Gardening can be fun, interesting and can lead to many tasty meals, especially if the crops are picked fresh, right out of the garden. Some plants are so good that they are common mainstays in the average garden.
There are some that can serve a dual purpose with the right preparation, though. This is true of root crops that have edible leaves, since both the leaves and the roots can end up on the dinner table, not necessarily at the same time or with the same meal. It is worthwhile to take a look at a few of these excellent root crops.
While this vegetable is growing the usually familiar bulbous usually red root, it puts out a large quantity of leaves that have good flavor. The younger leaves can be chopped up and used fresh in green salads. They also make an agreeable potherb, either boiled with a small amount of water or just steamed with a bit of butter. Indeed, there are a lot of ways to prepare the greens. As long as a gardener removes only a few leaves off of any one plant, there isn’t usually any reason to uproot the entire plant, so the root can continue to grow.
Even better, this vegetable will usually respond to light leaf removal by producing more leaves. In fact, the leaves are often sold in stores under the alternate name of the beet plant; Swiss chard. Swiss chard and beets are the same species of plant.
Though turnip greens taste so good that they are often widely available in grocery stores, including in cans, turnips are easy to grow root crops. They also tend to grow fast and as with beets, removing just a few leaves from each plant normally does little harm. The turnip merely produces more leaves while the root continues to grow.
The leaves can also be boiled or steamed, though they have a spicier flavor than Beets. Some people feel that the greens taste similar to mustard greens and there are quite a few recipes that feature them.
Radishes are fast growing garden vegetables, however they also aren’t exclusively root crops since the leaves can be used as a slightly peppery potherb and in other dishes. Since they are so fast growing, it often isn’t much of an issue to pull up the radish, using the roots in green salads or as snacks, while trimming off the leaves for cooking purposes. By doing this, very little of the plant goes to waste.
Onions and garlic
Both onions and garlic are primarily grown for their bulbs, but the leaves are not only edible, they are quite good when chopped up and used as seasoning for meals that would normally go well with onion or garlic powder. Chopping the leaves up and adding them to green salads also adds a special touch of flavor. Green onions that are sold in the store are simply immature onions rather than a specific kind of onion.
As if this wasn’t enough, the leaves can also be added to soup and stew or eaten raw, right out of the garden. Harvesting is simple, since the leaves are hollow and can be easily pinched off between the thumb and forefinger. The leaves, chopped, can also be air-dried as with herbs, then they can be put into air tight bottles or jars for later use.
People often don’t think of ginger as a root crop, though that is exactly what it is. Ginger leaves can be eaten, though. Chopped up, they have a mild ginger flavor so they do well in foods that just need a hint of ginger. They are great for adding to a stir-fry, too. Trimming the leaves has also reportedly resulted in a better ginger crop according to many gardeners.
These are but a few root crops that have edible and delicious leaves. Each has a unique flavor, and yet they are usually simple to use. They are normally packed with minerals and vitamins, which makes them healthy as well as good tasting. None of them are especially difficult to harvest and by doing so, there is less garden waste. A compost pile can deal with the waste, of course, however a dinner table might be a better alternative to such wonderful treats.
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Posted in food and plants and tagged beets, chard, edible leaves, onions, radishes, root vegetables, turnips by rextrulove with 6 comments.