One of the more versatile crops, almost every part of garlic can be eaten. Galloway recommends planting bulbs four inches apart and pulling them in stages. In the spring, eat the tender leaves as you would chives. They toughen as they mature, but if you miss this short stage, don’t worry. Soon you can harvest the scapes. Alternatively, when the scape is about the thickness of a pencil, pull the entire garlic plant and use it like you would a scallion. “Chop, grill, broil and eat as a side dish,” Galloway says. Green garlic, when the head has formed but the cloves are still fused together and the outer skin is pliable, provides a very mild alternative to the mature bulb. There’s no need to peel. Just chop up the entire head, then use as you would regular garlic. Even garlic roots—those little white sticks at the bottom of the bulb—can be eaten. Wash, chop thoroughly and use as a salad garnish. “It is a bit crunchy,” Galloway says, “and it tastes like mild garlic.”
Afraid a side or two of stuffed zucchini blossoms will deplete your crop? Don’t be. Galloway considers this “zucchini birth control.” She eats lots of mini zucchini blossoms and still has a hearty harvest. For winter squash, once the gourd matures, you can enjoy the seeds. Pumpkin seeds may be a Halloween classic, but the seeds from all squashes are edible. Acorn, spaghetti and butternut squash are especially good. “They’re smaller, more tender and become crisper when roasted,” Galloway says. Regardless of which squash seeds you roast, they make a tasty snack by the handful, or an excellent addition to a tossed salad or bowl of soup.
Want to make your own high-priced fennel pollen? In August, harvest the blossoms. Hang them upside down in a paper bag. When the heads dry, the pollen falls out. Of course, you can also harvest the seeds and enjoy the bulb.
If your herbs have flowered Galloway says: “All is not lost. Use the flowers for garnish.” Herb flowers can also find a second life with roasted chicken. Stuff the flowers under the skin along with some butter and cook as usual.
Pea shoots are Galloway’s favourite. She grows peas in containers just for the shoots, harvesting them every seven to 10 days. Any edible variety of pea will do. “Include the top emerging leaves, one or two bigger leaves, tendrils and even blossoms and tiny peas,” she says. Toss shoots in an olive oil, lemon, garlic and white wine vinaigrette then top with shaved Parmesan and black pepper for an addictive summer salad.
What NOT to Eat
While most vegetables hold far more culinary possibilities than most gardeners imagine, not all parts of all plants are edible. Keep rhubarb leaves away from the dining table. They make a good bug spray but a potentially disastrous meal. The same “leave it alone” rule goes for members of the nightshade family. Enjoy your tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers, but toss the leaves into the compost.