Swiss chard is easy to grow, highly productive, beautiful, tasty and totally underappreciated. Plants may bolt (or flower) during hot summer weather. Use leaves as a spinach substitute in any recipe or sautéed in olive oil with a bit of garlic.
Kale thrives in cool weather and is very frost tolerant, making it a great veggie for four-season gardens. Most varieties sweeten after a hard frost, so late-season harvests are often most flavorful. It’ a beautiful and nutritious vegetable that can be used in soups or stir-fries. It’s also delicious braised and sautéed.
Cabbage is an easy-to-grow, dependable vegetable that is useful for soups, slaws, stirfries and many ethnic dishes. Many different cabbage types and colors are available, making this vegetable as diverse as it is nutritious. Cover plants with floating row cover to deter cabbage worms, loopers and aphids.
Broccoli is an easy-to-grow, nutritious plant. Protect plants from aphids, cabbage worms and loopers by covering with a floating row cover until harvest. For an added splash of garden interest, grow purple or chartreuse varieties.
Cauliflower gets a purple tinge when the blanching process is delayed. It’s harmless and doesn’t affect the taste, but it will turn an unappetizing grayish cast when cooked. Orange and purple varieties (like Cheddar and Graffiti) are delicious show-stoppers that retain their beautiful colors when cooked.
Collards are a fairly disease- and pest-resistant cool-season crop grown in spring and fall. As a winter-hardy crop, they are often sweetened by frosts. They are vigorous growers, high in many nutrients. Use in soups and stir-fries or sauté with a bit of olive oil.
Garlic is an extremely winter-hardy plant that thrives in northern climates. It comes in three types: softneck, stiffneck and elephant, which range in color and flavor. Garlic has myriad uses in recipes and also is shown to have medicinal properties.
Basil is a member of the mint family and comes in a number of varieties that range in flavor and color. With flavors ranging from sweet to spicy to zesty, this herb is popular for making pesto and seasoning vegetables and fish. It’s native to India and Asia and thought to aid in digestion.
A staple in the kitchen, oregano is the quintessential Italian herb used as a seasoning for sauces, soups and meats. Oregano comes in several varieties, but it typically has dark green leaves with white flowers.