Leaf beet (or Perpetual spinach), Rainbow chard, Ruby chard, Seakale beet, Spinach beet, Swiss chard…’tis all a variation of the same vegetable, a close relative to the beet. It is a sturdy, savory green that tastes equally delicious raw in salads as it does wilted as a side dish – or baked into a particularly delicious strata dish involving eggs, cheese, sausage, and bread.
Cauliflower is rather polarizing vegetable – either you love it or you hate it, there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. It always seems to be the last vegetable left on the veggies-and-dip platters. There’s the “brainy” appearance, the odd texture…however, we like it – with plenty of Ranch or Blue Cheese dip, thank you very much.
Also known as Pak-Choi, this vegetable is a staple of Asian stir-fry dishes. It is frequently referred to as Chinese Cabbage (several varieties of which we will cover as well), though it is a stalk-forming plant much closer to celery in appearance and use. The leaves and stalks of the Bok-Choy plant are both edible, and more flavorful than celery.
Collard greens are a staple in the Southeastern U.S., appearing alongside everything from fried chicken to BBQ ribs to Brunswick Stew. They are a member of the Brassica family, which makes them yet another cousin to the cabbage plant.
Corn is an impressive crop to grow, particularly in an urban or suburban environment, as it’s such an unexpected sight to see outside of rural farm country. You can grow corn for eating, or the multicolored varieties for Fall decorating, or popcorn varieties that are harvested after they have dried on the stalk. Not all at once, however, as different varieties need at least 100 yards between them to avoid cross-pollination.
Why so many different plants in one post? Well, they’re all members of the same family (asteraceae) and genus (cichorium) and have remarkably similar planting requirements and growing conditions. Chicory belongs to the species intybus, and radicchio is a chicory variety. Endive belongs to the species endivia, and escarole and frisee are endive varieties. All of them are cool weather vegetables that tend to bolt during the heat of summer. They make it possible to enjoy salad all year long.
Mini-cabbage-on-a-stick pretty much sums up Brussels sprouts. There are several varieties to choose from, including Jade Cross, Long Island Improved, Prince Marvel, and Rubine. Lightly steamed with a bit of butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper, they are a surprisingly tasty vegetable.
If you are an Asian foodie, then this is the crop for you! Chinese cabbage (often referred to as Napa cabbage) is a staple of many Asian dishes, including stir-fries, soups, Spring rolls, and coleslaw with a twist of Thai Peanut Sauce.
This post refers to common cabbage that you would put in coleslaw, rather than Chinese Cabbage – which we will cover soon! There are so many cabbage varieties, it’s difficult to know where to begin. The varieties you choose to grow will depend on when you want to harvest them – because cabbage can be harvested year-round.
Also called Lamb’s Lettuce, Mache or Rapunzel, this cold-hardy green helps make it possible to enjoy salad year-round. The flavor is quite mild.