One of the prettiest is “Bright Lights” chard which grows 12-18 inches tall and has green savoyed leaves with either brilliant red, yellow or orange veins and stalks. Chard is mild in flavor and delicious in salads when picked young or use the more mature leaves in soups and stir-frys. Plant seeds in mid-spring and your harvest will continue all season long.
Many varieties of lettuce will enhance your landscape. One of my favorites is a romaine lettuce called “Freckles”. It has bright green leaves with splashes of burgundy red. The meaty leaves have a good flavor. This lettuce is slow to bolt so it will withstand more heat than other varieties. Two loose-leaf lettuces which will pretty-up any garden are bright green, crinkly-leafed “Green Ice” and very deeply colored “Red Velvet” with its ruffled, delicious leaves. Both are about 8 inches tall and will produce until summer’s heat shuts them down. Planting any lettuce where it will receive an hour or two of mid-day shade will help lengthen its season.
The green, ferny tops of carrots add a nice foliage accent to a flower bed. Since carrots are a root crop, they take advantage of the available sub-soil level of your decorative gardens. If your soil is not loose and deep, try “Nantes”, a French heirloom variety with 1 x 6-inch blunt-ended carrots that are crisp and delicious. After harvesting, this variety will last for months in ventilated plastic bags in your refrigerator’s crisper.
If you have a fence, grow pole or runner beans along with it. They have deep green, heart-shaped leaves and either white or purple flowers. Pick beans when young and cook lightly or let the pods mature and harvest the dried beans for winter storage. They make a nice addition to soups at any stage.
Miniature pumpkins will also grow on a fence with the aid of a few strings attached to the top and dropped down to the growing plants. “Jack Be Little” is a charming 3-5 inch wide flattened pumpkin perfect for autumn table decoration.
Many herbs are very decorative growing in the garden. Bronze fennel sends up a delicate and airy stalk that is 2-3 feet tall. Curly parsley looks pretty on your dinner plate as well as in your landscape. Borage has beautiful sky-blue flowers which have a cucumber flavor and can be used in summer drinks.
Now that you have the idea, take a look at growing your own vegetables from another perspective – which ones can I grow and add beauty to my landscape at the same time?