What are a few strange or exotic vegetables/herbs/fruit that I can plant in my new garden?
May 1, 2009 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Just shoveled out a new garden 2 weeks ago. Put some tomatoes and peppers seedlings in, and already have some baby pepper and tomato plant is flowering well. Looking for strange or exotic veggies or herbs I can put into the remaining space. This east facing plot probably gets 4-6 hours of direct sun (more once we get further into summer). I live coastal in San Diego, so it would be zone 10. It also never get's hotter than 90F, and never below 32F. Very dry, so low water plants are a plus, but I dont mind watering a small area often. I have no preference starting from seed or seedling, so either one works.
posted by ShootTheMoon to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Thai basil and ngò gai, so you can have some of the proper phở garnishes.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:03 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Its not very exotic, but regular old basil grows great near tomatoes, and comes in pretty handy when cooking them. too.
posted by rokusan at 3:38 PM on May 1, 2009

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has an incredible variety of veggies from all over the world. Hundreds of tomato varieties, sorted by color! 57 kinds of watermelon! 21 kinds of okra! I've bought tomato and various greens seeds from them and the germination rate was very good.
posted by dogrose at 3:45 PM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Damn you dogrose!
posted by dersins at 3:54 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Although also not really exotic, we grow chives, cilantro, dill, rosemary, basil, a couple varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and zuchinni in pots on our balcony, where they all do really well with about the same amount of sunlight that your garden gets. We've also grown stevia (a sweetener), but once it died off we didn't feel a need to replace it.

I live probably two miles or so east of you, for comparison.
posted by LionIndex at 4:13 PM on May 1, 2009

Miracle fruit - turns sour foods sweet!
posted by turkeyphant at 4:26 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try Seed Savers which has tons of beautiful varieties. Look at all these crazy tomatoes and watermelons! I can vouch for the purple russian tomatoes.
posted by scazza at 4:33 PM on May 1, 2009

Tomatilloes would fit your specs. Once they're established, they require very little care and produce like mad. And since you're already growing peppers, you could make awesome salsa with them. (Roast/broil in a hot oven, along with a jalapeno and an onion. Remove each ingredient as it chars. Put everything in a blender with a pinch of salt, whir. Add cilantro, if you like. Chill.)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:44 PM on May 1, 2009

Tomatillos are great. Add some cilantro and you've got salsa.
posted by fshgrl at 4:48 PM on May 1, 2009

Not exotic, but plant some cucumbers. They're easy to grow. Mulch them well and you won't have to water them often. And just 2-4 plants will yield LOTS of cucumbers. Easy to grow from seeds, too. They love manure and compost, so dump some in when you plant them.

Pick them when they're small. The seeds will be tender that way. Cucumbers will get monstrously large if you let them, but the seeds get hard and leathery.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 5:26 PM on May 1, 2009

Damn you dogrose!

Ha! You were slowed up because you very nicely included multi-links -- though you missed my personal favorite:

Tigger melon!

ShootTheMoon, it says they're "sweeter in dry climates," and they're incredible-looking. The growing season here is too short, dammit, so I implore you to try some and report back. I have some serious melon envy here.
posted by dogrose at 6:01 PM on May 1, 2009

posted by jadepearl at 7:11 PM on May 1, 2009

posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 7:46 PM on May 1, 2009

Let me put out a thought of a non food item that will benefit your other two plants? Marigolds. My father and grandfather both used them in their gardens, planted on the ends, and half way down rows, to keep away harmful insects and attract pollinators. I've never seen any studies to show if its scientifically proven to work or not, but it seemed to work for those gardens. My father also used to pick one of the flowers, fresh, and rub it on a bee sting after removing the stinger to take down the pain and swelling. It seemed to work, though again, I have no idea if it was merely psychological or not. But they are pretty, and smell nice, and take very little space and even less care.
posted by strixus at 7:47 PM on May 1, 2009

Far from exotic but how about trying a variety of carrots? There's a world of difference between fully grown sweet carrots and those flavorless orange stick things in the market. Thompson & Morgan list 28 varieties of carrots, and a huge variety of other vegetables and flowers. Red cored Chantenay carrots are our favorites for flavor.

If you've got space for some flowers get some Zinnia seeds. You can save their seeds and replant for generations.
posted by X4ster at 10:24 PM on May 1, 2009

Along with Baker Creek, Amishland Heirloom Seeds is a place I would recommend looking around on. They have a bunch of things I haven't seen anywhere else- both unusual vegetables like black salsify and skirret, and some very rare and/or unusual varieties of the more typical vegetables- in particular a number of varieties of tomato from the former Soviet Union, many of which aren't commercially available anywhere else in the US as far as I know. I ordered from them last year and would recommend them- good service (they threw in an extra package of eggplant seeds as a gift), and so far I've been quite impressed with the performance of the seeds I got from them.
posted by a louis wain cat at 1:24 AM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try various species of cucurbita maxima or pepo. The second one would fit more easily in a small space, but if you do have more room, try the first also. Don't stick to the common variety, but really try the different species. I can't come up with a more detailed English page than this one right now, but this French one might give you an idea. You can make many different dishes with them.
posted by nicolin at 12:11 PM on May 2, 2009

Bottle gourds are some of the oldest plants cultivated by humans. I will be planting mine soon in Florida, Zone 10. Some varieties are edible if harvested young; others are best left to grow to maturity for the versatile gourds which can be used for everthing from bird houses to water dippers to musical instraments.

Grow your own Chia pet seeds with Salvia columbariae. Also known as Califonia sage, this perennial may be native in your area. It is not picky about soil as long as it is a well-drained, it is very drought tolerant. Just grow to maturity to harvest the seeds.

Celery is not exotic but is unusual in the home garden. It is a long season crop, from 90 to about 120 days to harvest and it really does best in moist oils with regular watering. However, the taste of really fresh celery is bright and very different. Grow it as a winter veggie in your area.
posted by yarddoccarol at 7:26 AM on July 21, 2009

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