The perennials can be vegetables too!

You may be used to perennial plants, perennial fruits and even perennial herbs, but have you ever grown perennial vegetables?  How many varieties can you think of?

Martin Crawford, the organic gardener and permaculture expert, who is also the author of several books on these subjects, has a book out entitled ‘How to grow perennial vegetables’.

Martinis also the Director of the non-profit making charity, the Agroforestry Research Trust and has done a lot of research into tree, shrub and perennial crops, taking a particular look at the more unusual plants that can be grown in the UK.

He is also known for his research into and books written on forest gardening and his charity sells plants and seeds from its forest gardens.

With his open and honest manner, he does give the cons as well as the pros of growing perennial vegetables, which is that they are harder to weed and have a lower output per hectare.  The benefits of reduced carbon emissions from tillage and the lower amount of compost used do, however, go some way to outweighing these.  And there is the fact that, once planted up, a perennial vegetable bed can need very little attention at all.  That is – if you group them well when planting.  It’s all in the planning, as they are going to be there for a while.

Did you know you have to pour virtually boiling water over the seeds to get them to germinate?  Only for the brave-hearted.  Fortunately, the book does instil confidence and after reading it you feel that you could have a go and it would work.

The A to Z of the actual vegetables gives details of over 100 vegetables including the better known broccoli, leek and rhubarb and also wild plants such as nettles and ramsons, along with exotics.

How to Grow Perennial Vegetables: Low maintenance, Low impact Vegetable Gardening by Martin Crawford (£14.95, Green Books) is available from Amazon

See a report on the book at The Telegraph

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