When people think of a garden they most likely think of the annual garden standards,
But that thinking is missing out on great resource that they can use to reduce work, fertilizer inputs, watering needs and did I mention work. For me the reduced work is a big seller when it comes to gardening and the amount of work it can take depending on your techniques can be staggering. That is why I am a big fan of perennial crops in place of annual crops wherever possible.
For the sake of this article I am going to have slightly different definition of what a perennial crop is. The common definition would state something like,
“any crop that grows in the same location and stay alive year after year while providing multiple harvests .”
I like that definition but I would like to tack on the end of that the following,
“and in some cases includes crop that easily self-seed in the same location.”
While strictly anything that grows from seed every year would not be considered a perennial crop I like to include it because it can be managed the same as you would a perennial crop. An example of this crop in my own rotation is leaf lettuce. I planted the lettuce in my garden once about three years ago and it has self-seeded ever since providing me with a vibrant (sometimes to vibrant) lettuce patch that cannot even begin to eat thru before it bolts.
So that being said it times to get onto the 3 reason you should grow perennial crops.
You Get More for Less
So what to do I mean when I say you get more for less. In a nutshell you get more produce ie, lettuce, apples, strawberries for less work, water, nutrients and weeding. This is due to a lot of factors including,
· Deeper established roots are better at foraging for nutrients and water.
· Plants produce better earlier and during hot dry times of the year.
· You keep the soil covered with either living or dead plants which reduce weed pressure and promote soil health.
Long Term Productivity/Saves Money
When you plant perennials into the garden you are not tied to the ever more expensive/time consuming wheel of buying seed, amendments, and weeding the garden. You have a single upfront expense that will pay out for years to come sometimes decades in the case of fruit trees and shrubs. It can be more expensive on the face of it but with time everything gets cheaper the long it produces. Prime examples of this would include,
· Fruit Trees
· Nut Trees
· Fruit and Nut Shrubs
· Grape Vines
Adds to your Planting Options
If you are willing to give up some space to perennial crops you would be surprised what you can grow quite easily in the home garden. There are some common ones that people try like Rhubarb and Asparagus but there or other less common options like,
· Jerusalem Artichoke
All of these are tasty additions to any garden and should be looked at as something to supplement your annual garden plants.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.