.