Low maintenance Perennials
Once established, perennial veggies and berries keep on giving year after year.
With its newest public park, Seattle is planning something radical…
In the midst of its ordinary playfields, walking paths, and decorative rhododendrons, neighborhood residents will wander into a scene evoking a modern Garden of Eden: an urban food forest. Seattle’s food forest is a densely planted, multi-tiered swath of fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, edible greens, herbs, and perennial vegetables which pop up seasonally with enticing offerings. All park-goers will be welcome to pick and enjoy the produce of this ever-changing garden, located in a multi-cultural working class neighborhood just a few minutes’ bus ride from the heart of the business district.
At home, you can use the same sustainable food-supply principles by choosing plants that take root and mature productively for years with no further digging required.
“It’s as close to zero-work gardening as you can get.”
— Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables
Imagine beginning summer’s feast each year before you’ve set out the first seedling. For most of us, the gardening season starts with the joyous but daunting tasks of tilling, planting, weeding, and composting. We wipe off the sweat and watch eagerly for the first shoots of peas and lettuce, impatient for the fresh harvest to begin. Meanwhile, the savvy few are already enjoying their just-picked asparagus, perhaps a delicate soup seasoned with fresh herbs and sorrel, and even a rhubarb tart for dessert.
Setting up your edible perennials in their new homes takes some forethought and vision, but these low-maintenance plants will bountifully repay your investment. All perennials benefit from dressing with fresh compost each spring; choosing raised beds will keep lawn weeds from invading and the perennials from spreading. Many of these tried-and-true food plants are pricey luxuries at the farmer’s market, and can transform any dinner party or backyard picnic into a special occasion.