perennial pəˈrɛnɪəl/ adjective 1. lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring or continually recurring.
What is a perennial salad garden?
It’s a garden you plant once and enjoy the harvest of leafy greens year after year with a minimum of effort. The plants will grow like mad because they like your climate and suffer very few problems with pests and disease. Plants are also selected for their taste and are versatile in cooking, being useful in not only salads, but also stir fries, smoothies, soups and omelettes.
A perennial salad garden is an awesome place to start if you’re a beginner, or haven’t had much luck maintaining a vegetable garden in the past. Also good if you lack the time to maintain a garden, but resent having to pay so much for quality organic produce.
5 reasons why a perennial salad garden should be in your backyard
Reason #1 – The plants are ridiculously easy to grow in our climate (subtropics). If you give them a good start, and if the weather’s hot and wet, these plants will grow with virtually no care. They’ll respond really well to fertilising, and might need a drink when the weather’s hot and dry, but your biggest job will be picking them to eat. You’ll experience far less problems with pests and diseases and they’ll outgrow weeds – easily! If there’s a problem with them, it would be they grow TOO big and fast and they might need trimming back. It gets better – these plants are perennial – that means some will slow down and die when the weather cools, but they come back with a vengeance as soon as the weather warms up. That means you’ll never have to plant them again. Similar to having a citrus tree in the back garden – very little work for delicious crops year after year.
Reason #2 – You’ll save money – I’ve grown these plants for decades and the only time I’ve ever bought greens from a shop was when I’ve moved house & had to start again. Once you find your favourites it’s like a lifelong partnership and you’ll wonder why you ever bought greens from a shop too.
Reason #3 – You and your family will be regularly eating the highest quality food available – food grown organically in your own backyard. This is not the place to present scientific facts (I have in the FAQ’s below), but with just a little bit of research, you’ll discover that these plants offer amazing nutrition and medicinal benefits. Eating a good variety of these plants is sure to give you far higher and better quality nutrients than greens purchased from a shop and you’ll be eating them within minutes of picking – not days! If you’re spending money to maintain you or your family’s health, surely home grown leafy greens is a great place to invest!
Reason # 4 – For the taste – I’m biased, I’ve been eating these plants for decades. I don’t mind a bit of lettuce in the dead of winter, but I’m always excited to see the perennials bounce back in spring as I know my salads will turn into super salads! Some have exotic flavours, but mostly they’re mild and juicy – perfect for salads, stir fries and smoothies.
Reason # 5 – It’ll motivate you to grow more food – Once you form partnerships with these plants & realise how easy it can be to grow food, chances are you’ll want to expand your repertoire and try some other plants. You’ll also be in the garden a lot more when you’re picking your meals and so become more in tune with the seasons and want to plant cool season veggies when your perennials die down. Lettuce, Rocket, Coriander and many other plants will do very well while the perennials are dormant. Plant the right plants at the right time and food gardening becomes infinitely easier
So what are these perennial plants?
There’s a huge number of edible perennials, but my interest and experience is with the ones that do well in the subtropics and taste great. They will mostly do well in the tropics too – as that’s where many of them grow wild. If you live in cooler climates you might experience shorter seasons, and they might need replanting every spring. Some won’t grow at all – particularly in frost prone areas.
All plants sold or planted come with a fact sheet with information about growing and eating them.
There’s heaps of information including how to use them in the kitchen here
How do I get started?
It depends on what level of help you need from me. Which category below do you fit into?
I have the garden beds but could use some help setting up
If you have the garden beds, but haven’t had a lot of luck growing vegetables in them (or just don’t have the time), I can help by renovating your existing bed(s) and filling them with your perennial salad garden. You can also do this with existing pots and containers. Cost depends on how much work is involved and cost of materials – usually much cheaper than starting from scratch – you can get an eMail quote by completing the quote form here
I have nothing to plant into – the garden will need to go onto a patch of grass (or a weedy mess).
Ah – my favourite – the blank canvas!
It’s actually very simple to start a salad garden from scratch, but you must go up – the beds must be raised and some fertile soil be brought in for the first season.
I’ve designed two sizes of garden beds that would be ideal for growing these salad plants, which can be installed on any flat piece of ground economically.
Offer includes a boxed sleeper garden (raised 20cm), a weed barrier to stop grass and weeds, 3/4 filled with organic planting mix and then mulched, fertilised and planted with in-season perennial salad plants. Nothing to do for you – just watering and later fertilising as necessary. We’ll tell you all about that in the booklet you’ll get with growing tips and information on the plants
1800 x 600mm – 4 varieties – sufficient for a couple $195*
1800 x 1200mm – 8 varieties – sufficient for a family $295*
Of course I can build you any size and combination of beds, but would need to quote first – you can get an eMail quote here
* Reasonable travel charges apply to garden installations/renovations outside of the Maleny to Mapleton area
I just want the plants
If you have a bit of gardening experience, a nice weed free garden bed to plant in, and don’t mind a bit of mulching, fertilising and planting then you don’t need my help – you just need the plants! I’m presently propagating like mad and will have plants available for sale as soon as possible. Follow my Facebook page for updates
What plants would go into my salad garden? It depends on your conditions. I’ll recommend the best plants for your particular spot according to what I have available. These plants are quite seasonal – spring and summer are generally the best planting times. I can easily replace plants you don’t want.
Why don’t you see these greens sold in shops? Sometimes you do, but mostly I think their shelf life and harvesting doesn’t fit the modern food system. Your best chance to find them would be at Farmers markets or Asian grocery stores. In other cultures (mostly asian) most of them are eaten extensively and are even staples.
Can you grow these plants in pots or containers? For sure. They’ll outperform European vegetables in pots and handle the overwatering we get in the wet season. Some I grow in pots to control their growth.
Are the plants vulnerable to scrub turkeys or bandicoots? When they’re young yes, when established no. For a minor charge, I can install chicken wire under the mulch which will repel the digging, scratching critters.
How can you claim these plants have higher nutrition? I did my homework. I’m a father of four and have always believed quality nutrition to be the major player in good health – so I went looking for the most nutritious plants to grow.
Here’s a comparison of a few plants I grow next to lettuce
How much do you charge for travel? Basically, a pretty small amount for my time and cost getting to you. Some examples – Palmwoods, Witta $10, Maroochydore $40. If you organise a friend or two in your area to instal gardens on the same day, I can split the travel cost across the jobs.