Perennial vegetables : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Most of us are familiar with a few crops that are planted once and come back year after year: asparagus, rhubarb, several herbs, etc.

There are lesser know perennial crops that you may be interested in growing.

Form those who are interested in gardening, here's information about a company that sells seads of lesser known perennial vegetables.

As an aside, let be note that Thomas Jefferson grow and ate sea kale and lubbage and can be seen in his garden at Monticello. For a description of these vegetable, read below.


P.O. Box 608, Belchertown MA 01007 (413) 552-4167

Welcome to the 1999 Perennial Vegetable Seed Company catalog! Our goal is to introduce the public to a diversity of perennial vegetables. These plants have mostly been neglected as food plants, because they do not fit well into annual cropping systems. However, many are low-maintenance, virtually trouble-free crops which provide food year after year!

There are perennial vegetables for all occasions, from formal border and herb gardens, to the shade of fruit and nut trees, to naturalizing in your backyard prairie, forest, or wetland. A great diversity of perennial vegetable species exist. Some have been cultivated for centuries, some are wild, and some are only now being developed as crops. As PVSC grows, we will offer more and more species, many of which are not commercially available in North America. This year we are growing out improved Groundnut (Apios americana), as well as Sea Beet (Beta vulgaris maritima), the perennial ancestor of beets and chard, Turkish Rocket (Bunias orientalis), a tasty perennial mustard relative, and more. We are hot on the trail of perennial Brassica species, including perennial broccolis and kales, and their wild ancestor, perennial Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea).

Eventually we hope to offer tubers and cuttings. Until that time, we will limit ourselves to offering species which are easily raised from seed.

Feel free to write, call, or email with questions. If we do not carry something, we can probably tell you how to track it down.

From here, you can also go to our order form.

You can also find out about a special offer on Edible Forest Gardens, a new, comprehensive guide to understanding and working with perennial polyculture systems, co-authored by the Perennial Vegetable Seed Company's own Eric Toensmeier.


See end of section for germination codes. Hardiness information is approximate and refers to USDA zones - don't let it stop you from trying something.

ALL-01 Allium tricoccum - Ramp, Wild Leek. Wild onion native to eastern North America. Able to grow in shady deciduous woods because it leafs out before trees are in leaf. Leaves are perhaps the most delicious of the onion family, broad and flat like Lily-of-the-Valley. Bulbs are also edible. In North Carolina Ramp Festivals are held every spring to celebrate this delicious plant. Will spread to form large colonies. One of the best perennial vegetables for shade - get some started under your fruit and nut trees today! Dies back by late spring, don't be alarmed. Prefers moist, humus-rich soil. Hardy in zones 4-8. Germination code B.

ALL-02 Allium tuberosum - Garlic Chives. Perennial onion cultivated in China and Japan, where the young leaves are blanched in spring. I enjoy them blended up in hummus. Attractive ornamental, great cut flower. Flowers also edible. Sun to part shade. Hardy in zones 3-10. Germination code A.

ARA-01 Aralia cordata - Udo Cultivated vegetable from Japan. Very tall, to 9' or more, with striking clusters of white flowers. Blanched shoots are eaten. For fresh use, slice thin and soak in ice water. They can also be cooked in several changes of water. "Crisp and tender with a unique lemon-like flavor" (Facciola, Cornucopia). Prefers partial shade and room to spread! May be invasive, this genus generally has berries which are dispersed by birds. Hardy to at least zone 5. Germination requirements unknown.

AST-01 Astragalus crassicarpus - Groundplum Milkvetch This wild edible from the prairie has sweet 1" pods resembling plums, with a sweet, pea-like flavor. Fixes nitrogen. Nice purple pea-like flowers. Grow in full sun and well-drained, dry to dryish soil. Hardy in zones 3-8 or 9. Germination codes B(10), C, & E.

CHE-01 Chenopodium bonus-henricus - Good King Henry A perennial vegetable with a long history of cultivation in Europe. Edible shoots are also known as "Linconshire Asparagus". Leaves are eaten, tasting much like spinach. Seeds are also eaten, similar to it's relative Quinoa. Full sun to part shade, not fussy about soil. Forms clumps and self seeds. Somewhat similar to it's annual cousin Lamb's Quarters. Hardy in zones 3-9. Germination code A.

CRA-01 Crambe maritima - Sea Kale Very attractive seaside plant from Europe. The shoots are blanched and eaten, has been cultivated for centuries in Europe. Forms broccoli-like heads, apparently very tasty. Leaves are also eaten. Forms a large clump of blue-gray foliage. Full sun to part shade. Hardy in zones 4-8. Germination code A.

CRY-01 Cryptotaenia japonica - Mitsuba Cultivated in Japan and China. Like a perennial parsley, growing in moist to wet shady spots. Flowers attract beneficial insects. Hardiness unknown, but at least to zones 5 or 6. Germination code A.

GLY-01 Glycyrrhiza glabra - Licorice Roots are the source of commercial licorice. Sends runners out from clumps. These runners are harvested every two or three years. Eurasian. Fixes nitrogen. Prefers neutral to alkaline soils. Hardiness unknown, probably to zones 5 or 6. Germination code C,E.

