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Unusual, But Easy Plants for Beginners  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Location: Soutwest Ohio
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There seem to be dozens of lists for the top ten easiest vegetables to grow for a beginner. Within one or two picks, they are nearly identical. While that's absolutely a great thing, I always thought it would be nice to have a list of less conventional foods to grow as well. Things that are just as easy, but outside of the standard fare. A few that I've found to be very simple to grow, but outside of the typical are below.

Beauregard Sweet Potatoes - No harder than growing normal potatoes really, but I am a sucker for the sweet stuff. Bonus, it is a heart healthy sort of sweet.

Yard Long Beans - They like it warm, but can be used like regular green beans with more bang for the buck.

Tomatilloes - I actually hold no love for these. There's a variety that is vaguely pineapple in flavor, but even then I am not prone to going out of my way for them. Still, some people love them and I grew them while living with a friend who favored traditional Mexican dishes. If you can manage a tomato, you can manage these.

Strawberry Spinach - Self-seeding if you leave a few fruits behind, this is pretty easy to grow and offers ingredients for salads as well as for pies and such.



There are others I have considered, but not yet tried. Among the list of easy-to-grow options in the unusual plants are such things as: Oka, Skirret, and Amaranth (I know, I know. How could I not have grown this yet despite growing other things. I'll get there.) I'm curious to know if others have found similarly easy, but unusual plants that would be great for a beginner.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think "easy" is very dependent on the climate.  The only thing that's really easy for me here are various kinds of perennial onion things:  Walking Onion, Canada Onion, Garlic Chives, Elephant Garlic.  But one can not live on onions alone!
 
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Location: Virginia, 7b zone
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Didn't you mean Raspberry Spinach? These berries surely do not look like strawberries
 
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Location: Northern Colorado
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Considering that i have yet to figure out how to grow conventonal potatoes i'd currently conclude that sweet potatoes are just as hard. But i'll figure it out one of these days. This year i'm experimenting with diploid TPS.

But to add to the original discussion: Amaranth. Easy Peasy.
 
D. Logan
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Andrew Barney wrote:Considering that i have yet to figure out how to grow conventonal potatoes i'd currently conclude that sweet potatoes are just as hard. But i'll figure it out one of these days. This year i'm experimenting with diploid TPS.

But to add to the original discussion: Amaranth. Easy Peasy.



The more I think about it, the more I want to say they are actually easier than normal potatoes. You don't need to do that steady mounding to obtain a worthwhile yield. There's also the matter of the plant not being toxic if green. Exposing sweet potatoes to light won't make them inedible. In fact, as far as I have been told, the upper part of the plant is edible as well, just not really anything amazing in terms of flavor.

With regular potatoes, I've seen a lot of success by starting them at the bottom of a container with only a few inches of soil, then just adding soil every so often after they started to grow. An inch or two at a time. Eventually you have the entire container filled with dirt (and potatoes) and a billowing plant sprawling out the top. After that, it's just a matter of keeping it watered and maybe a little extra compost at some point.

When the plant dies back, give it a few weeks to harden off. Store them out of sunlight and in a dry place. Alternatively, you can harvest small potatoes as the plant is growing. These 'new' potatoes are sweeter and thinner skinned. Delicious, but won't store well.
 
Posts: 74
Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
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How about ground cherries? I planted them once, in 2014, I've had volunteers in 2015 and 2016. They are low growing, so work well as a ground cover too...
 
pollinator
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How do you like the ground cherries? I've got some about ready to transplant. Never tasted them.
 
pollinator
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potatoes like cool climate sweet potatoes like warm climate. Potatoes grow like weed here. I think hilling is the most important thing. Daikons are dead easy but who want daikons?
 
pollinator
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Angelika Maier wrote:Daikons are dead easy but who want daikons?


ME  
 
garden master
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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For me, Firewheels were planted once in 2014 and have come back every from self seed.  Unusual?  How many people here have them in their garden?
 
Posts: 567
Location: Mid-Michigan
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When I lived in Arkansas, they soil was very poor- low organic matter, high clay. And it was really dry all summer.

Basil LOVED it. I grew so much basil in two little 3'x3' plots that we had pesto for two years. It was astonishing. Crowded out the weeds and everything.

Up here in Michigan, much different. High sand, good organic matter, fairly wet, not hot. A couple of off-the-beaten-path things that thrive are sunflowers and jerusalem artichokes. The large sunflowers (our variety is named "Avapasui", I think) can make a tremendous quantity of seeds, if you care to take the trouble to preserve them.
 
Laurie Dyer
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Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
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Ken W Wilson wrote:How do you like the ground cherries? I've got some about ready to transplant. Never tasted them.



They are pretty good, I don't like to eat them by themselves, but in a salad or something like that, they add a nice tartness. I'm hoping they volunteer again this year!
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
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Thanks, Laurie! That's helpful. I like some tartness. I have about 8 plants. Wasn't sure if I wanted to plant them all. I guess I will.
 
pollinator
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Ladys slipper goud , AKA achocha http://www.realseeds.co.uk/cucumberrelatives.html

David
 
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