Hint: It’s going to enliven your culinary exploits.
Spring has arrived, and this year, experimentation is the name of the garden game.
We love tending productive gardens, and there’s a distinct satisfaction to using our own harvests in our favorite recipes. Our tomatoes make their way into salads, sauces, and salsas, and our windowsill herbs are always a fragrant finishing touch for alfresco weeknight dinners. There’s no doubt that sourcing fresh and local ingredients is a practice that’s here to stay. 2018’s biggest garden trend, however, takes that practice to the next level. This year, the focus isn’t on apple trees and pots of rosemary; instead, it’s all about cucamelons and paw-paws.
That’s right: While we know and love so many of our gardens’ classic edible plants—fruit trees, berries, vegetables, and windowsill herbs among them—the latest garden trend involves growing less well-known but arguably more exciting edible plants and using them in the kitchen. Uncommon edible plants have been piquing our curiosity for months, and now that spring has arrived, we're excited to implement them in our gardens. They’re fun to grow, but they’re also genius additions to dinner dishes and will enliven even the most humdrum of meals. (So, really, the big winner here is our taste buds.)
Want to add a few unexpected edible plants to your garden this year? We have a few surprising and delicious ideas for you:
Is it a melon? Is it a cucumber? It’s actually a cucamelon, and it’s what your garden needs this season. Cucamelon vines produce tiny fruits that taste distinctly of cucumber but with a pleasantly tart aftertaste. They’re inspired additions to main dishes, appetizers, garnishes, and cocktails alike.
Mayhaw trees thrive in the South. They’re named for their yields of tart fruit that ripen in early May and resemble cranberries or miniature crabapples. Once your mayhaws begin producing, you’ll be able to make mayhaw jelly, a true Southern treat.
Pawpaw trees are easy to grow and produce juicy fruits, which can be incorporated into salads and desserts or blended into smoothies. While they’re altogether unexpected, you’re sure to find plenty of uses for ripe pawpaws in your kitchen.
WATCH: Grumpy Gardener's Guide to Muscadines
What unusual edible plants are you planning to add to your garden? Have you tried cultivating any exciting, new-to-you plants this year?