Ahh perennials-the frugal gardener’s friend. I just love planting an edible once and having it come back every year without any work from me. Here are the very early edible spring perennials that are up on the Frugal Upstate Village Homestead.
Chives are a classic in many climates and dead simple to grow. With no attention at all from me they spring up every year to provide early oniony goodness with just the snip of your scissors. Want more? No problem. Just dig up the clump, cut them in half and replant. These chives live at the bottom of my back steps-it’s supper simple to send the kids out to grab me a few chives to chop into a recipe. Buddy in particular loves the chives and I’ll frequently find him with one hanging out of his mouth 🙂
The Egyptian Walking Onions are a really unusual plant. They are a green onion (ie you use them like a scallion instead of having it turn into a “bulb”). As they mature little onion bulbs form at the TOP of the plant. If left alone the stalk will eventually bend over and hit the ground, thereby “seeding” a new onion. I started with 4 plants from a friend at the beginning of last summer. Since I didn’t know where I wanted them to live I stuck them in a pot. Each time the bulbs grew I pulled them off and stuck them in the ground-look how many grew! I do need to find a more permanent home for them.
Rhubarb is a vegetable that is used as a fruit. This plant NEEDS a cold winter, so those of you in the south might not have ever seen any! The edible part is the stalk-the leaves are actually poisonous (just toss them in the compost). Rhubarb is super tart-but I love it’s tang when you stew it with some sugar. This plant is also known as “pie plant” in some areas because it’s long season made it a favorite back in the old days for a daily pie. Strawberry Rhubarb pie shows up on a lot of menus in my area in the spring. We have two big plants right next to our back shed and they come back year after year. You can divide rhubarb sort of like chives–dig it up, chunk it in half and replant. My rhubarb came to me from my good friend Kathy over at Cold Climate Gardening.
Sage is not supposed to be perennial in my zone-but somehow for the last two years this pot of sage has defied the odds and come back each year! I think that it’s in a pot up next to the house creates enough of a microclimate to protect the plant.
Lovage is a very old fashioned perennial herb. The leaves taste like celery-which I think is great since I never seem to have celery in the fridge. The plant grows to be HUGE-like 4 to 5 feet high-and I usually have to hack it down a couple of times in the summer to keep it under control.
Wild Mustard isn’t a perennial-it’s more of a wild edible. Considered an invasive weed it pops up all over the place despite my attempts to eradicate it each year. It has a sharp garlic taste and can be a tasty addition added to other cooked greens.
Some other perennials and self seeding plants I expect to see this spring and summer at the Frugal Upstate Village Homestead are dandelion greens, raspberries, wild blackberries, wild grapes, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, mint and purslane.
What other perenial herbs, vegetables or fruits do you look forward to seeing this year?