Frugal Living 

Plant Perennial Vegetables for Eternal Harvesting

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ChivesYou probably noticed that I’m a big fan of growing your own herbs (all the posts about harvesting herbs and drying fresh herbs probably gave it away) because the little canisters seem ridiculously expensive in the store. Herbs and spices are also remarkably easy to grow, which is perfect for me because the easier it is the better, and when you add in dollar savings and better flavor, it’s a no brainer.

One thing I’ve noticed is that our oregano keeps coming back year after year. We first planted it three years ago and it’s come back every single year. One year, it actually fell off our deck after a snowstorm. We scooped the dirt back in, propped it up, and the oregano still came back! What’s better than saving money, tasting better, and easy to maintain? A plant that saves you money, tastes better, is easier to maintain and comes back year after year with no extra effort!

That made me wonder… what other perennial plans can we grow?

Perennial Herbs

A lot of herbs are perennial but they need to survive the coldness of the winter. Clearly oregano survived ours, and a ten foot fall, but some others won’t. Here are common ones that are perennial, remember to check their hardiness (the hardiness zone) to see if they will survive outdoors in your climate or if you’ll need to bring them in.

  • Chives: USDA Zones 3a to 9b
  • Laurel Tree (Bay Leaf): 6a to 9b
  • Mint: 3a to 7b
  • Oregano: 5a to 9b
  • Parsley: 5a to 9b
  • Thyme: 4a to 10b

Some common herbs that are annuals include Coriander/Cilantro, Basil, and Dill. Otherwise, just do a quick search for the herb name and “perennial” to find out more. If it doesn’t have any information on hardiness, it means it’s an annual.

Perennial Vegetables

Herbs might be the biggest no brainer but you can’t live on herbs alone. That’s why it’s important to try to plant a few perennial vegetables as well. Perennial vegetables are a little trickier because they may not taste as good in subsequent years but it’s still good to give them a try.

  • Asparagus: The best known perennial, plant the crowns and wait a few years, it will produce asparagus in the Spring. Survives USDA Hardiness 5a to 8a.
  • Rhubarb: The second best known perennial, it requires cold winters to develop flavor and survives USDA Hardiness zones 6a and 8b.
  • Sunchokes Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, this potatoe like vegetable is an invasive plant that will spread rapidly. USDA Hardiness zones 4a to 9b.
  • Artichokes: If sunchokes come back, so do artichokes right? It needs a warmer climate, zones 7a to 9b.
  • Carrots: They are biennials and will return if you leave the roots in the ground, but in the second year they are bitter.
  • Potatoes: These are annuals but if you leave a couple spuds in the ground they will produce new plants the next spring.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: They are annuals but seeds always sprout the next year, so they seem like perennials.
  • Peppers: These are perennials but you will need to bring them in during the winter, USDA Hardiness zones 3a to 9b.

Have you tried growing any of these?

(Photo: pinprick)

{ 19 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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19 Responses to “Plant Perennial Vegetables for Eternal Harvesting”

  1. live green says:

    My wife and I had a dying mint plant and decided to plant it outsides since it wasn’t surviving inside. It came back strong and died off in the winter. We thought it was an annual, so we were going to plant something in its place. To our surprise, it came back this year looking much better and doing really well. I will have to try a few of the other herbs on your list and see how they do.

    • Shirley says:

      Mint is unusually easy to grow outside but should be in a container rather than the ground. It spreads very quickly and will take over any area available. Once it gets a good foothold it can actually be very hard to get rid of.

    • RJW says:

      And mint also has a tendency to spread into other plants roots to the point where it can affect the flavor of your other vegetables.

  2. I haven’t tried any gardening yet. I have a tendency to kill any type of vegetation, regardless of how “easy” they grow.

    One day though. A box of mint is $5 at Walmart, and usually, the mint is only good for a day.

  3. We have slowly started turning the open areas in our flowerbeds to food bearing plants. We have strawberries, lettuce, asparagus, and a wide range of herbs sprouting out all over the place.

