IT’S TIME TO TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Iam addicted to plants and gardening and I love to try new plants in my garden. When it comes to the vegie patch it is just the same and every time see a new variety of something I already grow, or a new vegie I am not familiar with, I find myself buying the seed or seedlings to give it a go.
The reality is that sometimes I need to try for several seasons before I work out whether it is a winner or something to forget about.
Many vegie growers like to stick with the tried and true, and while I do keep growing my old favourites, I find the new things I try soon become favourites too, and then become a regular addition to our garden and kitchen.
Over the past few years, the two ‘new’ or more unusual vegies I have tried, which have become staples in our household, are New Guinea beans and tomatillos.
The New Guinea bean is neither from New Guinea nor a bean, but rather a climbing edible squash. Known as ‘Cucuzza’ by Italians or ‘Lauki’ or ‘Dudhi’ by Indians, this rampant vine produces long pale green fruits with white flesh. They are brilliant in stir fries, stews, curries and my favourite cake of all time!
I tried New Guinea beans for two years in a row before they fruited for me and I am so glad that I persisted.
Tomatillos (sometimes called husk cherry or jam berry) are a member of the tomato family related to Cape gooseberry and produce green fruit which eventually turn purple, encased in a husk or capsule that looks like a Chinese lantern. They can be eaten fresh and I think taste like a cross between a plum and tomato, definitely sweeter than a tomato.
They are the traditional fruit used in South America to make green salsa however, when you cook them I notice they add a lovely sweetness to a dish, making then perfect for sweet curries or in stews or soups. I have even made a delicious cake from them too.
This season I have around 20 different tomatoes including my perpetual favourite Burpee Delicious (also known as the world’s largest tomato) and Tommy Toe.
Some I grow each year and then there are others that I will try and not bother with again. A new variety which I haven’t tried before is Thai Pink Egg.
Popular in the tropics where it is known to be a very heavy cropper and shows resistance to cracking in heavy rain, it has been bountiful with delicious fruit however, its foliage hasn’t liked our dry heat.
I might give it one more chance and try it again next year in a more protected position.
In next week’s column we will look at some of the other interesting and unusual vegies which were new to my garden this season.
SPICE IT UP: As well as the tried and true vegies, add variety with tomatillos, below left, and Thai pink egg tomatoes.