Perennials and Renters

Perennial plants make some of the best SHTF food supplies.  Whether they’re raspberries or strawberries, or jerusalem artichokes. They can be a great source of food that doesn’t require much effort from you to store year round.  I hear from a lot of people though, “I can’t do perennials because I’m a renter.”  I’m here to spread the perennial gossip my friends, you too can grow perennials.

Have you tried asking? Seriously, I would bet money that most of those people haven’t actually asked their landlords.  I have tried asking landlords for permission to plant perennials, and I’ve gotten permission 4 out of 4 times. I’ve never had one tell me no.  Now, I’ll grant you that I live in an ag sort of state, but there are large urban areas, and even in the small towns, there are plenty of citified people who don’t know anything about perennials.  My current landlady is like that. Her dad lives on a farm, but she’s an accountant, and she never knows what I’m asking about when we have conversations. Which brings me to one of my strategies.

Draw pictures –  Whether it’s on yellow legal pad or grid engineering paper, a graphic illustration can be of immense help for the conversation.  You can show exactly where you want to plant, in relation to house/trees/driveway.  You can show exactly what you want to plant, and how big it will get. If you’re not good once things get past drawing square houses and and triangle trees, try printing off pictures of the plants, from the internet and pasting them around the simple house/apt outline.

Getting it in Writing –  The next time your lease is up for renewal, ask to modify the contract to expressly permit perennial plants. You can be as specific as you want, or as vague. “Renter is allowed to plant rhubarb on the NE corner of the property and is responsible for it’s care.” or “Perennial plantings are allowed.” Do remember to specify what condition the landlord wants things in when you leave. I’ve had about half and half with this, half want me to take everything out when I leave, and half want me to leave it because they see the value in it.

Put down some roots – Just like people, your perennials do best with their roots in the ground. But, renting often comes hand in hand with frequent moves. I get that. You can keep perennials alive for quite awhile in containers.  I’ve transplanted rhubarb crowns, chive clumps, green sage, strawberries, through relocations that took close to a year. The bigger the plant, the bigger the container needs to be. Rhubarb needs at least a 4 gallon pot, a jerusalem artichoke will need one of the largest sized containers, at least a few feet high. Strawberries can be transplanted in those cute strawberry pots.  Things like saffron and sage and chives can be transplanted in 1 gallon containers, including super-cheap cut open milk cartons. If you’re going to be in a place for at least a year, get everything in the ground.  They’ll grow much healthier if planted in a good spot and likely propagate new offshoots. Those offshoots are what you can transplant to your next place when it’s time to pack up again.

What are your favorite food perennials? Have you tried moving them from one location to another? Share any tips in the comments.

– Calamity Jane

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