Good reasons to grow perennials - Part 1

As mentioned in a previous post try to use first perennials (perennials) in a forest garden. There are several good reasons for choosing perennials compared with annuals that the majority of our food supply is based on today. In nature, indeed most plants are perennial. Although many of the plants that we in Sweden grow as annuals vegetables are in their areas of origin really multiannual, such as tomatoes and most of the species within the genus capsicum (Capsicum) there, for example, paprika and chili peppers belong.

Perennials have a head start

Already at the beginning of the season has perennials a well developed root system. The plants can get started earlier, in many cases directly after the thaw. They have access to nutrients and water that lies deeper in the earth and also get a head start against at least one year fröogräs. The picture below from The Land Institute illustrates how big the difference is between the one-year wheat and a perennial wheat relative. The perennials will start as early also means that they can use much more of the season the incoming sunlight. When the annuals plants begin to accelerate after midsummer, we have only half the light for years left. The season for perennials is thus significantly longer and they can use natural resources in a better way.


Root system of the multi-year wheat compared with wheat over four seasons (från Jerry Glover, The Land Institute).

Perennial plants require less work

The plants we grow as annuals has been refined over hundreds or even thousands of years. They are therefore far from its origin and in many cases have very high demands on soil fertility and nutrient availability. Few of them can compete with weeds and they require, except that we must sow them year after year, little care during the growing season. Perennials on the other hand generally need only sauce once. Often, they need a little support in the form of mulch around the young plants or weeding during the first season. Then they usually get along pretty well, provided that you have selected the right habitat for them. Cultivated plants in a forest garden, ie. together in a so-called polykultur of other plants, also require no fertilization, as a working forest garden creates and maintains its own fertility (more on this in a future post).

A polykultur of perennial vegetables

In polykultur av funkia (Hosta sp.), Ostrich fern (Mateuccia struthiopteris), hasselört (Asarum europaeum, a non-edible ground cover) and vårsköna (Claytonia sibirica) which basically takes care of itself and it is also on a very shady habitat.

Perennial crops are good for the earth

Annual plants require annual tillage and often is the earth in ordinary vegetable gardens bar for quite a large part of the year. This allows the soil becomes vulnerable to erosion, dehydration and loss of humus content. Since perennials are already in place at the beginning of the year, the soil needs never left bare. Their roots hold the soil in place and helps maintain the underground food web. Long before the annuals have come up, protects perennials earth with their blades against raindrops, which would otherwise lead to soil erosion and in some soils may create a hard crust which is impermeable to both water, air and roots.

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