For the Permaculturalist, perennial vegetables are an important element of a durable and resilient design system.
One of the main features of perennials is that they come back year after year, and require little in the way of maintenance other than cropping, and in many cases covering over with a mulch at the end of the growing season where they lye dormant until the following Spring begins and their shoots start to grow again. Perennial vegetables are also of the utmost importance when we start thinking about Peak oil and gas, and the amount of oil and gas that is used along every step of the way when food is being grown, sprayed, cropped, processed, and delivered.
Such a system that is completely reliant on oil is doomed to catastrophic failure as the price of oil continues to rise, and it gets harder and harder to locate and extract. Perennial vegetables, grown locally do no rely on fossil fuels for their production, and they are a low maintenance, truly sustainable form of food that that does not rely on external inputs.
Perennials for a permanent culture
In a future that will not be powered by oil, we really need to grow a lot of perennial foods, fruit and nut trees are just some of the plants of the future that we need to grow on a large, but diverse scale in order to provide us with yearly food sources that last for decades as opposed to a ‘plant once, crop once’ agricultural system. Perennials also work in beneficial ways when arranged with other plants that are complementary to them, this will then ensure that soil fertility and maintenance occure as in intentional feature of your permaculture design and site map.
Choosing your Perennials
Choosing varieties that are suitable to your climate and land is an important thing to consider before you being converting a plot to a perennial growing area.
For our temperate climate that are many perennial varieties that we are able to grow with some ease. On one of my allotment plots this year, I have removed all of the wooden raised beds and am going to build an edible perennial system from a design that I’ve been working on for the last few weeks. Up to now, here is what I am going to grow in the system:
Goji berry bushes
Welsh walking onions
Herbs and Salad
Red veined sorrel
This list is by no means complete, if you can think of any other useful perennial plants that might do well in a cooler Northern English climate with a fair amount of rainfall, then please feel free to reply this blog.