As another garden year begins, I am again looking for new spaces to grow more food. I enjoy growing my own and try to eat organically as much as possible. Growing your own is convenient, tasty, can be less costly (especially when you consider the price of organic) and provides healthy stress-busting activity.
Whether a prepper, a market grower, or a home gardener, you can surely find a use for more edibles from you gardens! If your municipality or neighborhood association says you can’t grow edibles in your front yard area, hide your veggies in plain sight. Many edibles also double as gorgeous ornamentals.
I asked this question on my Facebook page…
“What is you favorite edible ornamental? Or ornamental edible?”
Answers included kale, peppers, dill, rainbow chard, evergreen blueberries and huckleberries. I’ll throw in a few of my own too!
KALE – trendy kale is a super food meaning it is very nutritionaly dense. It is an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and is reasonably rich in calcium. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains chemicals believed to fight cancer. It’s beautiful edible leaves range from lacy purple to bold, crinkly green and almost every color in between, including variegated forms. One to try is Territorial Seed Company’s “Purple Peacock”, a broccoli/kale cross with a continuous supply of tasty side shoots and delectable kale leaves. This year I am adding Nichols Garden Nursery’s big, bold “Tuscan” for a nice textural contrast.
PEPPERS – I am told the small ornamental pepper plants sold at your local garden center and covered in cute little upright peppers have a nice fruity flavor. I want to pick some up to try this year. I personally have had little luck with bell peppers but do well with hot peppers and find them pretty enough to earn a place up front. They come in so many shapes and colors! You might want to try screaming hot Baker Creek’s Chinese 5 Color or milder 5 Color Marble Pepper. Give them a nice hot spot in your garden.
CABBAGE – As you can see from my banner photo, I love the color and structure of cabbage. It’s bold and solid. Both purple and green varieties will remind you of stones in the garden. Purple cabbage is especially striking. Long season varieties should be started in spring while short season types are excellent for fall planting.
PARSLEY – this delicate-looking beauty, with either flat (Italian) or stronger-flavored curly foliage lends a fresh, ferny element to my gardens. Much more than a garnish, parsley is high in vitamins A and C as well as iron and folic acid. Use it in potato dishes, add to soups or make Parsley Walnut Pesto. It’s a favorite for juicing and chickens love it! In my zone 8a garden here in Western Oregon, I am able to harvest year round. If it freezes, just wait until it thaws before harvesting!
BLUEBERRIES – here in Western Oregon, blueberries thrive. The sometimes evergreen shrubs make handsome ornamentals with a sweet bonus.
ONION CHIVES – these perennial onion relatives form a spiky clump in spring then send up rosy pom pom flowers. I love fresh snipped chives on salad or in my favorite home made red potato salad. In fall, nestle some in a cute pot for your window sill herb garden.
GREEN BEANS – that’s right. I said great beans. Most pole varieties are attractive vines but some are really quite striking. One of my favorites is another Territorial Seed Company variety, Violet Podded Stringless Bean. The vines are purple with deep green leaves. The purple pods following rosy flowers are lovely, easy to spot and pick and stay tender when large. The pod is very fleshy and juicy so they make a great snap bean.
EGG PLANT – I must admit, I am no expert on growing eggplant. Last spring, my first attempt to grow it (from seed) was foiled by a very wet, cool spring. But with it’s big, shiny, gem-like fruits in tones ranging from white to deepest purple I will try again, perhaps from plants. Then again, I may try the seed route again just because I am
HERBS – I love herbs both in the garden and the kitchen. Lavender, thyme of all shapes and colors, stately rosemary are my favorites. Give them a sunny spot with excellent drainage and good air circulation and they will reward you well. Beware mint and keep it contained. It’s a bully that will spread underground to bully its neighbors.
STRAWBERRIES – mmmmmmmm.
Nothing beats the taste of your own fresh-picked organic strawberries. They are one of the best to grow at home because conventionally grown strawberries are amongst the dirtiest produce when it comes to pesticide residues. (Dirty Dozen list)
Hopefully, you’re inspired to take a fresh look at your plantings for new possibilities. Your taste buds will thank you!
Do you have a favorite ornamental edible?
*A disclaimer here. I’ve mentioned several Territorial Seed Company varieties. I have no stake in this. At this time, they are neither my advertiser nor sponsor (though that would be great!) They are simply my favorite quality local seedhouse for the past 25 or so years.