Updated: Feb 16, 2022
I started homesteading in a small lot that was less than a quarter acre. I had two very young children and not a lot of space or time. My number one priority has always been low maintenance so I could spend more time canning and spending time with my family. One of the best things I have done to make this happen is growing food that comes back.
After we moved to our farmstead, I began planting and replanting a ton of perennials. I am going to list the five easiest and low maintenance ones I have come across. Keep in mind we are in western Pennsylvania (zone 6). A lot of these plants can work anywhere but always check your zone and what works best before planting.
Garlic was the first perennial I planted when we lived on our smaller plot. We actually dug it all up and brought it with us! Garlic is usually treated as an annual but in fact, if you leave the garlic in the ground (harvest some and leave some), you will have garlic prematurely planted for the next harvest season and it will reproduce! I always leave half of the garlic in the ground and harvest half. If you dehydrate and ground up the cloves, then it will last the whole year!
Raspberries and Blackberries
Blackberries grow wild all around my house. I have rows and rows of them surrounding my fields. If you live in western Pennsylvania, you can typically find them wild and just dig up a cane to replant in your garden. They do tend to grow very big very quickly so plant them somewhere where they will have space to spread out. We yield bowls and bowls of berries from our plants.
In addition to blackberries, we also planted raspberries. Raspberries are also canes and can easily dug up and replanted to create more plants. Again, canes need a lot of room to spread out so plan accordingly if you want a nice sized harvest.
Onions are incredibly hardy and so easy to grow. Their bulbs can survive surprisingly cold temperatures and are a nearly year round plant. I have two raised beds of onions. Onions are wonderful because you can harvest or leave them in the ground to reproduce. Onions are bulbs and so they should be planted in the fall to overwinter.
Not every herb is a perennial but there are a few that you can plant once and forget. Two perennial herbs that grow wonderfully here in zone 6 are spearmint and chives. We grow both of these in very large quantities. Every year, they reproduce and we have larger plants. We also grow sage and rosemary in smaller amounts. We plant a lot of herbs that tend to die by the middle of winter that claim to be zone 6 perennials. One of them being lavender. We have never had luck keeping lavender all year. my best advice is to try and see what works best in your growing conditions.
We planted grapes the year we moved in and they have been through scorching heat and negative degree weather and yet they come back thriving every year. We have two different varieties and they are so great to have. The most grapes you have, the more you can do! I love the idea of someday having the ability to make our own juices and adding our own grapes to our homemade wines!
Here are some additional things we have planted that hope to harvest year after year
We often write down our plans for the upcoming years well before we get there. We have found it is so much easier to plan short term when you know what is coming long term. Another thing we do to stay organized is write down what worked for us at the end of each year. We have journals from every year since we started. For that reason, I created a personalized farm journal to share with you all! Check it out on our shop.
Do you have any perennials that you planted that have done well? Let us know in the comments what your favorites have been!