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Edible perennials and self-seeding annuals
A list of edible perennials & self-seeding annuals, suitable for permaculture gardening, lazy gardening etc.
This list is UK based (approx hardiness zones 7-8) but many of the plants will be available in similar climates elsewhere. All perennials unless otherwise noted.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Herb. Will grow from seed, but quicker to grow from cuttings - dig up existing plants and split the roots. The purple flowers are also edible
Garlic chives (aka Chinese chives) (Allium tuberosum) Very similar to chives but with a mild garlic flavour
Ramsons (aka wild garlic) (Allium ursinum) Thrives in heavy shade. Looks quite different to regular garlic, with broad flat leaves and white flowers, has a mild garlic flavour
Welsh onion (Allium fistulosum) Larger than chives, of a similar size to spring onions but perennial. They grow in dense clumps up to 50cm tall, white bulb and red bulb varieties.
Everlasting onions (allium perutile). Often confused with Welsh onions in seed catalogues, these are a smaller, milder tasting variety.
Tree onion (aka Egyptian onion) (Allium cepa proliferum) Grows edible miniature onion-like bulblets above ground, leaves can also be eaten
Serpent garlic (aka Rocambole) (Allium sativum ophioscorodon) Produces leaves which can be eaten like chives and bulbils above ground like tree onions.
Brassica (cabbage) family
Nine star perennial broccoli (Brassica oleracea botrytis asparagoides) Makes large cauliflower-like heads in spring. Cut the head off and use it, and smaller ones sprout on sideshoots. Don't allow the heads to flower or the plant will die. Leaves also edible
Perennial Kale (Brassica oleracea) Varieties include 'Daubenton' and 'Ragged Jack'
NB bear in mind that you have to disturb the soil to harvest the plants which may not be suitable in some types of perennial gardening.
Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) Related to sunflowers rather than artichokes, it grows big sunflower like flowers, and you eat the roots. They taste horrible (!) so if possible try eating some before you buy any to plant to check you like them.
Chickweed (Stellaria media) *self seeding annual. Mild-tasting salad plant.
See also Salad plants listed under other categories: chives, garlic chives, ransomes
Perpetual Spinnach (aka Spinnach Beet) (Beta vulgaris var. vulgaris) *self seeding biennial . Related to beetroot & chard rather than spinnach, the leaves are tougher than regular spinnach and all but the smallest need to be cooked before eating. A cut and come again plant that keeps growing back. Keep picking the outer leaves before they get too tough – regular picking encourages the plant to grow. If you let it flower it will usually self-seed.
Notes and references
-  Plants for a future database of plants with edible/medicinal uses. Be aware they list eg plants which are only edible in small quantities/ after cooking /etc and read the details carefully before eating anything!
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