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Perennial plants can be the secret weapon to increase food production on your homestead with less hands on time. Best part, you can easily sneak them into your landscaping and yard to get a great return and yield of food without nearly the work you’ll put into an annual vegetable garden.
But, to get the maximum yield from your plants, you’ll want to make sure you’re following the tips below. Because, after all, who doesn’t want more home grown goodies with less work?
Listen Below to Episode #132 Perennial Plants to Increase Food Production with Less Hands On Time of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we teach families how to grow, preserve and cook their own food using old-fashioned skill sets and wisdom to create a natural self-sufficient home, with, or without, the homestead.
Today’s episode is brought to you by The Made-from-Scratch Life: Simple Ways to Create a Natural Home, (and if you already have the book and haven’t snagged your bonuses go here to get them!). The chart alone in the Grow Chapter with our Seed Starting and Planting Chart is worth it, check out everything included here
Increasing your food production with less hands on time plant options for the garden and landscape.
There’s three main categories we put a plant into based on its life cycle.
Depending upon your climate and growing season, some people can’t grow a plant as a perennial (even though technically the plant is) and will treat it as an annual in order to still get that crop.
Most people take the approach of having all three varieties when it comes to their food production.
Perennials are a great addition to your landscaping and your food crops because they don’t generally require near the amount of work your annual and biennial counterparts do. Generally speaking, winter and early spring are the time many perennials will be planted.
This is the time most of your fruit trees, bushes, and plants (especially bare root options) will be planted. Depending upon your weather, when you can work the soil (not frozen solid) but before everything is completely out of dormancy.
Most local nurseries will begin stocking the varieties when it’s suitable to plant them in your area.
When planting your perennial, make sure there’s enough space surrounding it for years to come. Ever year it will get bigger and you don’t want to have to move your fruit tree in a few years because you planted it to close to something else. It’s doable, but you’ll stunt the grown and fruit production every time you move it, making you wait even longer for a harvest.
Perennials are permanent, or should be in most cases. Take your time in deciding where to plant them. Especially with things like herbs or strawberries that spread via runners. They can be hard to contain if you don’t want them spilling out into other areas. Consider if a container or raised bed is a better option.
If you don’t have a yard or area you can plant in the ground, don’t think you can’t grow perennials, my apartment homesteaders, I’m talking to you. Small and compact varieties of fruit trees and bushes are excellent candidates for larger containers.
Pros– younger perennial plants and bushes are usually cheaper than more mature varieties, which means you don’t have to pay as much.
The root systems are smaller so you can dig the hole needed to plant by hand fairly easily.
Cons– you have to wait longer to get a good harvest. With blueberry bushes, you may see blossoms (this is what turns into your berries) in the first or second year. But it’s best to pinch off these blossoms so the plants energy can go to creating a strong root system. This will pay off in the long room giving you a healthier plant with years of larger harvests, than the tiny amount of berries you’d get that first year.
You might not realize how large the plant will get and plant it in too small of area to begin with.
Before perennials come out of dormancy for the year (usually late winter/early spring) you want to take care of any pruning. Almost all fruit producing trees and bushes should be pruned.
To prune fruit trees you’ll want to:
Because perennials are always in the same soil you’ll want to provide fertilizer or compost in the spring when they begin to use energy to produce leaves and fruit.
For my container plants I use this fish fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks
For blueberries and raspberries I apply compost, fertilizer, and mulch once a year the same day I prune.
A great way to help deliver nutrients to the soil and your perennials is to use permaculture gardening (which perennial plants are a huge part of permaculture food production) and you can check out our Permaculture Garden- Beginners Guide here
Get your chart on when to start and plant your annual herbs, plus our detailed chart on herbs with both their culinary use and their medicinal use.
Because some herbs should not be used in our food, where others are dual purpose herbs. Use this easy chart found in Hand Made: the Modern Guide to Made-from-Scratch Living, including all of the other bonuses, charts, and resources here to help you.
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.