Ginger is a tropical plant that looks like a stunted little corn plant. It generally will not tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Edible ginger cultivation follows more or less the same rules as container citrus cultivation in the northern areas. Ginger can even be grown in Iceland if a sunny window in a warm house is available. The ginger that one buys at the supermarket is usually fine for planting material. If the rhizomes aren’t damaged, they’ll likely sprout once placed in a pot of soil.
Cardoon, also known as Texas Celery, artichoke thistle and cardi, requires a long growing season, so starting seeds in the earliest part of spring is advised. In general, cardoon grows the largest in good, deep soil and with frequent watering. Pests are minimal, and the perennial plants are drought-tolerant, although a lack of water reduces its size. Cardoons need to have their stems blanched or they will be intolerably bitter. A month of being tied up and kept in the dark will make the stems much sweeter.
Broccoli rabe generally prefers cool conditions. The plant grows similarly to broccoli and will produce a series of new harvestable shoots, so the growers can usually harvest two or three times from the same plant. Broccoli rabe is susceptible to the same problems as other cruciferous vegetables, and cabbage worms and snails seem to cause the most trouble.
Essentially a type of cherry tomato mainly found in Italy, these sweet plants grow in clumps of up to a dozen at a time. The name “datterini” means “little dates” in Italian because of its very sweet taste and small size. The skin is thicker than regular tomatoes and they have fewer seeds, which means more flesh.
Witch hazel will thrive almost anywhere. Considered a shrub or small tree, witch hazel’s crooked branches are covered in smooth, gray bark and witch hazel’s arresting, yellow flowers appear in the fall or winter – the bloom time depends on the species you choose. The distilled extract from witch hazel’s leaves and bark has long been used as a general tonic and swelling reducer, and witch hazel is still used to treat minor skin irritations, burns, acne and more. .
With smooth, needle-like leaves ranging from gray-green to silvery-gray, there are many different lavender varieties featuring a characteristically sweet, clean scent. Lavender’s volatile oils are thought to have antiseptic properties and were often used to clean wounds and freshen the air in hospitals and sick rooms. Now lavender oils are commonly found in herbal soaps, shampoos and perfumes. A fantastic border plant, lavender naturally repels insect pests and it dries well for use in wreaths, flower arrangements, potpourris and sachets.
The brandywine heirloom matures slower than other tomatoes. One of the most popular garden varieties in the United States, it is easily identified by its unusual potato leaves. .
Not only do shiitake mushrooms enhance the flavor of many dishes, they are also known for their medicinal properties, including research concluding immune-function increase, and they are often used in Japan as a complementary alternative medicine by cancer patients.