A sense of excitement comes from trying something new in the garden and the satisfaction gained from doing it successfully. There are people everywhere growing things their neighbors never heard of and they ask a lot of questions when they have problems, according to the editors of Organic Gardening and Farming.
They want to know how to grow vegetables that aren't sold in supermarkets. They ask questions like: What can I grow to extend my season? What can I grow in a hot climate, cool climate, dry climate?
Information on growing and using out-of-the-ordinary vegetables is sparse and scattered. Botanical libraries have suprisingly little information about growing vegetables like martynia and tomatillo, the editors found.
"We decided the best way to answer all these questions would be to write our own book, to gather all the widespread information in one place."
They did, "Unusual Vegetables-Something New for This Year's Garden," edited by Anne Moyer Halpin (Rodale Press, 443 pages, well illustrated, $12.95). It covers 79 vegetables you can grow when you are tired of tomatoes (if that is possible), bored with beans, sick of squash.
Included are vegetables from the Far East, Europe and South America, that can be grown here in the United States, vegetables such as skirret and burnet, which gardeners of generations past grew and prized, but which have been largely forgotten today.
These vegetables are not just novelties to grow for fun when you have extra space. They have many valuable characteristics that make them worthy of a place in your garden.
The vegetables in this book, the authors say, will add variety to your menus, but at the same time are not hard to use. They will give you a chance to try your best bean soup with fava or horticultural beans; bring new life to your potato salad by adding some crunchy-seet jicama; or use less expensive, better-tasting candied ground cherries instead of citron in your Christmas fruit cake.
In addition to their exciting and unusual flavors, many of these vegetables possess extraordinary nutritional value.
The book tells where the seeds can be purchased; how and when to grow the plants; the parts used and their flavor; and, how to cook them.
Some should be planted in midsummer for fall and winter harvesting, and it isn't too late to get the seed and try them this year.