Many vegetables don’t just taste good – they look good, too. Consider adding a few of our favorite ornamental vegetables to your garden. These unusual, eye-catching beauties are sure to stir conversation in the garden or at the dinner table.
1. Purple Passion asparagus
Fresh-cut asparagus serves flavor that’s leaps and bounds beyond its store-bought cousins. For pretty, tasty spears, it’s tough to beat Purple Passion. Like all asparagus, plants yield annually for several weeks and continue producing for years.
You can find an eggplant in nearly any shade these days, from traditional plum-purple, to light-green and tangerine. Italian heirloom variety Rosa Bianca ripens to light pink-lavender with streaks of white and violet. Plants tend to yield less in extreme northern zones. Fruits offer mild, nonbitter eggplant flavor. Many eggplants also boast beautiful foliage.
3. Golden Egg Hybrid summer squash
Spherical, egg-shape squash boasts succulent, creamy flesh. Golden fruits measure to 5 inches across and win squash taste tests over and over.
4. Purple Queen bush beans
Splash some color into the bean patch with the eye-catching purple pods of Purple Queen bush beans. Pods grow to 7 inches long with purple skins and green interiors. Beans turn green during cooking.
5. Pinot Noir pepper
You can find bell peppers in shades of green, red, orange, purple and chocolate. One of our favorites is Pinot Noir, which yields 5-inch-long fruits. As peppers ripen, they shift from light green, to citrus hues, to purple berry tones, to red.
6. Indigo Rose cherry tomato
Fruits feature a deep, dark-purple skin packed with anthocyanins, a health-improving antioxidant. The darkest pigment develops where direct sun kisses fruits. This produces a marbling effect on tiny fruits partly shaded by leaves. The flesh is a classic red with a sweet flavor. Fruits are ripe when color shifts from shiny blue-purple to dull purple-brown and the bottom turns from green to red.
7. Purple Dragon carrot
Serve tried-and-true carrot sweetness in an unusual package: deep purple skins with bright orange centers. These two-tone roots look fantastic steamed or served on a fresh veggie platter. The tops add wonderful ferny texture to the garden.
8. Watermelon radish
Mix it up with a radish that turns tradition inside out with white skins covering watermelon-pink flesh. This beauty has a Chinese heritage and 2- to 4-inch roots that ripen to a sweet flavor. Blooms are edible.
9. Chioggia beets
Beauty and flavor blend in this gorgeous beet that shines with a bull’s-eye of white and wine-red concentric rings. Flavor is sweet; flesh is tender. Harvest the green leaves as a stand-in for spinach.
10. Bright Lights Swiss chard
Dress your vegetable garden with a kaleidoscope of color. Bright Lights features stems in sparkling shades of ruby, white, orange, pink and gold. Leaf midribs echo the stem color, which contrasts brilliantly with the deep-green ruffled blades.
Looking for other unusual vegetables to grow this year? Try some of our favorite heirloom vegetables.