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MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2007
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No need to sacrifice the show when harvesting chard, like the two Bright Lights Swiss chard plants at left, because if you cut just the plantsí outer leaves, the inner ones remain to grow and show.
AP photo by Lee Reich
No need to sacrifice the show when harvesting chard, like the two Bright Lights Swiss chard plants at left, because if you cut just the plantsí outer leaves, the inner ones remain to grow and show.

Some vegetables are also a feast for the eyes

By Lee Reich
For The Associated Press

Look around your vegetable garden: Arenít some of these plants pretty enough to be grown as ornamentals, perhaps in the flower garden or shoulder-to-shoulder with shrubbery?

Imagine, if you will, a twining vine with sprays of scarlet flowers poking out from lime-green foliage. The plant, scarlet runner bean, is so attractive that you might consider the edible pods as merely incidental until you taste their rich, meaty flavor.

Asparagus is another vegetable as pretty as it is toothsome. The feathery leaves provide the perfect backdrop for bright flowers — red geraniums or deep-blue delphiniums, for example.

That feathery backdrop does have to wait until harvest is over, in early July, but then the new foliage fills in quickly.

And keep in mind vegetablesí many lovely hues. Flowers need not be the only source of eye-catching color in your flower bed.

For bright red or yellow stalks, plant the BrightLights variety of Swiss chard. No need to sacrifice the show when harvesting chard, because if you cut just the plantsí outer leaves, the inner ones remain to grow and show.

Rhubarb is another ornamental edible. Rhubarb has dark-green leaves, larger than dinner plates, splayed out in a whorl on the ends of red leaf stalks. Equally decorative are the foaming white flowers sitting atop the flower stalks.

Silvery leaves are always welcome in the flower garden, blending well with all colors. Seakale is an uncommon vegetable but itís tasty and has silvery, scalloped leaves and sprays of pale yellow flowers. The leaves of this cabbage relative need to be kept in the dark for a while to make them tender and tasty. Just cover new growth in spring with a flowerpot.

Seakale is perennial, so after a few meals of it in spring, remove the flowerpot and let the sun shine in so that the leaves can develop, along with clusters of pale yellow flowers.

Finally, for a pretty vegetable that usually is just admired in the wild along the edges of fields, we have Jerusalem artichoke.

Each year the knobby roots, with taste and texture like a combination of white potato and water chestnut, sprout stalks six feet high, or more.

The show begins in early fall, when each branch on those stalks is capped by a sunflower-like bloom about the size of your palm. If you grow Jerusalem artichoke in your flower garden, thereís no need to sacrifice any flowers to harvest the tubers — just wait until the flowers fade.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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