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Unusual crops

 
pollinator
Posts: 415
Location: Upstate SC
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What crops are you growing in your garden that are unusual for your region.  These would be crops that are easy to grow, but for some reason aren't commonly grown or practical crops that can be grown by giving them just a little bit of help.

For me here in upstate SC., they include Camellia sinensis tea and yaupon tea.  I don't know why people in zone 8 regions of the southeast have been going to China for tea for the past couple of centuries when the plant grows perfectly fine here in the southeast and is simple to process for green tea.

Yaupon tea is made from a holly native to the southeast's coastal plain and was a popular drink for the native Americans in the region.  It is North America's counterpart to South America's mate tea.  Yaupon's small leaves are more labor intensive to collect than the larger leaves of mate or camellia tea.

Another crop I am growing that is ridiculously easy to grow and does well in zone 7 and warmer locations in the Southeast is water chestnut.  It is simple to grow in tubs of shallow water, thrives in the summer heat and is pest free.  I harvest them as needed from the tubs all winter and leave a few unharvested corms to produce next summer's crop.  I've been growing them in the same tubs for years, just top dressing with a bit of manure in late winter.  

Yacon is another crop that isn't commonly grown in my region that has produced well for me.  

My most unusual garden crop are pineapples.  I plant Sugar Loaf plants out in the garden all summer, then pot them up to spend the winter in my greenhouse that is only heated enough to be frost free.  Pineapple is drought resistant, does fine in the summer heat, is pest free, with a minimal root system that makes it easy to shoehorn into tiny pots for the winter.  They produce year around, maturing fruit both in the garden in summer and in the greenhouse in the winter and produce a fruit that I can pick at its full yellow  ripeness, unlike the green pineapples sold in grocery stores.
 
master steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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So far my most unusual are hardy kiwi, currants, aronia and gooseberry.  Everyone loves asparagus but hardly anyone has it planted.  I did artichokes two years ago which were fussy to get to work but interesting.  Not worth the yield per square foot in my case.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 10849
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I have several Agave plants which are producing swarms of pups.  I plan to plant out the pups and eventually harvest them for making Agave syrup.  We don't use much sugar in our household and we like the flavor of commercial Agave syrup, so if I can find an efficient way to process the plants, this might be a fun way to provide our own sweetener.
 
gardener
Posts: 1071
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Elderberry, Seminole pumpkin, peanuts, buckwheat & especially chili petin aren't too common around here. They grow well though. Experimenting with some super long twisted gourds this coming spring. Have an asparagus bed too. Is that really uncommon? Don't know why. I've grown it from TX to MN. That tastes amazing fresh!!!
 
pollinator
Posts: 364
Location: San Diego, California
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I inherited a beautiful Cherimoya tree from the prior homeowner - delicious, but needs some pruning and help pollinating to really produce next year.

unconventional (at least for US general populace) crops I want to try:

Cecropia
Yellowhorn
Scorzonera
Black Sapote
Licorice
Asparagus Pea
Bambara Ground Nut
soapberry
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
Posts: 10849
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:
Bambara Ground Nut



I'm going to try to grow these.  Do you like them?

 
Dustin Rhodes
pollinator
Posts: 364
Location: San Diego, California
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Unfortunately I haven't tried them, nor do I know where to get them here in the US - I heard about them on here from Maureen Atsali, and want to try them out.
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
Posts: 10849
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I got mine here:  http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/vigna-subterranea-bambara-groundnut-seeds

I was inspired by Maureen also!
 
Dustin Rhodes
pollinator
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Location: San Diego, California
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Sweet find! I'll order some soon; hopefully they will like our American southwest without too much trouble
 
gardener
Posts: 687
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, NC, US
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Some of these aren't very unusual, but I haven't seen them growing around here. Maybe I just haven't visited the right places!

I'm growing buckwheat, ground cherries, mulberries, oats, and Chinese long bean.

I was talking to another person the other day who has been growing things in this area for years. I mentioned growing mulberries and he said, "hmm, what are those like?" It's so funny how they are pretty common, just unknown for the most part here!
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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I've planted seeds of Red Mulberry and White Mulberry.  Hoping some will grow.  There's a baby Mulberry tree at my Dad's house that I am planning to try to relocate to my place.  Not sure this will be successful.  There are some heavily fruiting Mulberry trees in his neighborhood in the city. I would love to have some here.  Our neighbors up the road planted Mulberries specifically for the birds (they are competitive bird-watchers!)
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, NC, US
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I've planted seeds of Red Mulberry and White Mulberry.  Hoping some will grow.  There's a baby Mulberry tree at my Dad's house that I am planning to try to relocate to my place.  Not sure this will be successful.  There are some heavily fruiting Mulberry trees in his neighborhood in the city. I would love to have some here.  Our neighbors up the road planted Mulberries specifically for the birds (they are competitive bird-watchers!)



That's awesome! I've heard the birds love some mulberries!
 
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