Ornamental veg

by Adam Pasco

We all want colour in our gardens, so what about colour in our veg plots and allotments?

Yellow chilliesI'm sure there has been research done on how the colour of food affects our attitude to it. If it looks good then it hopefully tastes good too, but who wants to eat blue potatoes, purple carrots or orange cauliflowers?

When it comes to salads I want a plate offering more than green leaves, so a mix of colourful lettuce, red-veined beetroot, thinly sliced circles of white radish, red tomatoes and diced yellow peppers really hits the spot. You can really let your creative, artistic side take over when it comes to composing on a plate. Grated, sliced or chopped – preparing veg in different ways also makes a difference, but I digress.

We all want colour in our gardens, so what about colour in our veg plots and allotments? Flowers play their part, but crops can be colourful too. Just looking round my own garden this morning I was struck by how glorious the crops really are looking, and many wouldn't be out of place in the flower garden.

Ornamental appeal may be in the eye of the holder, but golden trumpets bursting open at tip of yellow courgettes are pure beauty – and yes, they are good enough to eat (deep fried in a tempura batter sounds appetising).

Flowers adorn climbing beans, squash, tomatoes, aubergines, chillies, garlic chives and many more. Some crops are deliberately left to bolt, developing flower stems and running to seed (which I collect). Mizuna, watercress and rocket have already set seed, and lettuces are starting to extend – forcing flower heads upwards.

Choosing lettuces and salads that help me create a patchwork of colour is all part of the fun of ‘growing your own’. By choosing crops that provide a full eating sensation – colour, texture, sweetness, flavour – you can take your veg-growing to new heights, and enjoy home-grown produce even more.

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Gardeners' World Web User 25/07/2011 at 07:23

I picked a huge frilly, red Lollo Rosso lettuce the other day to get some leaves for my lunchtime sandwich. The fridge was stuffed with my produce from the garden so where to put the rest? It was so pretty it went into the flower vase and kept quite fresh there till I used it. Borage brightens up my potato patch and I have been known to put sweet peas in among my runner beans. I think sweetcorn looks very smart as a plant.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/07/2011 at 08:25

I am just starting to create a garden at my new house and I was told that i couldnt grow veg all around it as it wouldn't look right(by the other half!). My solution has been to choose vegetables that have different coloured stems, flowers and or pods. I have 5 large wigwams different varieties of beans that are begining to look more like a flower garden. Swiss and ruby chard, multi-variety lettuce seed mixes, Borage for its beautifull flowers, french beans with purple flowers and dark pods and many other vegetables in regulation green. Any spaces are filled with flowers.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/07/2011 at 10:42

Tomatoes in pots can add colour to this as well,alimac. You can grow yellow "Sungold" and even stripy ones. Well done,for in a new garden one usually sees annuals for quickness or a fortunate spent on large pots already in flower. Your other half should be proud of your efforts. You have fulfilled the three"E"s, economy, environmentally friendly and ethical.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/07/2011 at 20:57

I grow lots of chilli plants which give me flowers then green,yellow and red fruits. Salad leaves with Mustards and Mizuna. This year I am trying runner beans with white flowers as well as the usual orange/red. Purple bobby beans too. All help to make a meal look appetising.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/07/2011 at 22:13

Lovely ideas everyone. It really is fun going through the seed catalogues and choosing vegetable varieties that not only look stunning in their own right but also taste delicious. What other ideas have people tried?

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