Unusual crops

seedcorn

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How do you like to eat it. Not that you can’t add common things like tomatoes, peppers, etc but as I go through non usual vegetables, I wonder how the best way to try it is. See post by @Zeedman on litchi tomatoes-thanks to his contribution I won’t be trying them.

I’m looking at melons & curious about mango melons as to whether they really make sweet pies worth eating? Also is Tigger melon similar to honeydews? I never know when to pick honeydews....
 

digitS'

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Pie made from melon???

Perhaps my most unusual choices for what to grow in the garden are the greens and Asian greens in particular. There are always 8 or 10 different ones out there. There's certainly nothing very special in how they are prepared, once we discovered stir-frying. No one should think that it is necessary to include many ingredients - other vegetables, sauces, etc. Our wok took a walk down the basement stairs and hasn't been back to the kitchen in several years ;). (We do have a selection of skillets of various sizes.)

Celeriac. Does anyone else grow it? If you like the flavor of celery, and especially if you have trouble growing celery, "celery root" may be a good choice for you. It might be the ugly appearance of celeriac. Big bulb with hairy, little roots growing out of it in all directions ... no, it's not photogenic ;). Cooking is about like what you might do with a potato. Since it's starchy, it adds some calories along with the celery flavor. It's especially good added to potatoes and mashed. Real simple.

Oh and shallots. If onions are a staple, substitute shallots now and then. Nice flavor that goes beyond that onion tanginess.

Simple Steve :)
 

heirloomgal

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I grew 'Tigger' and 'Queen Anne's Pocket Melon' side by side a few years ago (very similar varieties). Both totally different than honeydews, zero taste. Like eating water.

Not sure if you mean any unusual crop, or just sweet ones? Zworsh Krul is a great one. All the taste of celery (if you like celery) with none of the hassle and pampering, not much watering even. Fabulous celery taste. Regular 'Soup' celery is excellent too. Great in potato salad.

I really enjoyed yellow raspberries too, "Fall Gold' was so sweet. Purple rat tailed radish - after growing these I never grew ground radishes for eating again (just rust flies). So crunchy, fresh, juicy. And you can harvest all summer long if you keep them picked, they don't care about heat either and you can cook them.

Leeks and pattypan squash are not exactly unusual, but I do find them less popular than many garden veggies. I find they both have high table quality, especially leeks. Wonderful for soups, much more so than regular onions. There was a few hybrid patty pan type squashes I grew once, 'Papaya' and 'Lemon' and they were hugely productive varieties. Excellent with garlic, and noodle dishes.

Roselle is also outstanding, if you like rhubarb flavour. The dried blossoms are made into a delicious sweetened dessert tea. It is very, very good. In the tropics people do bake with them for that rhubarb quality, but I never had that many to experiment with.

Kohlrabi is pretty good too. Tiger nuts - delicious straight out of hand. Mega, mega fibre too.

Bishops' Crown peppers - they have a chewy texture similar to mushrooms when green, and even red, and they don't turn mushy like conventional bell peppers. I really enjoy them whole in stir fries. They aren't usually hot. They're shaped like Kodos and Kang. 'Aji Dulce' is another unusual pepper that is exceptional IMHO.
 

Zeedman

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Deja vu @digitS' ... I remember you & I engaging in a similar discussion years ago. ;)

I've always enjoyed trying unusual vegetables, and still grow a few. Soybeans for one, although they have gained in popularity considerably since I first grew them. Bitter melon (my avatar) is still grown mostly by people of Asian or Pacific Island cultures, but is becoming more widely recognized for its health benefits.

One of my favorite unusual vegetables is gherkins... not small cucumbers, but true gherkins (Cucumis anguria). These are small-fruited relatives of the common cucumber, Cucumis melo. The most well known of these uncommon vegetables is the West India Gherkin; but there is an improved cultivar, Liso Calcutta, that has fewer thorns & is slower to develop seed. Picked young, these are sweet, bitter-free, and exceptionally crunchy. When pickled, they don't get soft centers as cucumbers do, and remain completely solid & crunchy throughout. Pickles made from these are exceptional, and I will never go back to cucumbers.

20210803_173101.jpg

Liso Calcutta gherkins
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seedcorn

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@heirloomgal wondered about Tigger after watching a video. Thought it would be very popular if any good.

Let this thread go where it goes. I’ve been very conservative in what I grow so now I’m looking at not-so-common things to grow. I realize that if you’re u don’t try it in the most preferred method first, may throw something away that is good-like garden huckleberries.

@digitS' so how many celeriac plants do you plant? May have to try.
 

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I used to have seeds for a tomato that was so sweet and fruit like it would have been better in a pie than a salad (only one I ever met that vinegar didn't go with). But I held onto the seed too long and it died.

I've always WANTED to grow winter melon, but I am too cold up here. Plus, while I like winter melon soup, the rest of the family does not, and trying to find a winter melon that is any size less than "enormous" is hard. And as far as I can tell, there isn't anything else winter melons are used for besides soup (well, one of my cookbooks has a braised dish, but it's basically the soup without the broth.)

Hairy Gourd too, if there is a difference between them and very young winter melons. (I still don't know).

Grow a lot of odd herbs, like pine scented rosemary, cat thyme, conehead thyme, and so on. I suppose Cuban Oregano is almost not odd anymore.

If I was warmer I might get a bay laurel tree. Not so much for the leaves (I'd use them, but I am perfectly content with the dried ones I get in the stores). But I have found a few French recipes that call for bay berries. Not bayberries (the scaly white things they use to may scented candles, thought those are edible too). But bay berries, i.e. berries from a bay tree (though technically the fruit of a bay laurel tree is a drupe, not a berry. I think it's sort of like an olive.) And since, as far as I can tell, no one sells those, I guess the only way to get them is to get a bay laurel tree and get it big and mature enough to flower and set fruit.

I'd love to do the same thing to get mother of clove (the fruit of the clove tree). But as those are fully tropical, and large, I'd need a huge green house to do that.
 

digitS'

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@digitS' so how many celeriac plants do you plant?
There were probably about 30, in the 2021 garden. They are a season-long crop here. Start early, set out as transplants, wait to harvest right to the end of the growing season.

Like @heirloomgal , I would be disappointed to not have leeks. They make a simple potato soup taste wonderful ☺️. DW likes them even more than I do and where I might opt for shallots for this or that, she likes to use leeks, for that or this.

:) Steve
 

heirloomgal

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I thought of another one. Papalo. If you like cilantro, this is cilantro on 'roids. Has no bolting tendency at all, and can last all summer long. However, it is not exactly the same, there is other more potent notes in there. Once I acclimatised, I was nearly addicted. I imagine it is medicinal as well.
 

Pulsegleaner

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I thought of another one. Papalo. If you like cilantro, this is cilantro on 'roids. Has no bolting tendency at all, and can last all summer long. However, it is not exactly the same, there is other more potent notes in there. Once I acclimatised, I was nearly addicted. I imagine it is medicinal as well.
I guess it MUST take acclimatization, as I, who love cilantro, HATE the taste of Papalo. Not fond of Rau Ram (Vietnamese coriander) either. And while I have no problem with the TASTE of Culantro/Saw Leaf herb, I DO have a problem with the TEXTURE (I find it too coarse, plus I'm always worried about all those spines on the leaves.)

I've always liked the idea of growing ahipa (the Andean version of the tropical Jicama) but while I have gotten it to grow alright, I have never gotten it to make tubers (or seeds for that matter).
 

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