From Trash to Table: Edible Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

I was surprised to find out I could eat sweet potato vines—yes, that’s right—the VINES. I went to a friend’s house and she had a huge bowl on the table of greens sauteed with garlic.  After eating them, her son said, “Bet you didn’t know these are sweet potato greens.”

Well, he was right. I didn’t know. I’ve grown sweet potatoes for years but always dug up the sweet potatoes and tossed the vines. So I did a little research to find out if there were other edibles we accidentally tossed because we didn’t know they were edible either. So here they are:

Surprise Edible Plants

Did you know you can eat:

Garlic Scapes

Yes, those leafy green tops to garlic are just like onion scapes, except they have a mild garlic flavor.


We know the flowers are edible, but so are the leaves. They have a lovely mild peppery flavor that goes great in salads, so grow them in your garden. Bonus: The flowers attract pollinators, and the foliage may help repel some insects with its peppery taste.

Carrots and Radish Tops

We all know that the tops of beets and turnips are edible, but so are the tops of carrots and radishes. You can chop them and toss them into salads.

Cucumber and Squash Leaves

Cucumber and squash plants are edible. You can eat the foliage! Saute it lightly. Be careful not to over-pick young leaves, as this can interfere with veggie production.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Leaves

Yes, another case of the whole plant being edible. You can swap them out for collards or kale if you like.

Beans and Peas

Pea and bean foliage is edible. Bean leaves are best eaten when young because they tend to be a little stringier as they mature, but peas are great any time.

Pepper Leaves

This one surprised me because peppers are related to potatoes and tomatoes, and you should NOT eat their foliage. You can eat the leaves, but only after they are cooked. Both hot and sweet pepper leaves are edible. Hot pepper foliage has a very mild pepper flavor.

New Culinary Adventures Ahead

I think of all the years I tossed all these in the trash can in my kitchen. Now I know better. I’m going to try these. I guess I’ll have a bit of an adventure ahead.

To read more posts from Bonnie, visit our blog

Return to the Great Big Greenhouse homepage

Pin It on Pinterest