Perennial vegetables only need planting once, and they keep coming up year after year in the same spot. As they are not rotated like other annual crops, they need a garden bed all of their own.
Jerusalem Artichokes - These are underground tubers which are ready for harvest in autumn. They grow up to 2m high with bright sunflowers. The plant dies down in autumn - winter, then they can be dug up like buried treasure! The tubers can be used to make soup or are delicious roasted.
Rhubarb - Good varieties are ‘Ever Red’ or ‘Sydney Crimson’. Rhubarb requires a separate bed as it is a hungry feeder that needs more nutrients than other crops. Add a generous amount of cow manure when planting and mulch with sugarcane.
Strawberries - Strawberries do exceptionally well in a raised bed, such as a tank bed, as the fruit will spill over the edge and can be netted if necessary to prevent the birds from getting in.
‘Hokowase’ - This is the sweetest strawberry with delicate, wedge-shaped berries that have a meltingly soft texture.
‘Chandler’ - This is the most prolific and most delicious of all the large fruited strawberries, growing up to 60gms. They grow in most climates.
‘Nellie Kellie’ - A vigorous plant that produces large, beautiful, pink flowers from late autumn to summer and have large, juicy fruit.
Asparagus - ‘Mary Washington’ is a popular garden variety, originating in the US, due both to its high productivity and its resistance to rust diseases. It has slender green spears produced in abundance throughout spring. The purple spear variety is something special. Asparagus should not be harvested for 3 years after planting as it is important for the clump to establish well before picking. Asparagus die down over autumn going ‘underground’ in winter, to reappear in spring with thin spears coming up from the ground. They are ideal for tarts and quiches.
Potatoes - Grow your own hot chips by planting potatoes tubers in early spring. They are available from mail order companies such as Diggers Club or purchase them from your local nursery or hardware store.
Firstly add organic matter and compost to the soil and dig in well. Dig a long 40cm deep trench and place potatoes in the bottom of the trench, 20-30cm apart. Place 10cm of loosened soil over the top. As they grow, hill up the soil around them to exclude light as this increases the number of potatoes. This also ensures the potatoes remain under the earth as they will go green if they come in contact with the sun and can’t be eaten.
If planted now, they should be ready around Christmas. Harvest delicious ‘new potatoes’ as soon as the flowers and the leafy tops die down in summer. One seed potato yields a minimum of 10 potatoes in warmer regions and up to 40 in cooler areas of Australia. Forgotten tubers will grow again in summer and you can dig them up throughout autumn and into winter, these will grow large and are called ‘maincrops’ and should be dug up and stored during wet winters
‘Banana’ - Bred in the Baltic region. A delicious waxy, yellow-fleshed, fingerling variety and is ideal for salads, boiling and baking. It is also resistant to common scab.
‘Desiree’ - High yielding Dutch variety that takes 130 days to mature. It has soft pink skin and creamy flesh that is great for all cooking methods, except chips.
‘Nicola’ - Rich, sweet, yellow flesh that tastes as if it has already been buttered and is ideal for mashing, baking, and slicing. Matures in 120 days.
‘Ruby Lou’ - Bred in Victoria, this creamy white fleshed potato is ideal for roasting and frying. It is high yielding and matures well.
Edible Flowers - Surround your vegetables with companion plants and include edible flowers /herbs that discourage the bad pests and encourage the good bugs. Calendula, nasturtiums, chives, violas, marigolds, comfrey, borage and rosemary are an example of these.
Herbs - Flat leaf parsley, chives, oregano, basil & spring onions
Mediterranean herbs - Thyme, rosemary & oregano
Shady herb - Coriander, Vietnamese mint, common mint, lemongrass & chervil
www.bluemountainscommunitygardens.org - (perennial vegies)
www.diggers.com.au- (perennial vegies)
www.mrfothergills.com.au - (potatoes)
www.oasisaustralia.com - (herbs/ companion plants)
www.scottsaustralia.com.au- (fertilisers/soil conditioner)
www.tankworks.com.au- (garden beds)