To eat your own produce is a satisfaction that is exclusive to the gardeners and farmers among us, but for those who have been doing it for years, things can get a bit boring if you continue to grow more or less the same crop of plants all the time. In order to keep things interesting and exciting for the avid and experienced gardeners, here’s a list of unusual food plants that you can grow in your greenhouse or if you have very favorable climatic conditions.
These are actually also known as the white strawberries and in spite of how it may look, they do not come from a genetically modified plant at all. This naturally occurring white strawberry tastes more or less the same as the red strawberries, but with perhaps a hint of pineapple thrown in. There was a time long ago when South American strawberries were usually white by default, but now that time is gone, producing the perfect opportunity to surprise your family and guests with a bowl of white pineberries.
The next South American food crop on this list is the achocha pod. Widely used as a replacement for peppers, they add a bit of variety to your usual dishes that ordinarily require the use of pepper. The taste of the achocha can be compared with that of the green bell pepper, but comparing it to cucumbers wouldn’t be an exaggeration either.
If you think that the word cucamelon is a combination of cucumber and watermelon, you are absolutely right. The cucamelons look exactly like super tiny watermelons, but they are actually super tiny cucumbers. The vines need a quite a lot of sunshine and active protection from the wind. Picking cucamelons is a time-sensitive affair as being too late would harden the skin more than it is desirable, but picking them too early would result in immature and thus mostly inedible produce.
Dramatically touted as the one of “lost crops of the Incas” and sometimes as the “yam from New Zealand”, Oca is mainly a South American vegetable that tastes like a radish with a crunchy texture. When roasted, however, the taste resembles that of a potato, but with a lemony tinge. The tubers need to be left underground, even after winter hits. If you wait for a good few weeks after the first frost, you will likely get a lot more tubers.
Although this is a flower rather than being a fruit or a vegetable, the watery premature bulbs of artichokes taste great in risotto. Given how pricey they can be to purchase from the market, growing some of your own is also a great idea in terms of adding some variety to your greenhouse.
These are at times found adorning the cover of food magazines and blogs. Cape gooseberries look absolutely beautiful and sumptuous right from the outset. They somewhat resemble yellow tomatoes and make for an excellent refreshing addition to a fruit bowl or a fruit salad. The taste can be described as sweet and sour, which should first be taste tested before putting it in a fruit salad. If you can, we advise that you incorporate a few cape gooseberry plants in your greenhouse, if only for the amazing lantern-style casings.
The kohlrabi can be eaten raw like an apple or a mango, but it can also be roasted and served with meaty dishes like sauerbraten and the like. While its taste is not much different from that of the cabbage, it’s a lot juicier and sweeter. The plant also looks quite similar to cabbages, but fortunately, the smaller German cabbage plants are much easier to grow. When the stem of the plant reaches the size of roughly a tennis ball, it’s time to harvest.
While they did not make it onto this list, honorable mentions include the quinoa, Alpine strawberries, purple broccoli, golden raspberry, and purple peas. Note that it is possible to grow most of them outside if the condition favors it, but it is recommended that you use properly equipped California greenhouses if you don’t want to leave your chances of success at the mercy of Mother Nature.
A good bout of rain or an early frost can foil all of your plans and efforts. In fact, it’s a good idea, in general, to grow your first crop of any new plant inside the greenhouse to get a better understanding of the plant and how it reacts to various weather conditions.