Sunday, June 19, 2011

Elephant in the Room

Placing vegetables amongst the flowers in your garden beds is a good way to fill up empty ground space. It also can add a punch of color. The best part is that you reap the added benefits of the food it offers. Herbs and beets are a particularly good choice for this. Beets offer a splash of red and you can harvest the leaves throughout the summer for the odd stir fry or salad. Pick small baby leaves for salads, they are more tender. When it's time to put the garden to bed for the winter there are delicious beets for an autumn borscht or beet pickle.

Beets in my flower garden

Not all vegetables fit in with the flower beds, however. Tomatoes in particular are not a great choice because the leaves get all brown and rangy just as the fruit is ready to pick. So, be selective about what you plant. Mesclun or leafy lettuces are also a great choice if you harvest them frequently and keep them low. Arugala and romaine grow too tall. I plucked out this elephant garlic last week that was in the middle of the flower bed and had begun to take over a whole area. It was perfect in early spring and gave some structure to the empty beds, but as the flowers filled it it needed to come out. The garlic had not yet developed cloves. This was a single clove.

Elephant Garlic
It was fabulous in a pasta dish. Very mild in flavor. Don't let the size of elephant garlic fool you. It is closer to the leek in flavor. My pasta recipe still required some garlic to be added in.

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