Top 10 Inspiring Edibles

Don’t get stuck in a rut. As Spring kicks off in earnest and we turn our attention to the veggie patch, consider adding something new to your repertoire or even trying a new version of an old favourite.

– Nasturtiums are one of the better known edible flowers but every part of this colourful annual is in fact edible including the seeds. Similar in flavour to harder to grow rocket, but with more to offer, nasturtium pesto is a revelation! Happy in any spare gap, it will add colour to borders and patio pots alike.

– The trusty carrot is a veggie garden mainstay, but did you know that carrots were not originally orange? The orange root we are so familiar with was the product of years of selective breeding by the Dutch in tribute to William of Orange and the craze just stuck. For a more authentic carrot experience, seek out purple, white or yellow varieties. All the flavour with more immune booting antioxidants and they are just plain fun to grow.

– Chard is a fabulous leafy green, producing over a really long season including those colder winter months. For an option to really make you smile try Peppermint chard, so named for its fat, neon pink stems reminiscent of candy canes.

– Artichokes are a fabulous, architectural garden plant offering a real treat in the form of those tasty unopened flower heads you pay a small fortune for in the supermarket. The artichoke is as at home in the flower border as it is in the veg garden meaning you have the best of both worlds in its ornamental edible potential. These can easily be started from seed but to start harvesting sooner, try to find more mature plants.

– Sunflowers, who doesn’t love those big sunny faces smiling at you from the flower beds? However, these versatile flowers are so much more than a pretty face. Sunflowers produce seed in astonishing profusion, especially the giant varieties such as Russian Giant. They are great for roasting for snacks, making DIY bird food, or even sprouting for delicious microgreens.

– Love potatoes but struggle with blight? Consider trying Oca instead, an ancient South American root crop. The low growing clover-like foliage is untroubled by pests and disease and makes attractive ground cover. Harvest the neon pink and yellow tubers after frost has killed the foliage and enjoy the lemony new potato flavour.

– Tomatoes are a veg garden favourite but your experience in both garden and kitchen can be enhanced by adding a few heirloom varieties into the mix. Ananas Noir, Indigo Rose and Cherokee Purple are as beautiful as they are tasty. Their rainbow hues mean they are bursting with antioxidants and will elevate tomato salads to dizzying new heights.

– Ever grown your own popcorn? Glass Gem Corn has to be a contender for the most striking veg going with those bright rainbow coloured cobs. They look stunning, dried and hung in the kitchen waiting their turn to be popped in a pan for movie night.

– Did you know chilli plants are perennial? We treat them as annuals in the UK because our cold winters kill this heat lover, but with a little T.L.C. your chilli can live on. In autumn cut it right back and bring into the warmth of your home. Keep it moist and in a bright spot and come spring it will burst back to life. You can then plant it back out for another season or keep it as a beautiful edible houseplant.

– Sweet potatoes are heat lovers, so you are never going to get a bumper crop. However, there is much more to this plant than what’s going on below ground. The leaves are edible and are a fantastic spinach alternative without the risk of bolting. After a long season of delicious greens, lift the plants and any tubers you find are a bonus.