Can you cut 1 Tonne of carbon pollution out of your life?Take the challenge
Gardening can unfortunately take up quite a bit of time and effort due to the hard work involved at the start of each growing season. If you plant some perennials, you could have fresh delicious plants growing for years with minimal care!
When you grow our own produce, you're reducing carbon emissions from the transport of food, and cutting down on food waste by only using what you need!
Gardening also makes you happier and healthier- getting fresh air, sun and exercise is a guaranteed mood lifter!
A great way to reduce effort, time and costs in gardening is to plant perennials.
Perennials are a type of plant that differs from annuals. Annual plant species go through a whole life cycle in just a year, yet perennials can live for several years, sometimes 30!
Perennials offer many benefits, like a generous lifespan and allowing you have to have a constant supply of fresh produce with little effort or cost.
The perennials on this list are a selection of our favourites for a food garden!
Fennel is a Mediterranean plant with a delicious aniseed flavour. It can be used as a spice, vegetable and herb, and it great in curries and breads. Fennel can be used to flavour dishes, and the leaf bases are delicious raw, sautéed or stir fried.
Fennel grows best in an open sunny position, and in soil that is rich and well drained. It's also recommended to plant your fennel way from any dill or coriander as these plants will cross pollinate making your fennel taste bland and strange. It will take around 15 weeks for the bulbs to mature.
2. Sweet potato
The sweet potato is a hardy crop that is delicious baked, fried, steamed, or boiled. This plant is generally pest and disease free, and does well in warm or hot conditions. Sweet potato can be grown in temperate conditions but grow it in early spring to avoid frosts for 4-6 months. It is grown best in sunny positions though does okay semi-shaded. Make sure the soil is well drained so your sweet potatoes won't rot in the ground in heavy rain fall!
Hibiscus isn't just a beautiful, colourful flower. Hibiscus is a very nutritious plant that is good to eat in salads, can be baked into cakes and is lovely in tea. The leaves can also be eaten in a salad but don't eat them regularly as they contain oxalic acid. Hibiscus grows best in warm conditions and in a position with full sun. They need ample water and rich, well drained soil.
The flowers each only last for about a day, however the hibiscus will thankfully continue to bloom over 2 months.
Rhubarb is another hardy plant that can live in almost any soil. The stalks of rhubarb are used as a fruit and are eaten in cakes and desserts. Rhubarb is best eaten sweetened in a pie or crumble, or just stewed by itself. Like the other perennials, make sure rhubarb is grown in soil that is well drained. Rhubarb does best in cooler conditions, but if you live somewhere warmer, rhubarb still does all right if you place it in a semi shaded position and keep it well watered so it doesn't dry out.
Very importantly, do not eat or give chickens the rhubarb leaves as they are toxic. They can instead be composted.
Watercress leaves have a delicious peppery flavour that is great in salads and sandwiches. The plant is very high in vitamin C, calcium and iron, and is best eaten fresh and raw.
Watercress does well in wet environments and so it's important that the soil isn't ever dried out. It also prefers cooler conditions so if you live somewhere hot keep it out of the sun. When you want to harvest your watercress, gently pull or snip off the leaves so as to not disturb the roots. Make sure you never take more than a third of the leaves!
Starting your own food garden has never been so efficient or delicious. Just imagine all the amazing meals you could make with some of your own perennials growing in your garden, and the difference you could make by growing your own food instead of buying it.