Organic Gardening the Easy Way, Part 3: Perennials and Volunteers


In Parts I and II of my easy organic gardening series, I wrote about growing vertically and gardening with raised beds. Both of these techniques, while easy once they’re in place, can be time-consuming and even costly in the beginning. Today’s tip, though, is as easy as easy can be from start to finish. 

Grow Perennials

Fill your beds with perennial vegetables. In the yard, perennials are my favorite flowers. Plant ’em once and forget ’em—well, at least for a few years until it’s time to dig and divide. Why, I wondered, aren’t vegetables that easy to grow? It turns out, some of them are.

The two plants most often thought of when the word perennial is mentioned in connection with food are asparagus and rhubarb. And they’re ready to eat just in the nick of time, when winter has dragged on and on and you think you can’t go another minute without the bright taste of fresh, homegrown foods. Give them a good start and they’ll produce for a decade or more.


Our rhubarb patch in early spring

But there are other edible perennials out there, too. Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes), once thought of as a roadside weed, can now be found in the produce section of high-end grocery stores. Funny how things change. Raw, sunchokes make a nice salad addition. In texture and taste, they remind me of water chestnuts. Cooked, they’re often used as a potato substitute, with a soft texture and nutty flavor.

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