Vegetable Gardening Is A Green Activity, But It Can Be Used To Grow Colourful Vegetables & Fruit In The UK. This Article Explains More. Here Are My Top 17 Colourful Vegetables For UK Garden & Plate.
There is a lovely term for edible ornamental plants. They are called edimentals, a term used by Stephen Barstow for his website http://www.edimentals.com. As far as I know Stephen coined the term edimental, to me it’s a very descriptive term. More on Stephen another day.
But here is my choice of colourful edimentals for the garden or allotment. But remember edimental veg don’t have to be grown in the veg garden, they are also ornamentals, so can be grown anywhere we wish. I grow many edimentals in my “flower beds” and many are moving to the food forest.
Potatoes come in several colours, but here is perhaps an extreme of the rainbow options we have. Purple Majesty or Vitelotte potatoes are a gourmet delight that traces its roots to ancient Peru. The Inca civilisation cultivated them for their vibrant colour and distinct flavour, though sadly these coiler extremes seem to have been muted today.. These spuds, often called “blue potatoes,” made their way to Europe in the 18th century, where they gained popularity for their stunning appearance and nutty taste.
This visually striking chard is a colourful descendant of the beet family. Its origins date back to the Mediterranean region and have been cherished for centuries as both an ornamental plant and a nutritious vegetable. It looks great in flower / ornamental beds, even if not eaten. But on a plate it looks even better.
Surprisingly, the orange carrot we know today wasn’t always orange. Originally, carrots were purple and yellow. It wasn’t until the 17th century that Dutch growers cultivated the vibrant orange variety, paying tribute to the Dutch Royal Family, the House of Orange-Nassau. Today the heritage varieties seem to be returning with purple, red and yellow carrots being offered.
The problem with growing carrots for colour is tha most of the colour is underground. Bu, in my opinion, the ferny leaves are a delight to any ornamental garden
Candy Cane Beets
Candy cane beets, is perhaps a little too American a term for most Brits where we also know them as Chioggia beets. They originate from Italy. Named after the town of Chioggia near Venice, these beets have been cherished for their delightful appearance and mild, sweet flavour since the early 19th century.
Bright Lights Swiss Chard
This Swiss chard variety is the result of decades of breeding work. With origins in the Mediterranean, it gained popularity in the 1980s for its kaleidoscope of colours. It’s a fantastic example of how gardeners have transformed an everyday vegetable into a vibrant showpiece.
Remember, most veg originated as wild plants, they became domesticated when we transplanted them to our gardens to manlike foraging easier.
Yellow courgette, a cousin of the green courgette, shares its history. Both courgette are believed to have originated in Central America and were introduced to Europe in the 16th century. Yellow courgettes, with their mild flavour, have been a European favourite ever since.
The red cabbage we enjoy today evolved from wild cabbage found in the Mediterranean region. Its stunning colour deepens as it grows, providing both visual appeal and allegedly its nutritional benefits (though I’ve yet to see verifiable evidence of this). It has been cultivated for centuries across Europe.
These sweet golden gems are descendants of wild beets that grew along the Mediterranean coast. Over centuries of cultivation, they developed their unique golden hue, making them a prized addition to modern vegetable and edimental gardens.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
This delightful broccoli variety has been a part of British gardens since the Roman times. Its purple hue becomes more pronounced as it matures, offering a visual treat along with a delicious, nutty taste. There is also a white sprouting broccoli.
Red onions are a longstanding ingredient in UK cuisine. They have been cultivated for centuries and prized for their rich, deep purple-red skin and distinct flavor. They remain a staple in salads, sandwiches, and countless dishes.
Yellow tomatoes, like the ‘Sungold’ variety, are a product of selective breeding efforts in the 20th century. They were developed to bring a burst of sunny color and sweetness to salads and dishes.
Sweet yellow peppers, like have been grown for centuries in southern Europe. Their sweet, mild flavor and vibrant color make them a staple in Mediterranean and UK dishes.
This visually stunning cauliflower variety originated in Italy. Its fractal-like appearance has been admired since the 16th century. Roasting it enhances its nutty flavor and preserves its remarkable structure.
Red kale, also known as Russian Red Kale, is an heirloom variety originating from Russia. Its dark green leaves with striking red or purple veins make it a nutritious and visually captivating addition to your garden.
But don’t forget all the green kales, they look fantastic as future plants in an ornamental garden. Especially the statuesque perennial kales.
Dragon Tongue Beans
These colorful beans have their origins in Europe. Their streaks of purple and yellow make them visually appealing. Sautéing them briefly preserves their vibrant colors and tender texture.
Sweet Red Peppers
Varieties of red peppers been grown in Europe for generations. They’re valued for their sweet flavour and the bright red colour they bring to dishes, when stuffed and roasted or just as a raw salad ingredient. When I grew peppers commercially I would often pick one straight from the plant and have it as a snack, in the same way others eat apples!
Purple kohlrabi, with its vibrant purple skin and crisp, pale flesh, has a history intertwined with its green sibling. Its stunning appearance adds an extra dimension to dishes and salads.
These vegetables not only offer an array of colours but also connect you to a rich history of cultivation and culinary exploration. Enjoy growing and savouring these vibrant additions to your garden and meals. Sometime soon I intend to write an article on another 15-20 colourful edimentals that can grace our gardens and tables.
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