These are far from the vegetable version of the Island of Misfit Toys, but not everyone is going to be geeked out to try these, so I’ve lumped them in together with just the basic information you’d need to know. Perhaps next year I’ll delve into these less common vegetable garden citizens.
My plan with these is to give only the nitty gritty information. I’m going to skip pests and diseases as well as uses. Hold on to your hats!
Fennel: 45-50 days for baby heads, 75-85 days for full heads. These are delicious grilled, but you have to love the licorice-adjacent flavor to make these worth it. Look for slow bolting and tender bulbs (or non-woody descriptors). Try Florence and Preludio F1.
Leeks: 75-100 days. While leeks are delicious, I find I don’t need/use as many as I end up with so I don’t grow these. Plus the sandy soil we have makes cleaning them a bear of a task that cannot be skipped. Look for large or stocky descriptors and sweet flavors. Be sure to plant them deeply and mound them to get as much of the delicately flavored white stalk as you can. Try Alto or Chinook F1.
Kohlrabi: 50-60 days. We love kohlrabi but only ever eat it raw so we don’t grow boatloads of them. I look for smaller and more compact varieties and anything that avoids turning woody. Try Early White, Kolibri F1, and Azur Star.
Brussel Sprouts: 100-120 days. These are biennials and won’t give you sprouts the first year. Plan ahead and make room for these delights if you want to grow them. I’m on the fence if growing them myself is worth it, but I do want to try it. Try Nautic F1, Long Island Improved, or Red Rubine.
Celery: 80-100 days. I’ve never grown it and I suspect I never will. I rarely eat it raw at home and almost always use it for cooking, so it doesn’t feel worth it to grow them myself. I’d love to hear if you do grow it- convince me to try it! Try Tango, Tall Utah, or Chinese Pink.
Tomatillos: 60-80 days. I have grown these and love them. There is nothing like their flavor and they are a necessary ingredient in many Mexican recipes. They are a lovely addition to salsa too. These are floppy plants so be sure to support them well. I’ve only ever grown the green types, but the Purple types are supposed to be sweeter and certainly are prettier.
Ground/Husk Cherries: 75 days. Utterly delicious. Like pears, vanilla, caramel, and pineapple. But, be warned that they are fussy to clean for preserving and each fruit has hundred of seeds. So they will reseed and sprout everywhere. I cannot tell you how many strange places I’ve found a Ground Cherry seedling peeking out. Its nuts. But grow them at least once just so you can taste them. They are floppy plants so staking them will help you see ripe berries to harvest. Try Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry or Goldie Ground Cherry.
Let me know if there were any others I missed! We are in the home stretch… the last two posts will be about Herbs and Perennial Veg.