One of the most important things to remember if you’re planning to grow your own food is that most perennial crops have a relatively short harvest period. Once asparagus season is over it’s over, and the same goes for apricots and blueberries and almost everything else. (The exception would be plants with edible foliage, such as Malabar Spinach, dandelions and most herbs, which can be harvested as needed throughout the spring, summer and fall.) For the most part, if you want to have fresh food available throughout the growing season you’ll want to plant as many different kinds of crops as possible.
Picture this: you begin enjoying fresh-picked asparagus in March and continue through May and June. By the time that supply peters out the strawberry patch is in full swing. After that come raspberries, then blueberries, then blackberries and grapes. Meanwhile the trees are producing a steady succession of apricots, plums, peaches, pears, apples, walnuts, pecans, pomegranates and persimmons, beginning in June or July and ending with the frosts of November or even December. And if there’s a fruit you particularly love, you can even plant different varieties of it to ripen at different times, and extend your harvest by several months that way. We get grapes and apples from late August through October that way, by having several different varieties of each that ripen one after the other.
Don’t underestimate the value a steady supply of fresh homegrown organic produce can have on your health and grocery budget. Most of the fruits listed above are powerful “superfoods” that will help you look and feel great. Pomegranates are especially magical: every fall I notice that after I’ve been eating a pomegranate a day for a week or so my skin takes on a radiantly healthy glow and I feel incredibly energetic and strong. Last fall I tried freezing the surplus seeds so I can have that boost in the dead of winter, and this is the first year in a very long time that I didn’t succumb to the apathetic depression of “Februaryitis.”
And once you get in the habit of snacking on apricots and plums instead of chips and candy bars, your budget and your body will both show the benefits. The key is to have the next crop ripening as the current one is beginning to fade, and to keep them coming throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Not everything I’ve listed can be grown in every climate, but unless you live in Antarctica there are varieties of most of them that will thrive in yours. For just a small amount of time, sweat and money invested now, you can be enjoying the fruits of your labors for years or even decades to come!