Perennial favourites

In the garden

Most veggies in my garden are annuals – I sow seed, enjoy the harvest, pull them out once they are past their best and start again with something new.  The only exceptions to that (so far!) are asparagus and rhubarb, wonderful perennials that you plant once and enjoy harvesting for years.  This Spring they are both in fine form.

Because they are permanent plantings, my asparagus and rhubarb are in a separate garden where they can grow undisturbed by the constant upheaval of my annual veggie beds.  I created this perennial bed during winter two years ago and, instead of seed, I planted ‘crowns’ of both plants.  Crowns are basically a section or divided part of an established plant with the roots attached.  You can buy them from garden stores or seed suppliers.  They are dormant in winter so they can be moved and transplanted easily, and they kick off in spring in their new home.

Asparagus is an incredibly versatile veggie that is great hot or cold, in salads or quiches, as a hot side dish with melted butter or dripping in the runny yolk of a soft poached egg.  It is a harbinger of spring (my first spear shot through at the end of August) and, once it gets going, I find I have to pick every day (sometimes twice!)  as the tender spears can grow inches while your back is turned.  Your friends and family will happily enjoy whatever you can’t eat and, just before you can get sick of them, the short season is over for another year…and it’s time to move on to zucchini.

Rhubarb is a childhood favourite of mine and seems to be one of those plants you can never have enough of.  You eat only the stalks (the leaves are poisonous to people and animals) and they must be cooked.  Rhubarb compote on cereal or in a crumble is delicious, and it makes wonderful preserves and chutneys,  rhubarb & rosemary jam is a favourite.  It’s also lovely in salads and baking.

So, if the regular tending of a veggie bed sounds like too much hard work, have a think about planting perennials.  They require very little care and you can enjoy their bounty season after season.



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