So­phie Thom­son


Sunday Mail - home - - FRONT PAGE - To find out where I am giv­ing gar­den talks, visit so­phies­ or fol­low me on In­sta­gram @so­phies­patch or Face­book So­phie Thom­son (pub­lic fig­ure)

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.

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