Most of the time, growing a kitchen garden is a somewhat predictable task.
Many people grow the same things year after year. And that’s great because it means they eat something they love that are nutritious and delicious.
But I encourage people to grow at least one new or challenging thing each year.
Growing an Adventure
You might be thinking, why should I mess with success?
Don’t. I am not encouraging you to change what you are doing completely. I want you to explore.
The whole of food. What we plant and eat is a tiny sampling of the food world.
Do you love turnips? Why not grow kohlrabi? Both come from Brassica species, wild mustards, but kohlrabi is an Asian variety instead of a European one.
Do you love potatoes? Did you know that South America’s Incas of the Andes Mountains domesticated potatoes and ate hundreds of varieties that came in tons of different colors like purple and blue?
The same goes for carrots. They come in tons of colors like red, yellow, and purple.
Why Grow New Things?
Besides being fun, there is a few reasons to grow new things.
Challenges make you grow. They teach you new skills and can help keep your body and brain healthy.
Growing new things will expose to you new diseases, pests, and gardening techniques. These may bring frustration, but that is necessary to learn.
Plant genetics are really cool.
You can cross a lot of fruit and vegetable hybrids to get new varieties. For example, plumerries are crosses between plums and cherries that taste like a big cherry.
And you can get things like fasciation, a genetic condition that causes elongated growth. It can make flowers that normally circles to become ovals. And it causes cacti to become ribbon like instead of cylindrical.
You will find the plant world is full of beautiful colors and heavenly smells, even when it comes to a kitchen garden.
You will also get to taste new things, learn new recipes, and master new cooking techniques.
You can choose to grow things from all over the world and experience food from different cultures.
You can also choose to seek out native edible plants that are disappearing from cultural use, like pokeweed.
Or you could grow new varieties of old favorites like yellow watermelons or lemon cucumbers.
There are couple of community perks to growing something unique.
First, I know a lot of gardeners who love to trade extra crops. And bringing something exotic or different is always fun.
Second, you can also use growing something adventurous as a way to learn about your community and it’s food traditions.
You can find other people interested in growing traditional foods by finding a local seed library. Seed libraries allow you to check out seeds, grow the plants, and return seeds at the best time. My local public library hosts one.
If you could grow anything, regardless of climate, what would you grow? I would love to grow a banana tree and a cocoa tree.
Ali is a work-at-home mom of 5. She spends her time homeschooling, gardening, and relaxing at the park.