    We do have a designated garden area but we reserve that space for the tomato and pepper plants. And yes, our cherry tomato plants do seem to come back every year. Our neighbor said that they were called “volunteers”

  4. Sweet! I did not know that peppers were perennial.

    My bell pepper crop was a little disappointing this year, but maybe next year I’ll try putting them in pots instead of the ground and bringing them inside.

    Nice tips, thanks dude.

  5. zapeta says:

    Thanks for the tips. I wish we could have a garden, but we have a west exposure so I think we may do a container garden next year.

  6. cubiclegeoff says:

    All good to know. We may try a container garden next year if we have the time. However, the last plant we had (basil) only lasted 3 days, so I’m not so sure we want to bother.

  7. cdiver says:

    When planting chives go easy on the seed dispersion when using small containers, otherwise you end up with what looks like a slab of dirt raised on a bed of green nails.

  8. Chewbakka says:

    Try chives (any kind, garlic is my favorite), coriander, onions (Egyptian walking is a favorite, green), and garlic to name a few.

    • Shirley says:

      We have never tried growing chives or green onions, but will give it a shot. Do you have any first hand tips?

      • Chewbakka says:

        For chives, select the type with the flat stalks. Harvest by cutting most of leaf and leaving the bottom 3″. Harvesting often is important as the plant keeps producing, like grass. And they come back every year – spreads by both roots and seeds. We use it for both seasoning and as a vegetable.

        For green onions, we buy green onions in the early spring and cut off the tops leaving about 4-5 inches stumps with the roots. Push these ends into a patio pot or ground and you can harvest all season by just continuously cutting the new growth. We use this for seasoning and it’s quite mild tasting…enjoy!

  9. thunderthighs says:

    Would love to see something about frugal container gardening for those of use stuck in apartments!

    • Shirley says:

      This year we planted red, green, and yellow bell peppers in containers on the patio. While the plants flourished, the peppers were somewhat smaller than those at the market but just as tasty and colorful.

      Tip: either stake them or use tomato cages, put them in bright sunshine and water sparingly every other day.

      Frugality: three small plants at $1.79 each have yielded 30-40 peppers and are still going strong.

  10. herbs online says:

    How about growing rosemary and sage? Both are wonderful highly scented shrubby plants. Rosemary also has blue flowers which encourage the bees. It will grow in conditions as varied as boggy cold to sandy dry and hot. I’ve grown it in southern New Zealand where it survived lots of rain, frosts to -7 degrees Centigrade (though it preferred the drier areas of the garden these were still wet) and in Perth, Australia where we have hot summers with drought for 4 to 8 months at a time and a corner of the garden that gets to 50 degrees Celcius (125 F?)
    Both are great for cooking and household use. I use sage each week in cooking and rosemary to reduce the chance of fruit going mouldy in the refrigerator. Both are good antiseptics – antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.
    Both should also grow even on windy balconies, but do provide enough food and water as they are dependent on you for both. Just because they are drought tolerant doesn’t mean they need no water.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Swiss Chard is not only perennial but immortal. My mother found it alive and growing in snow.

  12. Macy says:

    You know, I threw some old, grody birdseed into the composter (which I neglected to turn), and would’t you know the sunflowers sprouted!

    I transplanted the sprouts to an edge of the garden patch, where they grew, blossomed, and provided sustence for all kinds of creatures. OK, they weren’t show stoppers, but they were free!

  13. Servelan says:

    Herbs are indeed easy to grow, but spices generally aren’t. I wondered recently what the difference is, and an herb is the leaves of a plant, whereas a spice is the bark or seeds. Most spice plants, like cinnamon, pepper, cloves and the like, do not grow well here; you can find the seeds for some of them online, but germination is iffy and growing them is usually beyond the ability of the average gardener.

    Some herbs are good for not only seasoning, but for their smell…not just lavender, but the smell of dill weed, or mint, on a warm summer day is to die for…

  14. daenyll says:

    I’m going to have to try the cherry tomatoes and asparagus in my balcony box this year.

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