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    I’m trying to come up with a list of good perennial veggies I might like to include in my garden. Some of them are really new to me–and I don’t know if I’ll like the taste! But maybe I’ll learn. Does anyone grow and enjoy the following?

    Good King Henry–I’m looking for something green and leafy, so it seems like a good choice, but is it really a spinach substitute? Or will I end up having to drown it in bacon grease or cream to get my family to eat it?

    A few others I’m wondering about:
    Jerusalem artichoke
    Perennial leeks

    These usuals I know we’ll eat.

    Any I’m missing?


    Jessica McClure

    I don’t know about Good King Henry, but Sorrel is delicious, my son has been eating it raw since the age or 2. He prefers the small lanceolate wild sheep sorrel to the commonly cultivated French variety. It has a lovely sour lemony flavor that is nice mixed in a salad or pureed with olive oil and shallots as a raw sauce for fish or mushrooms.
    Salsify is wonderful! I have heard the flavor and texture compared to wild oyster mushrooms and I have to agree. Peel the root and steam, serve with a litle olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper.
    Not too sure abou Jerusalem Artichokes, never tried them. I have heard they are not super nutrient rich. I have friend who has a stand of them set aside for the zombie apocalypse, but generally she eats other stuff she grows and leaves it alone. It can be a bit invasive.
    Hope this helps!



    Everything you need to know about perennial vegetables you can learn from Eric Toensmeier. He is the author of a book called “Perennial Vegetables”, co-author of “Edible Forest Gardens”, and also a new book called “Paradise Lot”. Look for a video tour of his 1/10 acre suburban permaculture garden, its amazing!



    I use jerusalem artichokes to shade my worm farm (in a bathtub) and they are very invasive, but really quite pleasant tasting – steamed lightly so still crisp. Understand they are a source of inulin. They are a nuisance to prepare as knobbly and hard to clean.


    Henry J

    Good king henry is can be a bit weedy too. I planted it successfully almost everywhere, though it took up where other things failed so it wasnt such a bad thing.

    I remember reading its meant to be harvested from its second year. So I cant really tell you what its like because I have moved. In it’s first year it tasted more bitter than spinach.


    Jay Angler

    Hi Trisha,
    Here are a couple of uncommons that I grow.
    Phyllostachys dulcis bamboo is grown for both its spring shoots and as usefull garden poles. “Dulcis” means “sweet” and this is a very palatable bamboo. I got mine from a fellow on Saltspring Isl, BC. It does take space.
    I’ve just started a couple of Ostrich Ferns. I’ve eaten fiddleheads before and know I like them, but my plants are still too small to harvest. I needed some shade loving plants, and have natural ferns growing (I can’t tell if the big ones are Sword ferns or Deer ferns, but I do have some small ones I’m quite sure are licorice ferns.) Fiddleheads need to be boiled for 10 min. as there’s a chemical in them that can cause trouble.
    Good luck!



    Remember horseradish. Humans have planted horseradish for eons. Also, rhubarb is perennial. If you do a search about rhubarb you will find communities in Europe and the US east coast used to force this plant in winter to supply citizens with a fresh food. There are many ways to enjoy the plant. I am sure there are more plants and am interested in your question and all the answers you get.



    Wow! Thanks everyone for the input. I didn’t realize that some of these plants were invasive, for example. I just bought a few jerusalem artichokes and I have a recipe for a risotto with mushrooms and orange. . .

    Ferns, asparagus, horseradish and bamboo sound good too. I love bamboo shoots actually–I will look into that.



