In this video, Lindsey our Horticulturist will be showing you our favorite edible perennials to grow around our urban farm! We love perennials because they will come back every year with little to no maintenance and are great additions to your garden.
0:00 Plant Once, Harvest Every Year
1:39 Pennywort & Water Spinach
3:33 Asparagus & I’itoi Onions
4:53 Mint & Chinese Celery
6:00 Chamomile & Nasturtium
TRANSCRIPT FROM VIDEO:
Hi, I’m Lindsey, and I’m here at the Urban Farm. Today, we’re gonna talk about plants that come back every year. In other words, perennials, edible perennials that you can have in your own garden that will come back every year with little to no maintenance and are great additions to your garden. We love perennials here on the farm and we rely on them a lot to gap between seasons. You always want food to be growing in your garden, and perennials are a great way of accomplishing that. We love having perennial herbs like rosemary and bay leaf, curry leaf here on the farm, as well as edible crops like eggplant, egyptian spinach and okra.
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Perennial crops are crops that will come back every year or that will grow, grow throughout the season. So here in Phoenix, we have a warmer climate. We have a lot of crops that can just go straight through with no problems at all. A lot of berry plants are perennials, so if you can grow berry plants in your climate, those are great additions to your farm. But I’m gonna talk today about some of our favorites that we grow here on the urban farm, and some are a little bit different than what other people might have in their garden, but it’s always great to learn from others what you can add to your garden.
So here is part of our aquaponic system. We have some pennywort and some water spinach, and these are both great more perennial crops that you can grow in water systems or just really moist environments. They definitely like to have their roots wet always. So our pennywort will go throughout the year. It doesn’t really have any problem here in the warmer climate in other areas it will die back. You can see it’s dying back a little bit. This system has a small water heater, but we don’t keep this water as warm as we do for say the tilapia. So they do die back a little bit, but they will stay throughout the winter. And these are great additions to salad. You can eat them raw, you can cook it like spinach. It’s really healthy. It’s a really great green to add to your garden, as well as water spinach, which you can use in relatively the same way. Our water spinach will die back. So you can see it’s kind of starting to just lose some of its leaves. It’s yellowing a little bit, so it’s just not as happy as it is in the summer, in the warmer water, in the warmer climate. So we take cuttings of this every year and put it in our system. Our aquaponic system that we have in the garage that stays a lot warmer just so we can ensure that it always comes back and that we can propagate it and have more of it. But consistently, this water spinach has always come back in this tank, and it is a great addition to summer salads and cooking greens. Those are two great options as well as water crest. That’s another that here will die back and then come back in the spring when it warms up really nutritious, really beneficial. And if you have an aquaponic system, these plants are great for also filtering your water. So best of both.
Another perennial crop that we love here on the farm is asparagus. Depending on where you live, your asparagus is gonna look a little bit different, but asparagus will come back every year and it is an amazing perennial if you have space to grow it. It does get a little bit gnarly and a little bit big, so make sure that you account for that in your garden. But asparagus is a really fun crop to grow and it comes back and it doesn’t require anything. We hardly touch it unless we’re going to harvest it. So really easy to maintain crop takes very little effort.
Another of my favorite perennials and crops that we grow here year round is these are I’itoi onions and they are similar to green onions. They grow in bunches, but they taste a little bit more reminiscent of a shallot. And you can use the tops just as you would green onions, but green onions, any kind of bunching onion or chives are Greek perennial crops that come back really easy. They don’t take up a lot of space, but they can add an amazing amount of flavor to your garden.
One of my favorite perennial herbs to grow here on the garden is mint. In front of me, we have classic mint as well as chocolate mint, which is delicious in desserts. Mint is amazing at propagating itself. It will die back a little bit in extreme temperatures, but as long as you keep the roots wet, it does like a little bit more moisture than some other plants. Mint will be happy to come back year after year.
Another favorite, which is amazing for soups and for cooking is Chinese celery, which you can see a few patches right here. And this just pops up around the farm kind of in random places, but always consistently year after year. And you can use it as you would regular. Celery, the stems stay a little bit skinnier, but otherwise the leaves and the stock taste exactly the same, and it’s really just an amazing ground cover plant. So I really suggest growing this. If you like celery, but don’t like all the work and the tediousness of growing regular celery.
In front of me we have chamomile, which is an amazing tea. It adds flavor to dishes. Chamomile is really easy to, it just propagates itself year after year, as long as you let it dry out a little towards the end of its flowering stage, it will re-seed it itself, and it’ll come back in the spring or the fall depending on where you live. But chamomile is a great ground cover plant. It basically takes care of itself and doesn’t require any work until it’s time to harvest.
And the final plant here that we love to have on the farm year after year is Nasturtium. You can see it popping up in between these bulbs and there’s a little behind me. It’s just starting to come out. Nasturtium is amazing in salads or cooked. It’s really good for you. It has a little bit of a spicy flavor, but it’ll just come and then it kind of creeps out. It’s really easy to propagate and move. You can just dig some up and put it where you would like it, but we love it as a ground cover and as an edible addition to our garden.
I hope this gives you some creative ideas of things that you can add to your own garden in order to have crops year after year that are both beautiful and delicious.