Various parts of plants – leaves, stems and roots – are eaten as vegetables. Some ‘vegetables’ are, in correct botanical terms, fruits, seeds or flowers. Tomatoes, peppers and courgettes are fruits; sweet corn, peas and beans are seeds; and cauliflower, broccoli and globe artichokes are flowers.
Vegetables all picked in one garden in late July
Most of the vegetables grown belong to just a few plant families. The Cabbage family (Brassicaceae) includes cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips, swedes, kale, seakale, kohlrabi and radish.
The Carrot family includes carrots, parsnips, parsley, celery and florence fennel. The Onion family includes onions, shallots, leeks, scallions and garlic. The Beet family includes beetroot, spinach beet and seakale beet.
The Pea family includes peas, beans, french beans and runner beans. The Potato family includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, chillis and aubergines.
Vegetables are either grown outdoors in the open soil, or under the protection of glass or polythene. Only the vegetables grown outdoors are dealt with here; greenhouse vegetables – kinds that spend their entire life in the greenhouse – are described in Greenhouse Growing.
Outdoor vegetables can be divided into three groups; those sown and grown outdoors, those sown indoors and later planted out, and the perennial vegetables, including most of the herbs.