Gardening,  Thrift

The Lazy Gardener: Edibles

I am always looking for ways to produce more of my own food using less of my free time. I also enjoy being lazy when I can find a moment. Thus, I am a huge fan of permaculture and perennial plants. Many perennials require some set up and a period of waiting (1-3 yrs) before they become productive. After that waiting period, they are very easy to take care of and will provide food with very little effort for years.

Volunteer’s are always welcome in my garden (that’s the term my mother always used for plants that grow through the winter or annuals that pop up in the spring on their own) but I like to stack my cards by planting as many perennials as possible in my small yard. I have been planting something perennial every year since I bought my house downtown and have made some progress in my perennial garden.

Bee Balm makes some spectacular flowers. The Hummingbirds love it and so do I. It comes back every year and multiplies. The leaves have a spicy taste like oregano. This is one of the many perennial herbs I grow in my yard. I also have rosemary, oregano, lemon balm, parsley, chives echinacea and lovage.

Raspberries are pretty expensive at the store, but almost too easy to grow in your yard. The hard part is keeping the birds away and keeping the raspberries from taking over. Raspberries do require maintenance. I trim out the dead stalks, gangly stalks and spreading suckers every fall to keep the patch under control. My raspberries tend to grow some over our mild winters, so I trim any  run-away stalks and branches in the spring before the raspberries begin budding.

Throughout the summer raspberries continue to grow, sometimes very quickly. I prune the new growth to prevent them from taking over.

We also have wild raspberries here, and those pop up all over the yard. I pull these up, but while wild raspberries have smaller fruit, they are still very tasty and can be cultivated the same way as the domesticated canes.

Asparagus is another perennial favorite. Asparagus requires a little more preparation, but once the bed is established will fruit for years. Asparagus is a hungry plant and likes a lot of organic material and little competition, so keeping the bed well fed with compost is a must.

Many people don’t think of garlic as a perennial, but it can be with a little maintenance. Allowing garlic to grow year round is as simple as only digging up the bulbs that are large enough to use and replanting any smaller bulbs to continue to mature.

My favorite perennial is rhubarb! If you live in the south you may have trouble cultivating this plant, but if you live further north it is a must have for perennial gardening. An amazing pie ingredient, it is also tasty in jams and jellos. If you like that sweet and sour (think sourpatch kids or peach rings) you will love rhubarb pie.

Grapes again require some maintenance, but grow very quickly under the right conditions.  On cape cod we also have a relative of the grape, porcelain berries. These are very pretty, edible and birds supposedly like to eat them, but they are also prolific and fast growing. Porcelain berries will take over if not pulled regularly.

This isn’t a very good picture, but my grapes are growing
across structure  that takes up a good part of my backyard.
I don’t know what it is.
Porcelain Berries taking over my yard.

Surprisingly, potatoes will come back. It is generally thought to be a good idea to move potatoes each year to avoid disease. After digging my potatoes (I must have missed some small ones) they came back on their own. I love volunteers, so I harvested those too. These will not provide a large harvest, but you should keep an eye out for them if you have been growing potatoes.

You can grow Avocado seeds if you live in warmer climes than I do, but you will have to wait a long time to see any avocados. It could be a fun project to start an avocado orchard if you live down south and have an empty side yard.

Strawberries are another favorite perennial. They do not like competition, so they require some maintenance (mulching). They are also a favorite of squirrels, so you may need some pest protection (netting).  

My favorite organic pest protection is my cat, Oscar. I haven’t seen a squirrel in the yard now for over a year.

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