I have a small plot at home plus some plants in containers that I try my best to keep on top of. I almost always grow from seed and adapt permaculture principles where possible to ensure a productive and sustainable garden. I like to grow a wide variety of vegetables and I acknowledge that I am lucky to have the space and time to do so. So I thought I would recommend three edible plants that are highly productive, hardy and versatile for those considering gardening that may have little time and space.
Silverbeet aka Swiss Chard
Silverbeet can be grown throughout the year, the white stalk silverbeet is commonly sold however yellow and red stemmed silverbeet are easily grown and have slightly differing flavours. It’s a great leafy green to add to soups and stews, the stalks are edible too but require slightly longer cooking time (a minute or so longer). The leaves can also be chopped finely and eaten raw in salads or if you have large leaves use them for wraps, layering between vegetable bakes, or blanch them to make dolmas in replacement of grape leaves. It is highly productive and hardy and will eventually go to seed. Plant seeds every couple of months to ensure an all year round supply.
Perhaps the most hardy in my garden and is another plant that grows all year round. The stems are the part you eat, (the leaves are poisonous, so don’t eat them – put them into your compost heap.) This plant can get quite big so if you plan to grow in a container, use a large one. We mostly stew our rhubarb and enjoy it with muesli or porridge, or for desserts like rhubarb crumble. Stewed rhubarb also freezes well.
I especially like growing peas because my toddler loves picking, opening and eating them. They are also good for school lunches and require no prepping or wrapping – just throw them in! Raw peas are nice in salads and freshly picked steamed peas with a little butter is delicious. Peas require a trellis to latch and climb on to so erect this first before planting so you don’t disturb the roots or other plants. If you have small children plant them in your garden or in a container where they can have easy access to so pick them. My experience with growing peas has only been in the cooler months in year with a Spring time harvest.
Those are my top three easy and versatile edible plants – please share in the comments your recommendations, I would love to hear from people!