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growing Exotic vegetables  RSS feed

 
Lisa Paulson
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A trip to our local asian market is an exploration as there are are a number of gourds, greens and exotic roots I hve never seen or tasted  and they are being locally grown here in British Columbia.  I believe there is lots to be learned from other cultures growing practices to diversify as we can, what we have . 

Anyone successfully growing vegetables foreign to their locale? 
 
Travis Philp
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I've been able to grow and over-winter globe artichokes but thats the extent of my bending the norms in the veggie department. I've grown sweet potatoes but they were bred for this climate.

For the artichokes: I did this by planting them in a raised sheet mulch bed (approx. 6 inches high) , cutting the plants leaves back in the fall so that there was only about 2-3 inches of stalk above the soil level, mulching 3-5 inches with hay (careful that the mulch doesn't touch the stalk to avoid rot), placing a bucket over the plant with a stone on top, and then putting a big mound of mulch on and around the bucket.

I should mention that out of about 6 plants, only 2 of them made it through the winter. I tried several methods of overwintering and the one I described above was the one that worked. Near as I could tell, the problem with the plants that didn't survive is that they rotted due to my leaving their cut leaves near the stalks as a mulch, and/or that I didn't cut the leaves back far enough. Not totally sure though.
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
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I grew snake gourds, but I didn't have enough recipes for them. I grew lablab bean and I didn't find them yummy, same for canna edulis. Yacon tastes good, but I didn't like Yicama. If you grow okra you must watch your bed permanently, because a bit too big and they get course and fibrous.
And I grew a perennial gourd I let it grow to full size and it tasted horrible.
I like growing strange stuff but it would have been better to find recipes first or try the things first than the other way round. We lived in a warm climate and these where the things which grew best.
I grew malabar spinach, and kang kong water spinach which are both good, the latter is better.
I like the book "perennial vegetables".
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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I'm looking forward to growing a crop that has a long history in this part of the world, but are foreign and exotic to the culture that is currently prevalent here: chia, a member of the mint family.  It's most famous as the carpet of sprouts on those cheesy pottery gifts, but it was a traditionally used to make flour for baking. Whole seeds, mixed with coconut milk or fruit juice, absorb a large amount of liquid and result in something with the texture of tapioca pudding: it's delicious in my opinion, and it is also a favorite of vegan raw foodists. They're apparently very drought tolerant plants, and the seeds are nutritious.

I plan to grow quinoa this winter, partly to feed my compost pile, but partly as a leafy green. I understand it takes a few rinses to wash away the saponins from the outside of the seeds, so I'm not sure it's worth growing as a grain.
 
Paula Edwards
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I once had chia in the garden and it was really very pretty, but I didn't come around to harvest the seeds, it is difficult to get them at the right time before they shatter and they are small. The same happened to my grain amaranth experiment.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I don't know if you all have seen the recently updated Plants for a Future database.  It gives many ideas for unusual vegetables to try! 

http://www.pfaf.org/user/
 
Paula Edwards
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And I grew lebanese cress, very nice, but I lost the plant while moving.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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ediblecities wrote:
I once had chia in the garden and it was really very pretty, but I didn't come around to harvest the seeds, it is difficult to get them at the right time before they shatter and they are small. The same happened to my grain amaranth experiment.


I hear the secret is to tip the living plant over a container and shake it, then leave it growing while more seeds mature. There are some clever designs for baskets to do this, but it seems like a plastic storage box (perhaps with a bag slipped over the end) would serve OK. I'm going to see how this works with sesame as well, at some point in the future.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I've ordered bulbs of Camassia quamash (Quamash), Erythronium (Dog's Tooth violet), and Lilium tigrinum (Tiger Lily) to try to grow these in the kitchen garden as alternate root crops.  These all come from latitudes north of me, so I'm not convinced they'll do well, but think it is worth a try. 

Bulbs at wholesale prices:  http://vanengelen.com/
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 329
Location: Upstate SC
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I've been growing a number of Asian cucurbits; winter melon (an Asian analog to winter squash), edible gourd, ridged gourd, and snake melons.  Also Egyptian spinach and purple flesh sweet potato.  None of these are traditional vegetables grown in this area.
 
