As a gardener or farmer, you’re always looking for ways to maximize everything from your time to your sweat equity to your garden space or farmland.
You also look for ways to maximize the planting seasons because you know that you will not have crops growing all season.
If you live in places with shorter growing seasons, you need and strive to maximize the season to have an extended harvest.
And different people have come up with different ways to do this over the years. Greenhouses and succession planting are two such ways.
But wouldn’t it be great to plant a crop in your garden just once and keep getting a harvest just like with fruit trees that produce every season?
That’s where perennial planting comes in. Planting cut-and-come-again vegetables is one of the best ways to keep getting a harvest season after season and all from a single plant.
There are many herbs and vegetables that you can plant and keep harvesting for many years to come.
And one great part of doing this is that these plants (the majority) are very nutrient-dense and will supply you and your family with so many nutrients for many years.
This article features 20 such perennial vegetables that you will keep harvesting for years, once you have planted them.
But before that let’s consider some of the benefits and drawbacks because these plants require a little planning as they will be using up space in your garden.
Benefits And Drawbacks
Perennial (cut and come again) vegetables are low maintenance. These crops usually do not need as much care as annuals do.
They can practically “take care of themselves” once they are established in the right environments and are more resistant to weeds, drought, diseases and pests.
Perennial vegetables help in building your soil. A great part of planting these cut and come again plants is that they help you build your soil.
Because they often don’t need any tilling, they aid an intact and healthy soil food web.
This includes hosting some important soil life such as some animals and fungi. They can even improve the water holding capacity, organic matter, porosity and soil structure when well mulched.
There are many more benefits but let’s consider a few drawbacks too.
Some perennials take some time to become established.
Before being ready to provide you that bountiful repeated harvest you seek, they may require several years to grow.
If you have a very small garden, you may have to do some extra planning to include these crops for want of space.
Ease of taking over your garden: because some of these cut and come again plants are so low maintenance, they can easily overrun your garden like weeds.
A good number of them self-seed freely and can, therefore, multiply rapidly and “escape” into other parts of your garden or neighbourhood.
Having considered some benefits and drawbacks, it’s time to dive into the list. Shall we?
Asparagus requires 2 to 3 growing seasons before its ready to be harvested.
You will have to check up on your plant daily when it’s mature and snip off at the soil line the moment it is six inches (or more)tall. Cutting it encourages further growth.
This is a cool-season crop like many cruciferous vegetables. It is a loose-leaf cabbage related to broccoli and kale. Its leaves grow in a rosette.
Collard greens takes over 60 days to mature. Once they do, snip off the leaves at the thick stalk’s base.
The green leaves of dandelion are used for salads. Its flowers are used for botanical oils and tea.
It has a deep taproot system that makes it very easy for it to regrow easily. For this reason and because it persists, many have long thought this wildflower to be a weed.
Jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes)
Whichever name you call it, you can eat them cooked like potatoes or even raw. They are grown from their underground tubers and spread by underground rhizomes.
Many farmers consider them invasive because of how vigorous they are and because they can easily become very difficult to eradicate.
The daylilies are not considered as a vegetable by many in North America where it is grown as an ornamental plant there, but in Asia they are grown as vegetables and used like beans.
Its flowers are either battered and fried or served in salads. Gardeners who have planted it will tell you that this plant thrives on neglect.
This is one of those plants that you must continually cut regularly, to prevent it from going to seed. If you don’t, it can easily take over your entire garden.
It is an easy-to-grow herb. You can get a bountiful harvest all summer from this spiky grass. Simply prune, leaving 1 or 2 inches of growth at the soil.
The leaves and seeds of amaranth greens are edible. When the leaves are smaller, they have a mild, tender taste but when mature their taste is deeper and nuttier. They have beautiful purplish flowers.
Beetroots are great for their root vegetables and nutrient-rich leaves. The root vegetables can be harvested at the end of the season but as it grows, it will keep providing you with its leaves.
Harvest all season long to get the tastiest beet greens. Leave 1 or 2 inches of the plant in the ground when you harvest.
The leaves of romaine lettuce bunch together as they grow. To get your green leaves on the go, cut the outer leaves. This vegetable has more varieties than the common greens used in Caesar salads.
Scallions keep sending out shoots from its bulb (it is a tubular, hollow green shoot that comes out of a small bulb). It’s a quick-growing plant also called green or spring onions.
Because of its rapid growth, when the plant is six inches tall, pluck off the greens that are 1 or 2 inches above the soil line.
Bunching or Egyptian Onions
This plant continually produces new onion even after being harvested. Late in the summer, the Egyptian onions will produce small bulbils that may be used as is or planted in the fall to get more onions.
Scarlet Runner Beans
The majority of gardeners plant the scarlet runner beans as ornamentals in their gardens but it is edible – young leaves, flowers, tubers, everything. It can be eaten as green beans or as dried beans.
They live up to 20 years, sometimes more and can take over your garden.
There are two major species grown – French sorrel and common sorrel. The leaves have small portions of oxalates. When consumed in small quantities, are not harmful.
To get the best tasting sorrels, harvest early in spring. Once the weather becomes warm they become bitter. It is hardly found in the markets because shortly after harvest, they wilt.
The leaves of the turnip greens are tasty and nutritious. When harvesting, take only a couple leaves from each plant per time. Begin to cut when they grow to be about 4 inches tall.
As with sorrels, spinach can get bitter (when it’s fully mature) so it’s best to pick the leaves before they do.
Harvest the outer leaves, leaving the centre to keep growing if you intend to get the best out of your spinach. To thrive, they need six weeks of cool temperature.
Garden crest is a rapid grower. It grows in only two weeks, ready to be harvested, making it one of the fastest growing foods.
This spicy herb adds a delicious zing to soups and salads. When you harvest (when it has grown to be about 4 inches) be sure to leave behind half an inch of stem and it will quickly regrow.
Kale is a perennial usually grown as an annual. It comes in different shades of purple and green. This plant matures fully in two months. You can either wait for the mature leaves to use in cooking or harvest the tender leaves for salads.
As with sorrels, when exposed to too much heat, they become bitter. As a result, they are better planted in the spring or fall.
Bok Choy is a Chinese cabbage that loves shade. It grows to have broad green leaves with a bulbous base. To harvest, cut or pick outer leaves or cut back the entire plant.
Be sure to leave back a few inches of growth so it will resprout into a new plant.
Basil loves heat and warm environments. It is one of the fastest growing garden plants like Garden Crest. It is great for making flavoured oils, soups and pesto.
It yields its leaves in abundance and is a great companion plant for your peppers and tomatoes and a natural garden pest repellant.
Radicchio is famous for its bright white veins and purple-red leaves. It is sweeter when roasted or touched by frost in contrast to other conditions in which case it is spicy, somewhat bitter with a nutty flavour.
There are various types of radicchio but they are all cut and come again vegetables you will harvest for years.
So there you have it. A list of 20 perennial (cut and come again) plants you can plant once and harvest for many years. There are certainly more of such plants out there from which to choose from.
Jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes)
Bunching or Egyptian Onions
Scarlet Runner Beans