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Plant These 6 Perennial Vegetables Once, and Reap Their Harvest Year after Year

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Traditional backyard gardens tend to be full of annual vegetables that need to be started year after year from seed, and while those veggies can be well worth the time and labor it takes to grow them, planting some perennial vegetables in your garden and yard can end up putting food on your plate for far less effort.

Unless you live in a region with a year-round growing season, your tomatoes and peppers (which are perennial by nature) will need to be planted anew each spring, because they can't handle the cold temperatures of winter, but there are other vegetables that can overwinter in many place and spring back to life as soon as soil temperatures are warm enough. By dedicating a garden bed or two to perennial vegetables, especially in a polyculture with other perennials, you can pack a lot of food production into a small area.

6 Perennial vegetables that keep on giving, year after year:

1. Asparagus:
This slender spring beauty is probably the most well-known perennial vegetable, and one of the most coveted early spring vegetables (and the relatively high price in the produce section to prove it). It's not a quick producer, such as many annual vegetables are, but asparagus can end up providing tasty green treats every year once they get established. Although it's possible to start asparagus from seed, you can speed up the harvest timeline by at least a year or two by planting crowns that are several years old, which are usually available in garden centers every spring (or if you know someone with a large asparagus patch, you may be able to convince them to give you some crowns when they divide their plants).

2. Sunchokes: Also known as Jerusalem Artichokes (even though they don't resemble artichokes at all), sunchokes are a relative of sunflowers that produce an edible tuber that is crisp and sweet. This perennial vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked as you would a potato, and is often described as having a nutty flavor. The sunchoke plant itself can grow rather tall, as a sunflower does, so it's well suited to planting as a border or along an edge of the garden. The tubers are harvested in the fall, with some of them left in the ground (or replanted after harvesting) for next year's plants.

3. Groundnut: The American groundnut (Apios americana), also called the Indian potato, is one of those perennial vegetables that doesn't get much attention, but could be a great addition to any garden. The groundnut is a perennial vine that produces edible beans and large edible tubers (more properly "rhizomatous stems"), and is native to the eastern portion of the US. The vines grow to about six feet long, and can be grown up a trellis (or up other plants) for dense plantings. The groundnuts are harvested in the fall, and as with sunchokes, some should be left in the ground for next year's growth.    


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