GLY-02 Glycyrrhiza lepidota - American Licorice Native prairie species. Edible roots, some strains have a bitter taste. Extremely aggressive, spreading by rhizomes. Thrives in poor soils. Fixes nitrogen. Hardy in zones 3-8. Germination code C, E.

LEV-01 Levisticum officinale - Lovage European traditional herb and vegetable. Resembles giant, 6' clumps of celery with enormous yellow flowers. Leaves are among the first in spring, with a taste unbeatable in soups. Stalks and seed also eaten, with a strong lemon-celery flavor. Stalk sections make flavored straws. Attracts beneficial insects. Full sun to part shade. Hardy in zone 5 and probably colder. Germination code A, but must be stored cold until planting.

MON- 01 Montia siberica - Miners Lettuce Very promising plant from the Pacific Northwest. "Of all edible plants, miners lettuce stands out as one of the most palatable...the leaves and stems of this group of plants taste almost identical to lettuce...Miners lettuce stays tender and sweet throughout its growth cycle"(Tilford, Ed. and Med. Plants of the West). Dense groundcover prefers moist part to full shade but will tolerate sun with enough moisture. Hardiness unknown, at least to sones 6 or 7, possibly much colder. Germination code A.

MYR-01 Myrrhis odorata - Sweet Cicely Among the best perennial edibles. The whole plant is edible with a sweet anise flavor. Fern-like leaves and flowers delicious in salads, and formerly used to sweeten rhubarb pies. But the best flavor is the fresh seeds, which are a sunflower-anise delight, and produced in profusion. Attracts beneficial insects. Prefers part shade. Very nice ornamental. Hardy to zone 4. Germination code A, but must be stored cold until planting.

NAS-01 Nasturtium officinale - Watercress One of the most commonly eaten perennial vegetables. Strong but delicate flavor, superb in soups. Grows in flowing water, edges of streams. Don't plant in contaminated water! Very nutritious. Naturalizes well - may become invasive. Probably hardy in zones 3-10. Germination code A. Transplant into water and keep very moist as seedlings.

NEL-01 Nelumbo nucifera - Chinese Water Lotus Cultivated in Asia for its edible root ("lotus root"), also has edible young leaves. The large seeds are eaten fresh or dried, with the taste of chestnuts. They are very difficult to open once they harden. Grow in 1-4' of water. The pink flowers are very large and exquisite, and the unusual seed pods make a great dried flower. Spreads and can slowly take over a body of water if you don't keep harvesting it. Supposedly hardy in zones 7-10, but plants have thrived for 100 years in zone 6 Springfield, Massachusetts. Apparently if planted deep enough in mud and water, it won't get cold damaged. Germination code D.

NEL-02 Nelumbo lutea - American Water Lotus This rare eastern native species is very similar to it's Asian relative, with large yellow flowers. Roots are eaten, with a flavor said to resemble sweet potatos. Seeds eaten like those of N. nucifera. Young leaf stalks and unrolling leaves are eaten. Grows in 1-4' or water. Hardy in zones 4 to 9 or 10. Germination code D.

PSO-01 Psoralea esculenta - Prairie Turnip The tubers of this species were formerly an important staple for Native Americans of the prairie region. The tubers are high in protein and starch, taste bland (like potatoes). Prefers full sun and dry soil. Nitrogen fixer. Hadr in zones 3-7. Germination code B(10), C, E.

RUM-01 Rumex acetosa - French Sorrell One of the most popular perennial vegetables. Cream of Sorrell soup is a French springtime institution. The leaves are deliciously tangy. One of the first greens up in spring, you will be eating Sorrell while your annual greens are still seedlings on the windowsill. Full sun to part shade. Clump forming, self-seeds. Hardy in zones 3-10. Germination code A.

SAG-01 Saggitaria latifolia - Arrowhead, Duck Potato Another important Native American food plant. There are species that grow all over the world. One species is cultivated in Asia. Tubers are incredibly tasty, up to egg-sized. Much variation, a great plant for breeding projects to improve tuber size. Aquatic, grows from muddy banks down to 2' deep. Best to plant in 6" of water and let it spread where it likes. Naturalize in large ponds or grow in submerged pots. Forms colonies. Probably hardy from zones 3 or 4 to 10. Germination code B.

TAR-01 Taraxacum officinale sativum - Improved Dandelion A favorite wild edible, bred by the French for larger, less bitter leaves. Young leaves delicious and highly nutritious, also edible roots and flowers. Cutting back the flowers will result in longer leaf production. Full sun to part shade. Grows virtually anywhere, as you know. Probably zones 3-10. Germination code A.

-- walt (, July 05, 1999



This is an excellent post and answers some questions that I had wanted to ask, but kept forgetting to ask. Please keep posting.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, July 05, 1999.

good stuff- also sunchokes, "walking" onions are perennials- and horseradish as well. And fiddleheads too....

-- farmer (, July 05, 1999.

Great info! Thanks, I printed this one. Also remember artichokes, chives, shallots, garlics, Jerusalem artichokes and bamboo. This post is particularly valuable because it addresses the unusual ones.

-- seraphima (, July 06, 1999.

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