19 Edible Perennials To Grow For Self-Sufficiency

The single biggest mistake we made as new homesteaders — was not planting edible perennials in our garden as soon as possible.

Perennials are easy to grow, easy to maintain, and will reward you for many, many years with a steadfast supply of delicious food that comes back on its own faithfully each spring. But most of these plants require time to establish themselves and begin producing food, so plan accordingly and start now.

Edible Perennials Will Save You Money

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Perennials are plants that come back every year, making them a smart choice for gardeners. They save time and effort since you don’t need to replant them each season.

Edible perennials, like fruits, herbs, and vegetables, are especially beneficial as they’re often hard (or impossible) to find in stores. It’s also vastly cheaper to grow your own for all of the plants on this list.

Heed my advice, new homesteaders and gardeners — start planting edible perennials right from the start.

Rhubarb

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A resilient and easy-to-grow perennial, rhubarb offers a tart flavor ideal for desserts, but it also excels in savory applications — I love it with pork recipes as a sweet-tart-sour sauce.

Rhubarb thrives in cooler climates and can be a striking addition with its large leaves and red stalks. Plant rhubarb in a sunny spot and expect to start harvesting in the second year after planting. It’s a low-maintenance choice that can produce for decades.

Asparagus

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A true gardener’s delight and the first edible to spring up in your garden each year, asparagus, once established, can produce tender spears every spring for up to 20 years.

Plant asparagus crowns in well-drained soil and full sun. You can start asparagus from seeds, but it will take even longer. You’ll need some patience regardless; it takes 2-3 years to start producing after planting, but the wait is well worth it for this delicious vegetable.

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Strawberries

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These sweet, red berries are delicious and expensive to purchase, so starting a patch — or several — just makes sense. Strawberries are best started from bare root crowns and not seeds; they prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They start producing fruit a year after planting and can proliferate, providing an abundant harvest each year. Your patch will need to be revitalized as it becomes less productive by the 5th year, and this is easily done for free by the numerous runners each plant will put out each season.

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Fruiting Vines & Bushes

Blueberries growing on a tree.
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From the familiar and common raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries to lesser-known thimble berries, haskaps, and Saskatoon berries — these fruits are such a valuable addition to your edible landscape and gardening plans.

Fruit Trees

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Trees take a few years to start bearing fruit so it only makes sense to stick a few in your ground. Peach and apple trees are relatively fast producers among fruit trees, often beginning to bear fruit within 3-4 years after planting. These trees provide delicious fruits and can add aesthetic value to your garden with their beautiful blossoms and foliage.

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Nut Trees

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Nut trees take a very long time to start producing. Almond and hazelnut trees are among the fastest in terms of bearing nuts, typically starting within 3-5 years after planting. These trees require more space but are a long-term investment, yielding abundant and nutritious nuts. Have you seen the price for organic nuts in stores? And who knows how long they’ve been sitting around.

Mulberry Tree

Growing mulberries in a wild.
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This fast-growing tree can start producing sweet, elongated berries within a few years of planting. Mulberries are excellent for fresh eating, jams, and jellies. The tree is also a beautiful shade provider.

Horseradish

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Known for its pungent flavor used in sauces and condiments or grated fresh to eat alongside oysters, horseradish is a hardy perennial that can be harvested one year after planting. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Horseradish adds a spicy kick to dishes and is relatively easy to grow.

Jerusalem Artichoke

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It is a permaculture darling with numerous benefits, including beautiful flowers and the ability to grow into a privacy hedge. Also known as sunchoke, this plant produces potato-like tubers with a nutty flavor. It’s incredibly hardy and can be harvested in the fall, one year after planting. Jerusalem artichokes thrive in most soil types and are great for root vegetable diversity in your garden. The tubers can be roasted and used to feed livestock like ducks, geese, chickens, pigs, goats, and more.

Artichokes

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These unique and flavorful vegetables can be a showstopper in your garden. They prefer mild winters and cool summers and can take up to two years to produce their edible buds. Artichokes are perennials in warmer climates but can be grown as annuals in colder areas.

Lovage

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Do you love making bone broths and soups? You want to grow this. An herb with a flavor similar to celery crossed with parsley, lovage is a fantastic addition to risottos, sauces, soups, and stews. It’s easy to grow and can start contributing leaves for harvest in its first growing season. Lovage is also a beautiful ornamental plant with its tall stature and lush greenery.

