Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Dual Purpose Vegetables

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

When you mention garden this time of year, tomatoes usually come to mind, showy and anxiously awaited, when a tomato makes a ripe appearance in the Pacific Northwest it's cause for celebration. But the garden is so much more than ripe tomatoes.

Nose to tail eating is popular in foodie circles, and in the garden we can honor the plants in the same way. Stem to stern perhaps? A garden instantly becomes more productive when we use more of the edible (although not popular or well-known) parts of the plant.

If you plant hard neck garlic you get a flower stalk known as a scape well before you harvest the actual garlic. The scape is the flower stalk that should be removed anyway for a larger bulb, eating it is the icing on the cake and gives you more garlic type flavoring for dishes.

More common are kohlrabi and beets. Both stems and leaves in addition to the bulbs have a place on the menu.

Since I started growing celeriac, or celery root, I no longer bother with celery. The celeriac stems and leaves make excellent seasonings in the place of celery and I can harvest a stem here and there without slowing the growth of the plant. And as an added bonus it is cold hardy too compared to celery, many times poking through the snow making for easy winter harvest as needed.

And last, but not least, Swiss Chard. I like the stems sauteed with the greens, and as long as you add them first to cook a few minutes before the leaves are added, you're OK and don't end up with tough stems. If that doesn't sound good, chard stem pickles in place of any other vegetable you may pickle is a good way to use the stems too.

These are just a few vegetables that come to mind this time of year. What summer garden vegetables do you get more than one use out of?


Amy said...

I use parsley stems as well as the leaves in salads, soups, etc - particularly if the parsley is not producing a lot of leaves!

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LindaG said...

First, I have to chuckle at the Anonymous post.

Second, I want to thank you for this post as I am still learning. I had no idea you had to remove the flower from the garlic for a bigger bulb. Or is that only from hard neck garlic?

And third, I have never tried celeriac, but now I am curious, so thank you for that.

Laura Z said...

Broccoli leaves! Here in the south of the USA, we eat a lot of slow cooked collard greens. I prepare broccoli leaves in the same way and they taste very similar! Yum!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous dude seems to describe pretty well my experience with men's shortcomings, but then I have a broke picker, so that's another story.

On to vegetable picking, a much less fickle subject. I really like your veggie thinking about eating as much of the plant as possible. Not sure I have an example to add, but you've started me off on other tangents. Like, when I pick leaves early from poke, then later in the year see where deer have stripped the plant for their nourishment. Or scraps of plants not used by humans becoming compost or chicken scratch. Then, what are the most efficient fruits/vegetables? My thinking is that corn takes a lot to get two ears, but your beets (or turnips) are almost 100% utilized for human food, any maybe not as heavy a feeder as corn. I wonder if there is some sort of efficiency chart. Am I off in left field someplace? Do you think about this stuff? Curious.

with love,
brenda from arkansas

Anonymous said...


Joanne said...

Eek, where is admin?!?

Hmm, other than picking a few baby beet leaves, I don't do much of the above. Good to know about the garlic; I've attempted to grow it without much knowledge so now I'll know what to do when the flower stalk grows.

I do love the fact that nothing is wasted even if I don't eat it as it all goes into my compost bins and becomes part of the endless life cycle of the garden.