Celebrate this month by growing vegetables and fruits in your home landscape. You don’t have to relegate your vegetables and fruits to the backyard in neat, regimented rows. Nowadays, you can break tradition with a bevy of colorful, eye-catching edibles that can be tucked in flower beds and borders in the front yard instead of being hidden from view in the backyard. These “cross-over” edibles offer the dual benefits of aesthetics and nutrition.
Today I wanted to introduce you to my favorite boldly-colored and -shaped veggies that aren’t your mother’s vegetables: they offer sustenance and beauty. Plant breeders have given us purple cauliflower (‘Graffiti’), burgundy asparagus (‘Purple Passion’), red mustard greens (‘Ruby Streaks’), purplish-red Brussels sprouts (‘Falstaff’), and lemon-yellow cucumbers (‘Lemon’). Back in 2009 I was smitten by a dwarf basil that looks like a boxwood (‘Boxwood’), and a tomato that produces inch-long strawberry-shaped fruit (‘Tomatoberry’).
If you like hidden surprises, then consider watermelons with lemon-colored flesh (‘Baby Doll’ and ‘Yellow Crunch’), blue potatoes (‘All Blue’), and carrots that come in various shades of red (‘Atomic Red’), yellow (‘Yellowstone’), and purple (‘Purple Dragon’ and ‘Purple Haze’).
My kids viewed this morphing of vegetables into palatable-looking eye-candy as a parent-driven conspiracy to make them eat more vegetables and fruits. I see it as an opportunity to create an edible landscape that tastes as good as it looks.
Next time I’ll introduce you to several tasty and nutritious fruiting shrubs, vines and trees that can be include in flower beds and shrub borders in well-drained, full sun locations.
Note: Part of the success of growing vegetables is timing: sowing seeds or setting-out transplants at the right time of year. If you live in South Carolina, see “Planning a Garden.” If not, visit eXtension to find a vegetable planting calendar that’s appropriate for your region.