Seriously, this year I have been a total slacker in the garden (if you'd like to skip the complaining and get right to the list of perennial vegetables, scroll down). The weather didn't help. In Portland, it has been unseasonably cool, so much so that my tomato plants are about 1/3 the size and full of green fruit. And don't get me started on the eggplants and peppers...or lack thereof. Not even growing them in containers on my cement patio helped...
Usually, our summer starts around July 4th, with cool weather and rain on and off until that time . This year, it was in the 70's all the way through August, with rain until the end of July. We had a respite of 30 days with no precipitation, then yesterday, it started raining...and it continues.
This has underwhelmed me in the inspiration department. My veggie garden is pitiful. I harvested a lot of kale, some tomatillos, some peacock broccoli and a few carrots. Fruits, on the other hand, are having a banner year. I had blueberries (check out these blueberries chosen specifically for raised beds) until the middle of August, lots of blackberries and the apple and pear trees are full. Sadly, the raspberries didn't really do well. The rain left them watery and univiting. Next year, I might try these heritage raspberries or these golden "Anne" raspberries.
I grumbled everytime I went out to the garden...feeling dejected that the only thing flourishing was weeds. I took it as a personal failure on my part, which only led me to feel more dejected about the whole thing. Somewhere in the beginning of August, I gave up. I just stopped doing everything except watering. And really, I did that out of guilt. I came to the conclusion that I just wasn't going to have an edible garden next year. I would only grow ornamentals. After all, Oregon is the perennial capital of the world, and they thrive here almost year-round.
And on one of these days, the ones with the grumbling and guilt-watering, I started thinking about how great it would be if I could grow perennial edibles. Are there such things? Of course, there are fruits, but vegetables? And if not, are there biennials that can mascarade as perennials?
It is worth noting that I am in zone 7-8, depending on who you ask. So perennial/biennial veggies are a practical reality here. Right off the bat, a couple come to mind (by the way, The Cook's Garden is an excellent resource for veggie seeds, I've linked the varieties below to their site):
I am sure there are more. I made a pledge (to myself, because everyone else had long given up on me and my continuous grousing) that next year, I would only grow edibles that were perennial/biennial or super easy container varieties. The vegetables in containers can be left outside under the eves or brought in to the garage to overwinter. I recommend using containers with casters (wheels) to make the move much easier.
This immediately made me feel better. I have a plan! I can spend my winter dreaming up a new incarnation for my edibles...one that takes advantage of our climate here. And, I have decided that next year, I will really pay attention to my ornamental plantings. I have neglected them the past two years in an attempt to get my veggie garden to produce. Next year will be about balance...bringing the two sides of my gardening world closer together.
Do you have suggestions for my perennial veggie garden? I would love to hear them!