Egyptian Walking Onions

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These unique onions self-propagate by growing bulbils at the top of the stalks. They are hardy and can be harvested throughout the growing season, starting in their first year. Egyptian Walking Onions are perfect for small spaces and offer a continuous supply of onions without needing replanting.

Grapes

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With proper care, grapevines can start producing fruit in 2-3 years. They require a bit of work with pruning and training but reward with bountiful harvests of grapes perfect for eating, juicing, or winemaking. Grapes need full sun and well-drained soil.

Sorrel

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This tangy, lemon-flavored herb is a perennial green that can be harvested in its first year. Sorrel is great in salads and soups and is easy to grow, preferring partial shade and moist soil.

Chives

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These onion-flavored herbs are a must-have in any kitchen garden. Chives can be harvested in their first year and are perfect for adding a mild onion flavor to dishes. They are hardy and can be grown in full sun or partial shade. The beautiful flowers are also edible and can even be used to flavor homemade vinegars.

Watercress

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A nutrient-rich aquatic plant, watercress can be harvested within weeks of planting. It requires consistently moist soil or shallow water and offers a peppery flavor to salads and sandwiches. If you have a pond or low-lying area where water frequently pools, try planting watercress.

Ramps or Wild leeks

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Difficult to grow and requiring quite a few years of patience before anything happens — wild ramps are usually foraged instead of farmed. But over-foraging has led to some farmers actually cultivating this valuable, delicious, mildly-oniony-garlicky spring perennial as a cash crop. It’s worth considering if you have the time and space.

Sumac

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Far more than just a beautiful plant, sumac is a spice lover’s dream. It takes a few years, typically 3-4, to start harvesting the tangy, lemony berries. Plant sumac for both its ornamental appeal and its zestful contribution to your spice rack.

Kiwi

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Hardy kiwi varieties, such as the Arctic Kiwi, are excellent for colder climates. These fast-growing vines, bearing small, smooth-skinned fruits, can withstand temperatures well below freezing. Plant them in a sunny location with well-drained soil, and expect to enjoy the sweet, nutrient-rich fruits in about 3-5 years after planting. Hardy kiwis are not only fruitful but also add a lush, green aesthetic to your garden space. They require a male and female plant for pollination, so ensure you have both for a successful harvest.

Perennials & Permaculture

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If you’re familiar with general permaculture principles and are already thinking of or even incorporating some into your gardens — perennials are a huge part of that. Make sure to learn more about no-till gardening and back to Eden gardening as these methods can really open up new possibilities and ways to grow your own food.

Look into incorporating native perrenials for the dying bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators.

Growing perennials in a permaculture polyculture involves creating a self-sustaining ecosystem where plants support each other. The key is to understand the natural interactions between plants and their environment.

For instance, some perennials can improve soil health, while others might attract beneficial insects. By observing and mimicking these natural processes, gardeners can develop a garden that requires less maintenance over time.

The goal is to establish a balanced, diverse garden ecosystem where plants complement and support each other, leading to a healthier and more productive garden.

Final Thoughts

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Growing edible perennials offers a blend of convenience, sustainability, and continuous yield. These plants require less annual maintenance and input, making them a time and resource-efficient choice.

In a survival garden where self-sufficiency and cost-savings is of paramount importance, this style of growing food is key.

They enrich the garden with diverse flavors and nutrients, often improving soil health and biodiversity over time. By establishing a perennial garden, you’re not just cultivating plants; you’re nurturing a self-sustaining ecosystem that rewards year after year with minimal intervention. This approach aligns with sustainable and permaculture gardening practices, fostering a more harmonious relationship with the natural world.

Learn More About No-Till Gardening

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What if I told you we’ve been gardening wrong for years and there is a much better way? Less work, less weeding, less watering, in exchange for healthier soil with minimal weeds that grows healthier plants?

It’s true: No-Till Gardening {Everything You Need To Know}

What Is A Survival Garden?

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These gardens prioritize easy-to-grow plants with high yields and adaptability to various climates and soil conditions. The goal is to produce enough food to support a household through times of uncertainty, such as economic downturns, natural disasters, or other crises, reducing reliance on external food sources.

But it’s also a great way to add to your self-sufficiency goals while remaining frugal.

Read The Article: Ultimate Survival Garden Guide {27 Best Crops}

A Favorite Perennial

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It’s almost time to plant asparagus crowns, and they sell out fast, so get yours ordered or preordered while you can. Then, use my guide to help you grow asparagus easily.

Get The Guide: How To Grow Asparagus From Crowns (Complete Guide)

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