Thus far.....


A year has passed since I starting blogging about the possibilities of the perennial vegetable garden - so here is a review of discoveries to date and a note or two to update previous posts.

Firstly, the non-flowering form of garden sorrel - a plant that just gives and gives!

Non-flowering form of garden sorrel
Non-flowering form of garden sorrel

Sea kale -  I love everything about it including its purple crinkled young foliage, its slightly older glaucous blue leaves (delicious steamed) and the heady smell of its lovely blossom! I have yet to try its young spherical seed pods as a summer treat.

Sea kale in flower
Sea kale in flower

Sea kale 'peas'
Sea kale 'peas'Attribution AttributionAttributionhttp://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gSAnIn6oQjQ/UhZvG49wAzI/AAAAAAAAApM/bVw8TSgqG20/s1600/index_opt.jpg Leonora Enking

Good King Henry is good early in the year when both its young flower sprouts and youngish leaves make really tasty vegetables.

Poached egg with good King Henry flower sprouts
Poached egg with Good King Henry flower sprouts

The wild cabbage plants have fed us over and over for months from late last summer when they grew big, all through the winter and into the spring. Will they keep going?

Wild cabbage plants with purple shoots
This wild cabbage plants has produced purple shoots

Wild cabbage sprouts next to purple sprouting broccoli sprouts
Wild cabbage, left.    Purple sprouting broccoli, right.

The day lilies were another success from last year - plucking their fat buds was like picking green beans.  The few I dried stored well in a glass jar and I want to dry a lot more this year.

The Jerusalem artichokes - the easiest perennial vegetable ever, requiring no work at all beyond planting, harvesting and replanting. Such a shame they are not more universally digestible!

Jerusalem artichoke tubers
Jerusalem artichoke tubers

Not everything has gone well. Sadly the Daubenton kale plants (the first plant many people seek out when they start collecting perennial vegetables) are very poorly! They fed us well last year but these plants will have to be pulled out. I found evidence of cabbage root fly. Luckily I have plants to replace them with.

Daubenton kale on its last legs
Daubenton kale on its last legs

Daubenton kale
It should look more like this

I had another sick plant last year. The Caucasian spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides) may have been attacked by beet curly top virus...

Curled puckered leaves on Hablitzia
Curled puckered leaves on Hablitzia

but it's looking healthy so far this year. I shall keep a close eye on it - I still haven't had much of a chance for a Caucasian spinach feast!

Young Hablitzia plant
Hopefully healthy spring growth on Hablitzia

I'm still waiting to try the Babington leeks too although we did enjoy the garlicky green bulbils last summer. I expected to harvest the leeks in the winter or very early spring but ours are only just ready.

Babington leeks
Babington leeks to be harvested soon

The Chinese artichokes were disappointingly small. They may have been too dry so now they are planted in a frame containing a heavy leaf mulch to retain moisture.

Only one of the sea beet plants has survived the winter. This year I'm trying again with some seed from plants I found growing on a north Anglesey beach last September. It may prove to be a more truly perennial and wild beet than the plants I grew last year.

Sea beet seedlings
Sea beet seedlings

Ground-covers are gradually covering bare soil between the perennial vegetables. I have more clover paths to sow but on the beds wild strawberries are taking over wherever I plant them, the silverweed is beginning to make a show around the skirret, lambs lettuce is keeping weeds at bay on the asparagus bed as well as providing salad greens and the creeping Jenny has only allowed a very occasional dandelion to infiltrate the sea kale.

There are many more perennial vegetables to investigate; I think I have about fifty in my collection now and I'm gradually organising them all onto one allotment plot. One I rather wanted to see flower last year was my Bath asparagus (Ornithogalum pyrenacium).

Bath asparagus flower
Bath asparagus flower Bj├Ârn S...

A bunch of Bath asparagus
Bath asparagus ready to cookBastienM

Well it hasn't yet! Thanks go to others for these photographs. But this entry on the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre website suggests that the plants do take a while to mature so I shall live in hope.


N.B. I sell a range of perennial vegetable plants on my website.