What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

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What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby diggernotdreamer » Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:08 pm

Started this thread on the back of Sleepy Owls posting on the James Wong book. What have you grown that was interesting, unusual or has a story attached to it. What have you grown that worked and you kept growing, what was a failure in terms of taste or usefulness (for me must be asparagus peas yuk!!)

I was a member of the Heritage Seed Library for a very long time, but dropped my membership with HDRA when I felt the newsletter ceased to be informative and the whole feel of the place had gone a bit corporate, I bet Lawrence Hills is turning in his grave. Anyway, it started my interest in plants that our ancestors thought worthy of growing for various reasons and how some peoples families had grown the varieties for many generations. There are some that I have kept going for many years because they have earnt a place in my garden, I look on them like old friends now, they have been with me longer than most people I know.

I grew Achocha, which is like a little spiny cucumber, it purports to be one of the lost crops of the Incas or something. I grow it in a polytunnel usually up some string and let it romp around. It has interesting foliage with lots of tendrils, the flowers are very tiny and a pale yellow colour, they look nice mixed with other garden flowers in a vase, the most amazing thing about it is that hoverflies cannot resist it, they swarm in and colonise which earnt it a place for its pest control properties. The fruits are quite prolific when they get going and picked young, when cooked they taste like a sweet pepper, which is quite nice in Spanish Enchiladas or omelettes. When ripe, if you touch them the fruits explode all over the place. Unfortunately, after growing this for a long time, during my move to Ireland, mice got into my seed collection and ate the lot so I am going to have to track some more down.

Cherokee Trail of Tears climbing French bean is another favourite, supposedly carried by the Cherokee nation when they were displaced from their homes as a symbol of hope and possibly saved them from starving. The plants are very tall, up to 7 feet, with lovely lilac coloured flowers followed by purple coloured fillet pods. The pods are really tasty and freeze very well, when allowed to ripen the seeds turn shiny black, when dried they are good for soups and things, I also pick them when the seeds are still green and blanch and freeze them for using in chilli.

will follow your stories with interest

Lyn
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby Odsox » Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:23 pm

Well, I just got around to reading James Wong's book, or at least the few pages that Amazon would let me read for free, and found that he singles out Asparagus Pea as one of his top 5 vegetables.
I grew some a few years back and I agree with you :pukeright:
They are pretty much tasteless when very young, but if you leave them for a day or two longer they are fibrous and inedible. I certainly wouldn't grow them again.
I also grow what he calls Chilean Guava, (what I call Myrtle) and that is worth growing if only because the picking season is from about October to January, but it is supposed to be rather tender and not frost hardy, so not sure it would survive away from the west.

Other plants I've grown are Oca, OK'ish but I found it to be a very efficient slug magnet with an "interesting" flavour. Quinoa is pretty much the same ... interesting but not really worth the trouble, also Huckleberry (Wonderberry) which has sweet vaguely flavoured berries and turns out to be a pernicious weed, springing up everywhere and looking identical to nightshade.
This year I grew Stevia which I assume is what James Wong calls Sweet Leaf, difficult to germinate but easy to grow, and really is sweet. I've also grown Ginger (reasonable) and Peanuts (interesting but not really worth it),
I also grew some Pepinos a while back, but even in the conservatory they failed to ripen, so I have no idea what they taste like.

So, out of those, the only ones I consider to be a success are the Myrtle and the Stevia, and only the Stevia because I'm diabetic.
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby oldjerry » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:32 pm

[quote="diggernotdreamer"]

I was a member of the Heritage Seed Library for a very long time, but dropped my membership with HDRA when I felt the newsletter ceased to be informative and the whole feel of the place had gone a bit corporate, I bet Lawrence Hills is turning in his grave.




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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby diggernotdreamer » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:36 pm

oldjerry wrote:
diggernotdreamer wrote:
You may vote UKIP,shop at T***o,work for the Inland Revenue,or even DEFRA,but we will never,ever,fall out.


1. How do you know so much about me
2. why will we never, ever fall out (not that I want to just puzzled)
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby Teadrinking » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:09 am

I grew achocha a couple of years running. You get a fair bit from them and they're very easy. We ate the young and thought they tasted a bit like cucumber. Not the exploding variety though. You can buy the seeds from www.real seeds.co.uk.

Has anyone tried growing yacon? Thinking about it this year but at 12 quidish for a tuber Id be asking for it as a birthday present.
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby oldjerry » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:18 am

diggernotdreamer wrote:
oldjerry wrote:
diggernotdreamer wrote:
You may vote UKIP,shop at T***o,work for the Inland Revenue,or even DEFRA,but we will never,ever,fall out.


1. How do you know so much about me
2. why will we never, ever fall out (not that I want to just puzzled)



Cos,for me what they've become at Ryton encapsulates everything that's wrong about anything.(and I don't often find people that agree.)
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby Annemieke » Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:12 pm

I grew some unusual tubers way back when, one of them was oca, and I think another was yacon. Stuck to it a few years, but they weren't large or interesting enough to keep it up.
Landcress is ok and grows well during the winter here, but I just don't happen to like it. Day lilies I recommend for decoration in both the garden and a salad (the flowers) but they have no taste at all. See also my contribution to 'Home Grown Revolution"!
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby Thomzo » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:28 pm

Mahonia grows like a weed in my garden. Last year I made some jam from the berries and it was actually quite good. They were such a fiddle to pick and the yield was very low but as the plants grow like stink and the flowers smell like heaven, I let them grow.

