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What is different in gardening with perenials?

 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I would like to know, in reference of Anni's book for example, what is specific and what do you tell about?

What more than making lists of which veggies are perenials?
What is the challenge, what are the specific difficulties?
Thanks
 
Dale Hodgins
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For me, the main challenge is to commit to giving up the space for a long time. It's a semi permanent decision. It means planning roads, building sites etc. in advance, so that perennials aren't damaged and don't have to be moved in the near future. Then there's the greater amount of soil preparation for soil that will be covered for a while.
 
Anni Kelsey
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The reason I did the research and wrote the book was because in part because I started with lots of lists of perennial vegetables. As an exercise in making lists it was relatively easy. However growing them was a different matter. What looked good on paper did not always work in practice. I tried lots of things primarily because I wanted to and also because my garden was not suitable for growing conventional vegetables - too shady and too many slugs (at first). Also I don't have the physical strength nor the time to devote to conventional ways of growing vegetables.

I wanted to find out if given the limitations I had if any of these perennial vegetables would work - what would grow for me and what I would like the taste of. Initially I did not think I was going to be able to find enough to make the experiment viable (it was some years ago and there was less information available then), but then things turned a corner and I found out a lot about the vegetables I was trying but also about growing in polycultures which is the method that makes all the difference to not having to do a lot of work in the garden.

The challenge is to locate the plants that are likely to work in your area. As for difficulties, I can't say I had any in particular as I am quite laid back and accepting of what happens. Observing and adjusting what you do accordingly is important and some may find it a challenge if they are very used to conventional gardening methods.

As Xisca is in the Canary Isles that is very different to the damp, cool UK climate. I think that the methods would transpose there okay given the right mix of plants, but I don't know what they would be. However Eric Toensmeier's Perennial Vegetables does cover the whole of the US including the warm areas so I would think that would give some ideas.

About committing space to perennials - for anyone who is not all that sure about growing perennials but would like to have a go but perhaps has other priorities in the garden I would not use the best bits of the garden but those parts that are not so suitable for your main passion and see what you can grow on the proverbial permacultural edges.

Anni

 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1277
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Dale, I agree that they must be planted as trees, at the right place and that the soil will not be moved!

Anni, in working with annuals or perennials, in both cases polyculture is a major point isn't it?
That is why I do not see what is soooo specific to growing perennials!

I do try to have them all together, or else any preparation for annuals is a problem...

I will add that perennials are not always so perennial as trees, they might live 3 years sometimes...
I have things as cajanus cajan or bitter cucumber or malabar spinach. They do last longer, but not as asparagus...
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Ho, I have found another difference!
I asked myself "why don't I have more perennial vegetables!"
Because they are hard to find.

I still have not found mashua for example.
Artichokes do not do well form seeds, and I still look for people around having nive once, for baby shoots.
Same for asparagus. Here they are hard to find. I have 2 plants and some wild once, not enough.

I got an air potatoe just by chance, just one!
And the first babies...

Here no one has rubarb, though I think I can grow them.
This lead me to another problem for growing perennials, chose the variety.
This is easier to meke trials with annuals!
It goes fast and they go away.
i do not want to loose or pull off nice rooted plants!

So I am more carefull in the choice, so I delay finding, buying and planting.
 
Anni Kelsey
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Yes Xisca - polyculture is an important way of growing. For me, in my own garden and with my own circumstances perennial vegetables have proved to be a way of growing food that works. Other people in different places, with different circumstances may well find other things work better for them. I don't think there has to be any dogma about it, just find out what suits you and your garden and do that. And yes, perennials can be hard to find.

Anni
 
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