|Scottish globe artichokes|
Possibly our most successful perennial vegetable are globe artichokes. I grew them from seed originally and now I take rooted suckers from the established original eight plants. It is one of our earliest vegetables, cropping from late May onwards, and has two cropping periods, early summer and early autumn, when we have pretty much all-you-can-eat globe artichokes. I was a bit doubtful at first whether they'd work in Scotland. However, since they're a member of the thistle family they've been growing very well. In fact, they don't even go dormant during the winter, but keep growing lush foliage all year round. This year is their fourth season, after which you are meant to replace the original plants - hence the new plants made from rooted suckers.
|Asparagus from seed: year three|
|Good King Henry|
The only varieties of perennial veg that we could start harvesting in year one have been Daubenton’s kale (a sweet-tasting kale, a bit reminiscent of spring cabbage but growing in individual leaves and thus easy to harvest in small quantities) and wild rocket. I always look forward to the wild rocket appearing in March for early spring salads.
Good King Henry is usually classed as a herb, but to me it's a spinach substitute. The leaves are about the same size and it has a lovely aromatic taste. Perfect as a pizza topping! It also self-seeds quite merrily so you'll have a reasonable size of patch from just one or two plants in a short time.
|Egyptian onions, with 'babies' forming on top|
|Skirrets in bloom|
Another perennial allium in our garden is Babington's leek. It looks good, just like a leek, but we'll only get to sample it for the first time this year. Same with our skirrets, a perennial parsnip. We also started a horse radish plant last year.
Two vegetables that aren't perennial but that will just keep coming back because you'll never dig all of them up are oca (also known as New Zealand yam, a pretty lemony potato-like tuber) and Jerusalem artichokes. We keep them in the same spot every year and try to replant the best-looking tubers in the spring. Though, of course, there will be some rogues!
I'm always on the lookout for more perennial vegetables to try. For example, I'd like to add wild garlic types and nine-star broccoli. Has anyone got any experience with these or any other recommendations?
|Very useful onions|