Posts Tagged ‘home gardening’

We’re growing some unusual edible plants in our backyard.

Having said that, they’re unusual to us, but they’re also some of the most commonly eaten crops in the world!

Above is a photo of common purslane, which has been growing in our yard for years as a weed.  We’re hoping to plant them in a more controlled fashion, once we’ve been able to collect some seed.  It’s widely eaten by many cultures, including the Italians, Lebanese and Chinese.  It’s an essential ingredient in Lebanese fattoush, and my mother knows it as both “mouse ear plant” and “horse tooth plant”.

When freshly picked, this annual succulent has a mild, pleasantly sour tang and more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable!

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If you’ve ever ordered a bowl of endamame in a Japanese restaurant, you’ll know how addictive these little soy bean pods can be.  What you might not realise though, is that almost all endamame in Australia comes frozen from China.

So it was with great excitement that we discovered that the Diggers Club were selling endamame seeds – fellow Aussies, if you’re interested in trying to grow them, they’re sold as “Soy Bean (Beer Snack)”.  We haven’t harvested any yet  as they’ve taken quite a long time to mature – but our three plants are laden with small pods and enormous promise!

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Kohlrabi are a new vegetable to me – Wikipedia tells me they’re a member of the turnip family, although I find them a good substitute for broccoli stems (which I love).  They grow very easily and the chickens adore the leaves!

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Even though we’d resolved to only grow roma and cherry tomatoes, we couldn’t resist trying just a few plants of these Principe Borghese tomatoes.  An heirloom Italian variety, they form delicate oval heart-shaped fruit.  We haven’t had any ripen enough to pick yet, but even the green ones are looking gorgeous.  They’re dry, fleshy tomatoes which are apparently well-suited to sauces and drying.

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In our backyard, we have a very large lilly pilly tree.  Also known as riberries (which is enough to convince my Pete that they might have been the original fruit used in Ribena), this Australian native fruits prolifically, although we have never had as substantial a crop as this year’s.   Perhaps it’s a combination of all the rain we’ve been having, and the increased number of bees in the yard.

The fruit of the lilly pilly tree is extremely versatile for cooking.  It’s not great for eating raw, but we’ve turned it into lilly pilly jelly, which we’ve then used as a glaze on roast meats and in our onion marmalade. Maude recently made a very nice lilly pilly cordial as well.  I have a few more ideas to play with…will let you know how I go.

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I’ve always known these long skinny eggplants as Japanese eggplants, but the seeds we bought were marked as “Lebanese”.  Either way, the four plants in our garden have produced a wonderful crop over a long period of time – we’ve already harvested several kilos off them, and as you can see, they’re still producing prolifically.

The small fruit are sweeter and tenderer than their large counterparts, and the seeds less bitter.  They’re a great addition to a curry or stirfries.

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These are pigeon peas – a completely new variety to me, but apparently one of the most widely eaten plants in the world.  Known also as toor dal, they are high protein, drought resistant and widely cultivated and eaten in India, Eastern Africa and Central America.

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A few more – we’ve tried to grow horseradish, but to no avail, as something “stole” our plant – we went out one morning to find it completely gone, from the root up!  Also, we’re hoping to grow turmeric and asparagus, once we’ve found a permanent spot for them in the yard.

Are you growing any unusual edibles in your garden?  We’d love to know  of any suggestions you might have!

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