Lisa Paulson
Posts: 258
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I am ordering pak choi to grow early in spring and found this asian vegetable seed website, if you click on a selection such as  chinese cabbage you will go to a page with many varieties and a picture and description of each .  Just nice to exxpand upon our traditional vegetables that will grow well.

http://www.agrohaitai.com/onlinecatelogue.htm
 
Paula Edwards
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I would like to try kudzu and chufa (tiger nut), anyone knows where to buy the seeds? We can import seeds but we cannot import bulbs or plant parts.
 
Joe Skeletor
Posts: 113
Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
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I'm curious - why do you want to grow kudzu? Also, yellow nutsedge (chufa) grows invasively at the farm I work at. I tried digging up some tubers months ago and it was a pain. I'm gonna try again when I find a larger mass of plants.

Ludi -

Interesting idea about planting those alternative root crop/ bulbs. Do you have any info on using them as a food crop?

Thanks
Joe
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Joe, here's a link to some info:  http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=36

ediblecities, personally I would avoid those plants especially kudzu, because there is a chance it could get away from you.  I think you could find less invasive substitutes.
 
Joe Skeletor
Posts: 113
Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
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Thanks for the links. Excellent info, I just ordered some quamash and dog's tooth violet to try out by my house. My house is surrounded by large oak trees. Hoping this will work out. Let's let eachother know how it goes, eh?

Joe

Ps- i'm in zone 5a
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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You're welcome, Joe!  I'm so glad to be of help to you. 

 
Paula Edwards
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Chufa must be a good food crop, but I think there are different strains which might have a higher yield. I think it is a good idea, besides growing vegetables,  to try to grow things that yield staples like fat carbohydrates and protein. chufa would yield protein as  well as carbohydrates. But you might have to get the right strain for fat tubers.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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You probably know this, but chufa is used in a traditional vegan "milk" beverage, horchata.

Mexican horchata is vaguely similar, but being made with rice, is not nearly so nutty tasting. I really liked horchata de chufa when I visited Spain, but some of the other Americans I met there, didn't.

I think it would be a good candidate for aquaponics, a constructed wetland, or a constructed pond where it can't escape. I think it might be especially well-suited to an overflow, because it can handle some drought.

Similarly, kudzu might be contained on a constructed island, or by a chicken moat if you want to use it in a several-year rotation of garden beds.
 
Paula Edwards
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Maybe kudzu is great for sheep too?
Horchata is a traditional drink of Spanish and South American meat eaters.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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ediblecities wrote:Horchata is a traditional drink of Spanish and South American meat eaters.


Yes, I meant to convey that horchata isn't made with animal products. It definitely doesn't come from a tradition of veganism!
 
Saybian Morgan
gardener
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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Did anyone ever find a link for somewhere selling kudzu root in canada or even the us?
I need something to fight this wisteria, my bee's don't need it and my ducks and rabbit's could sure use the kudzu where nobody can use the wisteria. Dam vine killed my hopes and has gone up 50 ft and smothered one of my pine tree's. I wish i had kudzu to hold back the blackberry and invasive mints aswell.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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ediblecities Hatfield wrote:Maybe kudzu is great for sheep too?
Horchata is a traditional drink of Spanish and South American meat eaters.


I bet it is, sheep adore vines on our properties. I keep sheep mainly for their work in keeping vines down. It is either that, or pay someone with a machete. Might as well get some food out of it too. They love a lot of what is considered weeds here that cattle won't eat. I have seriously considered trying out renting sheep in farmers lands. (they pay me) Sheep will have a feast on what the cattle won't touch because cows eat with their tongues, and sheep, with their teeth.

I would have to keep a worker with them, but he could remove at the same time what nothing wants to eat.

 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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I grow snake gourds, bottle gourds, luffa, moringa, okra, amaranth, quinoa, chia, sesame, pomegranate, galangal, goji berry, fenugreek, ginger and turmeric, skirret, chinese artichokes, sweet potatoes, tiger nuts, peanuts, pak choi and other chinese cabbages, mung beans, and I am starting a lot of other stuff from seed (like arrowhead, pigeon peas, groundnut, yams, mulberries, walking onions, dates). I grow almost everything in a container indoors, and it´s easy (south oriented windows).

