by Erin Marissa Russell
Some of our favorite vegetables to grow are the ones with more than one edible part. These veggies give you more bang for your buck—not to mention your time and energy. With some of these veggies, you can use all parts of the plant, leaving no waste behind to throw away. Keep reading to find out which vegetables you can grow that have more than one edible part.
Beets don’t have to be grown just for the tasty red root. You and those you dine with can enjoy the delicious greens, too.
These cool-weather veggies need full sun, which means at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. They need loamy soil that’s consistently moist and drains well. Beets perform best when the soil’s pH is between 6.2 and 6.8.
Chayote has one large seed, something like a mango, though chayote is a squash. Both the seed and the flesh are edible. The flesh has a subtle sweetness and tastes a bit like cucumber; the seed is firm and nutty. Even the root and leaves are edible.
Chayote is a warm-weather vegetable that needs 150 frost-free days to develop into maturity, so it grows best in USDA Hardiness Zone 7 or higher. The plant prefers full sun (at least six hours of direct sunshine), but it will tolerate partial shade, though your harvest may be impacted. Chayote needs loose soil that drains well.
Find out more about growing chayote with our article How to Grow Chayote—A Guide.
Chicory is best known for its edible root, which makes a drink similar to coffee when it’s roasted. However, the leaves and buds of the plant are also edible.
Chicory requires a spot with full sun—that’s six hours of direct sunlight each day. It does best in loose soil rich in organic material that gets plenty of drainage.
Most people know they can eat the kohlrabi bulb either cooked or raw. But did you know the leaves and stems can also be cooked and eaten?
Kohlrabi needs full sun to thrive, which translates to six hours of direct sunlight each day. Plant it in rich, loamy soil that stays consistently moist. Soil for kohlrabi should be slightly acidic, with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.9.
Find out more about growing kohlrabi with our article How to Grow Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea).
Of course you know that the bulb of an onion is edible, but did you know the green tops are, too? Just like you’d use a green onion’s above-ground portion, you can snip your onion’s greens over baked potatoes, stir fry, chili, and more.
You’ll find that onions are sold in two categories: long-day and short-day onions. While short-day onions begin to produce a bulb when they get 12 hours of sunshine each day, long-day onions don’t begin to produce bulbs until days are 15 to 16 hours long. That’s why gardeners in northern states should grow long-day onions, and those in southern states should grow short-day onions.
Pumpkin can go beyond the Thanksgiving table if you simply remember to treat it like a big squash in the kitchen. And of course, make the most of your pumpkin by using the seeds, too.
Don’t feel limited to recipes with pumpkin—you can substitute your pumpkin for any type of squash in a recipe. You’ll find plenty to choose from in our article 46 Ways to Use Winter Squash.
Your pumpkins will grow best in full sun (at least six hours of direct sunlight each day), but the plants will tolerate light shade. Pumpkin plants are very versatile and will grow in just about any type of soil.
You probably already know that rutabaga is grown for the bulb, but its leaves are also edible. The older leaves can be tough, so harvest the leaves while the plant is young and they’re still tender. The flavor has hints of mustard and pepper, and it has a bitter aftertaste. Those who don’t enjoy other members of the Brassica family (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale) won’t enjoy rutabaga greens, either.
Rutabagas need full sun, at least six hours per day, to really thrive. However, they will tolerate partial shade. They need slightly acidic soil that’s rich in nutrients and drains well. Shoot for a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5.
Find out more about growing rutabaga with our article How to Grow Rutabaga (Brassica napus).
Turnip’s dark green leaves are just as delicious as the root. Harvest, store, and use in recipes like you would any leafy green—beet greens, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and Swiss chard.
Turnips really flourish in full sun, which is about six hours of direct sunshine each day. However, it is possible to grow them in partial shade. Plant in slightly acidic soil rich in organic material that offers plenty of drainage. Shoot for a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5.
Now you’ve learned a bit about these powerhouses of the garden that have more than one edible part. The question isn’t which one you’ll add to your next planting, but how many.