I've discovered honeysuckle flowers and dried some this year. Trouble is, I can't remember what they're good for now.

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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby Skippy » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:44 pm

I've said before that I'm a re-enactor and because orange carrots are not really authentic for the middle ages ( yeah I know picky picky ) I've tried growing white carrots several times but never with any success, I've experienced very poor rates of germination and very stunted growth of the ones that did bother to grow or didn't get attacked by pests.I may try them once more out of a mixture of stubborness or stupidity even though I have a feeling they'll be a failure.


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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby MKG » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:51 am

Make life easy for yourself, Skippy - use parsnips for your re-enactments.

A quick bit of research tells me that orange carrots probably didn't occur in England until the 15th century. There were previous mentions of carrots, though - the Vikings of York had something they called whatever the Viking word for carrot is. But the historical concensus appears to be that they weren't carrots at all, but parsnips.

It depends what you mean by medieval, then. Still sounds like fun, though.
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby demi » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:38 am

Im on my second attempt at growing ginger from shop bought fresh ginger. I washed it and soaked it in water to get rid of any anti-sprouting agent but the first lot i did never germinated and just went all wrinkly in the pot. Now my second attempt has been planted for about 2 months and still nothing. I don't think it's working, i don't know what im doing wrong. You're supposed to just stick it in the ground and it should grow. :scratch:

I grew sweet potatoes last summer from shop bought tubers which were very successful for a first attempt. Started with 2 potatoes which i sprouted in water and took cuttings from the sprouting shoots. I think i got 11 plants. I should of started them earlier as they were very slow to grow and they need 4 months in the ground to mature. I harvested about 1kg of potatoes, some big ones and lots of wee ones. The wee ones are now sprouting in water to take cuttings for this year. Also have the two original potatoes planted in a big pot in the living room which i'v been taking more cuttings from too so im going to have a lot more plants this time and get them in the ground earlier on so they will hopefully produce more big spuds this time :iconbiggrin:

Iv also got lemon grass in a pot overwintering on the living room window sill. I don't know what to cook with it though :lol: I can't get other oriental ingredients from the supermarket here and i have know idea what to make with it. It's a nice decorative grass perennial though and it smells lovely.

We've also got some unusual fruit trees in the orchard with things i'v never seen before. We've got lots of kaki fruit trees and these other things iv no idea what the English name is but its 'musmuli' in Macedonian :dontknow: They are small round fruit a bit bigger than a cherry, with rough brown skin. The fruit is squidgy and brown inside with 4 seeds about the size of cherry seeds and it tastes a big like a mushy pear or apple, slightly acidic, it's quite nice.
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby Carltonian Man » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:43 am

Not quite as exotic as the plants already mentioned but we grow Daubenton’s kale. It has a finer taste and texture than the curly varieties of kale and as a perennial, if each plant isn't over-harvested, can grow for five to seven years (even through winter). Daubenton’s is easily propagated by heel cuttings or layering and each plant eventually makes a leafy 3 foot by 3 foot branched bush.
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby diggernotdreamer » Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:50 am

Carltonian Man wrote:Not quite as exotic as the plants already mentioned but we grow Daubenton’s kale. It has a finer taste and texture than the curly varieties of kale and as a perennial, if each plant isn't over-harvested, can grow for five to seven years (even through winter). Daubenton’s is easily propagated by heel cuttings or layering and each plant eventually makes a leafy 3 foot by 3 foot branched bush.


Well I think this is far more interesting than asparagus peas. Obviously, this has been grown for many generations and has proved to be a valuable plant in terms of longevity and productivity. I would be very interested in growing this.

I grew Yacon a few years ago but lost the mother tubers in the bad winter of 2010, not sure I would bother buying them again, paid 9 quid from Real Seeds and they are 12 now, so I don't think I would bother, the flavour didn't do it for me, I found them a little like jerusalem artichoke both in appearance and flavour.

I wonder if your brown fruits are Medlars Demi
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby MKG » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:05 pm

Google is your friend (but only if you spell it musmula).

You're absolutely right, DND - they're medlars.

Mike

EDIT: I envisage the birth of the "Ish Multi-Dictionary of Little-Known Thingies" coming up. Find anything edible in a dozen languages.

http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Grow-Your-Own/Recipes/Nigel-Slater-recipes/Articles/Nigel-Slater-On---/Nigel-Slater-on----medlars
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Re: What interesting or unusual edible plants have you grown

Postby Teadrinking » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:31 pm

Daubentons sounds interesting, might have to seek that out as we are kale junkies despite doing battle with magpies over it. Grr. Will give yakon a miss then we have j.artichokes, more than we can eat so seems like a non starter.
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