Snake gourds: Easy to grow, vines grow long but grow well in small pots. I still have to find a recipe for those
Bottle gourds: one grew one, and I am saving the fruit to harvest seeds for next year. Also easy in pot but stops at a point
Luffa: vine grows long (initially it is very slow) but it is failing to set flowers (maybe it took too long, now there is less sunlight)
Moringa: easy to sprout at 30°C, grows fast, but I dislike its taste
Okra: tasty (do not transplant and water minimal), they start slow but then take fast. Very tasty and plenty of new seeds
Amaranth: grain easy to harvest (just shake flowers and then blow with hair dryer).
Quinoa: it is flowering now. Its my first year growing it. Very dry resistant. Grows very tall, and like amaranth it starts slow. I managed to sprout some seeds from store bought quinoa.
Chia: easy to grow from store bought seeds, grows fast but it did not flower yet (I guess is short day plant)
Sesame: easy from store bought seeds, and produces well. Very dry resistant, I love these kind of plants, because you dont need to take much care for them
Goji berry: started from store bought berries, grows quick, but it will only set fruit by 3rd year
Ginger and turmeric: very easy to start from rhyzomes, grow perfect indoors but need a wider container to form a more harvestable crop. Need almost no care.
Skirret: root tastes like carrot raw, and is perennial
Chinese artichokes: funny looking, also a nice eat and ground cover
Sweet potatoes: never tried outdoors (too cold) but indoors in a box, it makes new sweet potatoes. Easy to grow but obviously likes more space
Tiger nuts: very easy to grow (soak for 2-3 days before germination). Tasty roasted. Perennial and spreads well.
Peanuts: I was able to grow them well and flower in a container box, but it is failing to set the nuts. I think I have a pollinization problem because I am indoors, or maybe they lack some nutrient or hotter temperature.
Chinese cabbages: tasty in stir fry, and easy to grow. Need small space for roots, care to not overwater or drying.
Mung beans: eays to grow, small sized plant, makes a lot of small mung beans. I love the taste of mung beans, so nutritious and less heavy than normal beans

 
John Wright
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a few warm weather greens we tried at the farm this year, , ,
molokheiya (corchoris)- super easy to start from tiny turquoise seeds in greenhouse. translplant well and produce all summer
new zealand spinach (tetragonia)- sporadic but dependable germinator in spring greenhouse. grows well in cool and hot weather
new fall crops. .
salsify (trogopogon)- germ easy . . i transplanted these in sept. . i should have direct seeded some but I went with old reliable seed tray. . they have transplanted well and should go through our zone 6 winter
italian chicory (chicorum) easy germ plants can transplant up to frosts. . bitter, most people don't like them but the plants are really hardy and in the aster family. good for beneficials
mache- can be direct seeded late. . grows well with garlic . seeds ready when garlic is harvested
 
                        
Posts: 66
Location: San Diego
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Paula Edwards wrote:I would like to try kudzu and chufa (tiger nut), anyone knows where to buy the seeds? We can import seeds but we cannot import bulbs or plant parts.

Check your state laws. In most states where kudzu will grow it's illegal to plant because of its' invasiveness.
 
Rion Mather
Posts: 644
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New Zealand Spinach. I am really excited at how easy this has been to germinate. So far so good. I've got some happy plants.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1378
Location: northern California
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During my 20+ years in Georgia I came to love three hot-weather plants that would provide me with quanitities of mild salad (and cooked greens) right through the hot steamy summers. The ability of a plant to provide me with mild salad on a daily basis was particularly remarkable. (Note I say "mild" salad....on the level of lettuce or spinach....not some strong weedy thing like arugula that takes getting used to!) The first I got to know while living in Bangladesh....it's kangkong or water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica)....well known to tropical gardeners but sometimes hard to find in the US. Some varieties much prefer to actually grow in water but some don't....ordinary moisture is sufficient. It's well known as a cooked green in many warm places, but it's also a wonderful salad.... Since it blooms in short daylength, I would usually keep it going through winter from cuttings inside. Number two is malabar or Indian spinach (Basella), grown each year from seed and sometimes volunteering....a lot of folks don't know it can be eaten raw. The last plant was the hardest to find....Talinum triangulare ("Florida lettuce" or "Surinam spinach"), an originally West African weed now present through the Caribbean and beyond, and sporadically in FL. The seeds need heat (85-90) to germinate, and I don't think they store well, so I've kept this one by cuttings as well. Succulent lengths of stem can be simply stored in a box somewhere inside over the winter and then stood up in the garden after weather warms....they may be wrinkled but if they are still green they will root and grow out!
 
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