Last weekend I volunteered at the Friends School Plant Sale, and at the end of the sale the volunteers could purchase remaining plants at a discount. For me it was a good way to try out some new types of plants I would never try otherwise. I perused the “herb” section of the sale and picked out these plants (and researched them later):
American Spikenard – This was advertised as being used in root beer in the past, so of course I gave it a go. After reading about it, now I think it’ll be a pretty wildflower to put in my backyard.
Black Salsify – it’s really interesting to me that in some parts of Europe it’s cultivated as a food crop. I’ve never had it, and am very interested to taste it.
Winter savory – perennial in zone 6, and apparently a good plant to grow next to beans. I’ve never used it in cooking, but this summer will be the summer to try it!
Summer savory – a milder, non-perennial version of winter savory, apparently.
Wild mint – I thought this mint smelled exquisite! Although I heard spreads as crazily as other mints, so I might just keep it in a container.
Prickly Pear – I grew up eating prickly pear, every time we were lucky enough that my hometown grocery store in Central Wisconsin carried it. The versions I got are perennial to this area, so I’m not sure if they will fruit or not. Has anyone had experience with winter-hardy prickly pear fruiting? That would be amazing!
Bitter Melon - The first time my mom tried to get me to eat this, I was deeply offended. It was so. bitter. And I couldn’t imagine anyone enjoying it. Then the weirdest thing happened a few months later: I actually craved it. I have no idea how or why, but somehow this weird, ugly little fruit won me over. So this year I’m trying to grow it.
Rocoto Hot Pepper – From the mountains of Peru, and so withstands cooler temperatures, and Cherry Gal (I’ve been known to get seeds there – I love the selection!) says that Rocoto Pepper plants withstand light frost. That means I can plant it NOW! I picked out the plant because the picture of the hot peppers on the tag looked a lot like wiri wiri peppers to me (yet another food from my youth). This article discusses a rocoto pepper plant that is 12 years old! Of course, that is in Santa Clara County (lucky jerks). For me it might be easier to just treat it as an annual.
Reisetomate tomato - Seriously, click on that link. That is the craziest looking tomato I have ever seen.