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What is Perennial Gardening?

a bunch of blackberries hanging from the thorny stem

Home gardens are typically thought of as an annual project, but perennial gardening allows for a single, one-time planting with a harvest of produce year after year.

When selecting a location for perennial crops, choose an area that will be undisturbed with well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. The outer area of a current garden or in raised beds works well.

Here are some popular perennial garden crops:

Asparagus – Grow asparagus from rooted crowns by planting them approximately 12 inches apart in the early spring. Harvest can begin the second year by cutting spears when they are ½-inch thick in diameter. Be sure to leave a few of the spears to grow into plants that will produce the following year’s crop.

Rhubarb – Establish rhubarb by planting crowns in early spring or in fall after dormancy occurs. Plant crowns about 4 feet apart with roots 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. During the first year, do not harvest the stalks and remove seed stalks once plants appear to be well established. Harvest stalks the following year by cutting at the base when stalks become 12 to 18 inches long, and remember to discard leaves.

Brambles – Brambles are fairly easy to grow but need well drained soil and full sun. Plant berry patches in rows 5 to 10 feet apart to allow mowing between. Plant bare root plants4 to 6 feet apart in late spring and keep plants well-watered. Generally, brambles will produce a primocane the first year and fruit the second year; however, some varieties produce fruit the first year in the fall. Brambles do best on a fencing or trellis system to support canes.

By Tasha Harris, WVU Extension Agent – Upshur County