The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Plant Care

Looking after your perennial vegetables

trowel

Planting

Perennial vegetables are easy to look after. Like other vegetables most of them benefit from being planted in a fertile, well-drained, weed-free soil, ideally one which has been enriched with garden compost. Give plants ample space – plant so that the leaves of one plant will almost touch the leaves of the next plant when they are fully grown. They will need watering in when they are first planted and may need additional watering whilst they are getting established if the weather is dry.

leaves

Mulching

After that their main requirements are to be kept free from encroaching weeds and to be protected from drought. And the best way to do both these things is to mulch the plants well. Put a thick layer of organic material around the base of the plant. You can use garden compost, straw, leaves or leaf mulch, shredded bark, grass clippings – basically any organic material that is free of weed seeds will do the job. Top up the mulch each year or establish suitable ground-cover plants beneath the perennial vegetables.

clover

Feeding

Perennial vegetables are easy to look after. Mulching with garden compost will feed your plants. You can also give diluted liquid feeds such as comfrey tea, worm tea from a worm bin or urine. Nitrogen-fixing or deep rooting mineral accumulator ground-cover plants provide another way to keep your plants healthy and well-fed.

onions

Moving plants

Most perennial vegetables can occupy the same site for many years, but it is beneficial to move plants from the brassica and onion families every few years to avoid the build up of disease. Some perennial vegetables are very long-lived whilst others will need replacing after a few years.

frog

Protecting from pests

Pests can attack perennial vegetables just as they do annual vegetables. Planting species nearby such as sage and ox-eye daisies, which attract insect predators like hoverflies, is a natural way to keep insect pest numbers down. (As a general rule the greater the range of plants in a garden the better the balance of nature in the garden). Attracting birds and frogs helps to control caterpillars and slugs and snails. If you need greater control wildlife friendly slug pellets can also be used and nets and wire fences are very useful in keeping out birds, rabbits and chickens.