The time has finally come when many of us are thinking, “What will we plant in the garden this year?” The usual suspects, tomatoes, basil, zucchini, and peppers are always welcome come summertime, but we un-earthed a few other garden gems that are easy to grow and delicious!
Cucamelons, also known as mouse melons are expected to be seen at farmers markets everywhere this year due to their eye catching charm and interesting flavor. The cucamelons are about the size of a large grape and look like miniature watermelons. They grow quickly on vines and have a high production yield, which is appealing for a home gardener. The flavor has been described as a hybrid between slightly bitter cucumbers and fava beans. They are lovely to look at and do well in any summer salad, they’re perfect to pickle, and make an interesting, slightly sour mojito!
Also known as sunchokes, due to their relation to the sunflower, Jerusalem Artichokes have been making appearances both on menus and in markets for the past few years as the unique tuber of the season, and they are also fairly easy to grow at home—It is best plant the small, whole tubers in early spring. For Jerusalem artichokes to get big roots, give plants a long growing season. Small tubers that were missed while harvesting will usually shoot up after the first year, with a higher production. Sunchokes are a starchy root vegetable with a nutty flavor, and are often compared to chestnuts. They can be served in place of potatoes, and also sliced thinly for salads.
Kohlrabi is a funky looking bulb with long green leaves extending straight out. The bulb can be white, light green, or purple and it is often confused for a root vegetable. Kohlrabi comes from the German word meaning “cabbage turnip.” It is an ideal vegetable for the non-veggie eater as it is mild in flavor (like a mild turnip) and incredibly versatile. The bulb can be cut into fries, pureed, served in soups, roasted, and even in used in desserts. Plant these beauties in early spring, as they can stand a little frost, and by mid-summer you will be singing kohlrabi’s praises.
For a sweet surprise, the sugar apple is a unique fruit to grow that is both a container plant for patios and soil. However, for our climate, the tree grows best in a container located in a heated greenhouse or indoors in a south-facing window, or a location with six-eight hours of sunlight a day. The fruits give a highly desirable, luscious, sweet mint-like flavor. The fruit is most commonly eaten on its own, or in creamy recipes like milkshakes, ice cream and sherbet.