    I have been growing Scorzonera hispanica. If you harvest the roots, it kills the plant, but the leaves are also quite good. I have not had much luck getting Skirret or Good King Henry to get going – they just look so much like weeds! I am going to try again under more controlled conditions. And speaking of “weeds,” don’t forget dandelions & nettles! I am also growing mashua roots & oca roots, which are called perennials, but in my climate (temperate, Pacific Northwest, U.S.), need to be harvested, stored, & then replanted. Some things are edible, but I don’t eat them much because they’ve gotten too old & woody (for ex., sweet cicely). Something like fennel is really more herb-like, but the leaves & flowers are nice in salads. Another that is often advertised is cardoon, but I find that it quickly becomes bitter and is quite dominant, as is lovage. I grow quite a bit of sorrel, but I don’t eat much of it because of the oxalic acid. Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes can be hard to digest (I grow them as a screen on the far side of the property). We have some old-growth kale that seems to make it through the winters; I don’t know how long they are supposed to live. Seems like a lot of the perennials I grow, I know are edible, but I don’t necessarily eat them on a steady basis!



    Blythe–in our lawn we have a ‘mow what’s there’ policy–meaning it already has plenty of stuff like dandilions, wildflowers, thistle! So maybe something a bit weedy around the edge wouldn’t be such a shock around here!

    And I was actually thinking of using jerusalem artichoke in a spot just above a retaining wall where I want a visual barrier, but don’t want to risk planting something like a shrub or tree with a big root system for fear of destroying the wall. . .

    It’s interesting that you mention fennel being perennial–I don’t know if we have that here, but the climate is so different: Southern French Alps. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest–beautiful!



    I grew Jerusalem Artichokes two years ago, from about 12 tubers that a neighbour gave me I ended up with a patch 17 ft by 4 ft that was packed solid with them within 6 months… they are extremely invasive. I liked the taste of them but the effect on my digestive system was explosive…and painful… lol



    Hi, My name is j j, I am new to this forum, I am from Republic of Ireland, a perennial I grow is kale, the name of variety is “Uncle John`s Kale”, it is very resilient and can withstand temperatures of -5, [that is cold here], I am a newby to permaculture, so I will be asking for advice as I go please.



    Trisha – I lived awhile in France (Paris) & visited the French Alps – also very beautiful! Very cool that you are there! You will have to share with us what you grow and how it does!

    I have heard J-chokes are not invasive if you let them get about a foot tall & then cut them back to the ground. The plant feeds off the bulb in the initial stages and then doesn’t have enough energy to produce more bulbs. Has anyone tried this? I have also heard they will choke themselves out, and that if you want big bulbs, you have to transplant them (sounds like you had the perfect soil for them, Aran! Did they choke themselves out the 2nd year or did they just keep on growing?). The key, I think, is to eat them in small doses & mixed with other veggies! They’re really good for you if you can handle them! So far, mine have not been invasive. I have some others planted on a hillside where I thought they might provide some wind protection, but it is a dry spot and they have really struggled there.

    I am finding that a lot of plants frequently listed as good permaculture plants (along with quite a few medicinal herbs) can be quite invasive – (I found out the hard way about Mugwort!) – but I am beginning to put that to my advantage and cut them back for mulch before they go to seed.

    Today (Jan. 25) I noticed the chickweed is really starting to explode in my garden! I am starting to see it offered in our local markets and also as seed! Plain ol’ chickweed! It’s such a treat at this time of year! It was near 50 degrees F, the bees were out and returning with pollen – possibly from willows? alder?

    JJ – welcome to the forum! would love to hear more about what you have growing there in Ireland! And I would love to visit there!



    Hi Trisha, I have a small garden, last year I had a very bad spring, so my carrots did not grow, I had peas, [3 types], lettuce, spinach, turnips, potato
    [4 types], kale, onion, garlic, chives, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, I grow comfrey for my compost, rhubarb, that is it Trisha. Last year I was in college doing a course in horticulture, this year I will learn about permaculture and start putting into practice what I have learnt.



    Awena–I like the idea of growing Kale, it might be hardy enough for here. . .maybe if I cover it in the winter.

    Aran and Blythe, As for the sun-chokes getting invasive–I was thinking of maybe planting them on the edge of a lawn space that I do actually mow every few weeks. If excess shoots come in, I can just mow them down. . .right? Also, our family just tried them for the first time–no digestive problems so far, but we mixed them with other veg. . .

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